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Discussion has started about the Rating here at Lit.Org. I've moved the comments off the recent write off pieces to here to keep so we don't clutter up the write off pieces.

We know the ratings system isn't perfect and we have some ideas for ways to improve it. Feel free to post ideas and suggestions below.

Chrispian H. Burks
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The following comments are for "Lit.Org ratings"
by Chrispian

Yes; Don't bother me
I have now succeeded in illustrating my point. It's a great poem, so if you'll check the other one, which I do prefer, I have given him an equel rating of 4.
Why? You ask.
Well, I was just pointing out that the rating system is flawed; How can one put a rating on poetry? What makes this a 10. Since some people have given it a 10, I think it requires justification. A 10 should mean the poem is a masterpeice of the english langauge; like the works of shakespear or poe. Why is it that I cannot find a person who has rececieved lessere than a 6? Thats like saying, "We all win the gold medal." -It only cheapens the quality of the rating system. If everyone was a 4.0, got a 1600 S.A.T., would it even make since mentioning it to the Harvard Admissions Committee?


ps: I apologize hazelfaern if I offended you; I made sure it did not effect the outcome of the contest by giving your opponent's poem the same rating.

( Posted by: dao05 [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

Ratings on Write off
Actually as this is an average rating giving 4 to each of the contestants does alter the final score!

contestant one- 10 + 4 = 14 (new rating 7)
contestant two- 7 + 4 = 11 (new rating 5.5)

they started off being 3 they are 1.5 apart... so it certainly does effect the outcome!

I have no ulterior motive in this as I do not feel qualified to rate these pieces.

( Posted by: ivordavies [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

dao05, In this case, we have special rules. All ratings on write off pieces must be a 5 or above. We will remove anything below a 5. The ratings are subjective so natrually it's a flawed system, but it's the one we have. We are discussing ways to standarize rating, but at the end of the day it's still people rating them and will always be subjective. The write off, though, is being rated on how well the participants followed the starter and the other rules for the write off. It's a special case.

Ivor, A 4 will not affect the final score on this one as we will remove all the ones below a 5.

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: February 2, 2005 )

finally someone has illuminated that the whole "10" affair. I've likened the plethora of 10's to Spinal Taps 11 on the amps. Of course, everyone is entitled to rate exactly as they see fit, and no one should be able to qualify it (sort of like no one can comment on how sad one should or shouldn't feel), BUT...
There is no higher rating than 10! Are we to believe that there are over 50 poems or stories a day that are the absolute best ever?! What happens is that the truly great gets cheapened. I applaud the generosity of the commenters, but you're doing a disservice to those who have earned greatness by transcending good. Its like telling every child that every little achievement they've made is a phenemenom.
Sometimes, however, I wonder why I care. Brad

( Posted by: brad [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

Opinion!?! Egad!
This is the last time I'm weighing in on anything for a while because, frankly, I'm starting to annoy myself! I figure others must have been annoyed long ago.

I used to give far more ratings of 4-8 than I do now. I give them infrequently now, however, because I usually don't comment on anything unless I like it a lot or hate it a lot. I don't comment on mediocrity anymore (with certain exceptions, siuch as clear potential), and even the "slightly good".

Of course it's subjective, but that doesn't have to mean arbitrary. If you want to have a scheme, create it and let us all know what it is! Why do you give 10, why do you give 4, etc. That way, we'll all know what your criteria are, and your subjectivity is constrained by a public rubric.

Also, one can give a ten for different reasons, and those reasons may depend on context. For instance, when I'm marking a freshman paper, an "A" means "Superior relative to standards appropriate to 17-18-year-old freshmen". If the same paper were handed in by a fourth-year student, it may get only a C-. Your standards need to have some relavence to that which is being judged.

So, for instance, if I give a ten to a Lit newcomer who is obviously quite young, that's given according to what I think I can expect from a high schooler who's new to poetry. I would give the poem a much lower mark if it was handed in by, say, Demeter, or Williamhill, or Gomarsoap.

Okay, enough. I have verbal diarrhea today!

( Posted by: Viper9 [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

re: touchy
Personally, it's not that touchy of a subject for me. We've known the system isn't perfect for a long time. The ratings were originally just for fun. I did it because every other site I saw at the time had it, so I added it defacto. I didn't really give it much more thought than that. Over the years it has become clear that the ratings system isn't the best way to go about it. I also underestimated how people would "game" the system.

