Rating system breakdown

I wanna discuss rating systems for a bit. From what I gather there are three flavors: a simple “one vote” method, a thumbs up or down, and the scale. Each solutions goal is to find out what people think of your content. This is helpful when trying to understand your audience.

The “one vote” method

As simple as it gets. If someone likes a piece of content they simply click a button saying so. Nothing more nothing less. This is a visceral response, a “blink” reaction which requires minimal thought. The downside is you can’t infer that a non-vote means people dislike content. A non-vote most likely means they didn’t read the content enough to care which could suggest weak content but it’s a little grey.

Thumbs up, thumbs down

This one makes me think of Siskel and Ebert and their black and white critiques of film. Probably the most widely used style because of its simplicity. Like the “one vote” method, it relies on gut reactions but allows people to express their dislike for a piece of content. The style sometimes borrows the visualization side of the scale system below.


Frequently represented as stars, we commonly see this method used along with reviews and entertainment ratings. This system requires the most amount of thought from a person which often leads to poor return. It’s best used in situations where a person is investing time into writing a review.


Implementing a rating system isn’t for the faint of heart. You need to be comfortable with powers of online democracy. Oddly enough rating systems are why Google works. They’re Page Rank system is based almost entirely on the “one vote” method where a link from one site to another stands as a “vote.” “Democracy on the web works.”](http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html) This can be seen on Newsvine, Digg, Delicious, Flickr, and more.