tek's rating system guide
Caution: reviews may contain spoilers

Introduction

For several years, in my TV and movie review sections, I had a system of tiers based on how well I liked the shows/movies I was reviewing. But I was never entirely happy with it; in fact, I retooled the tier system a number of times, but basically it consisted of a few different levels of "liked," a few of "well-liked," and one of "loved." Now I'm trying a new system, which isn't entirely different, but it doesn't exactly involve tiers. Instead, it will be divided into two separate rating groups: "liked" and "loved." These are both, of course, my subjective opinions, but there was a third group, QOQ, or "Quasi-Objective Quality," designated by one to four gold stars, which represented (my opinion of) their quality, not just how much I personally like them. I've discontinued the QOQ, though there are some shows or movies (or whatever) where I really do miss using that. Of course, I can always just say "I think this thing's quality is higher than my personal enjoyment of it." There are no doubt things you like or even love that I would dislike, and vice versa, so you should bear that in mind... as you should when reading anyone's critiques of, well, anything.

Anyway, the new rating system will utilize 1 to 4 "smiley" icons and 1 to 4 "heart" icons, representing how much I like or love an item, respectively. There may be times that I add a ½ -or even ¼ or ¾ -to my ratings, when I'm especially conflicted, torn between two different ratings, for whatever reason. I should also mention that, while I'm using this guide to explain my ratings of any media I review (TV, movies, books, graphic novels, etc.), the actual value of a given rating may not mean exactly the same thing in one medium as it does another, for whatever reason. And even within a medium, there may be differences based on, for example, differing lengths of series, or what have you. And for many of the things I review, I'll still never be entirely satisfied with the rating I've chosen. (I occasionally toy with the idea of assigning letter grades to my icons, but I feel like people misinterpret such things even more than they would probably misinterpret the system I'm using, so I really shouldn't bother. Suffice to say, one smiley wouldn't be less than a "D" (or more likely a "C"), and that's still a passing grade, right? Heck, I wouldn't even call "meh" a failing grade, generally speaking. ...And four hearts would be like "A++" or something. But mind you, this is theoretical. I'm not assigning letter grades here.)

I also want to mention that sometimes I will give one movie (or show or whatever) a certain rating, and later I'll give a different movie a certain rating, then look at my review of the other movie, see that it has a lower rating than I rated the more recently-reviewed thing... even though I'm fairly sure I liked the other movie better. And yet I stand behind both ratings. This is utterly inexplicable, and drives me crazy. It doesn't even have anything to do with the whole "quality vs. enjoyment" conundrum. I can be rating a thing purely on how much I enjoy it, give one movie, say, three smileys, and another four smileys, and still think I like the three-smiley movie better. So... flarbledy blarben, y'know wot I'm sayin'? Gibbledy-goo. Totally.

Btw, if you're wondering why these are called "tek's ratings" and not "Dave's ratings," see here.

Ratings

"Sub-meh." This is a rating you will almost never see in any of my reviews, because if I don't like something enough to say "meh," then I probably don't like it enough to bother writing a review. Still, on very rare occasions I might have a specific reason to write such a review. In that case, it's really not clear what I actually mean by it. Like, anything I rate "meh" or higher gets a passing grade, but remember that, in homework terms, that means anything sub-meh could still rate anywhere from 0 to 69 percent (if we assume 70 is the lowest passing grade; that's how it was when I was in school). Although chances are if I do rate something as sub-meh, it means my opinion of it is substantially below a passing grade.

"Meh." This basically means I didn't exactly like or dislike what I'm reviewing, but at least I felt it was worthy of being mentioned. It's a sort of neutral rating. (Some things I'll rate meh ½ or meh and a half. This essentially means half a smiley.) Um... I should point out, however, that there are far more shows, movies, books, etc., than I could ever possibly watch or read, and the overwhelming majority of them are things in which I have absolutely no interest. It's possible that some things I choose not to check out, I might rate higher than I expect if I did, but there are also things I do see that I don't bother reviewing, if my attitude is less than "meh." (Then again, there are some things I decide not to review in spite of liking them enough to rate them higher than meh. I don't know why.)

"Kinda liked." Whereas "meh" is neither positive nor negative, this is definitely a positive rating, but not by much. Let's just say it's something I enjoy, but if I hadn't seen/read it, I don't feel I would have missed much. (And if it's a series, I probably don't feel compelled to necessarily see every episode, although I may do so, anyway. Or not.) The point is, one smiley is not a "poor" rating, but closer to something I'd call "fair" (not to be confused, however, with two smileys, aka "fairly liked"). Just bear in mind... the images I use are smileys, and smiling means good, right? Even if it's just one smiley. ...Or maybe it would be best just to read this TV Tropes page to get a sense of what I mean by "kinda liked" (though that page could have some crossover to my "meh" or "fairly liked" ratings).

"Fairly liked." A fairly solid rating, which is, to me, the sort of standard unit of liking something. You'd think I'd give the basic unit 1 smiley instead of 2, but no. The problem with that is, I worry that if people look at the lowest ranking, they'll assume it's bad (and hey, not everyone's gonna bother reading my ratings guide). If I consider one smiley kinda good, then clearly, two is definitely good. Even if I felt things which I gave one smiley were worth checking out, and not a waste of time, in the grand scheme they're not of any great and lasting importance to me. Things at this level, however, are a bit more memorable to me.

