Ratings Systems

Way back when Netflix released a huge dataset for their competition, I got to thinking about ratings systems like the one Netflix has for movies that you rent.

You can log into Netflix and begin browsing movies and rate movies that that you like or dislike. For instance, I gave “The ‘Burbs” four out of five stars. Based on your ratings, netflix can better recommend movies that you might like.

A similar ratings system exists on the Yahoo Music player. As songs are playing you can rate them 1-4 stars or click on the “no smoking” sign which indicates that the song sucks really bad and you never want to hear it again (of course, there are ways that Yahoo will queue it up for you again, as I’ve heard “drops of jupiter” several times even though it makes my ears bleed).

I like the idea of these ratings systems because I’ve found a lot of music/movies that I like based on the recommendations of Yahoo and Netflix. What I don’t like about these ratings systems  is that they have too many options.

I nearly always end up rating songs at 3 out of 4 stars on Yahoo (if I rate it at all), and I think this is my thought process:

  1. I like this song, what should I rate it?
  2. Well, its not the BEST song ever, so its not a 4
  3. On the other hand, I like the song, and a 2 seems like a bad rating
  4. I’ll go with a 3

At least to me, theres no reason to have any other option besides “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down”, either I like the movie/song or I don’t. Digg got this part right on their site, you either “digg” a story, or you don’t, simple as that.  I would think that simplifying the ratings system would make the recommendation engine a little easier too, since they don’t have to account for different “levels” of how much you like something.

As an aside, when I first started using the Yahoo music engine, I found that there was some way to change the rating system from a 4 star to a 0 – 100 system. 0 – 100??!?!  “Gosh, I don’t know, is this song a 33 or a 34?”. Give me a break.

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