I want to ask a question about why some movie reviewers use a four-star rating system instead of a five-star rating system. I'm sure there must be some historical reason behind its use. But I'm not sure whether the question would be on-topic here. We have a tag, but it seems to be for how a specific movie or show was reviewed, and my question is about reviews/reviewers in a more general sense.

Can I ask such a question?

3 Answers 3


Certainly the question in a "general" sense is on-topic as it is related to movies and tv...


the specific question seems, at least to me, certainly to be too broad and/or quite likely to be opinion-based.

If we're asking about a single reviewer and whether they have commented on why they use the ranking system they do I can see it working but otherwise I don't think so.

  • 1
    I'm really not looking forward to dozens of questions along the lines of "why does reviewer X use a five star system?" IMHO such questions are trivial and inviting to do this for one case will open the floodgates.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 11:54
  • @BCdotWEB This answer, and your comment, seem convincing enough to me. I'll refrain from asking any questions about review systems.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 12:14

I honestly don't know which way the community will vote on this, so this is just a suggestion. Someone else should probably post the alternative.

I think if something is about the business of developing, marketing, distributing or viewing a movie then by default it should be on-topic. The exceptions are types of question (like identification) or topics (like news and current affairs) we have specifically deemed to be not welcome here.

Movie reviews are part of the marketing effort of a movie, and specific effort is made to engage reviewers. Actors and directors are often interviewed by reviewers, and they are normally given an advance press-screening of a movie so that reviews are available before the public get to see it.

tl;dr ... I think it should be considered on-topic.

  • 1
    I think it's certainly "on-topic" in the sense of being within the realm of topics covered by Movies.SE. I think the only thing in question is whether/how such a question can be asked in a "stackable" manner.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 6:38

AFAIK what "measure" to use to rate a movie is often dependent on the publication, and the reason they use a scale of four or five or ten (or a letter, like EW.com uses) is often simply a tradition that started long ago.

Most likely such questions are unanswerable, and considering that the same rating is also used for other media isn't even TV- or movie-related at all.

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