"Rather liked." Whereas my interest in things at lower levels tends to be more casual, I definitely consider myself an actual fan of things I rate at this level. These are things that are even more memorable, but also in some way meaningful to me. You know... things that are sort of a part of my life, things that I expect to remember fondly even long after I see/read them. (Though generally this description applies more to TV series than to movies, which, given their shorter duration than TV series, need to be better to make a truly lasting impression on me. So I'd almost say a movie I rate with 3 smileys is of quality closer to a show I rate with 2 or 2½ smileys- or maybe I have that backwards, I'm not sure). Also I should say, sometimes shows I rate at this level not so much because I particularly like them, so much as because I just watched them for so long it would be impossible not to think of them as a part of my life. But of course, the choice to continue watching that long says something, in and of itself.

"Quite liked." The thing you have to understand about me is, I define myself by the art & entertainment that I enjoy. This is, to an extent, true of stuff at any level of ratings, but... this is the point where it begins to become sort of fundamentally true. The things I rate with four smileys... they're memorable, they're part of my life (this applies mainly to TV series), and... yeah, my liking them is a big part of how I define myself as a person, and will continue to be so long after I see/read them. Stuff with four smileys... is obviously very close to being loved, and no doubt there are moments within such shows/movies/books that I do love, even if I'm not sure I can say that about the item overall. (Which is not to say there can't also be moments I love in things at lower levels.)

Loved
In the old system, "loved" was a single, ultimate tier, which was also referred to as "favorite." But in the new rating system, there will be four levels of "loved." I always felt that I didn't necessarily love everything I reviewed on quite the same level, so I just want to break it up a bit, now. It is, however, important to note that if I say I love something, even if it only gets one heart, well... "love" is not a term I ever use particularly lightly.

"Kinda loved." One might think that this is roughly equivalent to five smileys, and I suppose in some cases I may give an item one heart, and that will be all, it will be a straightforward progression from "quite liked." But in many cases, if I give an item one heart, it means I feel a sort of love for it, but... don't really think the quality level necessarily matches my personal feelings for it. (Then again, sometimes I feel bad about not rating it higher than this, because I think its quality is higher than my personal feelings about it.) I'll also say that... liking and loving are two separate feelings, and sometimes I can have separate, distinct opinions of how much I like and love what I'm reviewing. So it's not always a straight progression from "like" to "love," you know? There can be overlap, and while it's not always the case, this level is the one that's most likely to represent that sort of... confusion. But, ultimately, inna final analysis, whatever else it may imply, one heart is better than four smileys. Pretty much. (But to be honest, there will be lots of things I feel unsure whether to give 4 smileys or 1 heart, so it may sometimes be arbitrary; there could very well be some things I rate as "quite liked" that I actually prefer over things things I rate "kinda loved," I suppose.)

"Fairly loved." As with "fairly liked," this is the standard unit of loving something. At this point, we're really heading into the territory of stuff that literally makes life worth living. (Not that stuff at lower levels can't also contribute to my sense that life is worth living, but... eh. This stuff's better, obviously.) Without getting into too much personal drama, feeling that life's worth living doesn't come natural to me. So with that in mind, you can begin to understand that anything that makes me happy enough to rate at this level... is fairly special to me.

"Rather loved." A medium level of love, you might say, but still the penultimate level of the whole shebang. This stuff is, in my opinion, head and shoulders above most of the other entertainment in the world. You might well say that things with 3 hearts could be among my favorites in their genres or categories, even if I don't necessarily love them quite enough to call them all-around favorites.

"Quite loved," aka "Favorite." This, folks, is the proverbial "it." This is the level where you put together all the things I've said about every other level, to get a cohesive picture of how massively important stuff with this rating is to me. Enjoyable, memorable, meaningful, part of my life, part of who I am, makes life worth living... This is stuff I'd seriously rather not live without. The kind of stuff that if I was going to meet the creator of the project, I'd have a friend come with me so we could drop to our knees, bowing and chanting "We're not worthy!" Wayne & Garth style. Because if you created something to which I assign four hearts, congratulations... you win at life. To say, actually, that this is a big part of how I define myself would be an understatement. For all intents and purposes, as far as I'm concerned... this stuff is who I am. You don't have to love the stuff I put on this level, but if you don't at least like it, then... you simply don't like me, end of story. I don't say we necessarily couldn't be friends, but... well, not only is what entertainment I appreciate part of how I define myself, it's part of what would make me fall in love with someone. That's right, if you don't love this stuff as much as I do, then I don't think I could truly love you. Because the stuff that I love on this level, my friends, is a truly, madly, deeply kind of love. There are things with lower ratings that could make me "squee!" like a schoolgirl (and you do understand that I'm a man, right?), a "squee!" that comes from my heart and/or mind, but this right here... the "squee!" elicited by this level... it comes from my very soul. Capisce? Comprende? Dong ma? Ya feel me?


and icons taken from ezboard (which has since become yuku).