A Thing About Ratings

Other possible models for the proposed S4E ratings system – The “Broken Record”, the more broken it is, the more I played it, or the “Trashed Hotel Room”, the more trashed the room, the more the album rocks

As you can see, I’ve been a little busy making a few minor adjustments to the site, shifting things around and retiring the 2010 Book of Favourite Things. I’ve added a few new site links to the “Page Formerly Known As Resources” so check there for lots of other awesome things, and I’ll promise to remember to include more as I find them. Then there’s the [sic] Links, which go to my reviews on [sic] Magazine for anyone who has an interest. I’ve had the opportunity to review some really great stuff, so aside from just being links to “More Mack”, there’s some pretty nifty music to learn about.

The other thing is, I’m currently toying with the idea of employing a ratings system for music reviews. I’ve often said that I’m not fond of scores and applying them elsewhere is sometimes the hardest part of the review process, but I feel there’s a difference between scores and ratings – the latter being more flexible for my purposes.

At [sic], applying scores is a required part of the format, being a numerical score out of a possible ten. Occasionally, the score might seem a little at odds with the words, but my criteria for applying a score can be a little different to what I find to say about the album and leans more towards the technical side of things – i.e. I try to think in overall objective terms, such as how good an example it is within the genre, innovation, consistency, replay value etc. Obviously it’s impossible for me to be completely objective when I consider those things, but when I write about the album, I write exclusively about what I think, when I score it, I give consideration to those other elements. Over the last year, despite my resistance, I have learned that thinking in those terms does have a certain value, however minor it may be.

I feel ratings, on the other hand, cater more to the subjective side. Rather than being considered an (attempted) objective assessment of overall quality, the ratings system I have devised for possible use here would be used as more an immediate visual indicator exclusively of my own opinion, further explored in what I write.

I don’t write about much here that I don’t love in some way. If I’m talking about music, you can be sure I liked it enough to want to talk about it. What I sometimes neglect to consider are the same elements I reflect upon when I apply scores at [sic], but here I’d like it to be on a much more subjective level.

If it were not for the fact that I recognise some of my reviews have been on the more unconventional side, this is probably something I wouldn’t think about at all, but I’m aware that, sometimes, what I’ve written can leave readers with a relatively abstract idea of the music and no indication as to whether I actually liked it other than it’s here (see my recent write-up for Conquering Animal Sound’s Kammerspiel for a good example of what I mean). I have no intentions of changing the way I write at S4E, as the words are inspired by the music and I think that has its own, hopefully unique, value, so what I’ve come up with is something akin to a star rating with five different levels, but without the capacity to indicate I felt something was ‘sub-par’ as a 1-star rating certainly would.

I feel that such a system is in keeping with the ethos of S4E, and I think it has the potential to add an element to the reviews here that is sometimes missing. While the visual indication (by way of ‘arm lengths’) is on a scale of 1-5, I’m not interested in further defining each level and assigning particular paramenters by which a release can “achieve” a certain rating, I’m more interested in simply having a recognisable system that will allow readers to get a (relatively) clearer sense of how I feel about something (cos it’s all about me, ya know).

While I’m considering this idea, I thought I’d put it to any readers who’d like to have a say, either in the comments section or via the poll below. You can vote exclusively as to whether or not you’d like to see a ratings system on S4E, or just how you feel about ratings/scores in general, as I’d be interested in a consensus on the subject. It’s completely anonymous, so the only data collected is the answers. Muchas gracias to anyone who votes.

Also feel free to leave comments – positive or negative feedback welcomed. I would be further interested if readers have a preference for seeing ratings at the beginning or end of a review and/or if low scores ever resulted in the choice not to read a review.




About Satellite for Entropy

My thoughts are fish, all swimming about and prone to scattering swiftly. Some of them are pretty but not all of them are gold. Some have teeth; some travel in gangs and with a single school of thought; some are haphazard loners, darting about the place randomly and to no obvious purpose. But they're all slippery little suckers. Sometimes, I get lucky and find myself with a good grasp on one, long enough to remember what it looks like before releasing it back into the wild. View all posts by Satellite for Entropy

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