Rating system for recipes?

I’ve made lots of recipes from food52 and I finally decided to sign up so I can post this burning question :-) It is a fabulous site but two things that have started to truly annoy me. There is really no clear rating system in place, very few recipes get “likes” so you cannot tell from the likes if a recipe is good or not. The recipes with the “most buzz” don’t tell you whether a recipe is good neither because often many of the comments are back and forths between the person who submitted the recipe and people who commented on it (the responses of the submitter are counted as comments too, now is that really a “buzz”?!?). You have to basically read through ALL the comments to extract the ones from people who have ACTUALLY COOKED the stuff. Yeah of course you can just rely on the contest winners and the Editors Picks, or take the number of people who saved or viewed a recipe as your gauge. But maybe there could be a different rating system, with stars or something like other sites have?



Peter October 11, 2011
Just tried it and works like a charm (unlike a few other details around here. Bear with us this week as we fix a few things up!)
Peter October 11, 2011
So much to reply to I don't know where to start. How about this? As of tomorrow, you'll be able to UN-Fan someone. :-) (it'll actually be called following and unfollowing.)
drkate October 10, 2011
In the past two years that I've changed my eating habits and started cooking more, I've found that I don't often make the same recipe twice. I'm trying different cuisines and different ingredients and it feels like I'm making up for lost time, so I don't save many recipes or judge by what others say or how high on the list a recipe is.

I've found a few recipes that didn't work well for me on Food52, but for the most part I've learned to look for ingredients that balance a dish--and if those ingredients are present, and there is no user error, the dish is likely to be a success. Some are especially successful, and I find myself craving the specific recipe, but apart from just a handful of those, I mostly dip into the pages randomly.

