Recently I’ve posted a couple of tweets rating some movies I’ve seen, and I almost always get asked about my rating system, because it’s a little unusual.
#ThorRagnarok is great
— Dave DeLong (@davedelong) November 3, 2017
Just saw @ForeignerMovie. Pretty good! ★★★★★☆☆
— Dave DeLong (@davedelong) October 13, 2017
Just saw @bladerunner. Overall ★★★★☆☆☆. It was a good 40 minutes too long. Better than the original, but that’s not a high bar either
— Dave DeLong (@davedelong) October 6, 2017
I rate things out of seven stars. This is something I learned from my dad, and while it sounds weird at first, it actually makes a whole lot of sense.
We’re all fairly used to a five-star rating system, but it ends up not being quite specific enough. For example, 3/5 stars would be an average rating (because 3 is in the middle of the 1-5 range). 5/5, being 100%, is “perfect”. But that means there’s only one gradation left between the two to express the concept of something that’s “better than average” but not “perfect”: 4/5. That’s not enough.
Thus, the 7-star scale.
With a 7-star scale, you still have a definitive middle value (4/7), but you have three values on each side of the middle to express the “low”, “medium”, and “high” values of positive and negative.
★☆☆☆☆☆☆ – downright terrible
★★☆☆☆☆☆ – really bad
★★★☆☆☆☆ – bad
★★★★☆☆☆ – average
★★★★★☆☆ – good
★★★★★★☆ – great
★★★★★★★ – truly excellent
(I suppose there is, in theory, a 0/7 rating, but I’ve yet to come across something so bad that I would rate it that low. And no, I don’t want suggestions on what that might be. I also can’t think of many 7/7 movies I’ve seen. Wonder Woman might be close, though.)
When I talk about movies with my friends, we agree that this sort of granularity is nice. For example, in my tweets above, I can clearly indicate that The Foreigner was (in my opinion) a better movie than Blade Runner: 2049, but they were both still good, while not being on-par with Thor: Ragnarok.
This then leads to the next question: why not a 9-star scale? It has the same benefit of a definitive middle value (5/9), but you start then getting in to the existential questions of “how is 6/9 different from 7/9, or 7/9 from 8/9?”. The nice thing about the 7-star scale is you have the “Low-Medium-High” range for all parts of the scale.
So, that’s why I use a 7-star scale. And that’s also probably a whole lot more than you ever really wanted to know.