I first started writing terrible Amazon reviews in 3rd grade, way back in 1999. Those were the days when all Amazon users would still just file away their opinions as "Customer reviews" and little distinction was made between children and adults. I grew on this system, learning to crudely translate my complex (well... to be honest, at first they were hardly complex. More like... childish...) opinions into 1-5 star ratings.
But it was only ever a crude figure. As the years went by, it became harder and harder to rate appropriately. Then sites like Goodreads and LibraryThing came around. These sites also built themselves on the 5-star rating (though LT also gave half stars, making it a 10-star rating, I guess...), each one providing a different scale than Amazon's.
This isn't the time for a rating inflation rant, but it is the time to slap these 5-star ratings away. I don't mean this as a dramatic statement against ratings, but the fact is that in today's online climate, there is no clear scale for a 5-star system. None. Every site offers its own recommendation for what each star rating could mean, leaving little room for complexities. LT's 10-star system is revolutionary in comparison. It allows for depth.
When I think of books, I don't think in numbers. I don't think in stars. I think in characters, in writing, in originality... I think about whether the book was enjoyable or tasking, whether it was rewarding or pointless, whether it entertained or educated. Two books can both get the same official 4-star rating when my reactions to them were completely different. My expectations from them are miles apart. How can any numerical system fully encompass this?
Again, I don't believe that there's something wrong with star ratings. When reading a review, it's convenient and easy to have a simple number summarize the reviewer's thoughts. That's not really a good thing, though. It is - for good and for bad - a simplification of the review. A numerical representation of complex emotions and thoughts. I like using star ratings, I like using sites that allow me to summarize my thoughts like that. What I don't like is the imbalances. I don't like 5-stars, I like 10. I don't like one site telling me that 3-stars is good while the other tells me that it's okay. I don't like the descriptions jumping from good straight to excellent. How does that make sense?
So let us raise our voices high! Let the 5-star system be forsaken, let us welcome a new age of complex reviews, a new age of a wide range of opinions and of organized, accepted descriptions for star ratings. Who's with me?