Rating Categories

A vocal minority has made it known that they’re not happy with our current rating system – and, quite frankly, we’re aware that it’s not perfect. Post your ideas and suggestions below.

This is a forum for you all to go mad. Let us know what you think, why you think it, etc. We know that our system is very subjective, but quite frankly that’s what reveiws are. Let us know what you think we could do better and, while we promise to take them (mostly) seriously, we also reserve the right to completely ignore you. Thanks for your time and continued readership – we really do value you as readers.

24 replies on “Rating Categories”

  1. pythor says:

    Ummm…Refresher?
    Is there a page on B42 that gives a list of the standard categories for each type of review? I have trouble remembering what they are without having to go find one to take a peek.

    Other than that, I think the main thing I tend to disagree with reviews on is Originality, and that’s just subjective automatically. There’s nothing you can do to change that. I agree some with the other complaint that was made regarding the judging of effects against their own contemporaries. Perhaps split this category into an effects originality(compared to other effects of the time) and effects quality(on a current scale) rating.

    I know that we don’t want change the “Perfect 42” rating. I don’t know how to accopmlish that, unless you can split some categories. For example, each of these two effects categories worth 3 points… just a suggestion.

    • Mr. Vapor says:

      Re: Ummm…Refresher?
      pythor sez:

      I know that we don’t want change the “Perfect 42” rating.

      I’m curious, is there a list of all reviews that have achieved the perfect
      rating? Or the highest (or lowest) rated stuff? Its probably pretty obvious
      and I’m missing it, so of course I’m coming off as a complete idiot :)

      • GrimSean says:

        Re: Ummm…Refresher?

        pythor sez:

        I know that we don’t want change the “Perfect 42” rating.

        I’m curious, is there a list of all reviews that have achieved the perfect rating?

        The only Perfect 42 I’m aware of is for Firefly‘s Objects In Space episode (and if that wasn’t enough to make you a fan, I don’t know what is).

        • Mr. Vapor says:

          Re: Ummm…Refresher?

          The only Perfect 42 I’m aware of is for Firefly‘s Objects In Space episode (and if
          that wasn’t enough to make you a fan, I don’t know what is).

          The memories! When the universe was young and we where all filled with
          hope, awe, and incredible television. Does Fox comprehend what it has
          done?

          hmmm, I have that episode on tape somewhere… now I gotta watch it
          again, and dream a dream of what might have been.

          • rickyjames says:

            Re: Ummm…Refresher?

            …dream a dream of what might have been.

            And will be again, on the silver screen. Just you wait. The South…er, Firefly will rise again!!!

    • Princess E says:

      Re: Ummm…Refresher?
      Hello,
      I do not know what your website is about – stumbled on it by mistake. I was looking up ‘pythor’ and you came up. My friend and I created a character called, you guessed it – ‘Pythor’ – who was created in a pathology lab via a dermatological disaster type scenario! Obviously, this is completely fictional and imaginary – despite being a medical student I do not, as yet, have access to such incredible experiments – ha ha!
      Oh well, do not know if this has amused you at all, just thought I would inform you that I think your username is pretty damn cool!

  2. y42 says:

    originality
    Its weird that a ST show idea that’s been done before in every other ST
    series before it can get a 3/6 on the originality score…I suspect that you
    guys just throw a dice and let it decide on originality.

  3. GrimSean says:

    The Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything
    … is 42, which is my reason for liking it as a number to rate Science Fiction by, however, I do have some questions (Like how many roads must a man walk down?).

    I have always been curious as to why Production and Effects are separate categories in the Television and Movie reviews, as they are rather intimately related (at least in my mind). A suggestion for the Effects category would also be to keep in mind when the movie was made – the score for Alien strikes me as unnecessarily low, as they made due with what they had and it worked rather well (and as someone else said it is a heck of a better movie than The Hulk).

    The Originality score for some things has bothered me for some time as well. What if something (be it a book, movie, or TV show) implements their premise very well, but it’s not entirely original (lets take something generic – Aliens make first contact for instance)? It doesn’t seem fair to me that it should receive a 3/6 or 4/6 simply because someone else did it somewhere else before (i.e. Star Trek countless numbers of times) – if it was done better in the new version it should be marked higher!

