# Goodreads Feedback discussion

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Suggestions & Questions > Half stars!

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message 51: by (new)

I, for one, hope that we goodreads adds half stars and quarter stars at the same time.

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Philip wrote: "I, for one, hope that we goodreads adds half stars and quarter stars at the same time."

That's not a bad compromise, a 39-point system, but still...

message 53: by (new)

Let's not get 'accurate' confused with 'precise.' Since star ratings are subjective, they can not be accurate. More divisions can make the ratings more precise. Sorry to be pedantic, but the distinction really truly matters.

(If you want to know why, recall how I said I don't like the '3.57 average rating' stat on the book page? That's because it's implying a false level of precision. The data provides whole numbers. The average rating can only be, logically, averaged to whole numbers. The only reason I'm not frustrated enough to complain about this abuse of statistical analysis is that none of it really matters anyway because the assignment of the ratings are so subjective anyway.)

message 54: by (new)

Precision, in this case, is being able to rate the book precisely as you feel it should be rated. Accuracy is more to do with the general rating of the book and if a book is 3.57 now, it will end up as that on any scale. I think. (Maths are weak point here).

message 55: by (new)

Cheryl, I disagree that the average rating can only be logically averaged to whole numbers...that would only be true if you were discussing the median or modal rating. The average is what the average is. That being said, I agree that two decimal places is overly precise and a single decimal place would be perfectly adequate, but rounding the average to whole numbers would be statistically imprecise. What if half the people rated a book a 4 and half rated it a 5? 4.5 is the correct average, not 4 or 5. Generally speaking your average should contain one additional decimal place beyond the precision of the raw measurements.

Petra X, wouldn't a quarter star system have 20 steps (or 21 if you include zero)?

Of course, all of this is meaningless chatter. Otis has already said they're not going to do half stars, so people can complain all they want, but it's essentially just white noise at this point.

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This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "wouldn't a quarter star system have 20 steps (or 21 if you include zero)?"

0 rating is not allowed on Goodreads! Actually it was a very long comment of yours I was thinking when I wrote the above tongue-in-the-cheek comment.

I know Otis has said that half stars aren't on the agenda right now (and I'm glad). But whenever these half star threads start up I always, despite what I promise myself, end up getting drawn in.

message 57: by Otis, Chief Goodreader (last edited Oct 18, 2010 11:53PM) (new)

Mod
Half stars are not happening anytime soon, and a good chance they never will. There are many (good) arguments for and against. But imho, they just add too much complexity.

By the way, our friends at Netflix agreed:

http://blog.netflix.com/2007/08/todd-...

"here’s what I learned from months of testing this across the country: when we make the ½ star options possible, we get fewer ratings. Significantly fewer ratings. We have argued these results internally for some time, and our best guess is that the complexity of doubling the number of choices from 5 to 10 deters many people from rating, so they just give up. (“3 stars? No, 3 ½ stars.. no… 3 stars… no… oh forget it…”) At Netflix we want people to rate so we can give them a better site experience (better suggestions, better predictions, better use of the pages to showcase movies they’re less likely to have seen)."

message 58: by (new)

I very much support and emphasize the suggestion. Half-stars would add an appeal and specificity to the ratings. I hope it's implemented soon.

I'd also like to suggest the option of being able to click on a "dislike" vote for a review. It'd give an honesty to the site. If Amazon and You Tube has it then I don't see why Goodreads can't.

message 59: by (new)

An option to vote down reviews has been brought up several times, and it's been fairly unpopular here in the Feedback group.

Here's one of the most recent discussions about it:

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Otis wrote: "Half stars are not happening anytime soon, and a good chance they never will."

Every time you say this, I do a little happy dance and breathe a sigh of relief!

message 61: by rivka, librarian moderator (new)

Mod
Nikki wrote: "Every time you say this, I do a little happy dance and breathe a sigh of relief!"

And I die a little inside. ;)

message 62: by (new)

I had been wondering about no more half stars at Netflix.

I find it odd that they cause people to use the ratings less, because as I recall, you only find them if you're looking for them. Same at paperbackswap. I don't see why they would bother people who don't want them. But apparently they do.

message 63: by (new)

BunWat wrote: "::Dances with Nikki::

Mine is a sort of an arm waving frolicky thing with slightly morris dancing clog steps."

Joins in, with big smile

message 64: by (new)

willaful wrote: "I had been wondering about no more half stars at Netflix.

I find it odd that they cause people to use the ratings less, because as I recall, you only find them if you're looking for them. Same at ..."

