Why I’m (Maybe) Changing Some of My Ratings – Let’s Discuss

April 15, 2015 Let's Discuss 59

UPDATE: It’s been less than an hour since I posted this and I’m already totally second-guessing this decision, so please feel free to weigh in with your opinions. Is this the right thing to do? Or would I be better off just coming up with a 5+ stars rating for those all-time favorites (which I’m not sure I can do with my current rating system, but might be better if I can figure it out?).

So, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a very long time, but I’m finally taking the plunge – I’m changing some of my ratings. I know – this can be a very touchy subject. After all, ratings are subjective and the rating I originally gave to a book is how I felt at the time of review, right? Well, yes. But I’ve come to the conclusion that there are other factors that are important to me too.

For instance, I wrote a post about a year ago (one of my first discussions!) asking how soon you review. Like I said, I’ve been thinking about this for a while. At the time of that post, I noticed a pattern with my reviews. If I wrote the review while I was still on that book “high,” I felt like I rated a book higher than I would if I waited a little bit before writing the review. This was especially true in my earlier reviews when I wasn’t being particularly critical and I didn’t really know what I was doing with this reviewing thing. Does that make those reviews less valid? Yes and no. But I finally determined that I don’t like the effect and I’ve decided to do something about it.

Sometimes, after some time has passed, a book goes from this:

emma-stone-excited

To something more subdued, like this:

Awesome

So, HOW am I changing my ratings? For the most part, this will affect my 5 star rated books. I really want those 5 star books to reflect the very best of the best of what I’ve read. I want to read through my 5 star list and think, with every book there, Yes! That’s one of my all-time favorites! I can’t say that right now.

I think that how a book stands the test of time (in my mind) is just as important as my initial impressions. Plus, there were times earlier in my blogging when I gave a book five stars just because I couldn’t pinpoint anything wrong with it, but I’m no longer happy with that. If it didn’t make me feel that something extra special (a feeling that lasts over time), then I don’t feel like it should be in my 5 star list.

The ratings aren’t going to shift drastically. They might go down by a half star. And I’m not changing anything on Goodreads, because my Goodreads ratings are rounded in the end anyway, and the rounding wouldn’t change. And, actually, as I’ve gone through my list of 5 star books, I’ve found that I don’t feel tempted to change as many ratings as I expected to. LOTS of books on that list are books that I still LOVE! So, don’t get too worried.

I might change a few lower than 5 star reviews as well, but probably not many. I haven’t gotten that far yet, but I think it’s mostly the 5 stars that I’m concerned with. AND I plan on moving the rating of at least one book up by a half star. (Maybe Someday, I’m looking at you – I rated it 4.5 stars because of a slight issue I had with the concept of cheating, but when I think of my favorite books of all-time, that book always inevitably comes to mind. SO, this one’s a no-brainer for me.)

So, if you go to an old review and see the following message right after the original rating, you’ll understand why:

UPDATE: I decided to change my rating for this book to 4.5 stars. Not because the book wasn’t amazing, but because, after some time has passed, it doesn’t still stand out as an absolute ALL-TIME favorite (which I would like my 5 star books to be).

I may go back and do this again from time to time, but I’m not expecting to have to change as many ratings in the future because I’m being much more selective in my 5 star ratings now (and have been for at least the last few months).

How about you? Have you ever been tempted to change your ratings? Have you done it? Do you think it’s just plain wrong? (I get you – I do.) I want to know!

2015 Discussion Challenge3

59 Responses to “Why I’m (Maybe) Changing Some of My Ratings – Let’s Discuss”

  1. kindlemom1

    This is a tough subject because I think as reviewers we have all experienced this in some form or other. I know books that I rated 5 stars three years ago when I first started reviewing, would probably not get that same rating today but at the same time, I don’t want to change the rating because I don’t think that is fair to the author either…a dilemma for sure.