    One request – Anime. A good chunk of it lies within Fantasy and Science Fiction – perhaps it could get its own category?

    Anyways, that’s really all I have for now. Seriously, you guys are doing a great job, and hopefully the community as a whole can help hammer out the bugs in the review system.

  4. Alexius says:

    Reviews
    I’ve Liked The Reviews As They Are.

    Granted, I Didn’t Get The Perfect 42 Thing Till I read That Here, So My Only Comment Was Going To Be That I Never Seem To Picture The Numbers Right With Such an Odd Perfect Score.

    I Do Like the Idea Of Having A Web Page Of just Links To The Ratings, Maybe On A Scale So We Can Compare. Seeing ‘The Hulk’ Was One Point Above Aliens, And A Few Points Below [Mutters Something With a 33 Score] Tells More Than Just Saying ’29’.

  5. Lurch_Kimded says:

    My 2 pence… sorry cents
    I think the reviews are good enough, I mean the only way you are going to get what could maybe be better reviews is to have:
      a) category specific (anime, film, tv) review sub-categories for scoring.
      b) more sub-categories for each section to make it fairer (there is always maths you can do to make the result out of 42).

    But overall I don’t think the reviews suffer too much in the format they are in, occasionally biased (but hey aren’t all reviews) the only thing I can suggest (which may be almost completely unworkable) is that instead of one reviewer you have 2 or 3 and average their scores.

  6. fiziko says:

    Refresher

    It’s been requested, so here it is: the scoring categories for each type
    of review. TV and movies use the same scoring system:

    Originality

    Effects/Animation (switching to the latter if it’s animated)

    Story

    Acting

    Emotional Response (inspired in the reviewer)

    Production (which can happen without special effects; this includes
    lighting, editing, musical score, cinematography, direction, set design,
    and the other odds and ends that can make or break a movie.
    Production and Acting are what seperate a high school Shakespeare
    play with the Kenneth Brannagh movie that uses the same script.)

    Overall, an entirely subjective “how much did you like it?” score.

    Originality and Emotional Response are the hardest ones to score, I
    find. In many ways, I’d prefer to replace them with something else.

    Books use the categories:

    Originality

    Imagery (in place of effects; can you picture the action?)

    Story

    Characterization (in place of acting)

    Emotional Response

    Editing (in place of production)

    Overall

    Comic reviews use:

    Originality

    Artwork

    Story

    Characterization

    Emotional Response

    Flow (gauging the progression of the story from panel to panel, and
    how well the story carries you from location to location)

    Overall

    Video games use the categories:

    Originality

    Story

    Graphics

    Sound

    Playability

    Immersion

    Overall

    Textbooks use the categories:

    Clarity

    Structure

    Examples

    Exercises

    Completeness

    Editing

    Overall

    Biographies use the categories:

    Uniqueness

    Completeness

    Storytelling

    Imagery

    Editing

    Emotional Response

    Overall

    We’re willing to review popular science books as well as textbooks, but
    we don’t have scoring categories worked out for that yet. Suggestions
    are welcome, of course. We can always put together scoring rubrics
    based on reader input and post those where they can be found by
    everyone.

    • Alexius says:

      Re: Refresher

      It’s been requested, so here it is: the scoring categories for each type
      of review. TV and movies use the same scoring system:

      Originality

      I Think The Issue Most People Are taking With This Is That ‘Originality’ Is An Objective Thing, As In You Can Prove It’s Original Or Not. However, The Review Is Force To Treat It Subjectively. Maybe Change It To Uniquiness Or Some Neet Word Meaning A Different Viewpoint/Storyline than we Usually See.

    • wayfaring_familiar says:

      Re: Refresher

      It’s been requested, so here it is: the scoring categories for each type of review…..

      Might I suggest creating a FAQ or Review Info page with this information on it?

      –>wayf.

