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Amazon tests new star ratings that are even harder to read

Amazon tests new star ratings that are even harder to read

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Amazon’s search results have some different ways to communicate ratings.

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Illustration of Amazon’s logo on a black, orange, and tan background.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Amazon is testing a new way to show star ratings for products in search results that is more difficult to parse at a glance, as reported by Android Police.

Under the new system, when you’re browsing search results, Amazon will show you an average star rating as a number, then a singular gold star, and then, in parentheses next to the star, what percentage of reviews are five stars.

The change is a bit easier to understand in an image, so take a look at this one from Android Police:

Android Police says it saw this different layout in the Amazon India mobile app, on the Amazon Germany website, and on Amazon’s global website when accessed from Germany.

I don’t like this change because it gets rid of the easily glanceable stat of the volume of ratings in favor of the percentage of how many are five stars. Personally, if a product has tens of thousands of reviews but is still hovering on the mid-to-high end of a five-star average, I generally take that as a better assurance of quality than a product that has double-digit total ratings but an average that’s just under five stars.

A statement from Amazon didn’t confirm that it’s making the changes shown in Android Police, but it did leave open the possibility that it might. “We are always innovating on behalf of customers to provide the best possible shopping experience,” Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti said in an email to The Verge.

I’m personally not seeing the different layout here in the US, but I am seeing a couple other versions of the ratings. Some show an average rating, one gold star, and then what appears to be the total number of reviews. Others swap out the single star for five star icons — though, in the few examples where I’ve seen these, all five are filled in even if the average rating is closer to four than it is to five. (Note that Amazon’s star ratings aren’t a simple average but are calculated using “machine-learned models,” according to a support page.)

A screenshot of Amazon search results for an iPhone cable.
Here are the different five-star rating systems I’m seeing in Amazon’s search results.
Screenshot by Jay Peters / The Verge

It’s all pretty confusing. While writing this article, I’ve warmed up to my colleague Sean Hollister’s proposal that Amazon get rid of star ratings altogether.