The Downside to Ratings

The Downside to RatingsI’ll never forget being in the seventh grade and hanging out at my friend’s house with her older sister and a bunch of her guy friends. They thought it would be fun to “rate” me and my friend. I can’t remember what they rated my friend, but the “7” I received will forever be emblazoned in my memory. Some people would say “7” is good, you know, above average. But for me at 12-years-old, it hurt.

The Internet has allowed ratings to flourish. Sometimes they’re helpful, like stars on Amazon or NetFlix or sellers on eBay. People, and especially teens, love to rate things and give feedback. It has become a must-have feature for any youth oriented website. But what happens when you start rating people…Take for example the site Hot or Not, which is hugely popular with teens (even though it’s supposed to be a dating site for 18 and ups). A friend might post your photo just for fun or a peer might post an unflattering photo out of spite or cruelty — either way, once the “Not” ratings begin to pile up, you can imagine how that teen might feel once he or she discovers their page.

A similar trend is happening on sites like RateMyTeacher or RateMyProfessor. On the one hand, these sites or using a web site to give public feedback to an instructor seems like it could actually be useful. On the other hand, when students who receive poor grades or who have a beef with their teacher use them, the results can be devastating to both the teacher’s ego and reputation. According to this BBC report:

“Kathy Wallis, a senior teacher from Cornwall, says she recently had to talk a young colleague out of resigning over comments posted by her pupils on Rate My Teachers, a US-run site which allows kids anonymously to ‘grade,’ as well as criticize, their teachers.

‘The teacher in question burst into tears and said ‘Well if that’s what they think of me I might as well give up teaching now’,’ she recalls.

‘[Her students] had said that her preparation was dreadful, she had no classroom control and they made other unfounded malicious comments. Basically they just pulled her apart. It took two days for me to talk her out of resigning.'”

My husband half-jokingly asked me if he should start RatemyTherapist before someone else does (just so he can control his own rating!).

The key here is to teach teens online etiquette, commonly called netiquette or what I call Internet ethics. Remind them that anonymous ratings or nasty comments can hurt just as much as when you know who posted them. And if someone did post their photo on a ratings site without their knowledge or permission, contact the site administrators and get them to remove it. Then be sure to tell your teen they are definitely a “10,” over and over.

Are you a teacher who has been “rated”? Do you know a teen who has been a victim of “bad ratings”? If so, post your story in the comments!

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