Wikipedia:Rating system

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

REJECTED: This is a rejected proposal. The concept of a rating system to warn users of possibly offensive content before they would read it surfaced on Wikipedia:Votes for deletion and was later proposed by Mike Church in this page. As "test cases", Church also placed rating flags in several pages, all of his original creation. The intentions of the system were entirely noncensorious; no articles would be removed or blocked because of possibly objectionable content, but only flagged so as to warn the user. For many reasons, it was determined that the pursuit of such a rating system would be highly detrimental to the Wikipedia project, and that the aggravations caused would not justify the benefits. The proposal was rejected by most contributors and also disowned by Church as a "bad idea"; he admitted that he had failed to consider all potential unintended consequences of the scheme. Let this document stand as a precedent: It shall represent the fact that such a rating system has been proposed and thoroughly rejected, and that one should not be attempted in the future.

Because the topic came up on VfD...[edit]

Wikipedia has a wide range of users at this point, including young children, parents, and others who would desire not to be exposed to certain content. I solidly assert that no valuable content should be censored or removed because of its potential to offend, but do recognize the possible utility in having this feature. I would like to propose, and desire feedback upon, a rating system for Wikipedia.

Sites would be rated 0 to 4 for likeliness that a reader would be offended or disturbed by the content at the site. For example, a page like Shock Site would be given a header like:

This article has been rated 4, for graphic depictions of disturbing images. "Rated 4" would link to this page.

0 would indicate a site that is highly unlikely to cause offense. For example, mathematics or Ambition (card game). One note: When a site is rated 0, one should include "for no offensive content." We want the reader to know the rating means the site is "safe", not think the rating might mean it sucks.

1 would indicate a site with minor profanity or mention of violence, but little more. Articles rated 1 would be those which are generally inoffensive and considered acceptable for open discussion, but around which discussion might become heated.

2 would indicate a site which contains matter that most would not consider offensive, but that some would prefer to avoid. For example, penis. It's mostly scientific information, and an unoffensive article.

3 would indicate a site that is highly likely to disturb or offend most viewers, at least to some degree. Articles with explicit sexual or violent content would be included here. For example, penis removal, oral sex, or crucifixion.

4 would indicate the highest level of disturbing content, such as shock site (which contains vivid descriptions of, tubgirl, et al). I would say this rating should be used as rarely as possible.

The purpose of such a rating system would definitively not be censorship. Rather, its purpose (like the spoiler warning) would be to warn readers about content they may not want to be exposed to.

The rater of an article would be expected to identify himself in the Talk page, and consensus of the community could change a rating (for example, if felching were rated 0 by a troll) or, if so desired, take the rating off the page. Ratings would be voluntary according to community standards; if the people contributing to the page did not want it rated, the rating would be removed.

What do you say? Good idea? Bad idea?

The Pros and Cons sections I've made is simply to summarize cases for and against. Please be succinct and add to these sections very conservatively; you can say all you want in the "Favor" and "Oppose" sections. While the Cons outnumber the Pros, IMHO, we have many minor Cons, and one potentially major Pro. Of course, that is open to debate.


  • Would protect viewers from content they do not want to see. (Major reason for idea's proposal.)


  • Would not work well. Readers can already see article by time of seeing rating.
  • Would add "clutter" to Articles.
  • Possibility of edit wars.
  • Highly subjective and may be impractical.
  • More power for thought police.

Example of pages I've rated[edit]

Until there is consensus upon whether or not such a system should be implemented, I've only touched pages of my own original authorship. I've provided these examples so you can see what these ratings might look like.

