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#91 Brian Robinson

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 07:39 PM

Then the definition of what attributes qualify for a rating of "5" overall need to be changed again, since it removes one fifth of one of the building blocks for a final score, except in rare instances.

This is the problem every review system gets into. Arguing about symantics.

Also, and I quote from the WS review guidelines;
"OVERALL IMPRESSION
This is your overall feeling about this absinthe. You can equalize any deficits you feel may have resulted from the scorings above. While an absinthe might technically score lower on the above criteria, it may have some other quality that mitigates that deficit."

That is old information, from before the criteria was changed. It must have not been updated, wherever you found that passage.

However, regardless of where you found that, the new criteria, which is on each online review states that a 5 should be "Perfect. No improvements needed."

The old criteria said that the definition of a 5 was 'Thank you, I'll have another!' Obviously that definition had a hell of a lot more wiggle room.

In this scoring system;

1 implies a range.
2 implies a range.
3 implies a range.
4 implies a range.
5 at least at this point is... exactly that. An exact point. How do we know? As long as perfection is the criteria, a rating of "5" in any category is as useless as the former definition for "Overall".

5 should also imply a range. It should be narrow, elite, and well defined.

Why SHOULD it? I don't think it should imply a range. An overall of 5 is the equivalent of giving a score of 100 to a wine. That's not a range. That's the TOP of the system. Nowhere else to go. It SHOULD be difficult to define perfection. That's the whole point.


Bottom line is this: There is a lot of hemming and hawing about how the system is flawed. However, if a majority of the society can't come to a concensus on what to change, then nothing will be done. Same reason why the 'definition of absinthe' discussion fell by the wayside. Noone could agree.

Right now we need less of 'The system is flawed' and more of 'This is how the system should be fixed'. We can't change the system unless it's clear that the majority of users find the new changes advantageous. If we get to that point, then it will be changed.
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#92 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:28 PM

This is the problem every review system gets into. Arguing about symantics.


I am genuinely not trying to argue semantics. I'm trying to have a lively debate as to the theory and purpose of the review system here on WS. I put a lot of time and energy into my reviews, and feel I have a right to input in this regard.

Also, and I quote from the WS review guidelines;
"OVERALL IMPRESSION
This is your overall feeling about this absinthe. You can equalize any deficits you feel may have resulted from the scorings above. While an absinthe might technically score lower on the above criteria, it may have some other quality that mitigates that deficit."

That is old information, from before the criteria was changed. It must have not been updated, wherever you found that passage.

However, regardless of where you found that, the new criteria, which is on each online review states that a 5 should be "Perfect. No improvements needed."

The old criteria said that the definition of a 5 was 'Thank you, I'll have another!' Obviously that definition had a hell of a lot more wiggle room.


It's on the "Absinthe Review & Scoring Guide " page, and the PDF of the evaluation sheet. But that's not the point. The point is that originally, the category of "Overall" was not intended to represent anything resembling a final score, at least according to that explanation. It seems to have been intended to be just one more building block toward the final score.

It seems that the definition for a "5" overall has gone from no definition whatsoever to one that is so narrowly defined as to be equally useless. Perhaps the distillers can interpret that, but mere mortals and lay people will be hard pressed to conceive of "perfect". Also, and this speaks to the purpose of these reviews. Who are we primarily talking to? Distillers or the consuming public? Distillers are their own worst critics. They don't necessarily need us. I'm sure they have a certain appreciation of our input, but they have each other and an understanding of their art, that if we think we can equal that, we are probably being just a little arrogant.

In this scoring system;

1 implies a range.
2 implies a range.
3 implies a range.
4 implies a range.
5 at least at this point is... exactly that. An exact point. How do we know? As long as perfection is the criteria, a rating of "5" in any category is as useless as the former definition for "Overall".

5 should also imply a range. It should be narrow, elite, and well defined.


Why SHOULD it? I don't think it should imply a range. An overall of 5 is the equivalent of giving a score of 100 to a wine. That's not a range. That's the TOP of the system. Nowhere else to go. It SHOULD be difficult to define perfection. That's the whole point.


Well, OK. That's where we disagree. I think it should. Again, the category of "Overall" is just one of the categories that builds the final score. An absinthe is only the equivalent of 100 points if it scores "5" in every category, including "Overall", in my opinion. "Overall is Not the final score. And I don't agree that it is difficult to define perfection. I think it is nearly impossible.

For everyone's information, the 100 point "Parker" based wine scoring systems work like this;

05 points for color
15 points for nose
20 points for palate and finish
10 points for overall quality and potential longevity

This is added to a baseline of 50 points.

