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Subject: The Clarifications on the Rating Scale rss

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Mike Compton
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When I was in college, I had a job where I essentially called people up and asked them if they wanted to participate in a survey (not selling anything mind you). I did all kinds of surveys from asking people about political issues to how their experience was at their local copy shop. In a way, it was kind of fun to get people's feedback on how they felt about different things. However, I also found that how certain questions were worded in a survey made a big difference in my ability to get through one. This was due to specific restrictions being in place regarding my freedom to clarify questions or not. If a question was worded badly, it created an unnecessary stopping point of frustration for the person answering the questions. This is because they would ask me for a clarification of the question, but I wasn't at liberty to give them that. In some cases, it was a deal breaker and they would just give up on the survey. This lead me to really appreciate the surveys that were well worded. (Just FYI, the surveys that were worded the best and had questions that were clear and easy to answer were the political surveys.)

So, now I come to BGG. Given the current clarifications of the rating system supplied by BoardGameGeek, I cannot honestly rate any games I've played above a "7". I want to, but I can't. Why? Because the clarifications used in the upper echelon of numbers move to the extreme too quickly. Here's what I mean.

First, let's review the clarifications:

10 Outstanding. Always want to play and expect this will never change.
9 Excellent game. Always want to play.
8 Very good game. I like to play. Probably I'll suggest it and will never turn down a game.
7 Good game, usually willing to play.
6 Ok game, some fun or challenge at least, wil play sporadically if in the right mood.
5 Average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it.
4 Not so good, it doesn't get me but could be talked into it on occasion.
3 Likely won't play this again although could be convinced. Bad.
2 Extremely annoying game, won't play this ever again.
1 Defies description of a game. You won't catch me dead playing this. Clearly broken.

Now, let's look at the clarifications for "8" and move upward:

"8 Very good game. I like to play. Probably I'll suggest it and will never turn down a game."

This is a description that belongs at the end of the bell curve, not two notches down from it. If it was reworded as such:

"8 Very good game. I like to play it and I'll probably suggest it."

..then there are a few games I would rate an 8. However, using the word "never" keeps me from rating any games as an 8 as there are many reasons why I may turn down a game - even a game I really like (ex. scheduling, I'm already playing a game, I have an appointment, etc.).

The use of absolute words like "never" or "always" tends to be problematic when not placed at the extreme end of a scale. If your scale is 1 to 10, then "always" or "never" are reasonable descriptions for the 1 category or the 10 category but, for the most part, are not good descriptions of any categories prior to those on the scale. Moving on:

"9 Excellent game. Always want to play."

Again, using absolute words like "never" or "always" tends to be problematic when not placed at the extreme end of a scale. A description that is more in line with a continuum in which there is another notch after the current one would read something like:

"9 Excellent game. I like to play it and I suggest it frequently."

And finally, the "10" description:

"10 Outstanding. Always want to play and expect this will never change."

In this case, this is an okay description because it is at the very end of the continuum. If someone genuinely "always" wants to play a game - then that's fine. If they feel that extremely about a game then great. But, the descriptions of the "8" and "9" categories rob this "10" description of it's weight due to how they are worded.

Having a scale of 1 to 10 here at BGG is a good idea. The more discreet points there are in a survey continuum, the more precise the feedback. Compare the clarity of a 1 to 10 scale with, say, a 1 to 5 scale or a 1 to 3 scale.

However, the wording we are given as clarifications of the meanings of these numbers results in, effectually, a 1 to 8 scale. If I were to use my own personal definitions of what I consider to be a "10" game, a "9" game, or an "8" game, then I would rate some games in those categories - and I suspect that many of us BGGers out there simply use our own definitions and don't really bother with sticking strictly to the clarifications provided.

