The future of ratings

I’m also among those who not only do not use ratings, but actively hide them using the user script which replaces the pre-NGS setting (as I find them visually quite distracting for a feature I never use). I agree with those who find they clash with the objectivity of other MB data.

If they were removed or moved to another *Brainz project, I wouldn’t miss them.

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Star ratings on MusicBrainz have never brought me any joy, and have never inspired me to do anything ever. :slight_smile:

For public ratings, star ratings carry almost no information. We try to encode meaning in a number, but that is lossy storage compressed down to 3 bits. We should be marking release groups (and other things) with the messages that we couldn’t say with stars.

Things like:

  • Start with this album / Good intro to the artist (15 votes)
  • Artist’s best (5 votes)
  • Artist’s worst (2 votes)
  • Excellent narration / Mediocre narration [for audiobooks]
  • Every track’s a banger :slight_smile:

To mark things with messages like these, I propose a badge system. What I call a “badge” is a special tag. Badges are indexed and votable like tags, but they appear in a place appropriate to their message, they each have an icon, and you select them with a click instead of typing them. Like whitelisted tags, badges are canonical, but the list of possible badges for an entity is short (maybe 6 to 8 options max).

Badges are for communicating with others. For people who track their listening privately, the lack of specific meaning in stars works a little better because you define it yourself and interpret it yourself. But it is the bare minimum of what is needed. You have no timeline, no statistics, no correlations. If you want to group rated items you have to create new collections, and it’s all just too much work for very little reward. At the very least I would want a chronology of my ratings so I can look back on my listening history year by year.

My personal rating system would be different from @jesus2099’s because all I care about is documenting that I heard something already and noting whether I want to hear it again:

  • I love it! It’s a keeper.
  • I like it and I want to hear it again
  • I’m not sure yet; I need to relisten
  • I’ll keep it. I might want to hear it or share it someday
  • I don’t care about it

Anyway, back to my badges idea. :slight_smile: MusicBrainz allows star-ratings for artists, labels, release groups, recordings, events, and works. All of these have different needs. I only talked about release groups, but I just wanted to outline the main concept.


Hey your ratings meanings is also what I think, it’s equivalent!
And badges, well, I can already put some badges, but I still prefer ratings.

Example of badges:



Sure, but none of those tags are canonicalised, you have to know they exist, and the tag names aren’t necessarily good. “Interesting booklet” is vague; “detailed liner notes” is a little more specific, but not everyone will search for either of those terms. In fact, most people would not even think to search for such terms at all.

That’s why providing a (short) context-sensitive menu is important. Different options for different entity types, canonical labels, and showing people the possibilities. It’s still uses tags on the backend, but the input UI is different and badge icons can appear in the overview tab where they’ll be seen.

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These are really great ideas, but to help guide the conversation - I’m not sure such a big ratings overhaul is on the table at the moment.

Once we know where the ratings live and how they interact or combine with each site I think we will be in a good position to have fun with it and add new features or rethink them.

Currently we have, across MB, CB and LB: ratings, reviews, love/hate, pins (you can ‘pin’ a recording with a comment on lb).

Edit: I really love the idea of giving more detailed feedback with a single click/vote, as it addresses the issue we have with ‘review’ being too intimidating for a lot of people to write something. But it feels like a new feature


I’m pretty sure I would continue using my funny tags, instead. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
But I almost don’t use tags, anyway. I don’t use genres at all, either.
I just use ratings a lot - and release collection, with highlighter.

this speaks to me on an elemental level; i love it :laughing:


The badge idea reminds me of the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings book. In addition to their 1-4 star rating system, they used a crown icon to indicate particular personal favorites of the editors, as well as a “core collection” designation for releases deemed essential to a well rounded jazz collection.


I’d give ratings two stars.

If you feel you haven´t received enough information then you agree with me :laughing:

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I use my personal, locally tagged ratings much as others have described. I have some one-star tracks that I nevertheless keep in my collection for reference purposes, but I can readily filter them out of playlists.

