I find ratings on the site not useful BUT welcoming. As a writer (despite the fact that I don't write for a living nor do I write for the fun of it; i'm on my way there though, LOL, so, stop bugging at me for these), getting feedback from readers is a motivating (& for many, powerful) force. It not only acts as a feedback of what readers and society (or in Lunch case, community) focus their attentions on, it serves as a rewarding "prize" to the members who take the time and effort to share his thoughts and beliefs on the matter.
We all feel differently about giving ratings to a piece of work or review, in this case. Some feels it should be based on its merits while others feel they give to one based on how useful it is to the readers themselves. Then again, there are others who give a rating based on their friendships. To them, the motivating force for being in a community is not to judge but rather to make friends and foster those relationships. For many, it's all of the above. No one is right or wrong, no matter how they rate. As long as they are not rating "deviously" or out to hurt another person.
Whatever the motivations are, one must remember a reader has a role to play and the writer has his/her respective standpoint and perspective.
So, how do I rate? I err on the generous side, I hope. I do not think it's a competition between the writers and hence, rating a subject is based on my own personal liking for that topic, experiences with it and also how I concur with the writer. Yes, one can object and be different. However, as we all know in everyday psychology, people do not take well to criticism and judgement (me included!). Rather, we respond well to encouragements and friendship. So, based on that and also my past experiences on VirtualTourist.com, rating to me is not a pointless affair. it is necessary to keep a member going, to help him/her share his/her thoughts and interactions with others in the community. It is essential. No doubt about that. it doesn't always imply how good a person is as a writer or how proficient he/she is on the subject matter. Instead, it does reflect on his/her interaction with the community at large. It fosters relationships. And relationships, my friends, are most important in this world we live in. We are here, all of us, in this world for relationships. Whether one tries to foster it in one's environment or online is subject to one's preference. Nonetheless, we are here to spread the good tidings...
Although some of us may not be here to form friendships or relationships, we are nonetheless here to find like-minded people. Yes, I do not believe others are out to look for someone to argue with. I do believe we are out to look for supportive relationships. Especially on Lunch.com, it is based on similarity and not on differences, is it not?
Now, back to ratings, if I feel differently from the writer, I normally just leave without reading it or simply rate without giving one on Helpfulness. That way, I do not offend people (I hate that, although sometimes it can't be help, people does get offended easily and for reasons unknown ;-)) and I can return in future to read other subject matters written by the same person. I do not find it productive to argue with others either as I believe it takes out too much out of me and it makes me feel the site is not a place where i'd want to be thereafter. Yes, I had seen others done this on another site and ultimately they just deleted everything and end up leaving for good! That I do not hope to accomplish nor do I want someone to leave because of me!
Having said all these, there are room for improvement when it comes to ratings. I saw what Huffington Post is doing... why not rate it with these in mind as additions to the current rating system?
To the credit of Huffington Post, an article can be:
Life changing (I made this one up)
What do you think, ladies and gentleman? I hope Lunch will consider fine-tuning the system.
I love ratings, LOL... Without them, it's like having lunch without dessert! Nonetheless, there is room for improvement where the system is concerned! Be generous guys, rate!!! Rate till you drop! ;-) Best if we can use some of these to shop!!!