Ambition (card game) - 0 Class in the United States, circa 2004 - 0 Correlation between intelligence and social deficiency - 0 Downsizing - 0 Miserable failure - 0 Penis removal - 3 (graphic depictions of sexual violence) Player (dating) - 2 (term "cockblocker", mainly) Player (game) - 0

I have removed the ratings listed on these pages. It is inappropriate to place an unapproved system onto articles that are published. Kingturtle 23:50, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • I was just about to do that (see below). Thank you. Mike Church 05:22, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)


  1. Aye, cautiously. Mike Church 06:34, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  2. yes,or something similar.User:andycjp20 April 2004
  3. I'm for it. But we should also devise some system of rating articles for overall quality. Could be further divided into accuracy, completeness, NPOV and prose quality (or similar subdivisions) if Wikipedians deem it useful. It should be automated poll feature. It would improve/automate our ability to find articles needing attention and at the same time inform readers about the stage of works on article. -- Forseti 07:03, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • My problems with an overall "quality rating" are that 1> It could be the subject of countless edit wars (unless it were somehow protected), 2> it's extremely subjective, 3> low-rated articles might have fewer people give them the attention they need, because people may not read them, seeing the poor rating, 4> The quality of an article is highly subject to fluctuation and (hopefully) improves over time. I think Wikipedia:Featured article candidates and other such mechanisms give enough of a "quality rating". Mike Church 07:10, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • Hey I have a good idea! Let's make it so that every time you write an article, you get 1 experience point, and then you can gain levels by getting enough XP. Then, we can put in a system where people can "vote" on your contributions, and you can get XP from that too! Once you have enough XP, you get special privileges like being able to delete other people's stuff, revert with impunity, and have cool graphics on your user page!! What do y'all think?? Btw everquest rules thx. Jeeves 07:18, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
      • That was unnecessary. Mike Church 07:24, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
      • You're right, but I wanted to point out that this has been tried before, and produces a very different type of community. I apologize to you and others who may have found that to be insolent. Jeeves 07:27, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
        • Apology accepted. Thank you for the very good points you have brought up. Going to bed now. Good night! Mike Church 07:47, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)