We have been tossing around ideas for a new way to do this for a while. Nothing is set in stone and I'll post the top ideas once I've had chance to flesh them out taking into account the comments and feedback here too.

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: February 2, 2005 )

Extravagant Rating...
If there was a way to give 8.5 or 9.25, I would have used it. Although thankful for a 9 or 10, I take it for what it is. As Demeter points out, sometimes a rating is based on the feeling, joy or whatever positive reaction a poem gives the reader. I realize it doesn't mean my piece was a Keats or Shelley. It's a rating within context of postings.

I agree, age/experience of writer should have influence on rating. I know I will find excellent work when certain writers post. I sometimes will not rate them, just comment. I do feel a 9 or 10 should be given with thought. 8 is not bad! If a piece has grammar issues, but is provocative or unique, it may warrant an 8 or 9.

I admit to giving a low rating as a personal statement. Maybe I was wrong, but this is a fairly liberal site. I think I explained why.

In write off situations, if fractional rating could be made, I think it would be more fair..8.5 or 8.75 is better than having to give one a 9 and the other an 8, to determine which "I" found just a bit more appealing.

I appreciate being able to post and comment at Lit. I'm far from perfect. I shouldn't expect perfection here. I've learned a few things and hope to see improvement in my writing, as well as an "evolving" site.

Thanks, RW

( Posted by: Bobby7L [Member] On: February 2, 2005 )

re: clarification
Penelope, I didn't take it as meant towards me, I just thought you meant it in general, which I think it is touchy for a lot of people. It is a subject that needs a lot of attention though. It's a fun subject because it's my job (day job) to solve problems like this, so I find it a fun challenge. :)

Bobby7L, half points? Consider 1-10 as half points of 1-5 ;) In the math of it, that simply makes it 1-20, which really doesn't help. The problem is the vagueness of 1-10 (or 1-4, 1-5 whatever). I picked a 10 point scale to give some range of "good" vs "bad", but I think a 1-4 rating would have probably been more useful. Or perhaps do away with numbers and have descriptions, like:

- Great story/poem, but the grammar and spelling need work.
- Not bad, enjoyable, but needs work
- Fantastic, could use a some minor editing, but very good work.
- Outstanding, this should be published.

Just off the top of my head. More descriptive ratings instead of numbers and perhaps a slide style scale where you can rate content, grammar, style and enjoyment. This would give a better picture and also make people think some. We have a lot of ideas for various ratings system and until I give them all some thought it's premature to discuss them just yet. I will post them on the site though and get feedback and also use the best of the suggestions here too.


( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: February 2, 2005 )

Crowe: At least you are..
open to suggestions and input, which is much appreciated and respected. This isn't Quantum Physics. Lit.Org has much more positive than questionable parts. All in all, I'd give it an 8.67....


( Posted by: Bobby7L [Member] On: February 3, 2005 )

Just commenting
I've never rated anyones work and I don't expect anyone to rate mine.
My reasons are twofold.
Firstly I would never rate somebody's piece lower than a 7. Regardles of what I think of someones work, they've taken the time to write something that for the most part is the best they can do.
Also my voting scale is vastly different from someone elses. If there's no blood or humor then I'm taking two points already so I don't vote because my reasoning is unfair.
A lot of the poetry I read is beyond my understanding so should I vote it lowly because the writer has a higher cranial capacity than I?

My second reason is that I would much rather have a comment than a vote. A comment is inevitably more helpful than good old Emlyn giving me another ten because he thinks my work is 'cool'.

Unfortunately I think the voting will always be corrupt, there's not a lot stopping me from signing others on and enlisting their help to win a write off. Sure it looks fraudulent but unfortunately I don't know if there is a lot anyone can do about it.

Perhaps you have to be a member of Lit.Org for two months or have to submit a comment or something.

Anyway, that's why I never vote although I will try to make an effort to at least comment on the Write Offs.


( Posted by: Emlyn [Member] On: February 3, 2005 )

I agree with Emlyn; ratings are so arbitrary that I don't think they really make you a better writer. Constructive criticism, however, will make you a lot better if you take it the right way. Actually, that brings me to the issues of people posting a critique and saying "I like your work," which doesn't help at all, but that's an entirely different discussion.

