The discussion about how to rate things in the Defiance thread prompted me to write this, since I didn’t want to clutter up a “For Review” thread. A lot of people rate things by gut instinct. I’m not going to talk about that because it’s not interesting and there’s not much analysis you can do on that (that would be relevant here, anyways). Subjective Rating For the purposes of this discussion I’m defining subjective rating as rating stories in relation to each other - the worst story ever would receive a 1/5, while the best story would get a 5/5. This an important question, however: how does the scale work? Linear A linear scale is just that - linear. The bottom 20% of stories hit a 1/5, the top 20% a 5/5, etc. This is pretty simple but also not really how people usually rate things, and for good reason - stories that range from mediocre to terrible make up considerably more than 20% of fandom (let’s be real, more than 80%, in all likelihood), leaving us assigning scores of 3/5 and 4/5 to bad stories that we wouldn’t enjoy reading. This doesn’t make much sense. What’s another possibility? Logarithmic Here’s a short rundown on logarithmic scales: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logarithmic_scale. A logarithmic scale running on a factor of two gives us a distribution something like this: 1/5 | 51.6% 2/5 | 25.8% 3/5 | 12.9% 4/5 | 6.5% 5/5 | 3.2% This is probably a more accurate reflection of how we perceive the distribution of story quality, though the factor used to scale may change depending on the sample of stories used and each individual’s particular preferences (and discernment). Still, there’s something missing. We may approximate the quality of a story in a single variable, like we do with IQ for intelligence, but it is not a fundamental property of a story - stories have many elements to them - prose, plot, characterization, world-building, etc. - that each have their own level of quality (though they’re often strongly correlated - and, of course, these also aren’t strictly fundamental properties, but they’re close enough for our purposes). If you compare two different stories, both of which you’d rate 4/5, you will probably find that you like them for different reasons. One may have stronger characters, while the other has more impressive world-building. This is an important part of how we compare stories to each other - after all, the rating does need to come from somewhere. “Objective” Rating We each have certain standards for the quality of story elements. The reason objective is in quotes is because these standards are only objective in relation to each individual’s preferences, not in relation to any external fact about the universe. Different people’s preferences have a lot of overlap, because the neural architectures that produce those preferences are built on an effectively universal template, and differences come in based on biological, environmental, and cultural variation. Here is where the subjective rating system outlined above starts to break down. Assume, for the sake of argument, that we are working with a finite set of stories - let’s take the Worm fandom. Let’s also take a fictional reader of stories - call him Tom. Tom’s standards for stories have been shaped by the reading of his early childhood, which consisted entirely of classic works of fiction by highly-acclaimed authors. As a result, Tom considers the quality of the prose in a story to be an overwhelmingly important part of the story achieving a certain minimum rating (the rating at which he will continue to read the story, for example). Tom enters the Worm fandom and finds that none of the stories are written with the quality of prose that he expects. As a result, he would not rate any of the stories higher than a 2/5 - they may be very well characterized with excellent world-building, but the quality of prose is a “hard requirement” that none of them achieve. It’s easy to see how this would look confusing to other people who don’t have this hard requirement - “Look,” they say, “this story has a much better plot and more interesting characters than that other story! How can your rate them both 2/5?” Tom replies, irritated, “Yes, but the prose is so drab. What I would give for more Dickens!” Good thing we’re not Tom, really. Imagine having those preferences!