In October of 2004 I started assigning star ratings to the many, many short posts on this blog whose function is primarily to point readers elsewhere. The stars were intended to give my audience some indication of the value or interest likely to greet them once they clicked through the links I posted. A five-star rating was meant to indicate something not to be missed, while a single-star rating was a kind of caveat, a signal that a given link, while interesting to me, had a high likelihood of leaving others unimpressed.
These ratings persisted for nearly ten years, and over that time I assigned them to literally thousands of posts. But for the past several years, I’ve been acutely aware that the system itself was inherently flawed.
I can cite at least for two reasons for this. First, there was effectively little difference between, say, a post with two-stars and a post with three-stars; the ratings scale was too fine-grained and I often found myself not really knowing how many stars to assign to a given link. Over time, even I lost confidence or a sense of meaning in them.
Secondly, the system was not very useful. In the beginning, when I was posting links with very little accompanying text, they might have served a limited purpose. But in recent years, as I started to write more commentary with each link I posted, they seemed more and more redundant or at least disconnected from what I was writing. Moreover, no one ever really said to me that they found them insightful; if anything, they confused people who didn’t understand their implications.
So, with the launch of version 8.0 of this site, I decided to retire the star ratings. Old posts that have been assigned stars will stand, preserved for posterity in the archives, but posts dated after February 2014 will no longer be ranked.