( Posted by: jetman_jake [Member] On: February 3, 2005 )

Had my say already...
I already made my suggestions on ratings quite a while ago for Chris, but since the topic is open, I'll restate my ideas.

Basically, I suggested using statistical modifiers to adjust individual ratings when totalling them in the final score.

Firstly, where there are enough scores, I would drop the extremes (ie the highest and lowest scores), so that the odd random vote of 1 would be ignored.

Secondly, I would add a weighting to an individual's scores, so that members with a lot of posts and/or comments would have their opinions deemed more valuable than someone who just joined yesterday.
The actual scores given would still be shown as they are now, but the total would be a statistical summary rather than a simple average, and would hopefully give a fairer result.

( Posted by: Spudley [Member] On: February 3, 2005 )

re: probation
I've never liked the idea of newbie probation either. Perhaps only for the write off (just to stem the people who sign up just to skew the write off), but in general, newbies should be encouraged. Limiting them is not my favorite idea and probably will never happen, save for perhaps on the write off. I still have to give that some thought.

On the other hand, one idea is to reward participation using a weighted system. For example, if someone had 30 comments and 400 submissions, their vote might "weigh" more than someone with 5 comments and 1 post. This would be complicated, but it could be done to dampen the effect of newbies doing drive by ratings while still letting them participate. As you prove yourself with activity your votes would weigh more. There are flaws with this method too, but it's just one of many I'm considering.

( Posted by: Chrispian [Admin] On: February 3, 2005 )

ratings redux
Does anyone really care about the ratings? Probably not. I don't think there are any cash prizes involved.

The Write Off is cute and a good exercise, but ultimately of no more weight than any other works posted (w/the exception that it mandates commenting).

I think litorg is almost 100% comment driven. Its all that has mattered to me. My only complaint was the cavalier attitude toward 10's as I think it diluted the stew. But the complaint was less about ratings than the over-all over-praising ( and not because it wasn't sometimes deserved, but because I felt that some great writing was being slighted by becoming indistinguishable form the just good).
Having said all that, I absolutely feel each person is free to comment or rate as they see fit. 1, 4, 10. Needs work, not bad, oh my gawd! My only job is to morally instruct.

So, I'd leave it alone. I think most orgers are able to discern the source of a good or bad rating and take them with the appropriate dose of salt or salt substitute.

PS Demeter -- I never considered that I was singling you out with my rating comment, in fact I feel that your comments -- right or not -- are almost always well considered and fair.
Keep on truquin'. Brad

( Posted by: brad [Member] On: February 4, 2005 )

When a person participates in a Write-Off, they should understand the pros and cons of stepping out in the minefield of competition and critique. Some writers have developed a thick skin over time and can handle whatever comes their way. Others are not so fortunate. Feelings are going to get hurt because a friend of both combatants will rate one higher than another.(how could you do that!) Some people don't comment for that reason alone. And that hurts feelings too.(how could you do that!) Everyone wants to win and they try their best under pressure. tick tock and the like. Crowe, I think people will game the system no matter what you do to prevent it. It's peoples nature. If you ban them, they come back another way. And since you pissed them off, they'll come back at you harder. If you really want to make it more evenhanded, no one gets to rate without at least 10 posts. But everybody still gets to comment. Read, write, respond.score.Ten posts is a total of less than two weeks. It lets a person learn how to navigate the site and it lets people like Lilia have the option of reposting or coming up with new material. Eventually, everyone gets up to speed and newbies have a merit based system to acheive.I relish the critique more than the ratings but in anything I do,I have a fierce desire to win. No matter what you do, I wish you success.


( Posted by: williamhill [Member] On: February 4, 2005 )

weighted remarks
The ratings are a game, and are as much about form preference (free verse or sonnets?) and social/political games as they do about how good the poem is. In short, fun, but not really all that serious. I don't think any of the changes mentioned so far will improve the accuracy of the numbered ratings all that much, but it doesn't matter that much to me. If you want to change it or keep it, either way is ok by me!

I do find the weighted system interesting. I am well over 200 lbs. That ought to give my vote quite a bit of impact!

