Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Why two star reviews instead of one for the cables that fail to meet the spec? Does Amazon / do people view 1-star reviews as bitter / exaggerated? Are they less visible?

Personally, I filter out one and five star reviews. To me, five stars means when you use the product, Jesus appears before you. One star means I ordered a cable and received a dead crab instead (pretty sure there's an XKCD that covers the last one).

But others don't agree with my rating system, so "ordered blue, but it was robin egg blue. Werst company evar!!!11" means one star. Five stars means "I work for the company that makes these, or I'm otherwise being paid to write this, or I simply didn't give a lot of thought to how rating systems work."

In this case, the cable fulfills most of the requirements, misses a some of them, but might work for your use case, so two stars.

Really? If a product meets your needs, is a fair price, and seems to be working fine after 30 days, you would not give it 5 stars? It would need to perform miracles to get 5 stars?

I love Elizabeth Zwicky's explanation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=C4r... :

> "Engineers do not give out 5s. If you tell an engineer that the possible rating scale is 1 to 5 and they like you, they give you a 4. Because tomorrow they might love you and then they would give you a 5. They probably won't, but they might, so they give you a 4 so that they have room. We all are totally okay with this. But the world is also full of this other class of people who if they like you give you a 5. They're quite consistent about it. 'I like you. I see nothing wrong with that. I'm giving you a 5.'"

Hah! I definitely do this. And I do it on the other end too, as is documented in the XKCD about 1-10 pain scales: https://xkcd.com/883/

"We all are totally okay with this." Just be aware when you cross cultural boundaries. In one real-world story, a woman was asked, on a 10 point scale, how much pain she was in. My take of the story was that she interpreted it linearly, so said something like "2", where most people would have said "9" or "10". She was told to come back when the pain got worse, when it was already excruciating. My memory might be off - it's from Bliss's essay at http://www.radiolab.org/story/233143-pain-scale/ .

If a product meets your needs, is a fair price, and seems to be working fine after 30 days, you would not give it 5 stars?

And then along comes the cable which, when I plug it in, causes a religious miracle to occur. How do I rate that one? Five stars is already taken. (Or maybe it should be two stars. I want to get my work done without being distracted by a prominent religious figure appearing next to my desk.)

To put it another way, when I purchase something I expect that it will work fine after 30 days and that it meets my needs. That doesn't warrant five stars. That's three stars: does what I expected, doesn't suck but doesn't stand out from the rest all that much. If it were half the price of cables of equal quality, then I'd give it five stars. But IMO the product has to be outstanding in some way to warrant five stars, otherwise why have a rating system at all?

OTOH, Amazon doesn't help with this. Click on "critical reviews" on Amazon, and three star reviews are listed. That's just broken. Three stars is middle of the road, not outstanding in anyway but not deficient, either.

So, no, given your parameters, I would not rate the item five stars. I realize the rest of the world doesn't agree with me, and I'm loathe to participate in such a skewed system (everyone gets a trophy). My concession is I'll give four stars to something I'd normally give three stars, just so it doesn't show up in the "critical review" section, broken as that might be.

I'm more inclined to reserve 5 stars for really good films and books (even if they're not in the truly great category). For a cable though? If it does it's job, appears well-made, and is a good price, I'm not sure why I'd hit it in the ratings. I suppose I can leave lower numbers of stars in a quixotic quest against review inflation but doesn't seem really fair to the products involved.

If it does it's job, appears well-made, and is a good price, I'm not sure why I'd hit it in the ratings.

And hence my quandary; I don't consider three stars to be a "hit...in the ratings". It does the job, doesn't stand out in any other way, three stars. But, as you point out, it's not fair in the inflated system that we have available. So which wins out, an honest review system that benefits consumers, or review inflation that benefits product sellers? I haven't decided, nor figured out any means of compromise.

As I once heard about bug priority, if everything's a Priority 1, then nothing is a Pri 1. And if everything that isn't complete shite is five stars, then really nothing is five stars. Five stars just means it doesn't suck. Then why don't we have just one star or no stars from which to choose? In other words, the precision of the rating system is not what the five choices would imply.

Unlike bugs, you are not triaging all products on Amazon together. If I search for a certain type of USB cable, I expect to see 5 star products. I'm not disturbed that Spirited Away is also rated 5 stars. I'm not confused and decide to buy a great film instead of a cable.

"Didn't want a religious miracle. Robbed me of my free will. One star."

3 stars is "Okay, does its job".

4 stars is "Does its job better than expected"

5 stars is "contained a 100$ coupon for amazon" or something that really makes you love a product.

The product quality of LEGO bricks – survives a century and so on – is worth 5 stars, as it’s far above expected quality for such things.

For a USB cable it would need to be amazingly resistant to wear – survives being folded and survives a dog chewing on it and so on – and it would need to be perfectly manufactured to get 5 stars.

In Hardware, usually very few high quality products – Miele washing machines, LEGO bricks, IBM ThinkPads, etc – reach something that could be called "5 stars".

I'm reminded of the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs: "The USB cable was okay. It wasn't anything special."

eBay really dug themselves into that hole when they introduced the star rating system. Basically they mapped everybody who wasn't actually known to be bad onto 5 stars. Which is why you get messages begging you to rate them 5 star.

Personally 5 stars would be when the box it came in had water soluble ink and it made a mess on your clothes, but the company offered to pay the dry cleaner costs. Even though there was no expectation for them to know that the shipping company would leave package in the rain / a puddle for so long.

Anything above "meh, it didn't crash and burn immediately, I guess it's okay" is 5 stars on eBay.

You might be thinking of https://xkcd.com/325/.

That would be the one, thanks.

Uber drivers must love you. b^)

Uber is the worst, as I understand it from others, having never used it. It sounds to me like Uber has a binary system with other ratings just to confuse you: "ding this driver and end his contract if he gets anymore ratings like this, or...don't."

They can still be used for data exchange, just not for charging.

They probably work for charging as well in most cases. The issue with most of them is they could allow too much current to flow, more than a micro-usb cable is rated for. Some consumers might appreciate this though, trading an miniscule fire hazard for their device charging faster.

It's not about what the cable can handle. Some of these cables can be plugged into an old device on the end that delivers power, while the cable (which isn't just wires) advertises the power delivery capabilities of a newer device.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact