Ratings: Judgment of usefulness vs. signaling of personal approval

Cynical reminder: Remember: Review ratings are not a usefulness indicator, but a popularity contest.

Occasionally I am being reminded of the frequent misuse (deliberate confusion) of usefulness votes for reviews as approval votes. While negative reviews can garner lots of approval, they won’t if what you say hurts the egoes of fanboys. They have an unhealthy attachment to the product or service in question (let’s just talk computer games here, since this is inspired by Steam), and that means there is a dependency that they themselves, deep within, are not happy about. This is usually the fact that they are willing to tolerate lots of crap, to accept not being respected. This of course is something they really don’t like to admit, so when you criticize a lack of respect from a game design or game business, you will unpleasantly remind the fanboys of their weakness and unhappiness, of their state of denial. It’s not intended, but that’s the effect it will have, and that’s why some justified and elaborate reviews might still get loads of downvotes. Usually without comment, in the case of actually somewhat smarter (and/or more fearful) fanboys who understand that any communication could give away what they are trying to hide. This at least helps with self-awareness. The ones that add a stupid comment to the downvote, fully revealing their motivations, are actually the fools. There’s relatively little hope for them, although this state still provides its own opportunities for eventual enlightenment. The path towards the light might lead through the deepest dorkness.

Among all the possible combinations of up- or downvote and no or stupid or elaborate comments that you agree or disagree with, the most valuable is the elaborate negative critique that you agree with, since it provides an important external viewpoint that makes you see what you couldn’t see on your own and helps you to improve your perceptions and judgments.

Stupid negative critique is still more useful to you than downvotes without comment, since that makes it easy to identify it as useless. So to all critics: Feel free to speak your mind. I’d like to get to know you and understand your reasoning. 😉
Stupid positive critique has its use, too, since it helps to identify baseless praise, which could become a big problem for you, and you should be able to imagine why.

Additional thought: Cases of downrated reviews about technical issues with a game could also be triggering pure egotism of the likes of ‘It worked fine on my system; you’re stupid.’

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