    • y42 says:

      Re: Refresher

      Emotional Response (inspired in the reviewer)

      I would have a very hard time giving rankings on that…I have a heart
      made of stone and I’m dead inside, so whenever they try to make me
      feel scared of sad in a movie, I just get bored…

      But as an abstract, I think its an interresting category to have. Even if
      only to know how effective the movie was on normal people ;- )

  7. is says:

    doesn’t bother me…
    any rating system is just a bunch of numbers… the higher the better…

    42 fits with the site, the meaning of life… I say keep yer rating system…

  8. hitch says:

    As a reviewer…
    My biggest frustration is having 0-6 for my numbers. On the one hand, as my name suggest, I *love* the “out of 42” idea (in fact, it’s what made me start reading this site in the first place), but on the other hand, a 3 out of 6 can, for me, range anywhere from a 4 to a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. that’s a pretty broad discrepancy – and the reason some of those star trek eps get 3s. it’s probably really a 4 of 10 (assuming they did it well/went for a new angle) but it *feels* higher.
    That’s my only frustration, and I can think of a few ways to fix it, but it’d have to be pretty much unanimous on the parts of the rest of the guys here.

    • Alexius says:

      Re: As a reviewer…

      My biggest frustration is having 0-6 for my numbers. On the one hand, as my name suggest, I *love* the “out of 42” idea (in fact, it’s what made me start reading this site in the first place), but on the other hand, a 3 out of 6 can, for me, range anywhere from a 4 to a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. that’s a pretty broad discrepancy – and the reason some of those star trek eps get 3s. it’s probably really a 4 of 10 (assuming they did it well/went for a new angle) but it *feels* higher.
      That’s my only frustration, and I can think of a few ways to fix it, but it’d have to be pretty much unanimous on the parts of the rest of the guys here.

      How About This Idea (Based On The TV/Movie One)

      Score, One To Ten On:

      Production (Include Comments On Acting)
      The Look (Include Comments On Effects, And How Hot The Characters Are.)
      The Story (Include Comments On Originality)
      Overall

      And Then:
      Plus An Optional Bonus Point If The High Point Is Good, And An Optional Bonus Point If The Low Point Isn’t That Low.

      Thus, A Base 10, But Out Of 42.

  9. chad says:

    Emotional Response

    I think “emotional response” is a great category, except when applied to older movies/comics. In these two cases, much of the emotional response is based on the abilities of the medium (artwork, special effects, film/paper quality, etc.) Note that in picture-less media such as books, I do not see this phenomenon. Every time I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example, my emotional response is nearly as high as the first time.

    Also we seem to gain a type of tolerance as a genre is developed. Not too long ago, I watched the original Halloween. It was almost boring, and it was definitely not very scary. Yet I remember seeing it in the theater and being very scared. So what happened? When Halloween first came out, it created a new genre. It had impact. But now that genre has been advanced so far that I’ve become inured to it somewhat. I have had the same experience with the original Star Trek series, Star Wars, and the first 24 issues of the X-Men. The newer versions of these classics are so much better that the originals seem outdated and a bit campy. So my emotional response is low. Yet there was a time when my emotional response was high. These movies/comics are classics for a reason.

    So perhaps it would be a good idea not to review old movies and comics. I don’t see how we can do them justice. I rented Citizen Kane recently and quit watching it halfway through because it was so boring. Yet it is #1 on the AFI’s top 100 films of all time.

    There are some exceptions. I still shiver when reading The Dark Knight Returns, even though it was originally released in the 80s. The artwork has a certain gritty style to it that would not be improved by modern printing processes. Ditto for The Watchmen.

    So I’m not sure I have an answer here. I think I’ve identified a legitimate issue with emotional responses to older films and comics, yet I can’t suggest how to handle such reviews.

    • hitch says:

      Re: Emotional Response

      So I’m not sure I have an answer here. I think I’ve identified a legitimate issue with emotional responses to older films and comics, yet I can’t suggest how to handle such reviews.

      I agree that this is a problem – in fact, I think it’s one of the bigger ones. I think perhaps we should completely rethink our scoring…I think I’m going to go hammer out a few ideas.

