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April 19, 2005 12:01 AM

Broken: AOL Music's average user rating

Jake Freivald points out that this album page on AOL Music has an Average User Rating of five stars, but further down on the page, it says:

    Currently there are no Reviews. Be the first to post your comments!

Jake writes: "I can think of half-a-dozen reasons for doing this deliberately, of course, but not one of them is a reasonable reason. I prefer to think they just bungled it."


Perhaps it's possible to give an album a star rating without actually writing a review of it. That's how it works on Netflix, for instance.

Posted by: brian w at April 19, 2005 01:12 AM

Yeah, it works that way on Amazon too. Anyone with an account can rate a product (how many stars), and anyone with an account can review it (write up exactly what you liked/hated about it). Kind of like having a multiple choice part and an essay part.

Posted by: Kelson at April 19, 2005 01:52 AM

Works the same way at

You can rate w/o a review

For instance, 3 people would have given it an average of 4.67 stars, but there would only be 2 written reviews, each with 5 stars. The 3rd guy just rated it, no written review.

Posted by: JC at April 19, 2005 08:33 AM

it looks like it has been fixed now

Posted by: unknown at April 19, 2005 09:21 AM

Thought I'd test it out, since I happen to have an old "screen name" hanging around. Yes, you can rate it without writing a review. I rated it a 1, and it didn't change the rating from 5 stars, so either a fairly significant number of people have rated this a 5 (without reviewing it) or it just ignores low ratings.

It would make me feel a lot more confident about the user ratings if they displayed how many users total had rated it. Ideally, there should also be a way to display the distribution of votes -- there's a difference between an average of 3 made up of 100 votes all for 3, and one made up of 50 votes for 5 and 50 for 1.

Posted by: E.T. at April 19, 2005 10:41 AM

still no reviews, but now it's four stars.

it appears brian w is correct.

Posted by: Bob at April 19, 2005 04:59 PM

Four things:

* What kind of music is that, anyway?

* The 4 stars (I know it was 5, but still...) probably represents merely an average rating.

* Either that or it's possible to rate without reviewing

* Popular Science published this entry like 2 months ago.

Posted by: no one at April 19, 2005 05:16 PM

Four comments:

* That's irrelevant.

* Already noted.

* Already noted.

* How come I never see any of the Popular Science "This is Broken" entries actually on "This is Broken"?

Posted by: fuzzy at April 19, 2005 05:52 PM

yeah, thanks, what did I do? I'm just saying...

Posted by: CLICK HERE! at April 19, 2005 06:34 PM

I've never seen anything from a Popular Science in here either and the Popular Science one wasn't the same, that one was worse.

Posted by: Chris at April 19, 2005 07:07 PM

Popular science gets all the exclusives.

Posted by: Maurs at April 19, 2005 11:28 PM

What's broken about this is that it doesn't tell you how many people have rated it. There's a difference between averaging 4 stars based on 5 ratings and averaging 4 stars based on 500 ratings.

Posted by: RotJ at April 21, 2005 12:46 PM

I'm guessing that Popular Science just goes through the archives and uses the best ones. I can't check, though, I don't have a copy of PopSci with me.

Posted by: Shadow at April 21, 2005 06:13 PM

I've seen all the Popular Science posts here since like April 2004...just keep looking through the archives. Also, lets you rate stuff the same way brian said, so that's probably it.

Posted by: supermunkyfm94 at October 13, 2005 08:25 PM

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