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Topic: baffled by how people rate books

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Subject: baffled by how people rate books
Date Posted: 1/9/2010 2:25 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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Over at Goodreads, you see each person's rating for a book plus their comments, if any. I am continually baffled by the mismatch of the two. For example, just now I read a comment that was basically, "it was okay, a little hokey but not bad" and the person rated it 4 stars ("really liked it) out of 5. ??? To me, that would have been a 3, maybe even a 2 star rating. (The star system is different from PBS; at Goodreads, 2 stars="it was okay.")

I see stuff like that all the time; the comments are all kind of negative but the rating is high. I just don't get it.

I've noticed that at PBS, my star rating is usually a point below the average rating for the book -- except for hardcover editions, which usually match my ratings. Which makes me wonder if people judge hardcovers more seriously than paperbacks.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 9:10 AM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2009
Posts: 296
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 I like to go to Amazon and see the star rating there for a book.  Sometimes it is really amusing there will be 100 ratings and 50 of them are five stars it was awesome and the other 50 are 1 star it was the worst thing ever.  But then I suffer from that sick reading disease where I actually want to see just how bad a book is - so unless it is boring I end up reading it anyway!  :P

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 10:57 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
Posts: 7,052
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I don't usually pay attention to the star ratings here. If I don't know why someone didn't like it (and frequently there are only star ratings for a book, no reviews) then it seems pointless.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 12:11 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,545
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I just view the star ratings with humor.  Some of the worst books in the world are rated 4 stars because, I suspect, people want to get rid of them.   I think it is useful to also know who is doing the rating, so I read the reviews of the people I have gotten to know a little here in the forums.  That helps frame the ratings and reviews.  But I agree, Willa, I looked at a romance book yesterday that had a 41/2 star rating and all three reviewers complained that the book sucked!  Go figure.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 753
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I totally ignore the star system and tend to read the reviews. I find that's much more helpful - sometime I find that what a person liked is something that I would hate (spare me from clueless heroines described as offbeat). I've gotten burned lots of times with books that don't have many reviews but the reviews made the books sound great and they weren't.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I've noticed things like that too on every site that has book reviews/ratings.  You get the opposite too the reviewer gives it 2 stars but then their review makes it sound like the greatest book ever written. 

I don't really pay attention to ratings reviews anymore at all.  I've had too many reviews spoil the plot point of a book in a series for me that I just ignore them now. 

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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oops double post



Last Edited on: 1/9/10 2:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/9/2010 10:12 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,646
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Willa,

 

I wonder if that person thought 1 was the highest rating?  That would explain it.

Date Posted: 1/9/2010 10:24 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I suppose that's possible. I'm really tempted to ask her, but am afraid of sounding snarky.

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 12:33 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 2,164
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It wasn't me was it?  Just kidding.  I've noticed that and what Mary said (great review, low rating). 

I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the ratings, unless I'm having issues with a book and I want to see if others have the same problems.  I also like to see how my friends rate the same book.  There are a couple of you around here who are often match my rating (and somehow that gives me a little thrill), but I can't recall who.

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 8:48 AM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2008
Posts: 12,776
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I really enjoy looking at others reviews on goodreads. After I start a book, after I begin to form an opinion on whether I am enjoying it or not, I look it up to see what other people have said about the book. Yesterday I looked up High Stakes, and saw that others were not that impressed. I'm on page 75, and in no hurry to finish it. Last night I started Poison Study and read over 100 pages....this morning I looked it up and saw that others also loved it! Of course I don't agree with all ratings, but I find it interesting to compare my thoughts with those of others.

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 10:52 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 240
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I buy my books based solely on what I like to read.  I don't care if it got 5 stars (which generally means I will hate it) or if it got 1 star. (which generally means I will like it)    I also don't rely on reviews when it comes to movies, music and/or television.  That's why WE all were given free will.  There is nothing I detest more than the whole "sheep" mentality. 

 

 

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 7:29 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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I'm on the fence about ratings.  I've rated books 1 on Goodreads and got attacked by fanzillas when the story was awful.  But to me, it WAS awful!  I think each person has to make decisions based on what they like and think about a book.  I'm not afraid to give a book a 1 (awful) or a 2 (just ok) but sometimes I hesitate to give a 4 if I have niggling little things that bother me.  One thing I don't like about GR is that you can't give a half-star rating.  So if its better than Good but not quite Really Good,  you're stuck with giving it a 3.

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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Yeah, I *need* half star ratings. They're the most meaningful to me, here. 2 1/2 for books I didn't really like but kept reading, 3 1/2 for books that had part I really liked and parts I didn't... 1/2 for books that mortally offended me. ;-)



Last Edited on: 1/10/10 8:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/10/2010 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,545
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I once asked TomeTrader about a book we were both reading and I learned my lesson.   She and other brains in the book review arena can really put the damper on a book I am enjoying.  So I only ask after I have decided for myself.  LOL

Date Posted: 1/10/2010 11:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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There is nothing I detest more than the whole "sheep" mentality.

