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What do Fiverr Ratings Really Mean?


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There is always a lot of debate about how useful Fiverr’s rating system really is. Some say it is great, others say it can be misleading or even that it can be manipulated. I recently placed an order (I am a regular buyer here as well as a seller), and it got me thinking about the review system in a way I had not considered before. Here is what happened and how it got me thinking.

I placed an order, with extras that came to a total of $25, to be completed within 6 days.
The seller had overwhelmingly positive reviews, and the particular gig I ordered has over 200 reviews. He had also delivered a number of times in the previous couple of days.

I did not receive any message from him but on the 6th day the order was delivered. It was reasonably adequate but there was an issue for which I requested a modification, within a couple of hours of the delivery. I am now into the third day of waiting for a response from him and as a seller, I know that I can now contact customer support if I want to. As most of the order was ok, I am hesitant to do so however, and this is what got me thinking, I am not going to give this seller 5 stars now even though that’s what he asked for in his delivery message.

Fiverr’s review system is made up of 3 sections for Buyers to use.

  1. Seller’s response time.

  2. Service as expected.

  3. Buy again or recommend

  4. The sellers communication is about as bad as you can get. I don’t know why, it could be a language issue or something else but the reality is he has not communicated except for a standard delivery message. This is the only communication in the space of 9-10 days! He deserves a 1 or 2 star rating for that section.

  5. Even if the order is delivered and meets or exceeds my expectations, he has been so slow to act on my modification request that I feel he deserves 4 stars for that. If it is eventually delivered completely, I will probably give 5 stars for that section.

  6. I don’t think I will buy again from this guy and would be hesitant to recommend him. So 2-3 stars is accurate.

Now here is the thing. I may well receive a perfect delivery for this order but the rating that I give him will be displayed as the average of the 3 ratings I give him. This could be 2-3 stars at this point.

What does all this mean?

The three parts that make up the review we see on a sellers gig are equal in Fiverr’s eyes. The reality is that the second one is most important to new buyers but, as in my example, the whole review is skewed by the lack of communication. To me this is misleading. If a seller communicates badly (this guy does not communicate at all though) but delivers great work then I would use him again. The lack of communication will also affect the 3rd point, as to whether I will use again or recommend. An honest appraisal of this seller by those 3 points would probably result in a 2 star review. I think that is unfair because, as a seller myself, I know that 2-3 stars is horrible. It will affect him negatively despite delivering good work (hopefully). For this reason, I am tempted to change my review to 4 stars to suggest that it is not perfect but he did the job. Not all buyers will do this and so it can sometimes be that a seller can get 2-3 stars having delivered great work.
I’m not offering a solution here, just an observation to put into the pot as you consider which seller to use. It is also worth remembering these points when you are reviewing.

Is the work that was done worth 2 stars or 5 stars to you?
Can you give a little grace to a seller who communicates badly but delivered good product for you? I suggest that you do. I suggest that, like me, you consider the fact that all other buyers will see is the average star rating and that you adjust your rating to suit your OVERALL feeling about the job.

I’m interested in other buyers and sellers opinions on this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another point about reviews that I thought of today is that there is no way of telling whether an order was for $5 or $500. This would be a useful feature as someone can, in proofreading for example, get a fantastic review from buyers who paid $5 for them to proofread a document of 500 words. If I have written a novel of 100,000 words and I am looking at that, I think - Wow! he has got great reviews for proofreading, I’ll order from him! Yet, proofreading a large novel is a very different job to small documents - the same is true of any gig. If you are a buyer giving a review, I suggest that you give an outline of what was done for you, not mentioning price as that is private between you and the seller. This will help future buyers a lot more than saying how great a buyer was.

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Oh, I don’t know, I’d like a rough gig price to be noted per review. All my not so great reviews lately come from $5 buyers who were incredibly vague and never responded to my questions or reminders that I was happy to moderate. OTH, people paying more premium prices are singing.

From my perspective, I’d love that little $0-$5 gig review to be contrasted with the numerous $50-$200 reviews. I think it would really flesh out the “good experience” people… or maybe I’m still smarting with indignation!

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