To say that a score of "5" in the WS system for the one category of "Overall" is equal to 100 points in the Parker system, is like saying that to be awarded the maximum in any one category of the Parker system, for a wine, is equivalent to 100 points, regardless of what that wine earned in other categories. It simply doesn't work that way.

Bottom line is this: There is a lot of hemming and hawing about how the system is flawed. However, if a majority of the society can't come to a concensus on what to change, then nothing will be done.

Right now we need less of 'The system is flawed' and more of 'This is how the system should be fixed'. We can't change the system unless it's clear that the majority of users find the new changes advantageous. If we get to that point, then it will be changed.


Brian, I'm not here to argue with you for argument's sake, believe me. I'm up way too late doing this. I'm making the case because I have never thought the system was quite right, I take it seriously, and I put a lot of effort into my reviews. In my opinion, I think the review section of WS is to, first and foremost, assist consumers in their search for absinthes that they each will find satisfying. Next, it exists to provide feedback to producers to enlighten them to consumer preferences. To set up a system that attempts to define perfection rather than excellence seems, to me, to be a futile exercise on our part, and a short selling of the potential information we can dispense for the benefit of the consumer.
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#93 Brian Robinson

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 03:07 AM

To set up a system that attempts to define perfection rather than excellence seems, to me, to be a futile exercise on our part, and a short selling of the potential information we can dispense for the benefit of the consumer.

I think the system itself would prove worthless if there were 15 absinthes that scored 5s across the board. Which, under the system you'd like to see, it entirely feasible within the next few years. I think THAT would be short selling the consumer much more.

In my mind, the star rating plays a baseline (and back seat) role to the comments. All good absinthes will fall within a narrow range. It's the comments area that people will be able to use to differentiate between them.

Funny how noone else on the review committee is adding any thoughts to this discussion. *AHEM*
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#94 Phoenix

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 04:49 AM

I fully support what FNB is saying and it appears that there may still be some confusion as to which overall score is being referred to. Maybe this picture could be used to help keep things clear?

Attached File  Overall.jpg   56.85KB   5 downloads

I'm pretty sure FNB is only referring to the overall score in blue. Brian, you seem to be switching back and forth between which overall score you're referring to without any indication as to when the switch happens (maybe it's just me).
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#95 Brian Robinson

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 05:10 AM

Honestly, I don't know how much clearer I can be.

Referring to the rating in BLUE: the definition of a 5 star overall is: Perfect. No improvement needed.

Hence, if ANY of the other four criteria score less than 5, then the blue overall technically can't be given a 5. It could have under the old criteria of 'I'll have another, thank you!', but not under the definition of perfection.

The overall rating in Green is automatically calculated based on your other scores. The green rating can only be a 5 if all of the previous criteria are 5s.

Whether the definition of the Blue area is 'Perfect. No improvements needed." or "Perfect. No improvements possible." (as put by FPB), the Blue rating can only be given if the other scores are all 5s.

So should we change the Blue to something other than 'perfect'? And more importantly, will everyone agree to the change?
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#96 Phoenix

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 05:26 AM

If a 5 in the blue overall is to be reserved for only absolute perfection, do we really need that category? Doesn't the green overall already serve that purpose?
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#97 Absomphe

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 05:44 AM

In that particular case, I'd say no, it's superfluous. Fives across the board are fives across the board, no matter how many ratable categories exist. But this is a singular exception. What if the blue overall is less than 5?

To return to my example, I originally scored Pacifique all fives, with the exception of a four in the color category. Despite this, I scored it a five in the blue overall category...had I scored it the appropriate four , it would have dropped the green overall rating from a 4.8 to (most likely) a 4.6, or so. If the blue overall category didn't exist, the green overall rating would have been higher.

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#98 Brian Robinson

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 06:11 AM

So should we change the Blue to something other than 'perfect'? And more importantly, will everyone agree to the change?


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#99 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 06:44 AM

To set up a system that attempts to define perfection rather than excellence seems, to me, to be a futile exercise on our part, and a short selling of the potential information we can dispense for the benefit of the consumer.

I think the system itself would prove worthless if there were 15 absinthes that scored 5s across the board. Which, under the system you'd like to see, it entirely feasible within the next few years. I think THAT would be short selling the consumer much more.