I don't think it's an issue of looking for them. It's not like the 1/2 star rating system would have you pick an integer number and then go looking for an additional 1/2 star check box. It's an issue of going from 5 choices to 10 choices and apparently Netflix has found that having too many choices suppresses ratings.

My understanding is that this is actually a general psychological phenomenon that pops up in many other areas and has been studied in some depth with respect to shopping where its been found that consumers are less happy when they have too many choices because it causes some sort of mental lock (I read a fairly lengthy news article about this within the last year, but the details escape me). As someone who was recently looking at paint colors, I can definitely say I'd have been happier not having to choose from among 100 subtley different shades of yellow.

message 65: by rivka, librarian moderator (last edited Oct 19, 2010 10:28AM) (new)

Mod
It's interesting that Otis brings up Netflix, because there's a Firefox/Chrome extension that allows people to add 1/2 stars on Netflix. It's mildly popular.

But more importantly, while having half-stars may cost Netflix votes, NOT having them may be costing them customers. An analysis from a year after that Netflix blog post.

I worry about it costing GR new customers as well, especially since one of our main competitors does have the option.

message 66: by (new)

Well, having half-stars would probably cost GR my presence, at least...

message 67: by (new)

Nikki, can I ask why that would be a make-or-break for you? Am I missing how it would change the way that you use Goodreads? I'm genuinely curious.

I can't see half stars being that big a deal to me that I would leave Goodreads for having or not having them. I would like them, but to me it's not a make-or-break issue. *shrug*

message 68: by (new)

Copy/pasting an answer I have given before:

"The system we have at the moment is based on subjective judgements. "Liked it", "it was ok", etc. Part of my dislike for the idea of changing the system is that it fogs that. What would the term be for a book that is 2.5 stars? "it was ok+"? "Didn't quite like it enough"? I'm sure that could be surmounted, but I'm a fan of simplicity and I don't think half stars will help as much as people think they do.

Plus, I'm obsessive. Very much so. If the rating system is changed, I will want to go through every single book I own correcting it that my ratings are as accurate as possible under the current system. I could just ignore it, true, but I tend not to be able to ignore such things."

message 69: by (new)

I wouldn't mind moving from a five-point scale to a seven-point scale if people really want more differentiation (my understanding of survey design theory is that anything more than seven points is likely to reduce rather than increase accuracy), but a ten-point scale (which is what half stars would amount to) makes me uncomfortable. It sets up a forced choice situation: is this book better than average, or worse than average? I happen to think most books belong spot on in the middle, and with an even number of points on the scale, that's no longer an option.

Honestly, I'd rather get rid of stars altogether and just use the descriptions: "didn't like it," "it was okay," "liked it," "really liked it," "it was amazing."

message 70: by (new)

Nikki wrote: " If the rating system is changed, I will want to go through every single book I own correcting it that my ratings are as accurate as possible under the current system. I could just ignore it, true, but I tend not to be able to ignore such things." "

Couldn't have put it better, exactly as Nikki says.

message 71: by (new)

Ahh, I see.

message 72: by (new)

I have a really hard time understanding the "I'd need to re-rate" argument. If someone would want to bother re-rating, then to me that implies that they think those additional ratings would be more accurate.

Also, the inconvenience of re-doing previous ratings doesn't seem like an argument against the concept of half-stars. I have a lot of ratings I'd need to re-check as well, and yeah, it would be annoying. But that doesn't mean I think everyone else that joins Goodreads forever should be denied such a frequently-requested option.

And to Rivka's point, now that I know we aren't likely to get them, I'm probably going to go back to using that competitor part-time, at least for the purpose of tracking ratings for my books.

message 73: by (last edited Oct 19, 2010 12:23PM) (new)

I have a really hard time understanding the "I'd need to re-rate" argument. If someone would want to bother re-rating, then to me that implies that they think those additional ratings would be more accurate.

Well, you're wrong. I don't think the additional ratings would be more accurate, and I hate the idea of them, but I do think they would change the perceived values of my ratings.

Also, not a question of "want to" but "have to". My brain clearly works differently to yours.