*gasp*  What a horrid thing to say.  Think about that for a sec - I know what you mean, but yikes, it doesn't translate well:P  I like reviews & don't buy without seeing a few opinions, usually ones I've come to trust.  And I don't feel like a "sheep" for doing it.  Ouch!  I honestly feel like my time and money mean too much to me to waste it on books that I can get some indication from a well written review - by someone who tends to like the same things I do - that I won't care for.  It's always possible I'll bypass something I might have liked.  Just like it's possible I'll buy something craptastic because I listened to someone else raving about it, or worse, IMO, I just picked it up on impulse.  That's actually the ones I resent the most; that book I saw with the intriguing blurb that turned out to be a stinkburger:P  How annoying.  Better to be annoyed with someone besides myself, I always say:P



Last Edited on: 1/11/10 12:02 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/11/2010 12:03 AM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2009
Posts: 137
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I'm with some of the others... I totally ignore the star system.  I find a book that interests me and if I question it for some reason, I read the reviews because what some people find "good or bad" about a book may be the opposite for me.... (or anyone).  I want specifics.... WHY someone didn't like it,etc...

Amy

gigi324 - ,
Date Posted: 1/11/2010 12:55 AM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2007
Posts: 192
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It drives me insane when people post the description of the book as a review!!!! I've seen it where not just one person has done it , but 3 or 4! Maybe some people should check out what a review is before putting them on there!

Date Posted: 1/11/2010 12:58 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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Glenn - that drives me crazy too.  What drives me even crazier is (haven't seen this here, but often at Amazon and on Netflix) - the "review" of something that hasn't even come out yet.

Date Posted: 1/11/2010 10:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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In the case of PBS-I guess when it first started most of the books were missing descriptions and there was no way for individuals to edit the book pages. So members were asked to put the book's description in a review if the book was missing one.  Although I still don't get why 10 people felt they needed to do this when 1 was sufficient. 

There are still a lot of books in the database that have no descriptions. Even new releases.  They get the data from Amazon and if Amazon put  the book up without a description and then adds the descripton later-I guess it doesn't necessarily get updated on PBS.  I've doing some data editing on PBS-correcting titles, adding pictures and book descriptions etc..., 

Date Posted: 1/11/2010 9:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 240
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gasp*  What a horrid thing to say.  Think about that for a sec - I know what you mean, but yikes, it doesn't translate well:P  I like reviews & don't buy without seeing a few opinions, usually ones I've come to trust.  And I don't feel like a "sheep" for doing it.

 

 

 

Ummm...apparently you DON't know what I mean. <G>  A"sheep" blindly follows the herd.  An example would be Oprah's Book Club.  Her fans read the books ONLY because they got her stamp of approval.  I have heard people unabashedly admitting that they wouldn't read if it weren't for Oprah.  And while it is great that Oprah has gotten people reading, it is also bad if/when, IMO, they will ONLY read an Oprah pick. THAT is what makes them a *sheep."    Let's face it, if Oprah told them to read the phone book, more than a few WOULD.   The fact that you read reviews does NOT make you a sheep.  For example, AVATAR means nothing to me, does nothing for me.  I am not going to go and see just because everyone else is.  And we all know people who do that. Baa - Baaa - Baaaa

 

 

Date Posted: 1/11/2010 9:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I'm thinking it's more like you don't know what I mean, Kelly.  I know what a sheep is & understand the connotation quite well, thanks.

I also don't rely on reviews when it comes to movies, music and/or television. That's why WE all were given free will. There is nothing I detest more than the whole "sheep" mentality.

It comes across like people who rely on reviews are sheep.  Had you mentioned Oprah and the herd in your post above, it probably wouldn't have read that way:)

*ETA:  Just editing this cuz I looked at what I said and that didn't come off well either.  Sorry, long day...  What I was initially trying to say was that I realized you didn't mean that way, but that's how it came across.  That's why I said I knew what you meant.  I'd have done better to just say that than to joke about it, obviously:P



Last Edited on: 1/12/10 12:30 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/12/2010 8:51 AM ET
Member Since: 5/23/2008
Posts: 12,776
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Thanks Kim, I agree with what you said. Just because I or someone else looks at a review and agrees or disagrees with it or makes conclusions based on a review, does not make the person a sheep. That is ridiculous. And insulting.

Date Posted: 1/12/2010 9:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Thanks for the validation, Anne. I was starting to wonder if I was having some kind of post *happy* holiday season PMS:P Didn't mean to be bit@#y or touchy or whatever. The sheep comment just came across that way - to me. I think we're all very strong willed women & decide what we like for ourselves. I know how that Oprah's almost snooty & elitist book club thing comes across, and I agree about that, but it's just background noise to me; I don't watch her show or give a crap one way or the other what she reads. Her goofy magazine, most likely:P It just didn't occur to me that this was what Kelly was referring to until she said that, and I wasn't presuming that she meant we put way too much stock in reviews here; just that this was how it came across. Sorry I didn't explain myself better when I initially commented - my bad. I just really like the little group thing we have going here, and do rely on the opinions of the ladies from this forum. It's a screening process for me, and has a lot to do with why I came here in the first place, two years ago. To put it as simply as possible I got tired of wasting my time & money on bad romance novels & was looking for a group of people who shared my interests to do a little networking with. To me, it's not about going along with the mainstream view of what's worth your time & what isn't. I'm never in 100% agreement even with people who I have a high similarity percentage with, and often end up being the odd woman out. But that's okay with me. It's how I know that I yam what I yam - so to speak:P
Date Posted: 1/12/2010 2:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2008
Posts: 3,291
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I read a review of a book yesterday that ticked me off a little.  This person went into great detail about what a horrible book it was and how the author can't write and how the book was a platent rip-off of another book.  They had proof that the book was a rip-off by quoting some website that had done a study or something.  And then in the middle of comparing these two books the reviewer states that they hadn't read the book that they were supposedly reviewing so they couldn't comment on how closely the two books overlaped.  If you are going to review a book at least read it or attempt to read it before writing a review.

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