Explanation of Ratings
See the table at the end if you'd rather skip the details.
I don't think "ratings systems" can be a substitute for comments on a story but I do think each generally complements the other, and ratings can at least help nail down and quantify the comment, so I use them in most of my own reviews. Even recommending a story is an implicit system of at least two classes. So this page tries to explain what mine are and how they relate.
I started with the notion of having a 1-5 scale in half-point incremements with a 0 for things I didn't finish. However, I almost instantly found myself compressing things to a 1-4 scale, with 4s as rare as 5s were supposed to be. Basically, it divides into negative reactions (1), neutral reactions (2), and positive reactions (3) with upper and lower tendencies within these. I'd rather not have read 1s; I didn't mind reading 2s but don't especially want to re-read them; I'm glad I read 3s and would even like to re-read them.
I actually wanted to cover books and print zines completely, to give a full picture of what the item was like. However, with webzines, which are frequently deficient in "magazine-ness" and due to the trauma of reviewing things negatively ("this hurts me more than it hurts you"), I decided that for webzines, I wanted to take a pure "hey, this was cool - check it out!" approach and so I simply "recommended" things that I thought were particularly good with an honorable mention list for things that were close and that the interested reader might want to pursue if they still hungered for more.
Tangent, though, introduces another level of complication. Here, I can't review everything but only the original fiction. And I can't review just what I liked - I have to review all the original fiction. And when it comes to recommending it, Tangent has a 0-3 star system of recommendations when I have a hard time coming up with more than two levels of recommendations (given that the third is almost imaginary) and haven't been able to justify four. So, given that Tangent recs are supposed to start with 0 stars and each level is supposed to contain more items than the next level, and given that I want recs to be recs, that basically leaves me giving things 0 or 1 stars for Tangent even though that results in the stories being buried low in the list, as my fellow reviewers are capable of finer granulation than I am.
Anyway: here's the table illustrating what I've said.
|Essentially unequivocal joy (very rare)||4||Recommended||**|
|Likely worthy of a finite "Year's Best"||3.5||*|
|Worthy of an unconstrained "Year's Best"||3||(no star)|
|More than readable but shy of rec||2.5||Honorable Mention||n/a|
|Par for the course, readable||2||n/a|
|Subpar, but with something good||1.5|