Why "Detailed Star Ratings" are a waste of everybody's time ..
You may have noticed that Ebay have recently introduced "Star" ratings in addition to the standard feedback ratings. I would like to take a brief moment to explain why I do not leave star ratings, and why they are actually at best useless, and at worst counterproductive.
First, what are the star ratings supposed to be for? Allegedly, to help buyers distinguish between the better and worse sellers on various aspects of service. Unfortunately, in this respect they fail quite spectacularly. Ebay's own stats show that there is no discernable difference in the star ratings of the top 10% of sellers and those of a 'median' seller. In fact, even the worst performing 10% of sellers have average star ratings well above 4 out of 5 in EVERY category. (see pic)
In addition to this, the star rating system actually makes it harder for buyers to make their bad experiences known. Since star ratings are based on an average over minimum of 10 transactions, if you have a terrible experience and leave someone a 1 star rating, it is a simple mathematical fact that this will make practically no difference to their overall star rating. A negative or a neutral feedback would be a far more helpful guide to other buyers, but instead buyers are now encouraged to use the anonymous and less confrontational 'star' ratings to express their discontent - whereas, in reality their discontent will make at most barely a speck of difference to the seller's overall rating.
The ratings do no favours for sellers either, as they give no opportunity for a seller to respond to a poor rating or to know what reason - if any - someone has for giving them a poor rating. As a seller, I am equally as likely to receive a low star rating from someone who is annoyed by the postal strike - over which i have no control - as by someone who has a genuine greivance. Since there is no way of telling what is actually influencing someone to leave a higher or lower star rating, I can't do anything about it.
Net result: star ratings are useless in practical terms for buyers, as they do not provide an adequate means of distinguishing good sellers from poor ones. They are unhelpful for sellers as they do not give any indication of what people are actually specifically happy/unhappy about.
As such, I regard star ratings as a useless waste of time. Appropriate feedback is a hundred times more useful for both buyers and sellers than these pathetic star ratings, which serve only to waste ebayers time and, more insiduously, reduce the amount of people leaving negative or neutral feedback that would actually be useful to other buyers.
I do not leave any star ratings for this reason. I would encourage you not to leave any either - although it gives the perception of being able to give a more detailed response to your transaction, in fact the time you spend carefully choosing those stars will actually tell nobody anything useful at all.
Why Detailed Star Ratings are a waste of time
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16 October 2007
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