Review Time Thought of the Moment

The Ambiguity of Ratings and Numbers.

When it comes to rating systems, it seems like they almost always are accompanied by the 5-star system: 1 being the worst, 5 being the best. However, after realizing how often I use these 5-star systems….I realize in the end, they’re way too ambiguous to be taken seriously.

Take for instance, my iTunes library versus my reviews on

Both use 5-star systems, yet, as I have noticed, I base my ratings quite differently at each place. On Yelp, my reviews generally fall down the middle, from 2 to 3 stars for most ratings. To me, these two generally describe how I feel about restaurants, services, etc.–“A-OK”. I am hesitant to rate too many places with “5 stars” with fear that I may come across a place even better than the previous one..and then, what shall I do with the ratings? Plus, nobody likes to read reviews that are constantly positive–they may be fun and/or uplifting to read, but really, how can one person stay so positive about all of the places he or she visits?

However, it seems that the 5-star system differs for me with my iTunes library. Granted, most of my song ratings generally fall within the 2 star category; to me, 2 stars means average on iTunes. If I give a song 3 stars, it means “better than average” to me. I used to give a ton of 4 and 5 stars to songs when I first started using iTunes, but I have come to notice that I have been stingy with the 4 and 5 stars since I want to reserve those ratings for those songs that simply cannot be compared to other songs.

Still, with the talk of these two different applications, I am sure others continue to interpret and rate their songs/restaurants/etc. a lot differently than I do. For instance, some people may think of most restaurants as “4 stars” because, to them, “4 stars” means average/really good. Some people may end up giving many places “1 star” because, to them, “1 star” means “average/so-so/meh”. The system is imperfect, since people are different in their interpretations all the time.

So, how do you interpret those rating systems?