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Online Anonymous Rating Sites: Empowering Individual Voices

by Tom Johnson on Nov 7, 2007 •
categories: technical-writingweb-design

Apartment RatingsIn looking for an apartment, I found ApartmentRatings.com tremendously helpful. This site allows residents to anonymously rate and comment about their apartment complex.

After reading the comments residents wrote about Hunter's Woods apartments in Murray, I decided that, although the square footage was about 300 more sq. ft than any surrounding apartment, the area's crime (namely drug dealing) and the poor maintenance responses by the staff were enough to look elsewhere. The overall ratings appear at the top of the site:

Apartment Ratings Overall Rating

And the resident's responses appear below:

resident response

Rate My ProfessorsRatings are also expanding into the academic realm: you can rate your professors. RateMyProfessors.com allows students to provide feedback in a public site. Imagine the power!

For example, my old friend Josh Allen, who teaches at BYU-Idaho, is now online, free to be rated on Google by his students. Luckily, his students like him, so the ratings work in his favor.

Rating a professor

Similar to the apartment ratings, you can read the individual students' feedback in all their detail.

student comments

Other rating sites exist too, such as Confabb, which allows you to rate the speakers at the conferences you attend.

These rating sites empower people to make better choices. Obviously they are subject to abuse (either from the competition, from the the slandered source, or from biased friends). But even in the possible exaggerations from the participants, the ratings raise awareness of issues that you might otherwise not carefully examine.

You also have to keep in mind that people rarely take the time to express their satisfaction, but the disgruntled will complain bitterly.

Apartments, professors, conferences .... what's next?

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the San Francisco Bay area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.

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