Is It Okay To Change Your Ratings Over Time?

Posted September 13, 2014 by Debby in Discussions, Question Time / 17 Comments

Since I recently went through all my old reviews to update their formatting and add them to my review archive, I couldn’t help but notice that some of my ratings were a little… strange. Mostly, they were inflated. And I might have adjusted some of them where I saw fit, because I couldn’t help but feel like those books… deserved it.

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Some may consider this a faux pas.

I mean, these thoughts were legitimate and honest at some point in time. I never lie in my reviews. I usually write my review RIGHT after finishing the book, so we can’t say that I wasn’t expressing my honest feelings at the time. Since the book was more clearly in my head then than now, one could argue that any thoughts I have now are less valid.

It can also be confusing. I know that some people in their reviews have a “second opinion” type section, where they reference the ratings/reviews of others. If you get linked to that when you rated it one way, and then change it, it’s awkward.

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But opinions change over time.

Some books are so good, they just have staying power. But some books you may feel really emotionally involved with right after finishing, and it’s only after time passes that you start looking at it more objectively. I do pride my ratings on being more objective – I rarely rate books on “THE FEELS” alone – but sometimes they do inflate my opinion, and once the feels have faded, I can feel guilty about a rating being too high. If people are using my ratings as a determinant in their book buying decisions, I want it to be objective and useful.

Other times, I just feel like I’ve explored a genre more thoroughly and something that I found average at one point might feel more mediocre than anything now. I’m thinking mostly of the dystopias, in this case. I must admit, I’m a bit over the genre, and looking back on my reviews of Taken, Dualed, and Across the Universe, and considering how apathetic I feel about them now, I only felt right in letting my ratings reflect that.

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Sometimes this comes not just after looking through my reviews, but rereading the books. That would make the rating shift more legitimate, I do admit – but I don’t have time to reread everything. I recently reread Shut Out and it carried so much more significance to me the second time through because of its meaningful conversation about sexuality and slut shaming. Its feminist themes appealed to me so much more, and the romance was just as feelsy as the first time, so I boosted the rating.

So yeah, I may change my ratings over time.

When I feel like a rating is off, or I’m looking at my review index by rating and I notice one book just doesn’t measure up to the others that have the same rating, I will change it. But it’s never more than 1 point up or down. The majority of the time, it’s only a half orange. The thing is, 9 times out of 10, if I read the review again, I feel that the text would still fit the higher/lower rating. At the time I just either felt a moral obligation (i.e. it was a review copy), peer pressure (i.e. because a friend recommended it to me and raved about it, or there’s a lot of hype for that book), or some other external force that convinced me I should rate up (or down). I don’t ever change the wording of my reviews – just the rating.

I will admit though that this is most often a shift downward. I can only think of two books where I moved a rating up: Shut Out and Parallel. In those cases, the books just lingered, actually gaining emotional significance over time. But after time has passed and my opinion has settled, I feel like having that 0.5 or 1 orange shift upward or downward is just me being honest (especially when the wording of the review still fits) – and I only ever shift a rating once per book. See, if I refer to books over time, like in Top Ten Tuesday lists or whatever, people might go read those older reviews, and I still want them to reflect my honest opinion.

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And I must admit, this is also a product of my short but accelerated reading journey. Having read so much over the past two and a half years, compared to almost NOTHING before then, I’m learning as I go and becoming more objective. The ratings in my first year were extremely generous. My ratings nowadays are more objective and thought through, so I don’t expect that this will happen too much in the future.

Let’s Talk!

Do you ever change your ratings? Up, down, or both? Do you just do it on Goodreads, or also on your blog?

Let me know in the comments!

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17 responses to “Is It Okay To Change Your Ratings Over Time?

  1. I totally understand wanting to change ratings. I have looked back at my ratings for books when I first started using Goodreads and think that I was way to easy with 5 star ratings, as really a lot of those books should have been 4 or even 3 stars. But I guess that can be expected, feelings can change over time.

    Great post!
    Pavan recently posted DNF Review: Eyes of the Woods by Eden FierceMy Profile

  2. I also did this when I updated my archive. But only in one case did I make any real changes to the review text. So the points are the same. It’s just that my ratings didn’t make sense to me at the time. Whatever, it’s your blog and I think it’s fair.

