The greatest crime at Epinions are you guilty?May 28, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in BooksThe Bottom Line Ratings are more important than you might think...here's why and how you can establish a good rating system.
You can abuse the system all day long and you still wonít be committing the greatest crime at Epinions. Really. Thereís only one crime here.
Yes, I meant to say that! Every single abuse at Epinions comes down to selfishness. The plagiarists? They think they can get away with stealing someoneís writing. The ďa a a aĒ people? They want to make fast money without any work. And the revenge raters? They think theyíre entitled to be mean to those who are honest.
Knowing that, ratings become something of a warped issue. Most people read and rate articles (in the Just-In, for the most part) for selfish reasons: either to gain popularity and readers, or to bring someone down. The first reason is mostly acceptable; otherwise weíd all have a readership of about two. The second reason is obviously unacceptable unless the person is an abuser. But if we have the first reason in mind AT ALL when weíre rating, then we need to seriously consider how we rate.
Why does my standard of rating matter?
There are several reasons why you should put at least a little effort into deciding how to rate. Site helpfulness, communal trustworthiness, and personal integrity are the three most important to me. SAY WHAT?! Just sit back in your chair and relax. Iíll briefly explain.
1. Site helpfulness. Seriously, people do come here to find out the dirt on things. Whenever Iím considering a movie, a book, a new gadget, I check it out on Epinions. And then I find that reviews with a couple sentences on the product and ten paragraphs on their last boating trip are rated Very Helpful. I find this phenomenon all the time. This tells me that an article like this is needed, so people make conscious decisions about whatís helpful and what isnít.
2. Communal trustworthiness. If you donít care a flip about who trusts you or who selects you to be an important Epinions member, then this reason will have no meaning for you. But if you want a large Web of Trust and/or are trying to become a Featured Reviewer/Advisor, a standard of rating is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, youíll be rating stupid articles Helpful and mediocre ones Very Helpful. Believe it or not, people will notice your rating habits and base their trust or distrust of you on that. If I see someone rating an ďa a a aĒ epinion VH, they might just end up on my Block list. If someoneís consistently honest in their ratings, that is a big factor when Iím considering trusting them.
3. Personal integrity. This may not mean very much to you either, but I know it does for me and a lot of other people. I feel awful when I go back to a really poor article and find Iíve rated it VH. Iíd like to know that the reviews I rate VH truly deserve that enormous badge of honor. (No really, Iím not that conceited. ;-)
Letís stop rating bad reviews VH!!!!
Why do you feel compelled to rate every article that does a decent job VH? Why do you feel obligated to rate every article that spills a few paragraphs about the product H?
I feel that it all comes down to that big crime I mentioned Ė selfishness. People want others to think the best of them, so they rate epinions better than they actually think they are. Or, they just skim the article, which means they have no clue how helpful it really was. My recommendation? Take the time to read the review, then donít be afraid to give your honest opinion of it.
Creating your own standard of rating
Your rating system has to work for you. Donít automatically adopt my or anybody elseís standard of rating, because itís not going to fit you perfectly. Use these tips to develop a personal criteria for evaluating reviews:
1. Decide on the features that make a review helpful TO YOU. Take a product youíre considering but donít know very much about; read the epinions on it; and use the ones that gave you the info and advice you needed to know to form your rating system. Think about what was in those articles you just rated VH. Why were they very helpful to you? The elements that made it VH to you should be included in every epinion that you rate VH.
2. Guidelines Ė make them and follow through with them. You canít be a good rater if you have no idea why youíre rating the way you are. At the end of this editorial, I include my own guidelines for rating, and you can borrow from them if you choose. Be consistent; a review that falls into the guidelines for SH should receive a SH rating, whether its written by your best friend or your worst enemy. And that reminds meÖ
3. Donít let ďfeelingsĒ influence your rating. When I say feelings, Iím not talking about your gut instinct on a review (THAT you should listen to). Iím talking about basing your rating on any other reason than the article itself. If youíre rating to become more well-known, donít compromise your own trustworthiness by giving out undeserved good ratings. If youíre rating a member you trust (or who trusts you), donít let that influence your opinion. They arenít going to quit trusting you or hate you for the rest of your lives if you give a lower rating than everybody else. They might even respect you more for having higher standards than everybody else. One more thing: donít automatically give VHs to people with large WOTs. They can write cruddy epinions too.
4. Forget about popularity when deciding on your ratings. What I mean is this: donít base your system of rating on how the rating will make the person think of you. Iíve had people put me on their trust list after I rated their epinion SH, and of course Iíve had many people NOT put me on their trust list after I rated their epinion VH. (Keep in mind that Iíve also had lots of people ďreturn the favorĒ Ė give my reviews indiscriminate Hs, SHs or NHs because thatís how I rated their review.
Some of the aspects of the article to consider are quality of writing, quality of information, entertainment, amount of detail, and comprehensiveness. All of these are important, but especially the first three. Each time you go to click on one of those little buttons at the bottom, stop to think for a minute: how well written is this article? How much information and detail does it include? Was I interested by what the writer had to say? Did the article cover everything it needed to?
Using your standards: RATING!
