To Rate, Or Not To Rate - By Volume

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To Rate, Or Not To Rate

In which we lift the lid on the complex decision-making process behind ByVolume policy. Author: on September 13, 2012
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Is this a debate that should happen behind closed doors? We think the decision to attach little numbers to our opinion of an album is an interesting one. Should we rate out of 5 or out of 10? Is it best to use whole numbers or five decimal points? And which is most effective: actual numbers, stars, or ice cream cones?

In an episode that nearly tore this publication apart at the seams, we weren’t totally sure. We decided to share the ensuing debate; be warned, the results are not pretty.


Keelan Harkin: No, hang on. We pretty much only review music we like so we only give out 7+ ratings. We should just scrap numerical ratings.

Dylan Siniscalchi: Meh.

KH: I don’t know. If you’re going to give out numerical ratings, you should be awarding some sort of wide trajectory. It just looks better objectively (which, I know, is silly).

Rudy Klapper: Yeah, where are all the negative reviews, guys?

KH: But I’m not even saying we should have negative reviews!

Adam Knott: I don’t know. I don’t care about panning stuff for the sake of it. Or listening to stuff I hate. But we should talk about this. There’s no point rating everything an 8!

DS: Removing ratings is a really good way to alienate readers. Eyes leap to the rating first and not everyone wants to read our full bloviations.

Adam Thomas: Ratings are fucking moot. Get rid of them. All they do is half-assedly condense the writing and ideas into a soundbite, trivializing the entire thing.

DS: Mmmmm, or they’re a summary for your piece? That require you to quantify your critical thinking and criticism? Which in turn should allow for a more in depth dissection?

AT: Nope, they’re just tools for people too lazy to read.

AT: And they’re completely arbitrary, at that. If you’re gonna write a three-page review then by all means keep the numbers, but if you write about an album as an experience and starting point for an emotional construct then the number can’t sum that up in the first place no matter what you give it.

Robin Smith: There’s nothing wrong with a soundbite per se if it’s an honest reflection on your thoughts. Why do you think Kurt Vonnegut is so fucking quotable?

RS: It should be noted this is why I rate everything 9 though: if I want to write about something I love, I love it at least that much.

AK: If I say what I want to say we’re going to end up with no ratings. But I’m a stupid idealist. It’s my weakness.

RS: In my opinion, we should cut a compromise and allow people to rate if they want to rate, OR put the ratings at the bottom of the page. That, or rate things, and put “please read this though :(”

DS: I would argue it’s lazy on the part of the reviewer. Emotional experiences aren’t above analysis. We could settle on negative-average-positive, if that will stop you ladies from crying.

KH: If this were the UN Robin would be Switzerland :)

AK: Let’s rate based on a system of emoticons.

KH: Dylan, how do you put a quantitative analysis summary on emotional experiences? That’s like saying, well, I read this book, let me tell you what I think with POPSICLE STICKS.

DS: Ummmm, you do it pretty much any time you decide if you’re happy or sad.

KH: No, but really, converting emotion into language is different to numbers. Unless you just want to talk in numbers like T-Rex from Dinosaur Comics recently attempted. Because, yes, language is still analysing your feelings, but that’s simply because we only have so many means available to us to describe our feelings which is why writing a review is better than just saying Centipede Hz is a 2.0.

At this point, the debate dissolved into a discussion about tattoos, how good Jessie Ware’s Devotion is, and whether it’s okay to call Robin Batman.


We hope this has been constructive.

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