4 Star Reviews

4-star reviews are usually lumped with 5-star reviews as “positive.” But they are really tricky because they’re usually negative reviews in disguise. I skim over 4-star reviews as not helpful at all. (Which probably makes it awkward that I’ve published a lot of them myself, including one most recently for Brave. :P)

I always wonder: Why wasn’t it a 5-star? What’s making you hold back? 85% of the time it’s because the person giving the 4-star review actually dislikes the book or movie, but won’t admit it. Either they’re feeling social pressure from others not to be too blunt or they don’t want to admit their feelings to themselves. The other 15% the opposite is true. The person loves the book or movie and also, even more curiously, doesn’t quite want to admit it.

4-star reviews tend to be inarticulate and vague. I post them sometimes if I really can’t think of another way to say what I think. But they are the insincere reviews and we all know there’s nothing more useless than that. 4-star reviews are also a vital part of the eco-system–probably because this exact insincerity is something we’ve all had, or been expected to have, from time to time. It’s hard to imagine the world without it.

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