Ratings and Mental Health

As some may have noticed, I’ve taken my story The Lawyer’s True Name out of the contest and opted out of ratings for my most recent stories. Long struggles with my mental health have left me vulnerable and less equipped to deal with bad feedback, especially anonymous feedback without clarification. Most mental illnesses come with a paranoia element, and I would see ratings of 3 or less appearing on my stories almost as an attack, a way to tank my ratings. Bad thoughts at the extreme could lead to bad actions. It’s not that I wanted to be perceived as better than I am, more that I thought that flaws or bad faith ratings gave a wrong impression. But mostly, they made me doubt myself, and hurt my self-esteem.

Martin has been very understanding and supportive throughout those struggles, and added the possibility to opt out of the ratings system. I wanted to speak out to let people know that it’s possible to be so obsessed by something like ratings to the point of being detrimental to your health. Society is becoming more and more about allowing people around us to sit in, often anonymous, judgement on things we do and it can lead us easily to let it influence how we feel about ourselves. I’m really scared for the generations who follow us and how they are vulnerable and craving for likes and what kind of things they might do to get them.

I had peace of mind during the last week. No anxiety, no obsession.

Please don’t hesitate to opt out of the ratings system if it is affecting your mental health.


I’m glad to hear that you’re much better and less stressed out. This site is all about fun and release - of stress and any kind of pressure :slight_smile: - so the last thing I want to see is that people get agitated as authors or as readers.

So that posting of yours really mean much to me.

Thank you. And I hope you’ll post many stories on the sites and find much release and fun doing it!


Already working on the next one: The Cursed Greek Play.


Thank you so much for opening up and sharing. I’m sure your words will help many people stop, take a breath, identify what is hurting, and take action. Sharing is not only a brave gesture but also a generous one since it can helps us and others at the same time. I’m so happy that you are feeling better already.

Also, thank you Martin for always being there doing the changes needed for a healthier community. We appreciate it.


yeah don’t let the words of asshats who won’t sign their name make you feel like shit. Write your truth and you will find others who love it, mad respect for opening up like this. I hope it gets better.


Take care of yourself. Writing fantasy takes a lot out of a person. If you need less anxiety it’s great that you can opt out.


Why are unregistered, anonymous people allowed to comment or rate stories?

1 Like

To be fair, the lower ratings didn’t only come from unregistered people. But there was no way to know who rated or no explanation as to why it was rated that way. I’m not saying that there should have been, just that in the absence of information, my paranoid mind had free rein. Also, I did not receive bad comments (except maybe once) and those I don’t mind because at least they go into more detail than just 3/5.


Ratings from registered, logged on users count 5x as much as ratings by anonymous users.

1 Like

In my original post, I used the word anonymous not in the sense of anonymous users, but to refer to the fact that ratings are anonymous (even if from registered users) and that it made it more difficult for me because I had no way to, for example, go and ask the person who left me a 3, why they did so.

But we’re straying from my point. My post is not about the ratings system and certainly not about being a “victim” of it. It is about recognizing my mentally unhealthy reaction to ratings and advising people who have such reactions to consider opting out for their peace of mind.


That’s great. But would it be possible, or should it be required that a comment be mandatory for a rating of 3 or less?

As I said, my post here is not about changes to the ratings system. The problem is with me. No change in the rating system would have solved this for me. I have an unhealthy relationship with ratings. It’s a “me” problem that was solved by opting out.

type or paste code here

I have thought about suggesting the site stop allowing anonymous posting or rating before, simply because some of the meanest, cruellest comments I see come from anonymous posts. And sure, I could say “write for yourself, fuck how others rate it”, but that’s like telling someone to calm down – our psyches do what our psyches do. I’ve enjoyed many of your stories, Mafisto, just to let you know.


I have been a fan of your work for the longest time! Anonymous feedback also sets me off. People are quick to criticize and all I can think is…well, at least I wrote something and contributed to the site.


I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with the rating system and its impact on your mental health. It’s incredibly brave of you to share your experience and make the decision to prioritize your well-being.


I like your stories :slight_smile:


Am I the only one who doesn’t understand the rating system?

I am also concerned about the scores my submissions have received but unlike Mafisto it is because I believe them to be too high.

On a five point scale I would consider scores of 3 to be an average with 5 reserved for exceptional submissions but that does not seem to be how many use the system. From what I can tell most scorers seem to be defaulting to a 5 and taking off points for not reaching their expectations

This confuses me as it means one score for adequate and several levels of disappointing; if anything it would make more sense to me to start from adequate and give bonus marks for being better than that.

It means that I have no idea how well received my submissions actually are: if someone has scored me a 4 does that mean they think it above average, or less than adequate or something else entirely?

I have been avoiding rating others for that reason. People may be giving a rating of 3 or 4 believing it to be complementary whereas the author may consider that to be a criticism that they are not worth a 5.

There is no objective way to rate.

In theory, you’re exactly right assuming that 2.5 stars should be considered “average” in a given category.

But the truth is, that most people tend to give a story higher ratings if they like them. I usually never give a category below 3, if it’s not abysmal in that category - or the category doesn’t apply (like there is absolutely no romance whatsoever, the “Romance” rating would get a 1 star from me).

If a story is ok, I already give a category at least 3, usually more, and if I really like it, I tend to give 4.5. 5 is something I only give, if some story has excelled in a category.

I guess most other people rate like that. It’s also a matter of courtesy for the author. But I agree that it kinda defeats the whole range and purpose of the rating system. It’s just like it turned out to be - not only on GSS by the way, many other systems suffer the same problem.

And then there are the “all 5” or “all 1” star raters, which don’t seem to know anything in between. There are way more people rating like that than you would believe.

But only if as many people rate - in whatever their own way they think is correct - the actual result will become stable. It’s a matter of statistics, the more people rate, the less individual rating characteristics will matter.

When a lot of people (40-50+) rate, these variations tend to even out and the rating is more to be trusted, but remains still hard to interpret by itself, the rank can be more helpful (like 12th best story this month in this category) because it is relative. When just a few people rate, I was finding that it is so susceptible to random elements as to make it almost useless: if someone who doesn’t like your style of stories happened to rate it very low vs if all the ones who rated at least like your style of stories, or those variations you mentioned in how people rate (average 2.5 or average 4) for example. If the sampling is low, it creates more confusion than anything. The number of comments you get, the number of favorites and even the number of people who rated are a much better indicator of your story’s worth. So it is useful mostly for those who write stories that are of a style popular enough to have a lot of ratings.