Until you have as many possible ratings as you have books, it's very unlikely that a single star value will actually mean that all the books rated as that were equally enjoyable for you. I prefer the simplicity of a five star rating system, given that, than making it complicated to no great advantage.

message 74: by (last edited Oct 19, 2010 12:33PM) (new)

I think my brain clearly does work differently than some people here, because I find the harsh reactions to any new feedback member who brings it up (not to mention the idea that half-stars would lead GR into some kind of tailspin of slippery slope rating scales) every bit as wearying as the near-constant requests for it.

message 75: by (new)

I don't believe I have ever been harsh to a feedback member, new or otherwise, simply for suggesting the idea of half-stars, and if I have, it's unintentional. Disagreeing with an idea isn't harshness, just dislike of the idea.

message 76: by (last edited Oct 19, 2010 12:57PM) (new)

Sorry, I wasn't directing that comment specifically at you. But it's undeniable that some users here have and do make exasperated or even mocking responses to some of these "not this again" ideas presented by people who don't know they're bringing up hot topics.

I try to just link them previous discussions and move on, but, to be perfectly honest, the idea of the initial poster coming back in here and seeing other users dancing at her suggestion getting shot down really rubbed me the wrong way for some reason. She said she was posting because of her group's feedback about the site, so it was something that both she and her members had clearly put some thought into. Retread or not, I think that kind of reaching out on behalf of other users deserves respect.

Sorry if I was too abrasive about it, though.

edit: Oops, I was confusing the OP with another person who joined in on the half-star side after looking through the forum. But I think the general point still stands.

message 77: by (new)

Would you not celebrate if you got what you want, then?

message 78: by (new)

I prefer to gloat quietly in the privacy of my evil lair. ;)

message 79: by (new)

I would celebrate if we got half stars, but I would feel badly for you Nikki and others who feel the way you do. I am really sad that half stars don't look likely, and a tad irked that they're still on the table, maybe. If they ever do get implemented, I will go back and re-rate books, and the longer it takes for half stars to happen, the more books I'll have to reevaluate. Ugh.

message 80: by (new)

Maybe they should get rid of the star rating, and change it to letter grades: A, B, C, D, and F. Then our A's, B's, C's, and D's could be plus or minus (A+ for your dream, gold star books, D- for the clunkers) and the F could be the Bomb rating! ;)

message 81: by Patrick, Director, Author Marketing (new)

Mod
Would anybody object to my closing this thread and pinning it below the "To-do list?" It seems like it might save us having to have the same argument every few months. If people wish to revisit the way the rating system works, I suppose they could start another thread. Thoughts?

message 82: by (new)

I think the best thing to do would be for Otis to create a topic and have the first post be his answer above, and then sticky that topic.

Having to slog through a topic to find the "current answer" would be harder than just creating a new topic with your question. ;)

message 83: by (new)

Yay!
*whew*

message 84: by Patrick, Director, Author Marketing (new)

Mod
Amanda (JT) wrote: "I think the best thing to do would be for Otis to create a topic and have the first post be his answer above, and then sticky that topic.

Having to slog through a topic to find the "current answer..."

You're probably right, but to save him some time, I might just quote his post in a post of my own.

message 85: by (new)

Patrick, As long as it's easily visible, that sounds like a good solution.

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This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For wrote: "My understanding is that this is actually a general psychological phenomenon that pops up in many other areas and has been studied in some depth with respect to shopping where its been found that consumers are less happy when they have too many choices because it causes some sort of mental lock "

Try The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. There is also a youTube lecture version under his author profile. It's a fascinating phenomena, which effects some individuals more than others.

Thanks, Otis. Glad to hear that 1/2 stars are on the doubtful list.

message 87: by (new)

Lisa wrote: "Patrick, As long as it's easily visible, that sounds like a good solution."

Agreed! :)

message 88: by (new)

Donna wrote: "I have a really hard time understanding the "I'd need to re-rate" argument. If someone would want to bother re-rating, then to me that implies that they think those additional ratings would be more..."

Well stated.

message 89: by (new)

Takipsilim, as I already answered, "Well, you're wrong. I don't think the additional ratings would be more accurate, and I hate the idea of them, but I do think they would change the perceived values of my ratings.

Also, not a question of "want to" but "have to". My brain clearly works differently to yours."

message 90: by (new)

A bomb rating would be nice symbolized as either a "no star" or a "turkey".

message 91: by (new)

Probably the same reason why people, not newbies, always want to re-state their arguments against half-stars in these threads when it's already clear that they're getting their way in the short term (and probably long-term as well).

It's human nature to want to stand up for your opinions. I think that's one of the reasons we all get so tired of these threads, not so much the initial re-posting of the idea but the inevitable repeats of the same old arguments that we've been reading for years.

message 92: by Patrick, Director, Author Marketing (new)

Mod
Okay, I'm going to lock this thread and pin Otis' comment about half-stars in a new thread. Thanks everybody for your feedback here.

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