Granted, I can go to a person's profile page and read their comments to figure out what that rating meant to them (assuming they have commented on the game). However, what I'm saying here is that it's hard to assign the ratings a reliable meaning if the descriptions for each of the numbers are ignored or disregarded. If anything, it would be better to pull back on the descriptions than to clarify them in ways that create problems. This applies not only to the descriptions for the upper numbers in the scale but also for the lower ones as well. For example, I would have no problems with a shorter version of each clarification:

10 Outstanding game.
9 Excellent game.
8 Very good game.
7 Good game.
6 Ok game.
5 Average game.
4 Somewhat below average game.
3 Very below average game.
2 Probably won't play this again.
1 Definately won't play this again.

These descriptions I've proposed allow for a more gradually movement towards an extreme on the scale rather than arriving there prematurely.

Joe Grundy posted a similar thread on this some time back.

Thoughts? Comments?
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James Davis
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Quote:

10 Outstanding game
9 Excellent game
8 Very good game
7 Good game
6 Ok game
5 Average game
4 Somewhat below average game
3 Very below average game
2 Probably won't play this again
1 Definately won't play this again


I like this one I think that would be the best, you dont need clarification with this and its rating the game, not if you will play it again or not.
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It has been brought up before and you make a good point, but I think most of us use a scale of their own already.

I use RCRG*:

1 - A game I do not wish to play at all
2 - better than a 1, but not as good as a 3
3 - better than a 2, but not as good as a 4
4 - better than a 3, but not as good as a 5
5 - better than a 4, but not as good as a 6
6 - better than a 5, but not as good as a 7
7 - better than a 6, but not as good as a 8
8 - better than a 7, but not as good as a 9
9 - better than a 8, but not as good as a 10
10 - one of the best games, according to me

* Randy Cox Rating Guidelines
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Daniel Karp
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This has been dealt with before. I proposed a revised scale here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/115542

The general consensus seems to be that a new rating scale would be good, but that there would be incredible resistance to its introduction, because everyone would feel that they had to re-rate their collections. My position is that the scale is similar enough to the existing scale that the differences should be that serious, but there is enough resistance that I don't think it is going to happen any time soon.

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Chris Malme
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compman wrote:
First, let's review the clarifications:

10 Outstanding. Always want to play and expect this will never change.
9 Excellent game. Always want to play.
8 Very good game. I like to play. Probably I'll suggest it and will never turn down a game.
7 Good game, usually willing to play.
6 Ok game, some fun or challenge at least, wil play sporadically if in the right mood.
5 Average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it.
4 Not so good, it doesn't get me but could be talked into it on occasion.
3 Likely won't play this again although could be convinced. Bad.
2 Extremely annoying game, won't play this ever again.
1 Defies description of a game. You won't catch me dead playing this. Clearly broken.

Although I have no great objection to changing the categories, if a consensus can be reached, I don't have a problem with the existing categories.

I have always viewed them as being prefixed with "When deciding to play a game....".

Thus there is no contradiction between "always" wanting to play a particular game, and also having a life. It also pre-supposes that there are opportunities to play the game - i.e. other people willing to play.

To cite my own preferences, I'd always want to play Diplomacy, should the opportunity arise. However, it is a couple of years since I had a live game (I play often on the web), as - for me - Diplomacy is only a "10" when played with the full 7 nations, and it needs a all-day session.

So I can truthfully say it is a "10" for me, while still having a busy work and social life, and still playing other games.

My main reservation is that I think any changes to the clarifications in the way you describe will make it easier for people to categorise more games as 8's, 9's and 10's. It is simply too easy to describe a game as "Outstanding".

Chris
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Mik Svellov
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dakarp wrote:
The general consensus seems to be that a new rating scale would be good, but that there would be incredible resistance to its introduction, because everyone would feel that they had to re-rate their collections.

It is also obvious that there is a large resistance against the scale as it is.
And has the scale really been as it is now since the Geek started? I don't remember that I couldn't rate a game '8' when I joined 4 years ago.
 
