Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Welcome to Critic-O-Meter

Well, now that the word's out, we thought we'd officially welcome you to Critic-O-Meter! Welcome and make yourself at home. For an explanation of what this site is, how it was born and the methodology we use in scoring these reviews, please click to expand this post:

Critic-O-Meter is an idea borne of the blogosphere. Critic and editor Rob Weinert-Kendt and myself (director and writer Isaac Butler) were having matzoh ball soup at the Polish Tea Room when Rob mentioned that he had read on a blog that someone said "You know, they really should have a Rotten Tomatoes for theatre reviews". In true slowest-moving-art-form fashion, we then puttered about talking about it for a few months before finally building the site you see before you today.

Our goal with this site is to give everyone with an interest in New York theatre a one-stop-shop to find out what the critical response has been across the board. Because of time limitations, we are currently only focusing on Broadway and Off-Broadway but hope, should revenue streams allow us to take on more readers and writers, to also cover Off-Off.

We are still in the process of bringing things up to speed, what you see before you is an ever-evolving prototype as we refine the look, feel and methodology of the site. The long-running Broadway shows that opened prior to us starting this project and many of the Off-Broadway shows that we skipped over the past couple of weeks will be added to the site over the next couple of weeks. We look forward to hearing from you in the comments about how to make this site better.

Soooo... "how do you go about scoring the reviews" we hear you silently cry at your monitors. We do it by letter grades, and most of it is totally subjective. We read the reviews, try to gauge the critical response and give a letter grade to it. We also send disputed reviews back and forth to get each other's reads on it. Grades range from F- (where the critic not only had nothing positive to say about the show but was downright passionate in their vitriolic dissecting of it) to A+ (where the critics rave almost to the point of embarrassment about their love for the piece).

Rob and I are firm in trying not to engage in grade inflation. A C review, therefore, really means the show is average not bad. A C+ means its a little bit better than average and so on and so forth.

Once all of the reviews are read, graded and excerpted, we assign a number score to each grade. An F- is worth 0, and it goes up one point per increment (F = 1, F+ = 2 etc.) until we get to A+, which equals 14. Then we average them together, and retranslate this new number back into a letter grade. We round all scores to the hundredths place, with a grade increment being equal +/- .49 off the whole number. Or, to translate that into plain English, a B is anything between 9.51 and 10.49, while a B- is anything between a 8.51 and a 9.49. For accuracy's sake, in the rare occurrences where a score ends up right on the 8.50 mark, for accuracies sake we call that a B/B-. We do not weight scores. A review from the New York Times' Ben Brantley is given equal weight to Talkin'Broadway's Matthew Murray. We eschewed weighting because deciding which reviewers are worth more than others is purely subjective and detracts from our goal of depicting the critical reception of a show as accurately as possible.

You don't need to know all of that to read an enjoy the site, we just wanted to be as open about our methodology as possible. Please, enjoy your stay here at Critic-O-Meter

1 comment:


Well, I did kind of figure out how you guys went about scoring the shows.

What I really want to know is, how you do those spiffy little post-expansions (which seem similar to cuts on LiveJournal).

Inquiring minds, guys. Inquiring minds...