How I Rate Squidoo Lenses
Awesometastic...or Jury's Out?
Star ratings are a popular topic of conversation in the SquidU forums. Every lensmaster has their own approach to rating lenses. Here's mine.
It's a simple checklist to reward attributes that make a great lens and add to the quality of the Squidoo community. Likewise, it deducts stars for things that dilute Squidoo's credibility or waste my time as a reader.
This is the most objective way I've found to keep my lens ratings consistent.
Squidoo has replaced star ratings with a thumbs-up "like" button.
My star rating strategy will remain here because it's still a handy guide on what makes a good lens (at least to me).
Basic Philosophy - Lenses Start At 3 Stars
Squidoo defines 3 stars as "Pretty Darn Good". So I'm assuming right off the bat your lens is pretty darn good before I even look at the content. It can go up or down from there based on the rating criteria listed below.
If I started at 5 (Awesometastic) that would mean I'm assuming the lens is top notch. That devalues the 5 star rating and is not fair to the many great lenses that truly deserve 5 stars.
If the lens is about something fun and goofy I may start it at a 4 (Splendiferous). You're not really trying to educate me or sell me something...the lens is for entertainment so the bar's a little lower.
If the sole purpose of the lens is to sell me something, I am much stricter on the rating criteria.
Banner Ads At Top of Lens? -1 Star
If the first thing I see when viewing a lens is banner ads, especially unrelated ads, a star is falling.
There are some really good, informative lenses out there which are spoiled with annoying unrelated banner ads at the top...typically for link exchanges. Even if the ad is on topic, give me some real info first before hitting me with ads.
I'm not against banner ads...I use a few myself. But they are related to the topic, mixed in with the content and not at the top of the lens (ie: in the lens intro or right below it).
This only applies to banner ads the lensmaster added. Any banners that Squidoo automatically places at the very top are outside of a lensmaster's control.
Beg For Ratings At Top of Lens? -1 Star
Why do people do this? I'm a fellow lensmaster, I know what ratings are, I know where to find them and how to enter them. It's safe to assume that most lensmasters appreciate ratings from visitors. So why do some lensmasters insist on cluttering up their intro or first module by begging people to rate the lens before they've had a chance to read it??
It looks bad. Remember, your lens might be the first Squidoo lens a new visitor ever sees. Make a good impression. Make good use of your reader's attention.
If you want to remind people to rate your lens after they've read through it then go ahead and place a tactful reminder at the bottom of the lens. No stars off for that.
Did I Learn Something? +1 Star
I love learning. Doesn't matter if it's a topic I'm not normally interested in or even agree with you about. Teach me something and the stars will follow.
Default Module Titles? -1 Star
Nothing says lazy like the words "New Guestbook Module". Take a few seconds and change those default module titles.
Cool Layout/Lens Design? +1 Star
The folks at Squidoo have done a good job of providing a consistent lens look while still offering us the flexibility to be creative and innovative.
Well designed lenses where the information flows or creative (and smart) use of an HTML trick are how a lens will wow me here.
Member Of Unrelated Groups? -1/2 Star
Joining groups of everyone or a lot of unrelated groups doesn't add any value to the lens or to Squidoo. It's more clutter.
Got Good Content? +1 Star
Original content rocks! It doesn't matter what combination of text, pics, video, links, etc you use as long as it builds an informative, thought provoking or entertaining lens.
Talking about your personal experience with the topic and putting your expertise into words is a solid way to build great content.
Generic Pre-Generated Lens? -1 Star
Do you create a new SquidWho or SquidLit lens but never change what Squidoo pre-populated for you? That's lame. C'mon, change the poll responses, enter some original text and make it your own.
All Text Is From Wikipedia? -1/2 Star
Yes, Wikipedia has great information and Squidoo has modules to easily pull in text from the site. That doesn't mean you should exclusively rely on it for all of your content. The Wikipedia module exists to help support your content, not take it over.
Write some original text (not a paraphrase of Wikipedia) on your lens. If you can't do that then you're probably not an "expert" in the topic.
Unique or Interesting Topic? +1 Star
One of my favorite things about Squidoo is discovering new things or learning new stuff about a topic I'm already interested in.
Content Doesn't Match The Title? -1 Star
I like to look at lenses that have interesting titles and I expect the lens' content to match the title. If your lens has a cool title like, "How To Swap Out The Transmission On A '69 Firebird In Ten Minutes Flat" and it's really about another lame MLM scheme then you've totally wasted my time.
Is The Lens Annoying? -1/2 Star
Unless it has a good reason, if the lens does any of the following then it could be considered annoying at some level.
1. YELLS AT ME IN ALL CAPS.
2. Makes my eyes hurt with lots of crazy colored text.
3. Is one very very very long text module with no break.
4. Every other word is a typo.
5. Rambles from topic to topic.
You Paid Me $100 To Rate Your Lens: +25 Stars
Cha-ching! Money talks!
I'm kidding, totally kidding.
Seriously, if you feel the need to bribe someone to rate your lens, then you and your lens both have serious issues.
Allows Guestbook Spam? -1/2 Star
Many good lenses are spoiled by a guest book that has become a billboard for spam. Full of links to unrelated lenses or web sites this is more clutter.
Worth My Time To Visit The Lens? +1 Star
Hopefully I learned something on the lens. If not, it still could have been useful and worth my time. Maybe it led me to an interesting link or I saw something that gave me a chuckle or started me thinking in a new direction. The possibilities are endless.
Rate My Lens Rating Strategy
How do I resolve 1/2 Stars?
Yes, sometimes I'll total this all up and end up with a 4.5 rating (quite often actually). Squidoo doesn't give me a way to assign 4.5 stars. So, do I select 4 or 5 stars?
This is a judgment call. If the overall feel of the lens and its information are good then I'll go with the higher rating. If I think that there are big opportunities for improvement then I'll round down and give it the 4.
Do I Give 1 Star Ratings?
Rarely. Even a one star rating gives the lens a small, temporary lensrank boost. For a lens to get a one star from me, it has to be pretty bad and probably spammy so it's unlikely I'll reward it by giving it any rating.
I try to stick as closely as possible to this checklist but sometimes I will make a judgment call to give a higher or lower rating. Usually because there was one attribute that really stood out above (or below) the rest.
Anyway, this is how I rate lenses, your approach is probably different. Feel free to give this a try and let me know how it works for you.
What do you think of this lens rating strategy? What are your thoughts on star ratings?