    • Nicole

      I know – I’m still struggling over it (because of the author side of things), but I’m doing it anyway. In the end, it’s not affecting my Goodreads ratings and the original thoughts are still there (and even the original rating is still shown) – I just want those five star ratings to be something special. Of course, now you have me thinking about it again and I’m doubting myself. Ugh!!

        • Nicole

          No worries! I’m actually glad you brought it up because it did get me thinking. I suddenly thought, But what if this author specifically promoted the fact that I gave their book a 5 star review – even linked to it? That would look bad if the rating had suddenly changed, and it’s not the author’s fault that I’ve changed my views slightly since reading it. It’s a really valid point!

  2. Jen @ The Bookavid

    Hm, I know what you mean with that whole book-high business. But fact is, you will eventually change your midn and think about a book differently after a certain amount of time has passed. i change my ratings sometimes, there are books that I rated very badly when in fact they are one of the best books I ever read. It’s perfectly normal to change your mind and your ratings, don’t worry about it.

    • Nicole

      Yes, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m leaning toward that solution instead. My only problem is that UBB (which I use and love) doesn’t support that, so I’d have to pay to get something custom coded (or find another solution that would still integrate with what I have). I’m still leaning that way, though.

  3. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    hahaha oh I understand your torment on this issue Nicole^^ I actually did change quite a few of my ratings awhile back. When I first got back into reading, pretty much anything that would hold my opinion got a high rating. But then, the more you read, the more you see shades of grey in what you read. And I felt like the books that really DID deserve the 5-star ratings were being lumped in with books that didn’t really deserve it. I like how you describe the ‘high’ when you just finish a book and love it…but then as time passes the love lessens a bit. Books who manage to keep the love strong deserve to be set apart from those ones where the love diminishes a bit after time. It’s a tricky topic to be sure but I’m so obsessive, I had to adjust some ratings….and then of course, I ended up adjusting reviews to match the new ratings *groan* XD Good luck with whatever you decide^^ x

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted: Review: A Darker Shade of Magic
    • Nicole

      Yeah, when I started really looking at it, it felt like an impossible task – because suddenly I still wasn’t sure where to draw the line. I’m still pondering this, but I think I’ll come up with a better solution.

    • Nicole

      It is really hard to be consistent – I mean, ratings are subjective right. But I just can’t give up on them altogether. I like to have that summary that a rating gives.

  4. Karen Blue

    I don’t think I would bother going back to change ratings. In lists I have done I still have books that are 5 stars that don’t make the cut, but at the time they fit all the criteria of being a great read. To me 4 stars means that it is good, but forgettable, or flawed but forgivable. That hasn’t changed for me. My 3 star books either didn’t work for me personally or they will not work for most people but I kinda liked it. 2 star books are a no-go for me. One star books can be DNFs for me, or they offended me on some level. (Oh, sorry didn’t mean to go through my whole rating criteria.)
    All I am really trying to say is that it is a lot of work for you, without much return. How many people go back and read old reviews? Is this keeping you up at night? It is going to take a lot of your time…

    Karen Blue recently posted: Gifts for Bookish Folk, Gone Reading!
    • Nicole

      Yeah, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think you’re probably right. Why spend the time agonizing over it when I’m probably still going to be second-guessing what I come up with in the end? I’ll probably still stare at my ratings occasionally and feel like they’re all wrong, but, you know, I’m just weirdly obsessive like that. 🙂

  5. Bregje

    I honestly don’t have a problem with changing ratings. I don’t do it to often myself, and usually only on Goodreads, but I also have experienced that after some time has past I would rate the book differently then when I just finished the book. Also your opinion might change after reading other books. Maybe there have already been a lot of books about the same topic, that you are just now discovering and the book you thought was so original might not be after all.

    • Nicole

      I do feel like certain books stand up to the test of time better than others, and I want some way to acknowledge that. I’m just not totally convinced now that changing my ratings is the way to go now that I’ve looked at it from every perspective.