  10. chad says:

    Category weight
    I think the “originality” category is not worth six whole points. As others have pointed out, a non-original theme can still be used effectively. And hasn’t someone said that Shakspeare wrote all the basic themes–that everything since is just a variation?

    My best example is The Sword of Shannara, which was a blatant ripoff of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Yet I really like it and have read it several times.

    In regards to the originality category, I would like to suggest reducing its point value and give the extra points to a more “important” category (such as story or characterization).

    I think what I’m trying to say here is that not all of the categories are worth an equal number of points. Go ahead and keep the total at 42 (did you know that 54 is 42 in base 13?) but give more weight to some categories and less to others.

    • hitch says:

      Re: Category weight

      I think the “originality” category is not worth six whole points. As others have pointed out, a non-original theme can still be used effectively. And hasn’t someone said that Shakspeare wrote all the basic themes–that everything since is just a variation?

      My best example is The Sword of Shannara, which was a blatant ripoff of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Yet I really like it and have read it several times.

      In regards to the originality category, I would like to suggest reducing its point value and give the extra points to a more “important” category (such as story or characterization).

      I think what I’m trying to say here is that not all of the categories are worth an equal number of points. Go ahead and keep the total at 42 (did you know that 54 is 42 in base 13?) but give more weight to some categories and less to others.

      this is a good idea – I think perhaps originality should be on a 0-2 scale. not original, a new take on an old theme, or revolutionary. (somewhat original/I think I’ve seen this before/etc. would also fall to 1.). Also – on another note – I’ve been reading the Illearth wars recently (and I’m having a hell of a time gettin through it) and I’m realizing that Brooks ripped off Donaldson when he started writing the Magic Kingdom for Sale:SOLD series as well. just like in the sword of shannara series, he eventually worked his way into original territory. Anyway. kind of off-topic, but it’s much the same sinking feeling I felt reading Tolkien for the first time (I know, I know…so I didn’t read him until I was in high school. shoot me.) and realizing that a series of books I held *very* highly was really just another take on someone else’s work. Maybe that’s why I’m having trouble with this book. Maybe the other reason is that the main character/(anti)hero is a rapist, hates himself, and refuses to “believe” in his situation. blah. I’ll save the rest for when Dave posts his review.

      • chad says:

        Re: Category weight
        The second Thomas Covenant trilogy gets even weirder and darker. Read it with caution. I have found much of Stephen R. Donaldson’s writing to be a bit dark and morose for my liking. Perhaps Brooks stole the idea, but at least he made it humorous and upbeat.

        Also, there are now drugs that can successfully treat leprosy. These (obviously) did not exist when the Thomas Covenant books were written.

        • hitch says:

          Re: Category weight

          The second Thomas Covenant trilogy gets even weirder and darker. Read it with caution. I have found much of Stephen R. Donaldson’s writing to be a bit dark and morose for my liking. Perhaps Brooks stole the idea, but at least he made it humorous and upbeat.

          Agreed. I tremendously enjoyed the Magic Kingdom books (though found myself often frustrated with the protagonist) and I’m *not* enjoying Lord Foul’s Bane at *all*.

          Also, there are now drugs that can successfully treat leprosy. These (obviously) did not exist when the Thomas Covenant books were written.

          That’s part of why I’m having trouble, I think. I don’t look at leprosy as being *nearly* as serious as this guy does. It’s hard to take his problems seriously given those treatments.

          • Timeshredder says:

            A thought about category weight

            And hasn’t someone said that Shakspeare wrote all the basic themes–that everything since is just a variation?

            And Shakespeare stole the plots of all his plays but one from history or from existing stories. He just did them better.

            But SF and fantasy readers prize originality. Perhaps the problem isn’t so much the rating system, as our perception of it. Who cares if a book or movie only receives 30/42, if part of the reason is a low originality score? We could read the ratings score by score, rather than for some overall ranking. Maybe our reviews should come with a link to “a word about ratings.” It’s easy to get caught up in the final score trap, but the fact is, reviews are not a hockey game.

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