Major Changes at NEPA Pizza Review - New Rating System!

Why Moving From the 5 Star Rating System to the 10 Point Scale is Good for Pizza Lovers

NEPA Pizza Review is shaking things up and changing the metric by which he rates pizza!  Photo Credit:
Way back in 2012 when I founded this blog, I set out with a mission to utilize my pizza making and culinary experience and desire to share my personal experiences at the amazing pizzerias in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  At that time, my focus was on the writing and providing an accurate account of the pizza I was tasting, the service I was receiving, and my overall impression of the pizzeria's operation.  I also developed a 5 point rating system in quarter star increments which assessed the quality of the sauce, cheese, crust, if the cheese was crispy/cooked properly, a value score, and an overall score.  The five point star was largely based on the rating systems used by google, yelp, facebook, and other major sites at the time because consumers were familiar with that and since things from food to movies to hotels have been rated on a five star scale for decades, I figured it was a can't miss.  I also presumed that since I put so much time into my writing, people wouldn't care so much about the scores or its format.

Fast forward 7 years and the landscape has changed a bit.  Food bloggers, including perhaps the worlds most viewed pizza video reviewer, are utilizing a 10 point scale to quantify their opinion on pizza.  Where I would state that my pizza reviewing style, level of detail, and pizza attribute scores, there is some wisdom in a simple 10 point scale.  First, I think people comprehend it better.  We were assessed throughout our schooling years on a 100 point scale generally in whole number integers, so 100 possible ratings that a student can receive.  By moving the decimal point and scoring to the nearest tenth, also provides 100 possible ratings.  On the surface, you're probably saying "of course, but who cares?"  

The Problems With a 5 Star System

Well, let's explore my five star rating system further.  A five star rating system using quarter increment scores provides only 20 possible scores for a pizza (0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1...).  Again, this might seem pretty benign, but having only 20 possible scores for a pizza does not provide much room for differentiation.  For example, if I really love Carl's Pizza, but love Suzie's Pizza in a similar way, but just a little bit more, I might find myself giving both a 4.5.  A person can read both of my articles in their entirety to find out which one I really think is better, but very few people would take the time to do so in this fast-paced, tap-and-go age of information age we are in.  A 10 point system would allow me to rate Carl's as low as an 8.6 and Suzie's as high as a 9.4 to coincide with a score of 4.5.  I think we can agree that a score of 4.5 out of 5 is a really good score, and so are 8.6 and 9.4 out of 10, but 8.6 and 9.4 are very different scores that could not be assessed in my 5 star quarter point ratings.  I could go out another decimal point on a five star scale to achieve a similar result, but this isn't something consumers are familiar with and I'm not sure it makes much sense.

Readers Demand Scores

My readers are demanding scores these days.  As soon as I post a photo of a pizza I'm eating, I inevitably get a comment or message asking "what is your score?"  For me, who is about to embark on a few hours of work writing an article, carefully assessing and reflecting on the pizza, choosing my best pizza pictures (which I never edit), and editing the YouTube video feature of the pizza it feels a little cheap to just spit out a score and leave it at that.  Pizza has a story to tell and so do the pizzerias which serve it.  It is my mission to share those stories about the small businesses that serve them and let the world know what they can expect when they arrive at a restaurant.  I'm not sure how a person knows what to expect based on a rating of 7.4?  I guess there is a certain confidence placed on the reviewer when interpreting a score, and if you trust the reviewer enough to take his or her rating and run with it, that's great.

I have been thinking about making this change for a while as the focus has turned to scores and ratings, but hesitant to implement because of my passion for telling a pizza story until I paid a visit to New Haven, Connecticut - the other Pizza Capital of the World (to some).  I signed up for a 6 hour, 4 pizzeria, 12 different pizza tour through Taste of New Haven and had the opportunity to try Frank Pepe's, Sally's Apizza, Bar, and Modern Apizza in succession.  Two of the pizzerias who originated within the same family tree - Frank Pepe's and Sally's have very very similar pizza.  I tried them within hours of one another and felt they were basically the same in many ways which warranted similar scores.  I knew I liked one slightly better than the other, but the cramped 5 star scale had me giving equivalent scores, or artificially inflating one rating or deflating the other.  I knew then that my system was not serving its purpose and doesn't give my readers an accurate summary of my opinion or point of comparison.

What does this change mean?

One implication is that I might have to go back and change all past scores, but simply doubling the score to convert from a 5 point scale to a 10 point rating exacerbates the issue.  I'd have to recall from memory a pizza I ate 7 years ago and accurately re-rate it!  I do remember vividly every pizza I've ever eaten, but I don't think it's fair or practical to re-rate several hundred pizzas.  So I think it provides a nice chance for me to reset, start fresh on rankings, and provide a plain English guide to what my scores will mean going forward.  I'll still do everything I normally do, just using a 10 point scale.  Here's what the 10 point scale means to me (see below)

9 - 10: Absolute must try.  I would travel over an hour to get this pizza.
8 - 8.9: Amazing pizza.  If you haven't tried it yet, this needs to be your next stop.
7 - 7.9: Very good to excellent pizza. 
6 - 6.9: Good. Above Average pizza. Sure to satisfy.
5 - 5.9: Decent. Average. Ordinary pizza.  Gets the job done.
4 - 4.9: Below Average pizza.  
3.9 or below.  Bad pizza.  You generally won't see a rating in this range from me as I decline to write the review rather than say negative things about a person's business.  I also take into consideration that some pizzerias might have an off day.


Pizza Scoring System 7859813915372640174

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