  6. Paij Slater

    Ratings are hard for me as well but probably for different reasons. Almost all of mine are pretty high because if I don’t like it I don’t read it. I did add a 6 star (just for my blog) because there are some that I think a 5 just isn’t high enough. For me a 3 star is a low rating. If I’ve rated it a 3 it’s probably one I would never read again, but it was solid enough to read once. Does that even make sense. Even with review books now I won’t finish if it doesn’t capture me. I have too many book I want to read that I don’t deal with stinkers for me anymore. Great topic and ratings are YOUR opinion so in the end it only matters what YOU think

    • Nicole

      Yeah, I’m leaning toward adding something at the top of my scale too. I tend to rate high as well – I think it’s just that I do genuinely enjoy most books. I’m definitely still thinking about this …

  7. Silvara

    I wouldn’t go back and change the ratings. But mostly because that sounds like a LOT of work, and I’d rather be reading or doing something else that wouldn’t take so much time. Plus, if the book felt like a 5 at the time you read it, just because you now have other books to compare it to that you like better, does that really mean the previous book doesn’t deserve its rating?

    I’ve had to think about that when rating current reads. Maybe instead of re-rating previous books, you could add a graphic or something to the bottom of the reviews on the ones you think should get a 5+. Kind of like the achievement stickers some teachers give to kindergarteners for doing an extra good job? *grins* That would also fix the UBB issue of only going up to 5 stars.

    • Nicole

      Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m currently thinking. I’m just wondering if I can manage to have those books show up on my reviews by rating page … Honestly, I’m probably the only one who’s really paying attention to my ratings, so it probably shouldn’t bother me so much, but it does somehow. 🙂

  8. Lola

    Just like you I feel like if I write the review right after I finish a book I am more on a book high, but I actually want that as I usually feel that I have a hard time adequately expressing my enthousiasme and love for a book.
    Okay back on topic I am not going to change ratings as I feel like the rating was true on the moment I wrote my review and else I have to do a re-read change my rating and write a new review, else it feels odd using an old review and a new rating. Although I do see your point about opinions changing and excitement fading and the old rating not adequately reflecting that. It’s a difficult topic I think.

    If I look back at my older 5 star ratings I definitely see some books I don’t love anymore or were the feelings have faded, especially some of the books I read a 2 or 3 years or longer ago. I just don’t feel that same love anymore, although for some I do. Does that means those books I still feel the love for are more deserving of a 5 star rating? I sure think it does say something, but I am not sure if changing the rating expresses that. Although it does make an interesting topic for a discussion post or top ten list. I also think that how you feel over time is important as well and I like your idea of adding a note to express the change and explain it. Great post!

    • Nicole

      Yeah, when I look at my ratings, I just feel like there is such a range in the five star books. I do think I might just try to find a way to delineate that top range, though. Still thinking about this …

  9. Rachel

    I had a dilemma with this not so long ago and I took the plunge. When I was approaching a year of blogging I decided to review my reviews – I felt that when I first started blogging I was just getting into reading again in a big way, and I was swayed a little by hype and pressure when it came to certain reads, and I wanted to go back and review the ratings I’d given those books. The content of my reviews didn’t change, but when I laid out my reviews by ratings in this new layout (http://confessionsofabookgeek.com/reviews/books-by-rating/) there wasn’t enough of a distinction for me between the reads. That, and there were a couple of books that I felt I didn’t enjoy loads at the time, but the characters and themes have seriously stuck with me for more than a year (Tease by Amanda Maciel), so I tweaked ratings by .5 of a star up or down. It only affected around 3-5 books, but I wouldn’t have been content until that had been “fixed”. Now, I plan to review my reviews at the end of every year. I have to review an rate a book reasonably quickly after reading it while my thoughts are still fresh, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I have no problem going back and adjusting them later so they’re more accurate. You can check out my original post here – http://confessionsofabookgeek.com/2015/01/15/do-you-review-your-reviews/

    • Nicole

      I actually remember your post – it was one of the things that encouraged me that changing the ratings wasn’t such a bad thing. Of course, I’m back to waffling again now, but I definitely want to do something to delineate between those books that have stood up to the test of time and those that haven’t as much.