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Kris Verbeeck
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I use the clarifications as a guideline. Probably because of them I haven't rated a game nine or above.

But I don't have the need to rate a game nine or above to really enjoy it.

In my case i could rate only a handful of games a possible ten. (haven't played them yet) It has to be in a categorie I love and has to be the best game of his categorie.

Besides the clarifications i also use RCRG when adding decimals to the score. or when i'm torn to rate it a 7 or a 8. a 7.4 is closer to a seven than an eight.

I do this also because not all sevens are equally liked and I want my rating to reflect my feelings towards a certain game.

I don't think that new clarifications on the rating can be taken lightly.
I feel that this could greatly influence the rankings.
Suppose I have given Puerto Rico a ten. there is no way i can up my score.
But i could up my score for caylus from a 7 to a 9.
Because the new clarifications would make it easier to give higher ratings.

I also believe that gateway games will fall down the rankings.
Because I can only see Wargames and gamers games get a new rating when the clarifications change. I feel that those two categories are limited the most by the current clarifications.
I have no problem with the current clarifications.I feel that gateway games have a right to have an advantage because they introduce new gamers to our hobby.New gamers of which some eventually will sink their teeth in the macher or other meaty games.
But that's only my two cents.


 
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Mik Svellov
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KrisVerbeeck wrote:
But I don't have the need to rate a game nine or above to really enjoy it.

Of course not.
I also use the official guide lines (now) but haven't updated all my old ratings yet. But I simply use one rating for the Geek and one for everywhere else in the world. So my '8''s will simply become '7's when I use the geek rating.
 
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Mike Compton
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This has been brought up before but I'll say it again.

My problem with the ratings scale is that it is not tied in with our estimation of a great game but, rather, our frequency of play. Say I assume that I've already planned on playing a game and that is the scenerio in which the clarifications of the ratings are meant to be considered within. Okay, is it also assuming I have 5 hours I'm ready to set aside as well? I absolutely love Die Macher, but I might have to turn down a game due to time constraints - not due to any less love on my part for the game. The clarifications assume a natural connection between frequency of play and love of the game - which is not always the case. Do the clarifications also assume that I have enough players? Take a game like Werewolves. If I don't happen to have 8 players in my group, then we will have to forego the idea of playing that game - which means I won't suggest it. Or, if someone else suggests it without realizing it takes a certain number of players, then I have to turn down a game.

None of these scenarios have anything to do with my love for the games involved. They have everything to do with expediency, timing, number of people, etc., all of which are factors in frequency of play. Thus, to assume from game to game that there is a consistent connection between love of a game and frequency of play for that game is simply unwarrented. The ratings clarifications make that assumption however, and, in this respect, they are problematic.
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Ray
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Pedantic interpretations of always and never are dangerous when talking about human behavior. IMHO there is an implicit qualifier with these "Always" phrasings and that is that the rating is to be held within the context of just gaming (and not all other activities particularly such essentials as sleep and eating). Desire should not be rated against everything else -- just gaming (and when gaming is desired). As ratings are used for comparing games then "when choosing a game" should be the context of those ratings.
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I don't have a problem with the present ranking explanations. I think they suggest your desire to play a game, all things being equal (time to play, number of players, type of group you're playing with, your mood, your fatigue).

Say you have the time, the appropriate number of players, an experienced group and you're in the mood for a deep game, then someone suggests a game you rated 8, will you turn it down? No. If you rated the suggested game a 6, you will most likely suggest something else.

Don't read too much into the clarifications of fair, good, great, excellent, etc.. They're merely a guideline to help you determine your desire to play that game, not how often you're going to play it. IMO, anyway.
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Great Dane wrote:
It is also obvious that there is a large resistance against the scale as it is.
And has the scale really been as it is now since the Geek started? I don't remember that I couldn't rate a game '8' when I joined 4 years ago.

