Interpreting reviews is an art form. Amazon is a great example of what I call the 1-5 phenomenon. You’ll see mostly one-star reviews and five-star reviews on most review systems. People seem unable to understand the foggy middle ground of 2–4. What is good? What is bad? What is really bad? Thumbs up and thumbs down, that simple pass-fail system, is much easier. Five stars review systems require work.
Reviews are subjective and if you’re a generally kind and generous person, if the item or experience was reasonably good, you’ll head towards five. The one star reviewer, however, has a finely honed sense of self-importance, both in what level they think their abilities of discernment are and in how they believe they deserve to be treated.
Out of curiosity, I looked at an Amazon product I’d reviewed. The overall score was 3.8, figured as follows:
5 stars: 68
4 stars: 17
3 stars: 6
2 stars: 6
1 star: 24
Inasmuch as the product was an inkjet cartridge, you’d expect fives from those who got it to work, and ones from those who didn’t; twos, threes and fours are perhaps inexplicable. (I gave it a four, mostly because Amazon was selling it at very close to MSRP.)
I must admit, though, that I hadn’t delved into the psychology of it all quite this deeply:
So what is the mentality of a solid one-star reviewer?
Blackmail only. They have only one star to work with. Everything is judged on a negative scale.
Whether it’s Google Glass users trying to sabotage a restaurant that won’t allow them to wear the devices by leaving one-star reviews whether they ate there or not, the general tendency to be an ass and complainer and social media blackmailer, or using sockpuppet accounts to boost reviews, very little about the review and comment ability gives me much hope that the human race won’t be extinct in about three years.
I give this observation four stars out of a possible five. (I’d hate to give up entirely my tendency to be an ass and complainer.)