  10. Shannon @ The Tale Temptress

    Okay, I gave this a lot of thought when I first read your post, and I’m going to give you my honest, gut-reaction. If it was me, I wouldn’t change them. I would just go forward with your new rating system. Here’s why. While I do understand your position and how you’re thinking you weren’t quite “qualified yet” as a reviewer to really know how to rate at that time, you’ve learned a lot since then though, so going forward, you can be sure you’re going to rate more thoughtfully. But if you go backward and change ratings, I agree with the person above who said it might not be fair to the author to go back and change it. I look at it this way… on my job, let’s say I got a 4 out of 5 performance evaluation two years ago. Then my boss comes back to me two years later and says, okay Shannon, I’ve had two years to think about your performance back then, and I change my mind about all the nice things I said about you. It would be a blow. And I’d want to know their reasoning because, let’s face it, she must have felt that way about me at the time or she wouldn’t have rated me that way.

    Now here’s another analogy. Even though you have more reviewing experience under your belt now, and you might 5 star something at the time you read it because you reviewed it right away and were on a high, you felt high enough on the book at that moment to give it a 5. When you’re taking a test, statistics indicate that most of the time your first answer is the right one. At that moment, you felt it was a 5. If you think back on it later, you’re probably comparing it to other 5 star ratings you’ve given to other books. But the problem with that may be that you’re comparing apples to oranges after you’ve already eaten the apple and loved it. Should you re-rate your apple just because the orange tasted so good to you several months later?

    A lot of analogies, I know. LOL! Just my $0.02. 🙂

    Shannon @ The Tale Temptress

    Shannon @ The Tale Temptress recently posted: Cover Reveal: The Summer of Lost Wishes by Jessa Gabrielle
    • Nicole

      Yes, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve decided that you’re absolutely right. That job analogy is a great one. And when it came right down to it, I think that I liked the idea of changing my ratings, but the reality of doing it was a lot harder. I found that when I started reading through reviews, I found myself really being wishy-washy on whether or not I should actually change them because it suddenly felt like I was going back on my original words or something, and it didn’t feel right. So, I think that the much better solution is just to find some way to delineate certain books as all-time favorites without lowering any ratings.

    • S. J. Pajonas

      I like Shannon’s analogies! And, though I don’t watch my ratings too closely, yeah, I would probably wonder why someone changed their mind a year later. Best to leave it as is, and maybe change things going forward! I think, from what I’ve read of your comments, this is what you’ve already decided on 🙂

      S. J. Pajonas recently posted: Choosing To Write Short Stories
      • Nicole

        Yeah, I think that makes sense. Ironically, your book is what made me think of this again. I gave it 4.5 stars and I was thinking, “But this was easily as good as some of my older five star reads. It doesn’t seem “fair” that I’m rating a bit harder now.” Ah, yes – my husband thinks I’m crazy for letting these sorts of things stress me out, but I can’t help but obsess. Of course, if I wasn’t obsessing over this, I’d probably be obsessing over something else. LOL!

  11. ShootingStarsMag

    I think ratings are all subjective. If you rate, if you don’t. If you give five stars, if you give ten. If you have half-points, if you don’t. You get the idea. I don’t tend to rate books unless it’s something that I really loved or it’s a bit in-between – also, if I post the review on Amazon, they MAKE you rate it and I kind of hate that. haha

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: Fans of the Impossible Life
    • Nicole

      I agree – and the fact that it’s subjective is what makes it so hard!! I do still like having a rating, though, so I’m not giving up on them completely!