    Further reflection can change opinions. I don’t think it should be done to fix intentionally dishonest ratings. Or more I guess I mean I only think it’s a problem if you knew the ratings were wrong to start with but you didn’t, so who gives a fuck. You’re just trying to stay honest.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted I’m Leaving on a Jet PlaneMy Profile

  3. This desire to change ratings? It’s real and I honestly think it’s within all of us. I admit, I have and do change certain ratings when I peruse the archives. And the second rating often takes a downward dive, as well. But I definitely feel that in certain, if not then most, circumstances it is necessary. We grow in every way, every day and even if those reviews did reflect us at some point, our current thoughts and reviews are also a rendition of us. And so I still believe that wherever the new rating may go, it still remains a true reflection. I often avoid the reread because I fear having to change my ratings. I’ll be honest, I’m afraid of waking up one day and realising that a favourite book of mine remains no longer so. But like you, I’m attempting a much more objective method nowadays and am hoping to resolve the need to change anything! Fabulous discussion, Debby!
    Jess @myreadingdress recently posted Seeking Saturday’s Read #3My Profile

  4. I also talked about this a while ago, because like you, I went back to my reviews to edit some things and found out I didn’t agree with some of my older ratings. I changed them. The only thing that bothers me is the fact that I didn’t change the rating on Goodreads, but that takes too much time and work, haha.

    It’s not strange that your opinions change over time.You read more books you can use as comparison and sometimes you start to think about the book and realize things you first didn’t see. It feels good to me to have the right ratings, because otherwise it’s only nagging me. ‘Everyone will think I loved this book, because of the 4 rating, but I don’t think it’s THAT good anymore.’ I want my ratings to represent how I feel now too.

    I noticed that my changes happened between 2.5 – 4.5 books. I think I will never change my mind about books I hated or loved. Like you, most of them changed with -0.5 points, so nothing too crazy.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted Review 286. Maria Snyder – Fire study.My Profile

  5. I have definitely changed some of my ratings. I haven’t done it in awhile, but after I had been blogging for about 6 months, I realized that I was a little too harsh on books. So I changed a few. But I never changed many. I am thinking of going through all my back reviews and updating the format (which is a seriously daunting task considering how many reviews I’ve got) and I might change the rating a tiny bit, too.

    I think that’s okay. People’s opinions change, or, for me, I realized that how I felt about a book wasn’t accurately portrayed in my rating.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted Book Haul #68My Profile

  6. Amber Elise

    I think the most I’ve changed my reviews is by half a star and usually that’s because it’s been a few days since I’ve read the book so I’ve had some time to reflect. If I’ve already posted it though, I don’t change it. I might have to though, some of the 3star reviews are pretty harsh. -_-

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  7. Interesting question! When I just started reading contemporaries books I gave out a lot of high ratings because I thought these book where awesome, but I think I just hadn’t read enough books in the genre yet. These books seemed original back then, but now I think if I where to re-read them or think about them I won’t like them as much as I did back then. I never change my ratings, but yeah I can understand the urge. I just hope people will take a look at the time I wrote that review and realise that was how I thought about the book back when I write that review.
    Lola recently posted My To-Be Read List #1: Chosen BookMy Profile

  8. I don’t know if I would change ratings… especially since I don’t generally re-read books. If I did re-read a book and found that I felt really differently about it… I think I’d add something onto the end of my existing review. I might change the rating, but I’d make it clear that I’d changed it, and I’d also keep the old rating on the page somewhere. I think that people being able to see that your rating has changed could be an important factor in them deciding whether or not they might want to read the same book. (For example, when I first read Twilight, I gave it three stars. I wasn’t super impressed with it, but I didn’t think it was totally horrible and I wasn’t tired of vampires at that point. If I read it again, my rating would probably be lower… but I think it would be important to mention that when I didn’t have vampire fatigue I didn’t hate the book.)
    La Coccinelle recently posted New to the TBR Pile (1)My Profile

  9. Yes, Debby, I have to say that changing your rating over time is perfectly okay. People change, and your opinions and your taste change with age and with experience. I rated the Millennium trilogy as 5 stars, but looking back, I would rate them about a 2 to 3 because I have read a wider range, and I feel that I can now provide a better rating and a more sage opinion regarding the series.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted Book Review: HorrorstörMy Profile

  10. I definitely change reviews! There’s one series I initially hated when I first read it (10+ years ago in high school). I had been told I’d like it because I adore another author, but these two were nothing alike. Just a few months ago a co-worker and I binged on the series and, going into it without any expectations whatsoever, I wound up loving it. Seriously loving it.
    Leah recently posted my week in pictures 9/14My Profile

  11. It’s funny because I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (and even have it as a possible upcoming discussion topic for my blog). Recently I switched to WordPress and have been going through my reviews and I now have the urge to change some of the ratings by a half star. Not a lot of them, but some. I actually addressed this in my post How Soon Do You Review? because I find that the quicker I review a book right after I read it, the more likely I am to give it a higher review. So, which rating is right? The rating I initially gave it or the way that I still feel about the book a few months later? It’s a tricky question and I still don’t feel like I’ve come to a satisfying answer.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  12. I think if I were to go back and update my ratings, most would shift down. I’ve gotten so much more strict the more I read. I’m just harder to please. So it feels awkward to change them, like you mention, they were legit ratings at the time. Plus, I wouldn’t know how well I remember the details of the book to really be able to honestly re-rate. Unless I did a re-read and a re-review. Then maybe I’d update ratings at that point. Great topic!

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