I don't think that is as likely to happen as you seem to think. Even considering the ill-defined rating of "5" in the category of "overall" in the past, how many individual straight 5 ratings are there on the site currently? Not many. I just looked at the pre-ban reviews. There are 0 for 6 straight 5s for PF1914, and there are 2 for 2 straight 5s for PF1910, but this is pretty much the gold standard of pre-ban, to my understanding. In fact there is only one other straight 5 review in the pre-ban section out of 18 total reviews, and I would think that if there is anywhere that one could get overexcited and post a high review, it would be in the area of pre-ban (hell, I get overexcited just thinking about it!). Ocassionally, I see a review where I say to myself "What was he thinking?", however usually I find this to be a very scrupulous crowd.

And let's keep in mind that for an absinthe to maintain a Total 5 rating, on the site, it would have to continue to get all straight 5 ratings from every additional reviewer.

Funny how noone else on the review committee is adding any thoughts to this discussion. *AHEM*


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#100 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 06:54 AM

I fully support what FNB is saying and it appears that there may still be some confusion as to which overall score is being referred to. Maybe this picture could be used to help keep things clear?

Attached File  Overall.jpg   56.85KB   5 downloads

I'm pretty sure FNB is only referring to the overall score in blue.


Yes, the one in blue.


Whether the definition of the Blue area is 'Perfect. No improvements needed." or "Perfect. No improvements possible." (as put by FPB), the Blue rating can only be given if the other scores are all 5s.


Then it remains my opinion that it needs to be changed to define a narrow, elite range.


So should we change the Blue to something other than 'perfect'? And more importantly, will everyone agree to the change?


How about the agreement of everyone who gives a shit?
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#101 Absomphe

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 07:00 AM

I liked the original (looser) parameters better.

The wording of the Fee Verte system sums up this category for me..."Overall Impression".

To me, this last category should have the most leeway of all of them, and should be more of an "educated gut feeling" of how good a particular absinthe is, CERTAINLY relying on the existing framework of the scores of the prior categories, but also allowing for the "N" factor, or the somewhat more intangible aspects that set that particular absinthe apart, either negatively, or positively from it's strictly numerical ratings.

Yes, I realize that's what the comments are for, but I don't see anything wrong with such a broadly termed category as "Overall" also allowing for less tangible feelings to reflect in the score...then again, I'm an antiques dealer, and not a financial planner. ;)

Once again, just my .02, but I'd be thrilled if everyone else were comfortable with it. :)

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#102 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 07:24 AM

To return to my example, I originally scored Pacifique all fives, with the exception of a four in the color category. Despite this, I scored it a five in the blue overall category...had I scored it the appropriate four , it would have dropped the green overall rating from a 4.8 to (most likely) a 4.6, or so. If the blue overall category didn't exist, the green overall rating would have been higher.


And I want to address this because 1. It has been an example in this conversation a number of times. and 2. From what I am inferring, I think Absomphe and I are of like mind on this.

I also think Pacifique is deserving of a rating of 5 in the overall (blue) category. And in my review, I scored it 4 in both "color" and "louche". Why? because in spite of my slight quibble with the color being a smidge light, and the louche not having that absolutely riveting definition, to me both are appropriate given the style, and it is still a very elite absinthe. It's a beverage. And as such, I am primarily all about nose, palate, finish. All other entertainment is, to my way of thinking, secondary. For its style, it is hard for me to imagine any better.

So if I make that change in "overall" for my review on Pacifique, my "overall rating" (green) will change to 4.7, certainly an overall score that I see as justifiable, given its qualities. And interestingly, that score is dead-on the average of scores for it on this site.

A way back in this thread, I named 4 other absinthes that I was considering making the same change to my review. The commonality of all those reviews is that they all received all 5s for nose, palate, and finish, and no other category received less than a 4. In the case of those 4s, many times I agonized over 4? 5? 4? 5? 4? 5?...

I consider them all to be elite absinthes. And if it comforts anyone, it results in no straight 5 reviews!
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#103 Brian Robinson

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 07:36 AM

I'm OK with going back to a more lenient definition of the BLUE overall score. Let's get some thoughts from the rest of the Board, and if the majority says it's cool, then let's do it.

In the meantime, what should we use as the parameters for the BLUE 5? "Ill have another" is WAY too lenient, and the current definition is apparently too constricting. What's the middle ground?
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#104 Absomphe

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 09:16 AM

I'd say it's akin to the green overall rating, although more macrocosmic.

If three or more of the other five categories (excluding the blue and green "overalls") score a five, then an absinthe should qualify for a score of five in the blue overall category. At least that's how my sensibilities have interpreted that category since I posted my first review here.

