The 5 star review format just doesn’t work. It’s simply not an effective way to rank places or things for a whole variety of reasons. Let’s break this down.
Lack of Differentiation
Firstly, let’s acknowledge the fact that 68% of reviews in this format are between 4 and 5 stars. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, titled When 4.3 Stars is Average, the author talks about the shift of Netflix’s recent shift away from the 5 star review format and the necessity for other companies to follow suit. He also showed the following breakdown of Yelp’s ratings:
The problem here is a lack of differentiation. When everything is between 4 and 5 stars, there is no real difference in the rankings. Honestly, go look at Yelp or TripAdvisor and see if you can notice a difference between page 1, page 3 and page 5 in a random ‘best of’ ranking page. Most likely, it will all look the same.
Another problem that the 5 star format creates is how bad circumstances or a bad experience can impact the rankings. In the previous distribution shown, 15% of reviews have 1 star. More than likely, these ratings didn’t occur because the food was 1-star-worthy, but because of a spilled drink, slow service, or some other unforeseen event. In other words, the 5 star review format can be treated like a complaint forum. Let’s say you’re at a place with really great food, a great view and this happens:
After this happens, someone runs onto Yelp or TripAdvisor and gives a 1 star review. Is this justified? Maybe. But, although bad experiences can be worth pointing out, the point is that this can affect the rankings and make it harder to find just the best places. A place might have the most amazing seafood in town but a few unfortunate random events permanently impacted their reputation and their 5 star review rating.
Money, Competitors, and False Accounts
Did you know there are companies you can pay to negatively review your competitors? If you negatively review a few businesses that you are competing against, your own business looks better in comparison.
One study found that competitors, false accounts, and money influence 18% of reviews. According to an article by BusinessInsider, 1 in every 5 reviews on Yelp are fake. And, nearly 700 complaints with the FTC have been filed against Yelp. So it’s very simple to hurt your competitors or post a fake review: wear a fake mustache, walk into competitor’s business, post a dozen fake reviews. Easy.
So we’ve detailed some of the issues with 5 star reviews: the fact that almost all of them are between 4 and 5 stars (allowing no room for differentiation in the lists), the ease in posting a 1 star complaint and how that can impact rankings, and the existence of fake reviews and false accounts that can falsely impact how places are reviewed. All in all, five rating reviews are simply outdated.
A Better Way
Remember that Wall Street Journal article we mentioned? The article concluded with this line: “A personalized recommendation is better than a four-point-whatever star rating any day of the week.”
That’s right. Our team here at Rayka thinks that personalized recommendations are infinitely better than random 4.3 star review rankings. Better yet, we offer a different way of ranking things: a ranking based on people’s favorite places, which allows for differentiated lists, an inability for complaints to influence the rankings, a closed system based on friends that is incapable of allowing fake reviews, and an ability to sort by demographics, such as searching for the best among just locals, just people in your age group, etc.
We are replacing the outdated 5 star review format with a more effective way of doing things. The Rayka app will launch next month!