Numbered Review Scores Fail You

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Today I will be talking about a major fallacy in blogging: numerical scoring systems. If you enjoy content like this, be sure to follow our blog and our other platforms.

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I think I’ve only given a numerical value to the end of a review once or twice, and I hate the concept. Frankly, I really struggle with the idea of assigning any numerical value to my reviews. I think it does a disservice to the reader, and to myself the reviewer.

Why? Well… that’s complicated…

Reviews are as objective as they are subjective. It is a symbiotic relationship. I say that word a lot; symbiotic. When it comes to review blogging, so many factors are strictly reliant on each other. To overlook the ebb and flow of these details, also overlooks the meaning of what a review actually is. 

Critical thinking and personal ethos are paramount in a good review. Arbitrarily assigned numbers just don’t offer anyone justice. In certain review spaces we tend to forget that. We assign a number to movies, games, books or some other form of media.

In a way, it might even feel satisfying to assign a value like that.

Personally, I don’t find that satisfying. I’d bet a lot of your readers don’t either. If you have a low return rate on visitors, that could be why. They could just be looking at the number and then leaving. You could be losing more readers than you gain this way.

To look at why, we need to look at the bigger picture.

Binary Systems Fail Us All

The reality is, assigning a numerical value to something you have reviewed has no intrinsic meaning to anyone else. It only means something to you, the reviewer. Depending on your intended demographic, that can be seen as a pretentious action. 

You don’t built clout that way, you annoy people.

The gaming community, for example, actually hates numbers for scores on reviews. The vast majority either don’t care about the number, or generally assume that number to be meaningless. A select group actually find numbered review scores directly offensive.

In short: they only put up with them because the press sets the standard.

Many who actually read the reviews would rather find someone on a small site catered to them. When it comes down to reading a review properly, they want a reviewer that isn’t going to treat them like an idiot.

In the worse case situation, you may actually have a harder time building an audience by following a hard line numerical method. Sure, established hands do this all the time. I just mentioned that above. That is the key between the novice and the pro. The pros are established. 

Reviewers like that have either been around a long time, or they are writing for one of the big publications. Those publications generally maintain a particular content format. Bloggers need to follow that format for sensibility sake. 

Establishment doesn’t always breed competency, though. The old way is not always the best way… obviously. The fact is, establishment often breeds some level of complacency too. I’d argue numerical systems are a product of pure laziness and little else.

New bloggers need to be innovative. We need to know when an established method fails our readers. For the novice, the default assumption is that numerical values help to validate you. 

This isn’t true at all.

Unless you have a clearly designed system for your readers to understand, that number doesn’t mean anything. We don’t know what might be going on in your brain. Unless you refer your readers to a numerical chart for your reviewing method, they can’t even trust that you are being fair in your reviews.

There’s no innovation, only what some people call “asshattery”. No, I’m not making up that slang. It means exactly what it sounds like. You’re wearing your butt as a gloried top-hat, and you’d better stop.

Reviews are your opinions, nothing more… no review is sacrosanct, not mine, not yours.

Let me be clear: Hard numerical values on reviews have a place. However, that place is only for the strict and stringent review process. If you won’t do that, leave the numbers alone. 

Writing to be understood should always be your core ethos. We need to be honest with ourselves. My measure of a number won’t be the same as yours. It won’t be the same for our readers.

If there is no strict binary, you have no strict metric to measure. That’s why I said above that these numbers can feel exclusive and pretentious. It all comes down to “gate-keeping” ideology. If you want to be well-respected, wonderful. Just don’t inhibit new readers from joining in on the fun. 

Figuring out how to measure a binary system isn’t the only problem…

Reader Engagement

Do you want your readers to answer your “calls to action” with due diligence? If so, don’t give them an easy way out. Putting a number upon a carefully constructed review almost marginalizes the process.

Beyond that, in a way I would say that we infantilize our readers when we add one. We’re treating them like children. When we use numbers without a firm and strict system in place, we admit our own defeat too. I mean, okay… so you toss them a number, then what? 