  12. Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit

    This is a big, big issue for me as well – I’ve been thinking about this a lot for awhile, and I’ve determined that I will stick with what I have but be more discerning as time goes on…I totally get it though. As you learn more about what’s out there, you really want your ratings to reflect who you are now. And book highs are real. My thing is…if I had a book high then, then maybe other people will too, and maybe that’s enough.

    Ultimately, I do feel like I will end up changing some of my ratings for favourites – but only if the rating goes up. I kind of think it’s hard to go lower on ratings unless I have a real reason to do so.

    • Nicole

      Yes, book highs are definitely real. I do think that there were some cases where I rated a book higher than I should have because I just got to that amazing ending and forgot about some of the flaws, but the more I’ve thought about it, the less I’m feeling like I actually will change my actual ratings. I think another solution might be better.

  13. Cynthia

    Great post. I did this recently as well on Goodreads. I was adding a shelf for my favorites and my five star reads. But when I was moving some of them to the favorites shelf, I realized they did not deserve five star ratings anymore. Maybe my tastes have changed or maybe it is because I have read so many incredible books lately, but I feel like I have gotten a bit picky with my five stars. Twilight is one of those books I lowered my rating for. I would probably give a 3.5 now.

    • Nicole

      Yeah, it’s so hard to decide how to handle this. Our tastes and feelings change over time – that’s a fact!

  14. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    Okay, so I have been thinking about this too, as you know. And here’s what I have decided: I am not going to change ALL the ratings. If it’s only off by a half a star or so… meh. It’s just not worth the effort. BUT, since I added a “Reviews by Rating” page, I think I need to do something about a few of the books that would not really make the grade, OR in a few cases, I found out things about them that would actually INCREASE the rating, so those need to change.

    I’m going to be very candid here, and hope I don’t get too much flack, but when I first started reviewing (not even blogging so much, but reviewing), I HATED giving low ratings. SO even if I didn’t like a book, it often got 3 stars. Um WHAT!? So yeah, stuff had to be changed.

    Bottom Line? My suggestion is to change the books that have ratings that you simply can’t stand by. If you don’t feel right about them, change them. It’s YOUR thoughts and feelings on the book, so you should be able to change them however you see fit. I do understand the whole perspective on the authors, but honestly, you’re not reviewing FOR authors. Plus, is any author really going to notice if you change a star on an old review? Not likely.You need to have ratings and reviews that make YOU comfortable!

    Also, we should ask Ashley for a 5+ rating in UBBv3 😉

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted: Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
    • Nicole

      Yes – I thought about this with UBBv3 – I’ll ask for it, and you back me up on it! 🙂

      I do agree. For now, I think I’ll stick with creating an All-Time favorites category and only change ratings I really feel strongly about. Honestly, when I went to go change one or two, I found myself second-guessing anyhow when I read the reviews, so … Yeah, I have trouble making decisions. Why should this be any different?

  15. Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales

    I get this sudden instinct to go update all my ratings in GR often.Because my tastes and views have matured and changed a lot,that my reviews and ratings when I first started to read YA,(I started reading YA when I was 11)seem inappropriate now.
    But I don’t do it anyway,mostly because I don’t have the time to refresh all the ratings.It will take quite a lot of time.So I just let the idea go by.
    But if you think you can do it,I think you should go for it!

    Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales recently posted: Rewriting the fairytale || Damsel Distressed by Kelsey Macke
    • Nicole

      Yeah, I don’t know if it’s really worth the time it would take. Of course, I spend lots of time obsessing over it anyway! 🙂

    • Nicole

      I think the more you read (and especially review), the more you start to see that nuances that separate a really fantastic book from a great book (or a great book from a really good book, etc). Live and learn, right?

  16. tonyalee

    To be honest – I has never once crossed my mind to actually change my ratings for a book. But I do have some thoughts.

    I am like you – when I am on that book HIGH you can be a little bit more.. NICE on the review. Which is why I personally WAIT 1-2 days before writing my reviews, so I have time to THINK about it, ya know?

