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Why ratings systems don't work - Bad films are bad

Stashed in: xkcd!, Are You Not Entertained?

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Average ratings are, in their essence, an attempt to distil the entire set of ratings about an object (in our case, films), down to a single number. Which seems useful - after all, it saves you so much time deciding whether something’s any good. The problem is that that’s all it’s good for - telling you whether something’s good or not.

If you come across a film and see it has a 7.5+ average rating on IMDB, it’s a sure bet it’s going to be well made, and plenty of people must like it (whether you will, or not, is another matter). If the rating is below a 6.5, you should probably be wary. The rating scale might have 100 points on it, but all the useful ratings are crammed into the top third, and suddenly things are looking like XKCD’s example above. This is the same situation for Rotten Tomatoes ratings, too - great for the ‘is it decent/is it awful’ discussion, but without any depth.

No matter what it is, someone likes it.

When you crowd source ratings, most things end up in the middle.

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