I've made Rivka's Mujaddara and the Pan bagnat tuna sandwich at least 3 times, and I initially selected those because they had so many positive comments, but I'm not sure I'd've selected them if they had 5 stars rather than a number of comments. I think rating systems tend to be a little inflated on other sites, and part of the pleasure for me of surfing recipes is considering whether the ingredients are interesting or surprising or old favorites.
ashleychasesdinner October 5, 2011
This is a great discussion, and while I am not really adding any suggestions, just my perspective. I do agree with Panfusine about guidelines for EP testers. Just to eliminate personal views that could dissuade a recipe for nomination or others trying it. But overall I have to say, I love food52 for being set up the way that it is. Food52 is warm, welcoming and so creative. I have learned so much over the past year and have 'meet' many lovely people that I admire, both for the culinary contributions and personality. I guess I feel that too many guidelines stiffle creativity. As Panfusine stated, we are all mature individuals here, and a gentle nudge to a contributer for some improvement on a recipe should be a welcome critique. Anyway, I think this site does a great job of attracting caring individuals who are here to make the world better by their amazing recipes!!
Panfusine October 5, 2011
wow.. This is such a deep, interesting & passionate discussion!!
my personal 2 cents...
I must confess, I really look forward to testing EPs simply because it is such a wonderful way to learn about new techniques cuisines & ingredients. I would like to see some kind of guidelines (no rules which would make the whole system rigid & hence rip the fun enjoyable aspect) just so that all the recipes picked for the community tested EP nominees could have a common ground..a recipe should not be nixed simply because the testers personal taste (& taste buds) did not approve, and if the editors could share any reasons personally with the author if its not picked, just so that any corrections can be made if necessary. We're all mature individuals here. As Drbabs says, it is distressing when someone volunteers to test an EP & its not picked, & the person is never heard from again, & request for a feedback are ignored..It does not do justice to the rest of us who wholeheartedly take this EP testing responsibility seriously.
luvcookbooks October 5, 2011
I hesitated to bring up the unfanning issue because it seems trivial, but as an amateur cook it is amazing to me to be able to communicate with people I've admired on paper or on line and meaningful. Decided I probably wasn't the only person on the site who felt this way, and not sure it would be part of the decision mix as the site evolves if I didn't. Was not offended by the thought of being able to unfan, but wanted to contribute another perspective.
Montana C. October 4, 2011
Amen, Bevi.
Bevi October 4, 2011
I really don't give a care about weighing comments, but if there are people who want feedback on the recipes as to the actual preparation and the results, then I am wondering how food52 editors can work towards meeting that need. I totally dig the paper gal route - my top drawer is nothing but printed recipes! I think there is a need on the editors' part to edit the "Cooks We Admire" page if there are cooks who have not contributed in a long time. I personally cannot imagine unfanning a member of this community who regularly contributes recipes or feedback.
boulangere October 4, 2011
Bevi, that is very interesting. I also am not so much dashing to grab an EP test lately. I only do so if a recipe if VERY interesting to me. That said, I am lately endeavoring to be much more diligent about actually preparing and commenting upon recipes I've saved. Once saved, prepared, and commented upon, I either print it or don't (print means I really love it and plan to include it in future curriculums - curriculumae? - or I don't). If it's a case of love, I so comment, print and delete. Call me a pencil and paper gal, guilty! If it's not, I simply delete. Grading on the curve? I honestly don't care. It's all about the food. And I love, love, love searching the pages of recipes contributed by cooks I admire, which leads me back to my question as to why we can't delete cooks we no longer admire. It could and should even be anonymous out of kindness. Because that would leave us, or me at least, so much room for those whom we do deeply admire.
Bevi October 4, 2011
I have recently really tried to comment on recipes I have made that are posted on this site. Often I don't rush to get the EP tests because I have already tested one or two of the recipes nominated or EPs, as was the case with the pear contest. Maybe a comment from a member who has actually tested the recipe is given more weight on the curve? Maybe comments that come from actually making a recipe should be starred or bold faced so surfers can get to the "meat" if that's what they are looking for.
boulangere October 4, 2011
lcb, you're not remotely the sort of contributor I was referring to, and I apologize for hurting your feelings. I did not intend to sound cold-hearted. Some of the cooks on my fan of list are some I added in the very early days of participation. I took the Cooks We Admire heading seriously, and fanned several of them whose personal stories and (few to very few) recipes looked interesting. They're honestly cooks I've never seen crop up anywhere else. Once I'd been here for a few months (and I'm a very recent joiner), I looked a bit more closely at several of them in comparison to cooks I've come to seriously admire, and that's a list I can't begin to list here. Many of those people have honestly posted all of 1 recipe, and that was 2 years ago. I'd love to drop them. They're not interesting any more, and in my zeal upon discovering food52, fanned people I shouldn't have simply because my comparison skills were weak. When my father was dying last year, my participation declined dramatically. I was gone for 3 weeks this summer, blessedly without access to a computer. I have weeks when I'm lucky to get off a few quick comments, forget posting recipes and their stories. And we're very glad you're back in the fold, and hope that your family situation has resolved well. I sincerely apologize for sounding harsh.
luv_to_cook October 4, 2011
Wow, so many interesting responses, thank you all. Shows there's always room for improvement to make food52 an even better site that it already is :-) Meanwhile we'll all keep cooking up a storm. Cheers!
luvcookbooks October 4, 2011
Thinking the same thing about fanning, although some people I can just wait for...also would be crushed if I were unfanned, so would hesitate to do it...I was away for months b/o family illness, would have added distress to be deleted.
boulangere October 3, 2011
Yes, sdb, I agree. I'm a paper kind of cook, largely because I teach and need to distribute hard copies of recipes and other information. But at the same time, I can edit/delete recipes I've saved, where I can't delete "fans" I've "fanned".

"Fanning" has turned out to be much more of a long-term relationship than I initially anticipated.
boulangere October 3, 2011
And now for something entirely different . . . but not so much. I've a few times asked via email to food52 if there were a means of deleting users I've "fanned". Most of those in question were ones I fanned from the Cooks We Admire section of the Cooks tab, and in my very early days of participating because they looked interesting. I realize now that most of them haven't even posted a recipe in 2 years. How can they be admired today? But I've never received an answer. I would very much like for there to be a means of both adding and removing those we've "fanned."