    As for those older books that we might have rated 4-5 stars? That’s shows how much you have grown as a reader. I can list books ALL DAY LONG that I rated 4-5 stars two years ago and wouldn’t even pick them up now; or seriously dislike them if I did. And those that were only 1-2 that I would probably love. I think if you are more critical in your reviews, or tougher, just make a note on your “ratings” page. I wouldn’t “change” them though – because that was what you felt at the time, not now.

    I am not saying DON’T change it – because that’s all you. Hope you find a decision that is right for you 🙂

    • Nicole

      I try to wait before I review now as well. I think that sometimes books end really well, and I was being influenced on that book high a little too much. I really do want my ratings to show which books truly have a lasting impact and which ones I may have loved at the time, but then kind of fell off my radar.

  17. C.J. @ ebookclassics

    Wow, I really admire this post and totally understand how you’re second-guessing yourself. Ever since we discussed rating books, I still can’t decide whether I should keep ratings, ditch rating or change the way I rate books. I’m leaning towards keeping ratings because reviews don’t feel complete without them.

    C.J. @ ebookclassics recently posted: #CloudAtlasAlong – Sections 3 & 4
    • Nicole

      Yeah, some people have suggested getting rid of ratings completely, but I don’t think I could do that. I do see value in giving a rating. It’s just hard to be completely consistent!

  18. Elizabeth

    I totally see what you’re saying. I don’t do star ratings on my blog because of it. I usually conclude with a quick paragraph about who would like the book and the best or worst thing about it.
    When I give star ratings on goodreads, I think that if I am on a “high” as you said, I do give it a better rating. I’ve seen a few users who don’t do stars there, either. I also need to think about the genre of the book. A Harlequin romance can still get a 4, in my opinion, even though it’s not literary fiction if it’s a fabulous example of the genre.

    • Nicole

      Yes, I definitely think that the genre affects my rating as well. A five star fantasy novel might be different than five star literary fiction, but that doesn’t make it any “less,” in my opinion. That’s a great point!

  19. Katy

    This is something I’ve been struggling with as a new blogger – trying to figure out how to best rate things. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one! I agree with some of your thoughts – I might go for leaving 5 star ratings to those all time favorite books as well. Giving books that space between reading and reviewing is probably a good idea as well as I’ve done that same thing.

  20. Evie Mollitt

    I think this is a wise move! I totally agree that a book rating can change after time and that maybe a book review written just after the book was read could be inaccurate. I think that really good books won’t change in your mind a while after they have been read and that good writing will keep you on that “book high”. I have recently started a book blog and I wish to post my own reviews, so i think i will note down my initial thoughts and then edit them before I publish the post. I really like your blog, do you have any tips on how to start a good blog?
    thanks!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Evie!! Welcome to blogging! The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to make your blog personal and don’t worry too much about doing things “wrong.” Honestly, it will take a little while to find your stride and to figure out what types of posts you love to write. But if you love your content, your readers will too! One great way to encourage comments is to include a question of some type in your posts – and just interact with lots of other bloggers!

  21. Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts

    Interesting thoughts on reviews riding the current high and get bolstered because of it. I’d like to think that most of the books I read start off as a 3/5 (for superficial ratings sake) and can go up/down based on various factors. Actually, I really think most books should be 3/5 because there’s no one book that appeals to everyone, and even so, there will be flaws. The inverse is true as well. (Like, I personally find 3/5’s to be the most honest reviews out there even if it exudes a neutral vibe.)

    Though, I am pretty tempted to re-do my earlier ratings to keep up with changing reader habits but it’s definitely a daunting task that I’m not sure I want to tackle haha.

    Cheers,
    Joey

    Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts recently posted: [Think Aloud] – #13 – Love Triangles Are Not Actually Triangles
    • Nicole

      That’s a good way to think about it – starting from neutral and then going up or down from there. I think that makes a lot of sense!

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