I don't mind getting lower than five ratings, so long as the reviewer points out what they thought needed improving.
What I take umbrage to, is being given a three or four, I say thank you and ask for clarification of what they thought lacked, and I don't hear another word.
Recently, I was given a four, the reviewer said the piece was "excellent" but he found the meter didn't quite flow for him in places. That's fine by me! At least he explained what he found didn't sit right for him, and it wasn't that he just didn't like it enough to rate five.
If I award a four or lower, I cut and paste and explain, to show what I found that needed improvement.
Mostly that is appreciated, but sometimes you get the precious pollyannas who think their work is perfect, and I can almost hear their sigh of irritation as they go on to read the next empty five rating, while shaking their precious head at my ignorance.
I credit Fanstory with helping me improve way back in 2008, and try to do the same these days for others.
There's always been, and always will be, those who "do it for the money" so to speak, and those who think they're the reincarnation of Poe or Plath. It makes for an interesting mix of members!
Lots of good substance in this thread, which I agree with. I want to add:
1) Personally, I sometimes give a five even with lots of spag in cases where I already have a relationship with the writer and know they are going to make corrections. It saves the time I otherwise take to go back and re-rate after it's all 'clean'. Another time I give five in spite of a three or four spag issues is if it is a fairly new writer who might get discouraged by a four and react to ratings instead of feedback. I confess to being slightly less honest in ratings than in the past, in general, due to people misinterpreting honest ratings as 'mean' instead of constructive. For example, I might give a four where a three would be more precise.
2) Some newbies may not understand that ratings do not relate to how much the work personally resonated with them. They might think of it as akin to rating products on line--according to thier specific taste! Ratings should pertain to the writing aspects and not to the reviewer's taste in subject and style. It is fine to remark about thier personal reaction in the comments, but not to mark down the rating on the basis of thier own preferences in subject matter or style. The only time I mark down for those is when the write makes absolutely no sense and is like gibberish. There are one or two writers who have posted here in the past where the writing was like thier own personal language. That might be considered a style choice, but I could not give that five stars! LOL
Short Works Rating
Thanks very much, rama devi, for your comments, your ratings have always been respected, and I believe the kind of encouragement shown, does make a difference...yes, why not give a five to a writer whose's work you know well...Also I think the idea of using encouragement as a priority, is a good thing...along with the corrections that surely help all of us...I give a 4 star rating, only if the work is so full of spag, that it's clear the writer might want to rewrite their post. I believe it's better to encourage, and give each writer a chance to make any needed corrections, rather than to give a 4 because of the substance of a piece, and move on.
I've always appreciated your reviews, because of the principles you just stated, and I believe you set a good example of helpful, yet encouraging reviews.
Just Some Thoughts
I've had a lot of 4s from Rama, and it hasn't upset me at all. She always gives just constructive reviews, pointing out my faults. I have improved immensely because of them. When I first joined FS she would review my Hedgerow Gang poems, and they were loooong! some up to 35 stanzas. The time and effort she put into her edits, was never ever taken in the wrong way, had she not done that and let me believe my poems were perfect, I would not have had a publisher accept them. I say to everyone, learn from those 3 and 4 star reviews, they are priceless.
Awwww, thanks for your kind words, Mrs. Major and Sandra....much appreciated.
It also helps if one does come back and upgrade once spag is fixed or changes are made. Then people find it easier to realize you're being constructive and helpful, not 'mean'.
Short Works Rating
The main frustration is two-fold:
1.) People who give a review lower than a five need to explain why. What is wrong? What can I improve? Is there something that needs to be changed with this piece, or does the reviewer not like my religion, politics, style, etc.? Reviews less than five stars don't make me mad; reviews with less than five stars which also tell me my poem was great and the reviewer loved it really burn my bacon.
2.) There will always be conflict over the rating system as long as it serves two purposes. FanStory is a community support group for improving one's writing skills, and it is also a competitive site where you "pit your skills" against others, receive awards, rankings, etc. If you are "playing" to be competitive, less than five star rankings are going to irritate.
This is especially true since an honest look at the way rankings are set up tells you that it is not the best pieces of writing that come out on top, but simply those pieces which had the most member cent pumps used. As I often point out in reviews, presentation really means a lot here and will make a difference in contests, whether one thinks that is the way it should be or not.
Any review I receive which is less than five stars is almost always worthless, as it comes with NO CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. It is infuriating to receive "I really loved your poem." along with four stars. I especially covet the six star reviews, as I know those are limited and are given out sparingly. The feedback is usually more detailed on those reviews as well. Five star reviews which state that it would have been a six if there were any left are valued almost as much as the six themselves, because the reviewer usually takes the time to give some detailed feedback. Any rating would be acceptable if given in good faith with the appropriate constructive feedback.
I don't know specifically how to "fix" the system. It is what it is. I love the community, I really enjoy those reviews where I can tell the reviewer really connected with what I wrote. I don't have the illusion that stars or rankings directly imply quality. Quality is a factor, but the biggest factor in the ranking system is the amount of time and money you are willing to commit to promote each piece.
I think FanStory is a valuable asset in my writing practice. I have received much valuable feedback from here, and have been inspired from the prompts and contests here to write some of my favorite poems in my portfolio. This is never going to be a 100% tough love HONEST critique site for writing. If you want that kind of critique, submit for a Seal of Quality, as in my experience they don't pull punches there. But even that, as all critiques, is going to be subjective and influenced to some extent by the literary biases of the judges.
Enjoy this community for what it is, because there is a lot of enjoyment to be had. And don't take yourself too seriously or criticism too personally.
I think that four ratings given with comments highly praising the work can often be a simple slip of the fingertip. Ive done that once or twice, and if the author points it out and asks why the four, I apologise and change it to five. It's easy to accidentally select four instead of five, trust me! Unless I'm just clumsy or have fat fingers lol