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#105 dakini_painter

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 09:40 AM

In reading the discussion, there seems to be the view that for some criteria there are specific things that the maker is to attain for a certain score. Let's take color and louche for example.

It seems that many people expect a certain depth of color, and that it's to be indicative of the quality of the coloration protocol, ingredients, etc. But there are many variables, and a light color might not be a flaw given the objective of the maker. What if they wanted to highlight the distillation herbs and leave the coloring herbs as an accent?

On the louche, there's a lot of variability on what is considered a good louche. Obviously, no louche is a flaw, but a few years ago, many absinthes had fairly thin louches compared to what is being done today.

In the past, having an absinthe seem more like pre-Ban was an objective, a goal to be attained. And for some makers that is their objective, replication of a particular historical style. And there's nothing wrong with that at all. But each reviewer has to decide what they think absinthe should be, and there won't ever be one absolute goal to be attained that everyone would agree upon.

That's why I agree with FPB that a "5" doesn't represent a point of perfection, but simply says this is what the reviewer considers the best, based on their judgement at the time. The reviewers are done by knowledgeable people, not necessarily "professional" drinks reviewers.

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#106 Brian Robinson

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 10:37 AM

That's why I agree with FPB that a "5" doesn't represent a point of perfection, but simply says this is what the reviewer considers the best, based on their judgement at the time.

Technically, the definition says a 5 means perfection. I know that's arguing symantics as well, but that's what it says.

The argument now isn't about what it says. The discussion is about what it SHOULD say.

The reviewers are done by knowledgeable people, not necessarily "professional" drinks reviewers.

I'd say the reviews should be done by everyone.
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#107 Absomphe

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 11:08 AM

Absolutely.

Even the inexperienced reviewer knows what he or she likes, or dislikes, and hopefully, with practice, will become more descriptive in communicating either.

Besides, the designation of "Top 50", or "Top 10 Reviewer" gives the absinthe seeker the a bit of the lowdown on the reviewer's level of experience, and that being said, anyone who takes the time to conscientiously type a review, should be afforded equal recognition with any other reviewer...this ain't no country club.

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#108 Brian Robinson

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 11:09 AM

Zactly.
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#109 Green Baron

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 11:15 AM

I like booze.

Oh yeah, the rating system.

It works for me.

If I had a vote on any sort of overhaul, I'd vote for a 10 point system to achieve more detailed resolution. I often find myself wishing it was possible to add or subtract half a star in the current scheme.

But I can live with a five point scale, I just try not worry about the details on the points, and clarify in the text of my review if needed.

On the OVERALL rating, I still also use it as an adjustment factor (otherwise I could just average out the other points and be done with it). But I always try to explain my overall rating and note my reasons for any adjustments.
This post has been edited over and over again by Green Baron

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#110 scuto

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 05:32 PM

The argument now isn't about what it says. The discussion is about what it SHOULD say.

I've been thinking about it all day and this is tougher for me than an absinthe definition!

And what Brian and Absomphe said about everyone posting reviews.

Like Green Baron, I've used overall as an adjustment as well.

Regardless of the outcome, let's all pinky-swear to revisit our reviews occasionally--especially relative newcomers like myself whose palates are still developing.
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#111 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 07:52 PM

Puh-leese! We all should. :thumbup:
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#112 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 08:51 PM

The argument now isn't about what it says. The discussion is about what it SHOULD say.


And just so you know, I'm not dumping out on this conversation now, but must get sleep. Been a tough week, and I have reviews to wrap so Brian can submit the most accurate WS top 10 list he can to Twitter next week.

Anyone else following this thread that wants to help, please be advised that the following significant absinthes still need more reviews to be included in that list;

La Muse Verte
Duplais Verte (USA Label)
Pacifique
Walton Waters
Meadow Of Love
Vieux Carre

G'Night!
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#113 Jay

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 09:44 PM

Fingerpickinblue, in response to your post above --

I've been folllowing this thread, and I do want to help. But I'm brand new at the absinthe game, so I may wait a week or two before I feel confident enough to send in a somewhat-educated review. Being the huge music fan that I am, I equate the idea of me posting a review of absinthe to the idea of a huge hip-hop fan posting a review of the last Arctic Monkeys (Brit-rock) album -- which is to say, their opinion is valid, but if they have no knowledge of Brit-rock (or Rock in general), their opinion should hold less weight than someone who has been listening to the genre for fifteen years.