Seriously, I'm not adding one more great cook whose ideas I want to follow until I can do some serious house-cleaning. I love the drbabs, hardlikearmour, ChezSusanne, sdebrango, jestei, AntoniaJames, BurntOffierings, but I have many on my fan list who posted one recipe two years ago, won something, and haven't been back since. I would love to drop them from my fan list to make room for cooks like growinggourmand.
sdebrango October 3, 2011
I also save recipes here but copy and save them also onto evernote which I totally love its much quicker than sifting through my recipes here. Sometimes I come across recipes from a year or so ago and save it but then forget about it because its languishing on or near the end. I have to be more diligent posting comments when I make a recipe.
boulangere October 3, 2011
I save recipes regularly. What I am not good about is posting when I've made one, and I'm glad to see I have some company here. About once a month I go through all my saves and weed them out, just as I weed out closets and drawers. Ones I made and like, I print and keep, then delete. Ones that looked interesting at the time, but no longer do, I delete. I try to stay under 8 pages of saves. That said, the brilliant Peter not long ago posted a foodpickle question asking users for ideas of how to offer filters for saves, so I suspect something is in the offing.
boulangere October 3, 2011
I agree that a star rating system has some arbitrariness to it; it's also what so many other sites use, and I admire that food52 prefers to stand aside from the common. I'm guilty of not using the Like feature, but will be more diligent about it from now on.
AntoniaJames October 3, 2011
pierino, I agree that it's interesting, but until the "saves" are searchable, they may become increasingly less meaningful. I suspect that I'm not the only one who stopped actually saving on the site ages ago. Once I hit thirty-five not-searchable pages of saved recipes (that was sometime in Q2 of 2010), I started saving to PDF from print mode instead, so I can actually organize and search on my own systems the food52 recipes I want to use. That said, to register my approval for a particular recipe, I sometimes save it here. This is another area that could use bit of work, to improve the user experience. ;o)
sdebrango October 3, 2011
I think AJ's idea is brilliant!
wssmom October 3, 2011
pierino October 3, 2011
Actually I think the "likes" are the least convincing feature. People forget to use it or don't know how. The number of saves however is quite interesting.
drbabs October 3, 2011
Oh, AJ, what great ideas.
AntoniaJames October 3, 2011
I'd really like to see a grid somewhere that people could fill in, showing who has actually made a recipe, and how many times. There are so many great recipes on the site that don't get a lot of buzz (or, the only buzz they have is from a lone voice such as my own, saying that I tried and really liked a recipe, and why, and what I changed). That information is not accessible, or at least, not easily searched. I'm going to post a foodpickle one of these days asking the community to identify their favorite food52 hidden treasures -- the recipes they've found here and made, that they really love, enough to have made more than once or to want to make again, which either were NOT editors' picks/finalists or don't have much buzz. With so many recipes now on the site, there is a lot of "noise" in the sense that good recipes that people have tried but have only one or two comments drop way down in the search results (as in 10 or 12 pages down when the recipe happens either to have been submitted to a contest or includes an ingredient that was a contest theme). If you don't catch those comments just at the time they register on the activity log, you miss them. And that's a shame. It also would be nice if cooks could list in their profiles the food52 recipes they've made and love (other than their own, of course). ;o)
SKK October 3, 2011
Yes - the point is there is a conversation happening which is one of the things most love about food52.
Food52 October 3, 2011
Thanks for your comments, everyone. We actually started out with a star-based rating system when we launched Food52 in 2009, but we weren't satisfied with it.

People can easily cheat a star system. Choosing a number out of 4 or 5 stars is arbitrary and everyone does it differently. And it still doesn't address whether people have actually cooked the recipe.

So we set out to develop a more holistic way to filter recipes. Food52 was designed to be crowd-sourced and curated, so the recipes that have been vetted, tested and photographed rise to the top, but we also bump up ones with lots of Buzz from the community. Buzz is a weighted combination of various things behind the scenes, including comments, likes, and saves.

Yes, the replies from the recipe's author do count -- but that means there's a conversation happening, and we like that.

