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How I use Star ratings

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I just posted this as a reply to another thread, but thought it would be useful to post in it's own thread so others can find it easier....

One point to emphasize in the use of star ratings is CONSISTANCY. If today when I'm feeling cheery, I give a certain image 4 stars but next week that same image (or an image of similar quality) would only get a 2 rating as on that day I have a cold and am down in the dumps, then you rating system is basically random numbers. This isn't to say that an image I thought was great 5 years ago now seems mundane to me shouldn't wind up having its rating lowered but rather one should have a consistent, repeatable, and to the extent possible metric based system for assigning rating stars. Of course quality is a subjective, not objective, attribute so will always be somewhat squishy, but the more objective you can make it the better. Which brings up my first point.

Only use star ratings for one purpose. If you are using star ratings as a measure of image quality then don't also use it as a measure of where in your workflow you are and vice versa. On that point, I highly recommend that star be used ONLY as an indicator of image quality.

The second point is to devise a set of metrics or guides for what each number of stars mean to you. Put this on a 3x5 index card and tape it to the wall next to your computer for easy reference. Then each time you go into rating mode, read the list again before you start. How you define the metrics for each number of stars is of course up to you, but by writing it down and following the same set of criteria year after year will yield immense value down the road.

So, what are my criteria you may ask? Well here they are - for better or worse.

  • 0 = Unrated (new images I haven't gotten to yet)
  • 1 = Tossers (good for nothing) or Duplicates. Some people just delete the tossers but I'm a pack rat so I keep them just in case. Duplicates are images that are identical or nearly identical to other higher rated images and are usually stacked under those other images
  • 2 = OK to Post. These are images that I would not have a problem posting on my photography website. In other words i would not be embarrassed showing these to the world
  • 3 = Posted. These are images that I actually did put on my website at some point. In other words of several images that were quite similar, this one was enough better than the others that I choose it to be the one posted. If later I improve the same image with a new version and replace the original on my website, the original will be down graded to 1 star and stacked under its replacement as it is now a duplicate. However if later I am tired of the image and just choose to de-clutter my website by removing the image I leave it as 3 stars. I also leave it as a 3 if I just decide later to replace it with one of the other similar images.
  • 4 = Favorites. These are images that I like enough to enter into competitions, print and hang in gallery shows or in my living room, or perhaps put special effort into marketing them. These images also get placed into the "Favorites" section of my website and in the favorites section or album on other social media or photo sharing sites such as Flickr,
  • 5 = NGS. These are National Geographic Society magazine quality images (IMHO). In other words, in my opinion these are as good as those one sees in National Geographic. Or, another way to say it, the best of the best. Typically, I get less than a dozen of these a year and in some years only one or two.
Anyway, the point is that for star ratings to work, and add value, over time they need to be consistently applied and to do that you have to have consistent criteria for what they mean.
 

PhilBurton

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I just posted this as a reply to another thread, but thought it would be useful to post in it's own thread so others can find it easier....

One point to emphasize in the use of star ratings is CONSISTANCY. If today when I'm feeling cheery, I give a certain image 4 stars but next week that same image (or an image of similar quality) would only get a 2 rating as on that day I have a cold and am down in the dumps, then you rating system is basically random numbers. This isn't to say that an image I thought was great 5 years ago now seems mundane to me shouldn't wind up having its rating lowered but rather one should have a consistent, repeatable, and to the extent possible metric based system for assigning rating stars. Of course quality is a subjective, not objective, attribute so will always be somewhat squishy, but the more objective you can make it the better. Which brings up my first point.

Only use star ratings for one purpose. If you are using star ratings as a measure of image quality then don't also use it as a measure of where in your workflow you are and vice versa. On that point, I highly recommend that star be used ONLY as an indicator of image quality.

The second point is to devise a set of metrics or guides for what each number of stars mean to you. Put this on a 3x5 index card and tape it to the wall next to your computer for easy reference. Then each time you go into rating mode, read the list again before you start. How you define the metrics for each number of stars is of course up to you, but by writing it down and following the same set of criteria year after year will yield immense value down the road.

So, what are my criteria you may ask? Well here they are - for better or worse.

  • 0 = Unrated (new images I haven't gotten to yet)
  • 1 = Tossers (good for nothing) or Duplicates. Some people just delete the tossers but I'm a pack rat so I keep them just in case. Duplicates are images that are identical or nearly identical to other higher rated images and are usually stacked under those other images
  • 2 = OK to Post. These are images that I would not have a problem posting on my photography website. In other words i would not be embarrassed showing these to the world
  • 3 = Posted. These are images that I actually did put on my website at some point. In other words of several images that were quite similar, this one was enough better than the others that I choose it to be the one posted. If later I improve the same image with a new version and replace the original on my website, the original will be down graded to 1 star and stacked under its replacement as it is now a duplicate. However if later I am tired of the image and just choose to de-clutter my website by removing the image I leave it as 3 stars. I also leave it as a 3 if I just decide later to replace it with one of the other similar images.
  • 4 = Favorites. These are images that I like enough to enter into competitions, print and hang in gallery shows or in my living room, or perhaps put special effort into marketing them. These images also get placed into the "Favorites" section of my website and in the favorites section or album on other social media or photo sharing sites such as Flickr,
  • 5 = NGS. These are National Geographic Society magazine quality images (IMHO). In other words, in my opinion these are as good as those one sees in National Geographic. Or, another way to say it, the best of the best. Typically, I get less than a dozen of these a year and in some years only one or two.
Anyway, the point is that for star ratings to work, and add value, over time they need to be consistently applied and to do that you have to have consistent criteria for what they mean.
Agree with everything that has been said.

For workflow overall I use the color labels:
none - ingested only, but LIBRARY processed not yet started
RED - LIBRARY
YELLOW - DEVELOP
GREEN - Export/publish/book/slideshow
PURPLE - scanned images that need work prior to DEVELOP
BLUE - "special situations"
 
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