( Posted by: SamPark [Member] On: February 6, 2005 )

All poems ever written are a 10... or 11... or Spanish Peanuts... or Aqua.
Speaking as one of this week's "Write Off" contestants, I think that grading poems on a 10 point scale is goofy. I think that it's a fun way to promote the site, get people to comment more and have some way for people to kind of waggle a finger and say, "Welll... I like your piece last week a bit better." If I want, I can compare the ratings of commentors that I like over time.

I give wicked long comments. I have never, outside of a "Write Off," given a rating. I have never looked at any rating given to one of my poems, except by mistake, thinking it was free web porn. I'm easily distracted.

I'm not sure what purpose the rating system serves. I very much enjoy the comments on my work and commenting on others' work; both simple (and not so simple) praise, and more lengthy comments that help me refine my process. That's a fantastic reason alone to come to But I can't, for the life of me, come up with a good reason to rate someone's poem on a scale of 1-10.

And what am I basing the rating on? Other poems here at Or against other major poets? If "The Wasteland," by TS Elliot, the greatest poem of all time (AND I WILL BROOK NO ARGUMENTS!*), is a "10," then the best poem I've ever written is, in my opinion, maybe a "3." Maybe. If we all agree to drink heavily before the judging. If we're judging against all the other poems here at, though... that's weird, too. We have people here who have been writing for 30+ years, and people who just started yesterday. A linear judgment scale is simply not a good way to help new writers evaluate their early work. If the scale is bumped too high, they get an unfair idea of the "worth" of their early work and may not strive to improve. If it's too low, they may become discouraged.

And what is the rating based on anyway? How much of a "frisson" of poetic tingliness ran up my spine as I read the piece? How intelligent the piece is? How emotionally raw? How hard my nipples get while reading? I love such a wide diversity of work -- both here and elsewhere -- that I fear that two poems, both worth a very high rating, would look very different placed next to each other.

For the "Write Off," which is a cool idea for getting the writing party started, you do need a way to judge, yes. But how about a straight up-or-down vote? Any member who has been a member for more than a week or two gets to vote for one or the other of the participants. Which is (statistically speaking) what happens with the numerical vote anyways. I like that you need to comment to be able to vote, too.

Aside from the "Write Off," though, my advice is to lose the rating system. Or come up with one that is so wildly out of control creative, bizarre, granular and fun that it alone serves as a marketing device for A rating system where you can, for example, rate a piece on like, 10 different categories, including: what kind of exotic bird the poem most resembles; what room you'd like to be in while reading the poem; how many people you've shared the poem with; what musical style does it remind you of; would Scooby Doo trade a Scooby Snack for it; does reading it make you feel better or worse about the war in Iraq; would Mary Poppins approve; what percentage of the poem is lizard/rat/monkey brain activated?

Those are all criteria that I'd rather have my poems judged on than "1-10."

( Posted by: andyhavens [Member] On: February 7, 2005 )

Lit.? Charlie&Andy...
I am in agreement whole heartedly, Mr. Charlie,
I hope someday I can participate in a write off
here at my "words home", respectively
I personally as a "Babe in the woods, virgin
writer",I don't get broke apart by my current lowest rate of a 2, by the Haiku guru. Did'nt hurt my feelings, I want to learn, so it was not
I guess good for this educated "haiku guy", and
he writes beautiful things, no names, yall no who I'm talking about.Strayed a little bit, I
appreciated his tiny bit of advice,(He could
have turned me on to a good book...) Rate me,
critique me, analyze, surpise, and sometimes like my words and thoughts, since I joined lit.
I dream, things had been so horrible, slipped a cog,and quit dreaming, but it's coming back
in technicolor, I know my mind is expanding,
and slowly(hope fast),I will be AOK. I'm new but, I can handle ratings, teach me something,
take 5 minutes and give me a tip.

Andy, or Mr. Havens,I wish I knew what to call
you? See myself, southern girl, I was taught to respect individuals, until they displayed an urnest desire for my disrepect, get my drift?
So Mr.Havens, I must say, You Sir, are a "trip". I have not read your Bio, but, that's one of those things I try not to do as well as read others previous comments,some times curiosity kills the cat. I must say I am with you as well. And this does not mean I disagree with anyone
else. I enjoy your comments much..Robin...

( Posted by: Robinbird [Member] On: February 8, 2005 )

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