We think that, over time, a system that factors in lots of different types of interactions is more valuable than a simple star-based one. We hope you agree!
sdebrango October 3, 2011
I agree drbabs, I am guilty of trying a recipe and then forgetting to add comments. From now on I will make a concerted effort to always add comments its not just important to the author of the recipe but to the community at large.
drbabs October 3, 2011
Wow, luvcookbooks, you really made my day. Thanks! You bring up an interesting point. The great thing about participating in the community is that you get to know the people and their taste and style. While you know the winners and EP's have been tested at least once, what you don't know is that there are lots of good recipes on the site. The contests are a game. When you submit a recipe to a contest, part of the fun (to me) is trying to figure out what the game is. So out of 150 recipes, maybe they test 10 and have the community test another 15...that doesn't mean the untested ones are bad.

As we get to know each other, we learn each others' tastes and style. We know who the careful recipe writers are, who the most creative cooks are, who loves coconut and who always cooks with bacon. You can make a winner or EP and have it come out well or badly. And you have to know your own taste. My husband is really picky, so I know I'm not making things that he hates unless I'm cooking for someone else. And I know that if I change things around (as I frequently do), I'm responsible for the result.

I think it would be wonderful if we each took responsibility for commenting on every recipe we try--good, bad, or indifferent. I know I've made a bunch of dishes that weren't noticed by the editors and liked them. I've also tested EP's...and not liked them. I always always send feedback to the author (privately if there are problems, because they can still edit the recipe). One of my first recipes was tested and not chosen and I was never able to find out why. I know how distressing this is, so I try not to do that to others.

This is really a wonderful, loving, supportive community, and there are nice ways to give feedback, no matter what it is. We could help the wider community (the less obssessed!) by writing notes whenever we try something. That would certainly give each recipe more depth. What do y'all think? Can we all try to take a few minutes and write up our comments when we try a recipe?
luvcookbooks October 3, 2011
If all of these comments had gone to the editors@food52, we wouldn't be able to have a virtual conversation. When is a foodpickle a foodpickle? I think a foodpickle can be about gauging the reliability and quality of recipes. Also,
besides the eps, etc., there are a lot of cooks on food52 that I trust-- drbabs, for instance.
boulangere October 3, 2011
lcb, given some of Peter's comments in the recent past, soliciting ways of saving/searching one's recipe saves, I have a feeling that various filters are in the offing. This is a dynamic, organic, evolving site.
boulangere October 3, 2011
Yes, sometimes the law of inverse proportions seems to come into play. Not sure why. But that is some of the interest of food52. It clearly is not strictly algorithmic-driven, and I believe that makes it unique. And open to comments like these.
SKK October 3, 2011
@Bevi, thank you for your comment. In my experience you are accurate. Over the past week I have made several EP's with very few comments.
Bevi October 2, 2011
I just want to add - not that is it is necessarily relevant to this conversation - that there have been a good number of prize nominations and EPs that received very few or even no comments. So the amount of comments a recipe receives may not be part of the rating system. You would have to ask the editors, though.
SKK October 2, 2011
Hi All - I agree with drbabs. The best way to give feedback is to [email protected] That is the forum that complaints, recommendations, requests can be heard and your ideas, which have a lot of merit by the way, can be included in the design of food52. Foodpickle is about food questions.
ATG117 October 2, 2011
I would also like to see ratings of some sort. I think it would help give a level of authority to recipes other than the editors picks or those submitted by Amanda and Merrill.
luvcookbooks October 2, 2011
I think I have used Food52 for two years as well, but I think you can sift through a recipe to see if it might be workable. The comments, eps, prize winners are gravy. I've found many recipes just looking through the week's recipes and saving them. I do wish there was a way or organizing saved recipes by category...
drbabs October 2, 2011
As a Food52 user who has been here for about two years, I have to say that you raise some valid points, especially now that there are thousands of recipes on the site. I suspect that some of this will be addressed when the editors make the site changes that they're working on, but you might want to voice your concerns to them directly. ([email protected])
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