  1. It is not our responsibility as the authors of the encyclopedia to collectively parent spoiled American children whose daddies are too busy golfing to teach them about the big bad internet. That said:
    • 1. The ratings clutter the pages, needlessly.
    • 2. Once you can see the rating, you can already see the article.
    • 3. There is no possible way to promote the equal accessibility of information with any type of subjective rating system
    • 4. Finally, a lot of things look good on paper but don't actually work very well. I'm going to suggest that rating Wikipedia articles according to subjective guidelines falls into this category. Jeeves 07:15, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • You've made 4 good points that merit discussion. However, I already said this isn't to "parent children". Children can look at whatever they want; seeing "rated 4" isn't going to magically stop them in their tracks. The purpose is, strictly, to warn users about content which they themselves may not want to read. Mike Church 07:24, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
      • True, but then I have to inquire as to the purpose of the rating system. It seems to me like someone who would not wish to see references to violence would avoid looking up crucifixion in the first place, let alone penis. If it ain't broke, don't fix it? Jeeves 07:27, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  2. This can be a way of unconsciously introducing POV into articles. One person may think that one issue is important and that everyone should read and rate it lower than another who thinks the content is only appropriate for others. For example, one may vote homosexuality, or something on conflicts in the Middle East higher than another... Dysprosia 22:11, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  3. No. I think rating systems are good, in principle, although I would prefer all of Wikipedia to be something that I wouldn't mind a child reading (articles on penis, felching and all, written to be descriptive not salacious or revolting). But unless the rating can be made unobtrusive, I oppose it. Too much cybercrud already on Wikipedia. This will screw up Google results, reduce the amount of article visible on the first page, distract the reader from what they're trying to read, and generally be a pain. I think a rating system would have to pose a very minor inconvenience (active only if explicitly turned on in Preferences, say, although that would mean ratings never got written) to be a net improvement in Wikipedia. --Andrew 09:44, Apr 20, 2004 (UTC)
  4. I strongly oppose this plan. Wikipedia is not Blockbuster. All articles on the Wiki are supposed to be encyclopaedic and neutral. The purpose of articles on sex-related, violent or potentially discomfiting topics is to present them as human knowledge in as academic and neutral a manner possible. Someone, for example, may choose to rate gay-related articles because there are some people who don't want to read about such topics. I would find this both highly offensive and non-NPOV. Exploding Boy 09:57, Apr 20, 2004 (UTC)
  5. I strongly oppose this. People who are concerned with regard to external sites can organize this by themselves. It's ought not to be needed for wikipedia itself. A rating system would tend to make Wikipedia even more US-centric than it already is, if the values expressed in a rating scale would be adapted to traditional mid-west US values and not to, say, Muslim or Nordic values. It's not only a matter of morality related to women and guns, it's also a matter of world view with regard to issues such as modernity and legitimity of international power. Ruhrjung 13:13, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  6. Great way to promote edit wars over what rating to give an article. I commend the creative thinking aimed at dealing with a problem, but this approach will get nowhere. --Michael Snow 16:51, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  7. This is not the first time this has come up. Nor the last. But for all the reasons above (particularly ruhrjungs) I classify this page a 6. -- Cimon 21:13, Apr 20, 2004 (UTC)
  8. Strongly oppose. What they said. --Tagishsimon If anything like this is ever to be done, it should be as meta-data; but it is against the whole open ethos, IMO.
  9. This system offends me. How dare any of us be the judge of what constitutes decent or indecent content. Kingturtle 23:52, 20 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • Not decent or indecent. Hell, I've written pages that would be rated high. (In fact, I only rated pages of my original authorship, none others.) It has nothing to do with decency, but with things people may not want to see. There's nothing indecent about the page shock site, but some readers may not want to see it. That said, read below for my decision on the matter. Mike Church 05:22, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)
      • The Disclaimer is all we need. People search the Internet at their own risk. If we write articles well, then content does not need to be rated. I will not support an idea that involves users rating content. Kingturtle 05:40, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)
  10. Subjective censorship. No way. Moriori 00:01, Apr 21, 2004 (UTC)
    • Never was it intended as a means for actual censorship, which would be deletion or suppression of content because of possibly offensive nature. Mike Church 05:22, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)
    • This system is not good- people will still surf the Internet despite the ratings, at their own risk. Randy 12119:44, 3 June 2006 (UTC)
  11. Eloquence* 01:41, Apr 21, 2004 (UTC)
  12. AaronSw 19:36, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Conclusion: Will Not Be Implemented[edit]

The Wikipedia community has presented many problems that would exist in such a rating system, and the proposed system is, as shown by discussion here, highly unpopular. Such a rating system shall not appear on Wikipedia.

May this page remain, only for use in future discussions. Should such a proposal be made again, Wikipedia's rejection of the idea shall be noted as a precedent.

Reviewing the objections, what can I say? It was a bad idea. I stood up and proposed this system, after the concept came up in VfD, and it was deservingly defeated. I will eliminate any outstanding ratings of this sort (unless they have all been already removed). Thank you all for voicing your objections honestly and intelligently. Mike Church 05:22, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

(Coming late to this debate). Well it is never to nice to have to call time on your own ideas (particularly when some of the nays were too harsh), so I thought a few words of encouragement may be in order. I sincerely believe that a derived "Wikipedia for Kids" will have lots of value. In fact it would be just the sort of derived content that would be ideal to have - much better than the crappy ad-ridden verbatim clones that offer nothing back to us at all that we see at the moment. Such a rating system may have place in that derived copy (I have mind that a system where an adult sets up a Wikipedia account for their kids and make their choice at sign up about which categories to block). Finally it would be separate from Wikipedia, so the freedom advocates are unaffected, but database dumps would be easy to integrate. Pete/Pcb21 (talk) 14:54, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I think a Kids' Wikipedia is a great idea. Exploding Boy 15:22, Apr 27, 2004 (UTC)

Agree. Mike Church 22:26, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)