The Rating scale is the same as it has always been. There is not a large resistance to the scale as it is--large resistance (as I would expect if we announced a change) would a be a ten page thread in which people declare that all ratings are now useless because of the change, and that the new scale is worse than the old, etc, etc. All we have now is people occasionally pointing out that it would be better if it were clearer (and I entirely agree).

Even if there were agreement that it should be changed, getting from there to what it should be changed TO is non-trivial. The scale I proposed (with a tweak or two) was as follows:
Quote:
10: Outstanding game. One of my all-time personal favorites.
9: Excellent game. Always a pleasure to play. Shines under most circumstances.
8: Very good game. Rarely disappoints me. High on my request/recommend list.
7: Good game. Usually willing to play. I might even request or recommend it.
6: OK game. Some fun or challenge at least. Enjoyable in the right circumstances.
5: Average game. I'm indifferent, but may be willing to play.
4: Below average game. I might occasionally play this with people who strongly request it.
3: Poor game. Will strongly resist playing.
2: Very poor game. I refuse to play this.
1: Dead game. Seriously negative entertainment value. Black Hole of Fun.

I am aware that it has many of the same problems as the current scale. It was designed not so much to be a major improvement as to be clearer while allowing people to keep their current ratings (for the most part) if they don't want to re-rate their games. If we were to change the "play frequency" criteria that many people dislike, that really would require people to re-rate all of their games. And I am certain that there would be much stronger resistance to any such large change than there is to the current scale.

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And, to tie this in with another thread, I suggest the following addition to the top of the scale.

11: This one goes to eleven. (You may rate only one game an 11.)
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James Davis
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dakarp wrote:
And, to tie this in with another thread, I suggest the following addition to the top of the scale.

11: This one goes to eleven. (You may rate only one game an 11.)


I like your ratings system. So far that one has been the best suggested.

It would be fun to have an 11 and a -1 rating, but it could be a bit stupid.
 
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jdevowe wrote:
Quote:
10 Outstanding. Always want to play and expect this will never change.
9 Excellent game. Always want to play.
8 Very good game. I like to play. Probably I'll suggest it and will never turn down a game.
7 Good game, usually willing to play.
6 Ok game, some fun or challenge at least, wil play sporadically if in the right mood.
5 Average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it.
4 Not so good, it doesn't get me but could be talked into it on occasion.
3 Likely won't play this again although could be convinced. Bad.
2 Extremely annoying game, won't play this ever again.
1 Defies description of a game. You won't catch me dead playing this. Clearly broken.


I like these existing categories. The descriptions usually help me decide exactly what rating I want to give a game if I'm torn between two numbers. Maybe a few tweaks, like removing always and never like stated.


Yeah, I like the current one too. And it makes sense to me.

To argue, never can't be used because 'you might' be playing another game, just doesn't make sense to me (IMO). At that point you have to say no to everything. But in context, if it's a game you 'never' want to pass up and some idiot asks you about playing while you are in another game, you might feel the urge to take off your shoe and knock him out until you are done so that you CAN still play it.
 
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Mike Compton
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Quote:
10: Outstanding game. One of my all-time personal favorites.
9: Excellent game. Always a pleasure to play. Shines under most circumstances.
8: Very good game. Rarely disappoints me. High on my request/recommend list.
7: Good game. Usually willing to play. I might even request or recommend it.
6: OK game. Some fun or challenge at least. Enjoyable in the right circumstances.
5: Average game. I'm indifferent, but may be willing to play.
4: Below average game. I might occasionally play this with people who strongly request it.
3: Poor game. Will strongly resist playing.
2: Very poor game. I refuse to play this.
1: Dead game. Seriously negative entertainment value. Black Hole of Fun.


These descriptions make more sense than the current ones. They seem to scale a little more appropriately from one rating to the next without making as big of a jump in what the next rating is claiming over the previous one. They don't assume that quality of a game and frequency of play are necessarily the same thing to the same extent that the current descriptions do. Yeah, I like these Daniel.

