Saturday, September 17, 2016

It's Full of Stars (How I'm Rating Things)

Yes, I read two of the RPG books on my backlog while on vacation in Hawaii. No, I haven't posted my reviews yet (not that you were all that worried). Turns out, doing all of your laundry and recovering from not sleeping a whole weekend at the same time as getting over your jet lag can put a crimp in your plans.

That said, it occurred to me that I used stars in my first review, without giving you a functional definition of what those stars mean to me. At first I figured this would be self-evident. Then I read a review on Amazon in which the reviewer gave the product three stars and left a review with said only, "I hated it."

So, I'm guessing stars mean different things to different people.

I also briefly thought about going with a percentile ranking system. I used to like that from back in the day when I was reading various PC gaming magazines. The problem with that, however, is that a percentile ranking system looks a lot like a grade, but doesn't exactly work the same way.

For example. a 50% is an average game in that style of ranking. Not great, not noteworthy, but not terrible. You just might be able to find more exciting games for your money. However, because it looks an awful lot like the grades you might have gotten in school, instead of "average," a 50% looks like a fail, which led to several of those magazines, at the time, feeling they had to explain when a decent game got a 65% or when a game they liked that had some issues here and there got a 75%.

I'll also throw this out there. I don't like giving out "extremes." I see a lot of one star and five star reviews that don't reflect that the product is either one of the worst or one of the best things the reviewer has ever encountered, and to me, that's what that means. Also, I'm probably not going to waste a lot of time actually reviewing something I honestly feel is one star unless there is some kind of ambiguity about why it could be that bad.

So, with all of that in place, here is what I mean when I use a star system. This is my process, and my understanding, so if it doesn't quite line up with how others have expressed something similar, at least now you know the point of divergence.

*  This is a waste of time and money. Very few people are going to find value in this, but you can never say never.

** This product is flawed. If you are heavily invested in the source material, you may still want this item, but if you can, wait until you can get it used or on sale. Not essential or recommended.

*** This is a good product. It is solid, and is probably a reasonable value for the time and money you would spend acquiring and assimilating the information in the product. May not be integral to pick up if it is part of a continuing line of product, but if you have the time and money, or you are particularly invested, you probably won't be disappointed.

**** This is an excellent product. It is worth the time and money you will invest in it. If it is part of a line of products, it is probably one of the more essential purchases you should make if you are following that line. It may have some flaws, but overall it provides a lot of value and should not disappoint.

***** This is among the best products of this type to be produced. If you are interested at all in the particular line, you will want to have this item. Items of this quality may be worth having even if you aren't a fan of the particular product line because it is worth seeing what it does right.

And, as always, these are just my opinions, from my point of view. You may disagree, and I'm not going to tell you that you are wrong, just that what I pointed out is what I see, from my perspective.

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