So now you have some guidelines in place for deciding how to rate, you jump into the Just-In and start clicking everyone. HOLD IT! Before you begin a rampage of ruthless rating, letís talk about how to apply your standard to every review you read.
Remember every principle that you think is important in a great review when evaluating the epinion. Make a mental checklist in your mind and after reading the review, go through that checklist. Although Iím not going to tell you what you HAVE to use in deciding how to rate, these are the things that I suggest you look at:
1. Quality of writing. How well written is the review? How about the spelling and grammar? Heaven knows Iím the last person to judge but if I canít even read the review because the spelling and grammar is so atrocious, I wonít be able to rate it highly. If the writer is intelligent, coherent, and talks to the reader like a friend, this is an important element towards a VH. Writing style is also important; if I like the way the author writes, that will contribute to how I rate.
2. Quality of information. Really, does ďI love ________ (insert product name) cuz itís coolĒ give you valuable information on the product? Of course not! Info to look for includes basic facts about the product, description of features, and advice on how those features measure up. Under this category also comes amount of detail and comprehensiveness. Do you have a good understanding of the product after reading the review? If so, consider giving it a good rating.
3. Entertainment. Did you enjoy reading the epinion? Or at least were you interested by what the writer had to say? If I am completely bored by a review or editorial, that might just be enough to make me give it a H instead of a VH. Of course, you have to keep this aspect in perspective and not let it influence you too much; but it will affect how you rate one way or another.
And if the review fails in these qualities, you can know without going into deep analysis that it deserves a poor rating. Simple, no?
Some people think Iím very harsh when I rate. Others think Iím too liberal, giving VHs to undeserving reviews. Regardless, I have to have my own criteria for rating articles that works with what I believe in. Iím not going to conform to anybody elseís way of rating just because you tell me to. And I donít plan on forcing you to do that either. But a good epinionator will consider the aspects of reviews I talked about earlier and base their rating on those or the aspects that are important to them.
Very Helpful : I donít expect perfection, but I do expect good writing, a lot of information, and trustworthy advice on whether or not the product is worth it. (Sounds like perfection to me, youíre saying.) I take into consideration the complexity of the product before I rate the review. Thereís only so many things you can say about a golfball before you start rambling. So review it thoroughly, and thatís all you can do. I also expect quality writing and comprehensive knowledge of the product. Car reviews are especially prone to give info on just a few aspects Ė like A.C. and appearance Ė and ignore some important features. I give out VHs to about 25% of what I read in the Just-In, and about 40% of what I read on specific products that I look up.
Helpful : Itís good, but somethingís missing. Something important. If you write about a carseat and donít talk about its safety, the review gets a H. Thatís that. Simply because I canít in good conscious highly recommend a review that leaves out a necessary part. Maybe the ďsomethingĒ thatís missing is detail; mentioning aspects and not going into detail about them will earn my H rating. Or maybe you were somewhat off-topic but not enough to be Somewhat Helpful. Iím sure Iíll think of more ways to earn a H rating from me, and Iíll add them here as I come up with them. Usually H epinions have most of the primary aspects covered, just not enough detail. I give out Hs to 40% of Just-In reviews and 30% of specific products reviews.
Somewhat Helpful : These days, itís easy to earn a SH from me. Just write a really bad review that brings up a few of the productís features and youíre there! This rating means that a lot is missing from the article Ė some major points and many major details. Although you might tend to slap this on any short review, think again: Iíve read short reviews that were far more helpful than rambling 1000-word reviews (like this one, youíre saying?) So length isnít an indication of helpfulness. However, Iíve found that most short reviews arenít in-depth enough to be helpful to the consumer. I give out SHs to 30-35% of Just-In reviews, and 30% of specific products reviews.
Not Helpful: You might not believe this, but I give these puppies out fairly frequently. More than I used to. If you say you love the product a few times, tell me how you and your friends went to the store to buy it, and fill your epinion with similar useless blather, Iím not going to say itís helpful just because it mentions the product. Iím going to rate it Not Helpful and I usually explain why I rated that way. I donít give NHs to say I hate you, but to say I was disappointed with your review. One NH isnít the end of your Epinions career. It just means you need to start writing better (or that youíre being stalked by a revenge rater). Occasionally a VERY off-topic review will get my NH. I give out NHs to 5-10% of Just-In reviews and almost never to specific product reviews.
Something that might help youÖ
Iíve recently invented a revolutionary way to rate reviews. For $29.95 you get the brochure and cassetteÖavailable for a limited time onlyÖ
No, actually what Iíve done is applied the product rating method to the review rating method. Here I present: The ďfive-starĒ rating system. Only instead of rating products, weíre rating reviews. Think to yourself: if this review was a product, how many stars would I give it? Then translate that into the word ratings. So five stars gets a VH, four-three stars gets a H, three-two stars gets a SH, and one-zero stars gets a NH. This has really helped me; if Iím thinking about rating an article VH and get a pang when I think of giving it 5 stars, then I know Iím not rating it from my heart. Maybe it will help you.
I didnít mean to write such a long editorial, really! But this is a complex issue and it needed more than a drive-by talk. I hope you can use this information to get started on your own personal rating system!
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