TUCOWS ARTICLE

Understanding Ratings (Cow Ratings) and Reviews (Editorial Content)

The heart and soul of the Ratings Guide will always be opinion. Sixty percent of every review is based on Usability and overall evaluation scores - meaning that if an application is completely unusable, but has great documentation and help, you will never see it. This system is very strict upon placement.
Published: Feb 16, 2006
Author: Brad Smith

Back in November of 2000, the staff at Tucows.com was making a rather large transition, moving from our old home to our new home. The same city, but a much larger office. I joined the Tucows crew when we still worked in our old office. Our style of reviewing was much different then and I can't imagine using the same system today. I remember a sheet of paper that had five different areas of review with maximum points of ten per category. It was fairly easy to pound out sixty to eighty reviews in one day without flinching. Nowadays, our reviewer's teeter around the twenty to twenty-five reviews per day mark. This rapid decrease is in direct relation to how extensive our guide is now compared to then. With the birth of the Author Resource Center in August of 2001, the official Ratings Guide made its birth as well. It's a document that gets revisited on a daily basis to make sure we are conforming to the changing times in the world of shareware. We want to ensure that each user that comes to Tucows for software gets the same quality every single time they click on a link. In a sense, it was created to evolve a minimum standard among software trials. It is built from the end-user aspect. Features like customer support and documentation hold a lot of weight, but even a decent implementation of both will uphold a certain minimum. A file that doesn't have any documentation or support will most likely never be included within the Tucows Library unless it's the best functioning piece of software out there. We want every user to have a genuine-quality feel for the shareware world. We work with developer's every day to make their applications fit this standard. When they meet our standards, they receive our audience within the software library.

The Tucows Ratings Guide is broken down into four separate categories: Usability, Documentation and support, Program enhancements and Overall evaluation. The heart and soul of the Ratings Guide will always be opinion. Sixty percent of every review is based on usability and overall evaluation scores - meaning that if an application is completely unusable, but has great documentation and help, you will never see it. This system is very strict upon placement.

On the editorial side, the review staff also reviews software without rating it. A review is usually never structured as much as a rating. Rated applications are given a specific score, but the ratings they are given don't delve into the features of the application. Reviews can be overzealous, and compared to a cow rating score, can be misleading. Cow ratings are a representation of the application as a whole, whereas a review can focus on a particular feature of the application. There could be specific shortcomings that cause the decrease in scoring that are not mentioned in an extended review. Both types of reviews are created to give you the most information about an application so that you can make an educated decision about the software you choose to use. Using both sources is a great way to find the application you are looking for. In both cases, we hope all the information helps you make that decision easier.


About Brad Smith

My name is Brad Smith, and I'm the Tucows Site Manager. I'm in charge of maintaining the site content, the Tucows review staff and guidelines we use to accept software into the software library. I'm a married bovine expecting a baby girl in April. I enjoy music and games, and when I'm not cracking the whip, I'm either working at the local Comedy Club or enjoying the time off. Did you know that my humps got you spending? ~OMGBBQ??

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