Why We Ditched Our Recommendations System

Tim Riggins would like to “talk.”You may have noticed (though, likely you haven’t) that we’re no longer giving books we review a recommendation or rating.

Yes, we’re still employing the Extremely Scientific FNL Character Rating System when applicable, but there are no longer any ratings of books we review on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves. (We had originally categorized them on a scale from “Avoid” to “Must Read.”)

We were never comfortable with a numeric system (1-5 or 1-10 or letter grades are common), but felt that since it was “normal” to have a rating/recommendation that we should try to be somewhat “normal.”

(You can stop snickering now.)

(Really? You’re still laughing? It’s that funny that we were attempting to be “normal”?)

(Okay. You’re right. It’s pretty freaking hilarious.)

Anyway… when we started CEFS, we wanted to speak to readers, to help people find books—new and old—that we hoped they’d like.

We also wanted to talk about book-ish things that matter to us (or are kind of frivolous, as is the case of our “Bookish Finds” series). We wanted to also shamelessly champion books that we love (which is why Laura and I all always pushing Freefall at every opportunity and why we have the “I Love” series—for which we’re currently accepting guest posts). 

All of us who review for this blog on a regular basis (and we have someone super awesome starting up soon) are pretty good at self-selecting what we like and don’t like, so a large portion of our reviews sit on the spectrum of being recommended reads on some level. Obviously, there are some bombs that we pick up, and we all have DNFs (I usually DNF a book after just a few pages, though, so it’s rarely worth mentioning).

Kyle ChandlerKyle Chandler: Always worth mentioning.

And, none of us shy away from negatively reviewing a book.

With that said, we recommend far more books than we don’t (my average Goodreads rating hovers around four stars) and try to do a thorough job in our reviews of making sure that people understand what we, as readers, like and don’t like so y’all will know if our tastes match yours. But, I don’t think any of us are interested in reading books we know we’ll hate just so we can have more negative reviews. 

Furthermore, our reviews skew toward the longer side of things, so hopefully, we’re thorough enough in making it clear whether or not this is a book that’ll appeal to folks or not.

So, that’s just my long way of saying that for Clear Eyes, Full Shelves, a recommendation system didn’t really serve a purpose.

Sure, we could force a Goodreads-style star system or get really creative and start awarding pairs of Tim Riggin’s broken in blue jeans on a one to five scale, but I’m not convinced that for us, and our reviews, it makes a whole lot of sense. So, after half-assing it with a qualitiative rating system for awhile, we officially dumped them a couple weeks ago. 

This isn’t meant as a criticism of anyone else’s rating system. Many, many (most, even?) blogs have awesome rating systems that work for them and are informative and helpful to their readers. We just kind of suck at creating and using ratings.

Of course, we’ll continue using our beloved FNL Character Rating system as appropriate—because that really says all you need to know, right?

(I’m also working on a thorough explanation of the FNL Character Rating so that y’all who haven’t watched Friday Night Lights (the horror!) will know what the hell we’re talking about.)

Anyway, we thought we’d let you know, lest you think we’d totally lost the plot. The ratings are no longer, and we’re much happier bloggers as a result. 

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