With respect to why I started this thread, I wouldn't care so much how the clarifications are worded in the game ratings if the ratings weren't esteemed so highly by so many people. I mean, if these ratings aren't meant to be taken as having any sort of weight, then there's no reason for me to be pointing out potential flaws or problems in the current set of clarifications. If I did under those circumstances then, instead of trying to be genuinely helpful to the community, I would merely be attempting to draw attention to myself by complaining. However, if Aldie is going to go to the trouble of incorporating "anti-shill" formulas into the computations and people are bothering to break these things down as scientific statistics, then all I'm saying is that I perceive the possibility that the current set of descriptions for the ratings is not necessarily as reflective as they could be of what people are actually saying when they rate a game. Thus, I'm trying to be helpful by pointing out where the current set of descriptions for the ratings may have flaws so that maybe those flaws will be addressed. If they aren't, then it's not a big deal to me but I perceive that they do undermine some of the weight that others may ascribe to the ratings. If other people are going to bother chewing on data, then all I'm saying is that we could at least oblige them with more accurate data to chew on.
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Mike,
I completely agree with you here. I think both your improvements or daniels are great idea. I don't have much to add other than I support everything you've said. (if we keep causing trouble you might get it changed )
 
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Mike Compton
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ibn_ul_khattab wrote:
Mike,
I completely agree with you here. I think both your improvements or daniels are great idea. I don't have much to add other than I support everything you've said. (if we keep causing trouble you might get it changed )


Thanks. One problem is that the ratings clarifications have been around for so long that I fear they may have obtained "sacred cow" status here at BGG. Daniel expressed concern that many people would have to re-rate their games if the clarifications were changed. My responses to this claim are:

1. It's better to have a more accurate system that has to go through some growing pains to arrive at that accuracy than to settle for a system that is less than what it could be simply because it's "been around".

2. I am personally under the impression that a good number of BGGers are just ignoring the clarifications anyway because of the wording used and they are simply using their own personal interpretations of what a "10" means to them. Thus, I don't believe as many people would "have" to change their ratings as one might think. However, there are a few that would (myself included) and those who do rate based on the clarifications as presently constituted represent potential "noise" in the data for anyone who's looking to run any sorts of statistical analysis. If the ratings descriptions were worded a bit better, people might actually adjust a few ratings to reflect that and might rate future games with a bit more accuracy because the wording would be a little less problematic and more reflective of the actual personal criteria BGGers are using when they are rating games.

I strongly suspect that whoever came up with the original descriptions for what the different numbers mean on the 1 to 10 scale (whether it was Aldie, Derk, or whoever) did it casually and without the benefit of having had to issue lots of surveys or study what makes for good wording on surveys. The wording its self betrays that. You're not going to see that same kind of wording make it onto a professionally written survey because actual researchers will more than likely bring up the same problems I'm bringing up here with the wording.

It probably didn't even really seem like a big deal at the time. But, now that BGG has grown so much, I believe it's time to hold the wording in those descriptions to a higher, standard. Why? Because BGG is a great site and, heck, it deserves to be held to a higher standard. Why is Aldie constantly re-writing how BGG presents information? Because it makes BGG better. So what if there are a few bugs that have to be worked through. It's worth it. Right? Think for a moment if Aldie had simply left the Geeklist system as it was for so long or the geekmail system the way it was or any one of a number of improvements he's made in the site. Better ways of doing things came along, adjustments were made, and we're better off for it. Sure there were a few inconveniences in the process, but we've worked through them. I humbly submit that the same idea applies in this context.

I also believe that the descriptions need to reflect the "spirit" of BGG and, thus, need to avoid being dry in their wording. That's part of the reason why I like Daniel's descriptions and why I think they would be an improvement over the current system.
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James Davis
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how long would it take re rate your collection? its not going to take you 1 minute each game, so my 60 games isnt going to take me an hour to do. Id say 10 minutes tops for my ratings, for someone with a huge collection, it doesnt need to be done all at once. Its just a weak excuse no to change the system because people are lazy or dont want progress.
 
