Why We Removed Star Ratings from Simple Talk

Star ratings have always been an interesting thing on the Internet. They can be a way to encourage interaction with creators, shopping locations, etc. However, they can also be a bit of trouble as well. Since I started as the editor of this website, I have noticed a few things that have led to us removing star ratings.

Generally speaking, I group people who interact with the star system to rate a post in the following 3 groups:

  1. Those who actually love a post
  2. Those who don’t like a post
  3. People who really shouldn’t be leaving a rating

The first two make sense, and we will be looking for ways these people can still interact with the writer. The first group is easy, and why most social media uses a simple like button only. The second group consists of those from whom I want more details. Did the article not do what you expected? What were your expectations? Your opinion is far more valuable than a one-star rating.

Group three is the reason we are pulling them from the site today. We have had too many cases where there were unrealistically high numbers of five-star and one-star ratings come through.

Let me say how we define unrealistically high ratings. They come in bursts. We have data that will show when ratings come in. You did not need to be logged in to leave a rating (and increase the reader count for that matter). It was quite suspicious when large numbers of people all happened to come to an article and say “we love this!” or “we hate this!” in just a few minutes or hours in one day.

While I certainly appreciated the “we love this!” version more than the hate version, neither made our content look better unless every article was getting feedback like this, and I know from lots of experience, people only rate things they really care about, and usually when they know the person.

What’s Next

We are working on a lot of enhancements to the Simple Talk website and deciding how to go ahead with getting your feedback. We hope to come up with the simplest way possible that can’t be obviously gamed and will let you show your appreciation to the writer or tell the writer where they are wrong so the content can be fixed (or even removed if need be, if something slips through the editorial process that isn’t up to our desired standards.)

Until these enhancements are ready, every article will continue to have a link to a Discus thread. If you love or hate an article, leave comments. Start a discussion. Tell us more than 1-5 little stars ever could have.

Even if your disagree with this choice, would love to hear from you!