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The Perils of Five-Star Rating Systems

There are many ways of rating “things”. Michelin will give your restaurant zero to (if you’re very lucky) three stars. All sorts of things are scored on percentage scales. On hot ot not, and elsewhere in life, you’re judged on how well you match up to being a “perfect ten”. But probably the majority of rating systems operate on a scale of from one to five stars (or… insert non-starry symbol of choice here. Or even the numbers one to five). There are very good reasons for this. A major one, I guess, is the nature of the human brain: short-term memory generally has seven plus or minus two slots for us to store information in, so if you go much over five then you risk having more discrete levels than you can actually comprehend at the same time. Also, five fits a standard scale centred around an average value, with values for good and ungood, plus extreme values for very good and very ungood. So, five is cool.

But after a few months of using iTunes and rating my songs according to their five star system, I started to run into problems. I started to want half-stars in between the stars. Or at the very least, a sixth star. Continue reading The Perils of Five-Star Rating Systems