Rating movies: 5-point scale vs. 10-point scale


The 5-point scale has a simplicity to it.
5's are great, must-watch for the genre. 4's are good. 3's are mixed, with the good slightly outweighing the bad; they are for fans of a series/genre. 2's, most people should avoid but may have a tiny niche for people who are hardcore enough fans of that niche. 1, avoid altogether.

My main issue with the 5-point scale is that there are a ton movies which are better than 3/5, but not quite a 4/5. How exactly would you rate a 7/10 movie on a 5-point scale?

Proponents of the 5-point scale might retort by ask me what exactly is the difference between a 2/10 vs. 3/10, and mention that the 10-scale has too many increments on the lower end.

But the difference is that 7/10's come up more often than 3/10's.

If we were to watch every movie that existed at random, it might be a normal distribution bell curve with an average of 5/10, and maybe just as many 3/10's as 7/10's.

But we have selection bias. We tend to watch movies that are either acclaimed, culturally significant, popular or at least pique our interest. So, if we look at the average rating of all our movies, it might actually rest in the 6-7 ish range.

...My main issue with the 5-point scale is that there are a ton movies which are better than 3/5, but not quite a 4/5. If you think about it, this caliber of movie is probably the most common...
Simple solution
That's how we do it here at MoFo.

Need more fine tuning? Try this:
or this

Simple solution
That's how we do it here at MoFo.
That's still a ****ing 10-point scale. Just halved and with decimals.

I have a better idea. Why don't we do a 1-point scale with

Let's just have 10 increments, yet call it a 1 point scale.

(edit: im being playful, not mad )

The reason to do 10-point with half-steps is because it takes up less visual space and is easier to represent with images.

All scales are a balance between precision and convenience. You could do zero to a million but at a certain point there are diminishing returns.

We're not in disagreement. You're discussing how to visually the increments. I'm only discussing the amount of increments.

Some reviewers that essentially have 3 increments (i.e. buy/try/pass or good/okay/bad).

Some have a 20-point scale. 10's with 0.5 increments.

Some have a 10-point scale with 100 increments, who will inevitably come into a situation where they admit they actually liked the 8.4 movie more than the 8.6 movie, and those few decimal points could vary based on mood and what day they review it.

Yeah, I think that last post is pretty important: the more precise the scale, the more tiny variables come into play, which means even if someone has a 100-point scale, in practice it ends up being closer to a 10-point scale anyway because of that fuzziness.

I guess we're all just sort of guessing, but I think 10-point is the sweet spot, and mostly avoids the problem of rating drift based on temporary circumstances.

...I have a better idea. Why don't we do a 1-point scale with
Can anyone honestly say the last movie they watched was a 3.2 and not a 3.3 etc? I don't think movie opinions can be mathematically fine tuned like that. Which is probably why Siskel and Ebert At The Movies tv show gave the films they reviewed either a or a

A system of cells interlinked

We have an 11 point scale, as we allow

Base 11 ftw!
"There’s absolutely no doubt you can be slightly better tomorrow than you are today." - JBP

All those considerations are easily swamped by people's differing ideas about how to rate things, anyway.
Right. Everyone's rating system means something to them, so even if everyone is using the same system in theory (5 popcorns, a rating out of 10 stars, etc) there's still nuance to it that varies by the individual. I don't think it's so much about the system as it is how that person interprets that system.

I've seen people write reviews that make it sound like they enjoyed a movie almost exactly as much as I did, but their score is different.

As a Finn, I prefer the five-point scale for movies (with or without halves). The reasoning for this is our school system where, for the first nine to 13 (depending on your choices) years, a ten-point scale is used, but with a caveat: the scale only goes from four to ten, with four being a failure. I've noticed on various Finnish forums that people have difficulties using the whole ten-point scale and naturally tend to only use grades from four to ten.

On the other hand, movie reviews have traditionally been on a five-star scale, and there's no mental block to using the whole range. So, using the five-star (or popcorn) scale with halves is not exactly the same as a ten-point scale.

As for the actual number of possible ratings, I'd say anything from three to ten (or eleven, if you count the zero stars) is fine. More, and things get too convoluted or less, and there's no way to distinguish garbage from mediocrity.

Subtle Slayer of Normies
From 1 to 10 is the perfect scale (which translates to from 0.5 to 5 with halves)

I mean, a 100 scale? How the hell do you decide a film is 67/100 and not 68/100 or 66/100?
Love and purity are the most important things in life.

I could not handle a 100 point scale. Attempting to rate films with that scale would be hell and I imagine that determining a film's rating would involve me changing my rating numerous times until I settle on something. Except, my rating would likely change the next day. A 10 point scale is more my speed.

I could not handle a 100 point scale. Rating films with that scale would be hell and I imagine that determining a film's rating would involve me changing my rating numerous times. A 10 point scale is more my speed.
Right. And also, my feelings about most movies tend to sway about a half-point one way or the other on any given day. I don't think it's a great use of my time deciding if something is a 73/100 or a 74/100, because by the next day I might score it 10 points lower or 10 points higher.

Any rating I give a film is a general ballpark about how I felt about it.

I grade my students on a 1 (basic)-2 (progressing)-3 (mastery) scale and I love it. No more fiddling over whether a piece of writing is a B or a B+.

It doesn't matter what my rating system is because my system doesn't mean anything. I've given movies I like less than movies I don't like that much before. I've given clearly perfect films 4/5 and clearly imperfect ones 5/5. I have reasons for all of this, but they are personal, and on a movie to movie basis. They aren't meant for anyone else and they are barely even meant for me.

This is because without discussion, none of these things mean a thing. I might as well be rating some movies a pineapple and others a free range stove. Without the context of words, who cares?

As others have stated, everyone has different and personally idiosyncratic meanings for each of the possible numbers on their scale. So what can any of these numbers possibly mean to anyone else? The answer should be: nothing.

The only rating system I think has ever had any kind of value whatsoever is the thumbs up or thumbs down of Siskel and Ebert. Recommend or don't recommend. Still deeply useless in a lot of ways, but I at least know exactly what these ratings mean.

I look at this rating nonsense mostly as a way to skirt actual communication. It opens the door for more failure on the part of the audience. And if at the end of the day, all we can be bothered to do is throw a dart at some arbitrary number, and not accompany it with what you actually feel, I give that whole process a giant 2/10.

The trick is not minding
I use a 4 star review, which I was use to from my days of reading reviews in the Reading Eagle in the ‘90’s which often included Ebert reviews.