I do have an interest in crowdsourced ratings, but as others have noted we don’t have the critical mass that would make MB crowdsourced ratings useful.


I love the ratings system. I guess I would change it by making it so that the ratings flow onto multiple pages naturally… Maybe they actually do, but that does not seem intuitive to me.

I would honestly really enjoy being able to rate tracks right from my ListenBrainz page/feed, and this would help the process of maximizing my ratings output. Probably also that of others.

I do not think that they would need to be more prominent - as is, they are rather prominent, and this may actually make some people have a negative opinion of them since the ratings are fairly sparse. I wouldn’t say that they are really sparse to the point of making it feel like a ghost town, but it would be nice if there were more people rating.

I’d be disappointed if the ratings went away, honestly, so please keep them.


As many here, I use locally tagged ratings (actually two different ratings, system with 16 degrees which translates well to 5 stars; 1&2 stars are rarely used). I wanted to use the MusicBrainz ratings as a less fine backup of my already done ratings (to much of a hassle to ever finish) and as a pre-rating for recordings I do not own yet (also to much friction as I’d have to manually look up each track (if already existing) and especially for new songs, I rather use and easy in-or-out strategy).

Crowdratings are not that interesting to me, though they can be a nice suggestion. Something like badges (or statistics of the love/hate/#listens) would do that job nicer I think.
Generally, album and recording ratings are more valuable, artist ratings feel weird.

I guess I would not miss them in MB and probably used them more of I could directly rate in LB.


Ratings are the most imporant part. Don’t remove that feature.
Make it out of 10 : it is the best scale for mass rating, it has a middle and is fairly simple. The 1-5 stars rating on MusicBrainz is awful : it is what makes goodreads and other tracking sites unusable. People still have the choice to hide their ratings.

So does 1-5, the middle number is 3!


Isn’t 2.5 the middle? 3/5 filled stars visually looks like you’re rating it above average… I feel like I might be opening a mathematical can of worms here :grin:

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3/5 = 60/100.
2.5/5 = 50/100.

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0 means not rated.
So if you rate something, you have 5 values (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), the one in the middle is 3 (neutral) as it has 2 ratings above and 2 ratings below.

Like in my previous scale:

  1. I really don’t like it
  2. I don’t like it very much
  3. Not bad
  4. I like it
  5. I love it



Frankly I’m surprised people who have tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of tracks don’t have some kind of personal ranking system so that their computer can sort and generate playlists.

MusicBrainz ratings would see more use if they could be consumed as easily as they can be submitted.


One slightly off-topic thing I wanted to say, @aerozol, is that, before changing stuff that is already good enough, the only thing that I really miss and that would be ground breaking in MB is collection item markers.


I know why this came to mind, it is not completely off topic.

I use both in conjunction to know which releases I should try to find, looking at my 5 star recordings I don’t already have, those that are not marked in purple:

And also many times, for compilations, or for bonus track album editions that I don’t have.
If I already got the opportunity to listen to the missing tracks and rate them, I know if it’s worth it to buy this release, even if I already have almost all the other tracks (in purple).
I look at the ratings of the missing tracks to decide:


I use the recordings ones a lot to tag everything I listen. Before I was relying on a Foobar plugin but that was problematic since they were stored only in tags (they could easily disappear) and do not allow to tag music I don’t have on drives.

Regarding my rating I used same as for my photos, similar to other users except the “middle” being at 2 stars

  1. Not yet rated
  2. Bad: Songs I don’t like or strange experimetal records
  3. Average: Can listen to it but no particular vibes
  4. Good: I like it but not all the time
  5. Awesome: Always happy to hear it
  6. Perfection: 4 stars songs that I listenned hundred of hundred times

I prefer as it allows to have more “depth” to rate what I can listen to.

Sometimes using the Album tag when the full listenning of a release makes a different experience than the separated songs.