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dakarp wrote:
The Rating scale is the same as it has always been.

Really? How come it is only within the last couple of years that the question about 'never' and 'always' comes up all the time?

And why wasn't the problem adressed 7 years ago?
 
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dakarp wrote:
And, to tie this in with another thread, I suggest the following addition to the top of the scale.

11: This one goes to eleven. (You may rate only one game an 11.)


Isn't "Spinal Tap - the Game" a natural? And naturally, that should be the only game anybody may rate as an 11.
 
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I support updating the ratings scale. The existing scale is okay, but as the OP notes, it is susceptible to unnecessary confusion, especially at the high end of the scale.

Sure, a few people will feel the need to re-rank, but it's much better to get it right now than to wait another 10 years when any change will require us all to re-rate an additional 1000 games on top of our current lists. :/

The OPs minimalist proposal has the advantage of barely skewing the existing ratings while adding clarity. Furthermore it only requires existing users to update their 8s, 9s and 10s, if they are that way inclined. Personally, my preference is for any of the various more consistent suggestions also made, but the initial suggestion has the advantage of being less controversial by simply tweaking, rather than completely rewriting, the existing guidelines.

Also, FWIW, arguments that the current ratings are okay and shouldn't be changed because people ignore ratings guidelines anyhow are, in fact, strong arguments for changing the rating guidelines. If people are using their own rating systems and the guidelines are therefore meaningless there is no reason why we shouldn't make some attempt to make the guidelines more meaningful.
 
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I used the current scale and its descriptors very carefully when I did my game ratings. I ignored the words always and never. This isn't science.

However, I'm sure I'm in a large group when I say that I don't care whether the descriptors change...it's a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst (which is pretty equivalent to the Randy Cox system). I can't imagine that my 8 is no longer an 8 when different words are attached, nor would I fret over whether a 5 should have been a 4. An 8 (for me) is a game that I want to play, and most games under a 6 (for me) are games that are dull, dated, or possess some personal trigger that makes me dislike them.

Do you have a favorite game? Well, guess what? That's a 10 right there.


Out of curiosity, what is the end purpose of this proposed change? If you want your ratings to match the scale as is, and you can't honestly give anything higher than an 8, so be it. Buy yourself a Brutal Reviewer microbadge and be done with it. If you're worried that everyone is applying different criteria to rate the same games, then welcome to the realization that that is never going to change, and that it all settles out over time anyway.
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Michael Webb
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GET A SILK BAG FROM THE GRAVEYARD DUCK TO LIVE LONGER.
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Hey...are you knocking the brutal reviewer microbadge Marc? Don't make me rate some more games a 2 just to spite you! laugh

Seriously though, I don't mind Daniel's reinterpretation of the scale, mainly because it would effect none of my rankings. I personally think desire of play frequency to be an effective measure of how I rate a game (i.e.: Macher is an easy 10, there are situations where I would be unable to play it due to time, but if I had the time and the interested players I would always want to bring it out) but if some people prefer the more objective sounding scale that Daniel suggests, I don't see what the harm would be. To me, the "will/might/always will given the right circumstances" key he uses is roughly analogous to the existing scale.
 
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David Bailey
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Being a new member of BGG, I have yet to rate my collection of games. Interestingly, the reason I have dragged my feet is because of the wording on the ratings and not feeling entirely comfortable with them in being able to accurately express my rating for each of my games. However, as a result of the clarifications I've read here by Daniel (and Mike), I'm ready to do it. Thank you, Mike, for bringing up the subject and for providing your recommended list that caused Daniel to present a clarified list of the current BGG ratings. I agree that his list works and is an improvement over the list as currently described--and will use it in rating my collection. Thanks, guys!
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