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Google Downplays Zagat's Confusing 30-Point Ratings

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Google has rolled out an update that reduces the prominence of the confusing 30-point Zagat rating system. Last year Google acquired the notoriously untrustworthy ratings guide Zagat for $151 million and integrated the rankings, reviews, and data into Google+ Local with disastrous results. According to Megan Stevenson, a Product Marketing Manager at Google, people will no longer be able to rate business on a 30-point scale; instead the interface will ask people to use descriptive terms: "Poor - Fair," "Good," "Very Good," or "Excellent." See the above screenshot.

And then, behind the scenes, Google will convert those user reviews into Zagat-style number ratings that show up in Google+, Search, and Maps. Users will not be able to enter scores in a 30-point scale.

Confusing? You bet. Google's unhelpful "help" page explains in more detail: "We then may adjust the overall ratings based on user inputs and other signals to ensure these ratings best reflect the quality of the establishment." In addition, Google+ Local pages will show the descriptive terms on individual reviews instead of the score:


Why all the changes? People are used to a four- or five-star rating system, and the fuzziness of a 30-point scale was somewhat bewildering to users. So much so that the launch screen of the iPhone Google+ Local app explained how the 30-point scale worked and forced users to tap on a button that read, "OK, Got it" before they could use the app.

But instead of going to a five-star review system, Google+ Local is going to use descriptive terms like "Good" and "Very Good." Is that actually any more clear? Either way, this is probably the first step in eliminating Zagat's 30-point scale — how long until Google dumps it all together?

· Google+ Local Reviews Now Showing Descriptive and Not Numerical Scores [Blumenthals]
· Google's Big Risk with Reviews: Using a 30-Point Scale [SBSM via Wired]
· All Zagat Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Google Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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