Why I read only user reviews with average ratings

Martin Brinkmann
May 30, 2016
Updated • May 30, 2016

Reviews can be very helpful before you make a purchase on the Internet or even locally. They may help you understand the product better, or prevent you from making a decision that you might regret at a later point in time.

This goes for reviews by critics but even more so by users. Some sites, most shopping sites in fact, publish only user reviews while others, Metacritic for example, list critic and user reviews.

Most user reviews come with ratings. While the rating scheme is different from site to site, some use thumbs up or down, others a 5, 10 or 100 point rating scheme, most use ratings, and sometimes even ratings for users who left a review.

The aggregate score of an item is important, especially on shopping sites but on other sites as well. Customers use the ratings to pick items, and companies try to get positive ratings and reviews as it helps them improve the visibility and click-through rate of their products on those sites.

User reviews are broken

best rating

The user review system on most sites is broken. If you check out any review on Amazon or any other site that lets users rate items, you will likely notice the following: the majority of users either rate an item very low or very high.

Take Blizzard's new game Overwatch for instance. If you check Metacritic user reviews, you will notice that the majority either awarded the game a 9 or 10 score, or a 0 or 1 score (with more high-end ratings than low-end ones).

bad review

While there is nothing wrong with giving a game such a rating, the reviewers fail more often than not to explain why the product deserved the rating.

Giving a game a 0 out of 10 rating because an item is too expensive or lacks content, or handing out a 10 out of 10 rating because you have bought the game and need to justify purchasing it, is not helpful at all.

I'm not saying that there are not good reviews among the high or low raters, but more often than not, you get ratings that are not backed up by the review itself.

Average ratings

That's why I started to look at reviews with average ratings almost exclusively. Unlike "the item is the best ever" or "this item is the worst ever" reviews, they are usually weighted which means that you get positive and negative aspects mentioned in the review.

If you consider buying an item, it is average reviews that will help you the most when it comes to making an educated decision.

I'm by no means saying that all reviews that hand out godlike or awful ratings are not worth reading, but more often than not, they either provide no value at all, or seem hell bend on justifying the reviewer's own agenda.

The same holds true for average reviews. You may find bad reviews among them too but the percentage seems a lot lower.

Also, and this problem is found most often on shopping sites, concentrating on average reviews helps sort out paid reviews that give products perfect ratings.

Now You: Do you read user reviews when you shop online?

Why I read only user reviews with average ratings
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Why I read only user reviews with average ratings
Find out why I concentrate on user reviews with average ratings on shopping sites and other sites when I'm interested in a product.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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