We’ve just directly insulted ourselves, that’s what!

We have put countless hours of effort into a post only to inspire pure laziness in our readers. They can scroll to the end, read the number and leave without any effort or interest in you as a person… don’t let them do that. You are a person behind that screen.

You are allowed to expect your readers to treat you like the flesh and blood person that you are. You shouldn’t allow them to treat you like “content fodder”. You need to understand, readers who care will stay for you.

Your personality and your written cadence, will show in your writing. That is your personality, and it manifests into your content. Readers will connect with that aspect of your review directly. That is much too important to disregard.

Failing that, you need to at least prove you’ve got some skin in this game. How do you do that? Easy, you prove that by writing a review worth reading.

Most people will skim through your content to determine its overall value. This is true. However, you need to aim for the readers that won’t scan and bounce. Never mind the “bouncers”. By the way, a bouncer is a person who jumps in on a blog post and leaves quickly. 

The ones that stay, they will be your followers. They will be the ones to monetize your content. That fat paycheck you’re hoping for… the readers that stay are the ticket you need to ride. 

Get your readability score in the right range for your readers. Make the content interesting and mentally accessible to your core demographic. Whatever you do, don’t simply hand over the number, make them read the review.

Those of you that made it this far into the blog post, you are the people I’m writing for. You are the ones that I put my bets on. If I’m lucky, you’ll see that value, and maybe you’ll follow me.

That’s what you need to expect and want from your readers too. This brings me to my last point.

Brand Awareness and Rating Systems

Numbers don’t solidify your brand. It doesn’t give you an identity. It doesn’t make you relatable. If you absolutely must have a rating system, tie it to yourself in a relatable way… readers like that.

Plus, a reader is much more likely to remember that. If they remember you, they may come back and stick around.

A better option would be to come up with something looser in measurement too. For a good example, say movies, a loose system might be something like this:

Ingore it/Bypass it: For movies not worth their time
Stream it: For movies worth a single watch later when it hits the streaming platforms.
Theaters: For movies worth the box office price tag.
Buy it: For movies that belong on the shelves, collections, or constant viewing.
(Special rating here): For particularly special movies of your highest regard and acclaim.

For an example of a special rating, that’s where you tie in your brand awareness. This is where you place prestige without adding pretension. For this, I’m going to use an example that happens to me all the time.

When I have fog on the brain, sometimes I forget the YouTube channels that I really enjoy. People without memorable brand awareness get lost to the void. I may not find them again for months. On the other hand, a reviewer with firm brand awareness will be very easy to locate.

Here’s an example…

I think Glass Reflections is a wonderful channel. However, even if I don’t always recall his channel name in conversation, I always recall his very memorable and brand appropriate “Certified Frosty” rating. 

That rating sticks out in my head when his actual YouTube name doesn’t. I’ve mentally attached that rating to the reviews of his that I enjoy. That’s why I remember that rating and his catch phrase for it.

For him, that rating is reserved for only his absolute highest recommendations. Even the phrase sticks out: “For the best of the best, and anime too important too ignore”, I remember that off the top of my head every single time. 

 I can still find him by typing “Certified Frosty, youtube”.

 See? There he is, topping the engine. That’s what you want to do with your rating system. If you can add your own brand awareness into your rating system like Glass Reflections does, that makes you memorable. 

I’ll leave it there for now.

This has been Kernook from The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll catch you all next time. If I’ve been worth you time, drop me a follow. There’s more content like this coming soon.

End Post: See, even I have a catch phrase too, and those of you who frequent this blog know to expect it by now. That’s very intentional. I say it at the end of every blog post, at the end of most live streams, and certainly at the end of carefully edited YouTube videos. If you have a brand that crosses platforms too, this sort of consistency is paramount to your review style.

Embed yourself in your brand, make it part of your core blogging identity. You’ll be glad you did.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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