Without going into too much detail, a topic was originally created with a parting mention of “no hate raters”, as well as a request for ratings at or above a certain level. Our moderation team works with a rather specific description of what hate rating is, which I had to clarify with the poster:
[A hate rater] is an individual who rates many pages with very low ratings, with the express purpose of bringing people down in the author ratings or story popularity rankings. What this means is that hate raters are trying to game the system or abuse a certain person (or people’s) rankings. Disliking a certain post on its own does not constitute “hate rating.”
This distinction is important — I don’t want people to feel like they have to give excellent ratings for everything written on Protagonize. That just waters down our ratings system and makes it worthless to everyone. A system where everyone gives each other 5.0s across the board doesn’t actually provide any useful feedback. In that case, removing the ratings altogether would almost be more worthwhile.
To paraphrase what I posted in the topic, ratings are only helpful to our authors if they’re honest and not self-serving. Either way, a negative rating on your writing does not mean you were the unfortunate target of a “hate rater.”
We do have a lot of folks on the site who take issue with getting a low rating… many of whom take the time to report this negative rating to the moderators as the hallmark of a hate rater targeting their work. Of course, their definition of a low rating and that of, say, your school teacher, university professor, book editor, or someone else grading their work seriously, may differ from that standard entirely. It does make me concerned about the ratings system we’re using here on Protagonize, and that maybe it requires a serious overhaul to make it more useful and less of a distraction to our authors. I get the sense that there are a number of members out there who are strictly interested in boosting up their ratings as much as possible, and not at all inclined to improve their writing.
This unfortunate trend leads to a lot of reciprocal “back patting” where no one actually ends up with realistic ratings because no one’s willing to actually provide an honest critique. Although I feel somewhat better about this when I see the contents of the Critiques Wanted discussion group, which has been an excellent area for feedback of late.
Back to the moderation side of things — most of you are likely unaware that our moderators have a variety of tools that allow them to discern a number of questionable patterns that arise on the site. We monitor things like spammers, users’ creation of fake or “mule” accounts, large quantities of overly positive ratings (yes, this happens more than you might think), and the same for overly negative ratings (what we refer to as hate raters.) And we don’t get involved in removing ratings, for instance, unless absolutely necessary.
Our moderators are very vigilant about this kind of behaviour. We do run into a number of thick-skulled individuals who think that creating fake accounts to rate up their own work, or to rate down the works of others, is something that we won’t notice. Repeatedly. Fortunately, our moderators are on the ball and tend to catch these miscreants pretty quickly, and they get banned, at first temporarily, and then permanently if they continue to abuse the site or its members.
But once again, let me re-iterate that folks should really not get riled up over single negative ratings. Especially not to the point of only requesting certain levels of ratings, or calling out users who dislike their work as “hate raters”. We look for trends; if there is no trend, it’s most likely an isolated incident. If it’s a middling rating and not even extremely low, it may be that someone just didn’t like your work — and yes, this actually does happen! In any case, it’s something we all have to deal with as writers. I’d just like for us not to get too hung up on numbers, and focus on quality. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, but I’d like to think we’re all capable of critiquing honestly.
Getting higher ratings isn’t going to improve the quality of your writing — getting meaningful feedback will. If anything, artificially high ratings may give authors an inflated opinion of themselves, which isn’t all that helpful when they’re trying to grow as writers.
I’ll keep working on how to improve that feedback mechanism. What I’d like from the community is to focus on trying to provide better quality feedback.