A rating site (less commonly, a rate-me site) is a website designed for users to vote on or rate people, content, or other things. Rating sites are typically organized around attributes such as physical appearance, body parts, voice, personality, etc. They may also be devoted to the subjects' occupational ability, for example teachers, professors, lawyers, doctors, etc.
Rating sites typically show a series of images (or other content) in random fashion, or chosen by computer algorithm, rather than allowing users to choose. They then ask users for a rating or assessment, which is generally done quickly and without great deliberation. Users score items on a scale of 1 to 10, yes or no. Others, such as BabeVsBabe.com, ask users to choose between two pictures. Typically, the site gives instant feedback in terms of the item's running score, or the percentage of other users who agree with the assessment. They sometimes offer aggregate statistics or "best" and "worst" lists. Most allow users to submit their own image, sample, or other relevant content for others to rate. Some require the submission as a condition of membership.
Rating sites usually provide some features of social network services and online communities such as discussion forums messaging, and private messaging. Some function as a form of dating service, in that for a fee they allow users to contact other users. Many social networks and other sites include rating features. For example, MySpace and TradePics have optional "rank" features for users to be rated by other users.
One category of rating sites, such as Hot or Not or HotFlation, is devoted to rating contributors' physical attractiveness. Other looks-based rating sites include RateMyFace.com (an early site, launched in the Summer of 1999) and NameMyVote, which asks users to guess a person's political party based on their looks. Some sites are devoted to rating the appearance of pets (e.g. kittenwar.com, petsinclothes.com, and meormypet.com). Another class allows users to rate short video or music clips. One variant, a "Darwinian poetry" site, allows users to compare two samples of entirely computer-generated poetry using a Condorcet method. Successful poems "mate" to produce poems of ever-increasing appeal. Yet others are devoted to disliked men (DoucheBagAlert), bowel movements (ratemypoo.com), unsigned bands (RateBandsOnline.com), politics (RateMyTory.Com), nightclubs, business professionals, clothes, cars, and many other subjects.
When rating sites are dedicated to rating products (epinions.com), brands (brandmojo.org), services, or businesses rather than to rating people (i-rate.me), and are used for more serious or well thought-out ratings, they tend to be called review sites, although the distinction is not exact.
The popularity of rating people and their abilities on a scale, such as 1-10, traces back to at least the late 20th century, and the algorithms for aggregating quantitative rating scores far earlier than that. The 1979 film 10 is an example of this. The title derives from a rating system Dudley Moore uses to grade women based upon beauty, with a 10 being the epitome of attractiveness. The notion of a "perfect ten" came into common usage as a result of this film. In the film, Moore rates Bo Derek an "11".
In 1990, one of the first computer-based photographic attractiveness rating studies was conducted. During this year psychologists J. H. Langlois and L. A. Roggman examined whether facial attractiveness was linked to geometric averageness. To test their hypothesis, they selected photographs of 192 male and female Caucasian faces; each of which was computer scanned and digitized. They then made computer-processed composites of each image, as 2-, 4-, 8-, 16-, and 32-face composites. The individual and composite faces were then rated for attractiveness by 300 judges on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = very unattractive, 5 = very attractive). The 32-composite face was the most visually attractive of all the faces. Subsequent studies were done on a 10-point scale.
In 1992, Perfect 10 magazine and video programming was launched by Xui, the original executive editor of Spin magazine, to feature only women who would rank 10 for attractiveness. Julie Kruis, a swimsuit model, was the original spokesmodel. In 1996, Rasen created the first “Perfect 10 Model Search” at the Pure Platinum club near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His contests were broadcast on Network 1, a domestic C-band satellite channel. Other unrelated "Perfect 10" contests became popular throughout the 1990s.
The first ratings sites started in 1999, with RateMyFace.com (created by Michael Hussey) and TeacherRatings.com (created by John Swapceinski and later re-launched with Hussey as RateMyProfessors). The most popular of all time, Hot or Not, was launched in October 2000. Hot or Not generated many spin-offs and imitators. There are now hundreds of such sites, and even meta-sites that categorize them all.
Rating sites have a social feedback effect; many high school principals and administrators, for example, have begun to regularly monitor the status of their teaching staff via student controlled "rating sites". Some looks-based sites have come under criticism for promoting vanity and self-consciousness. Some claim they potentially expose users to sexual predators. Most rating sites suffer from similar self-selection bias since only highly motivated individuals devote their time to completing these rankings, and not a fair sampling of the population. Additionally, individuals can post multiple comments, thereby skewing the ranking.[original research?]
Below is a sampling of rating sites that have achieved some recognition and coverage.
- This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy certain standards for completeness. Additions are welcome as long as notability is sourced or established by wikilinking to an article about the site.
- Facemash - Mark Zuckerberg created Facemash, a rating site where Harvard students were compared with one another based on attractiveness. Shortly after Facemash, Zuckerberg went on to create Facebook.
- Hot or Not — early rating site that allows users to rate photos posted by other users
- RateMyCop.com — is a review site that allows American citizens to give feedback on police officers. The website was launched on February 28, 2008 by Gino Sesto and Rebecca Costell of Culver City, California. The site launched with the names of over 140,000 officers from more than 500 police departments across the nation.
- RateMyProfessors.com — a "teacher rating site" founded in May 1999 by John Swapceinski, a software engineer from Menlo Park, California, that allows college and university students to anonymously assign ratings to professors of American, Canadian, British, Irish, New Zealand, and Australian institutions. The site contains more than six million ratings, for over 500,000 professors.
- RateMyTeachers — a spin-off of RateMyProfessors, used to rate elementary school, middle school and high school teachers' performance (and popularity) as a service to students, parents and the teachers themselves. Participants give numerical ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 in three different categories to their current or former teachers. Visitors can also leave an optional brief comment based on their experience with the teacher. Comments are screened by over 7,000 volunteer moderators for appropriateness.
- Teachstreet — a "teacher rating site" founded in June 2007 by Dave Schappell in Seattle, that allows students to anonymously assign ratings to teachers of online and local American schools.
- Bogardus social distance scale
- Consensus based assessment
- Diamond of opposites
- Guttman scale
- Phrase completion scales
- Rating scale
- Review site
- Thurstone scale
- Pfeiffer, Sacha. (September 20). "Rating Sites Flourish Behind a veil of Anonymity". The Boston Globe.
- Langlois, J. H. & Roggman, L. A. (1990). “Attractive faces are only average.” Psychological Science, 1, 115-121.