For what it's worth to everyone in this thread, I, as a brand-new absinthe enthusiast, am appreciative of the reviews you all have posted. The number system may not be perfect, but it's a start, and believe it or not, I actually DO read the notes you type up and don't just eye the math. So, thank you to all of you who have contributed reviews. I can assure you that they're not in vain.

#114 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 06:22 AM

I'd say it's akin to the green overall rating, although more macrocosmic.


Hey, don't you start goin' all "macrocosmic" on me now. I thought you were the grounded voice of reason! ;)
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#115 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 06:32 AM

Fingerpickinblue, in response to your post above --

...I'm brand new at the absinthe game, so I may wait a week or two before I feel confident enough to send in a somewhat-educated review.

For what it's worth to everyone in this thread, I, as a brand-new absinthe enthusiast, am appreciative of the reviews you all have posted. ...I actually DO read the notes you type up and don't just eye the math. So, thank you to all of you who have contributed reviews. I can assure you that they're not in vain.


Thanx from all of us who post reviews, Jay. I can't speak for everyone, but I work hard at it. As for your own reviews... whenever you're comfortable. I had been tasting absinthe for about 4 months, and had probably tasted 6 or 7 COs when I posted my first review. Had to do it sometime! I have a couple of early ones, that I now think need to be tweaked (a little), but I will get to that in July.

When your first review posts, I'm all eyes!
blind man see her, dumb man call her name - Ed Bell

#116 pt447

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 12:29 PM

Jay, there's a lot of advice from all sides when it comes to reviews. I started doing them immediately. I might not be able to relay my thoughts as great as, say, Brian, but I don't think that's the point. The review section, as far as I see it, is for everyone who wants to say what they want about any/all absinthe they taste. Just like some people go through a few glasses before doing a review, all of mine are on the first taste upon cracking open a new bottle. But if you feel you need to wait, then wait. Hey, you can always go back and revise later. I certainly have on occasion.
Life is moist and stinky

#117 Jay

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 04:17 PM

Thanks to you both fingerpickinblue and pt447. Since Lucid is currently the only bottle I have (although I plan on picking up a Kübler within the next couple of days and I've got Obsello and Pacifique on the way), that will likely be the first I review. I'll try to follow your fine examples!

#118 fingerpickinblue

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 07:57 PM

Bump...

In reading the discussion, there seems to be the view that for some criteria there are specific things that the maker is to attain for a certain score.

...there are many variables, and a light color might not be a flaw given the objective of the maker. What if they wanted to highlight the distillation herbs and leave the coloring herbs as an accent?

On the louche...Obviously, no louche is a flaw, but a few years ago, many absinthes had fairly thin louches compared to what is being done today.

...each reviewer has to decide what they think absinthe should be, and there won't ever be one absolute goal to be attained that everyone would agree upon.


That's why the system has to be defined, but flexible enough to allow for the reviewers interpretation of the intents of the distiller. A couple of examples; Blanchette, and La Maitresse Rouge. These absinthes simply do not follow the standard criteria. Graded strictly, they would never be done justice.

That's why I agree with FPB that a "5" doesn't represent a point of perfection, but simply says this is what the reviewer considers the best, based on their [judgment] at the time. The [reviews] are done by knowledgeable people, not necessarily "professional" drinks reviewers.


Yeah... we've seen what the "professional" drinks reviewers deliver frequently.

Right now we need less of 'The system is flawed' and more of 'This is how the system should be fixed'.


So, thank you Brian for considering refinements to the scoring system. I have given this some thought, I consider it important, and I am willing to take the time to discuss possible changes to the "Evaluation Sheet" definitions.

I will start by presenting my best first draft of definitions for the category of "Overall" for your consideration, and the forum's discussion. You will, of course, notice that my proposal not only includes a change to the discussed level "5" rating, but also includes changes to the definitions for levels 2 through 4. All change proposals are italicized.


Overall
1. Unacceptable.
2. Barely acceptable, needs major improvement.
3. Acceptable, proper mid-market standard.
4. Above average, enticing, interesting, artisanal.
5. Uncommonly exceptional, distinctive, world-class, elite.


I'm sure as we engage this discussion that all the details regarding all the proposed changes will be parsed, but for now, suffice it to say that my aim is to create a better linearity to the grades, and to encourage the use of what is in some cases, more proper but lower scores, by eliminating the derogatory implication starting with a score level of "3".
blind man see her, dumb man call her name - Ed Bell

#119 scuto

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 08:18 PM

Upon first reading, I like those proposed changes. Ruminations TK.
"The Saint when he is drinking/Is also pleasing God/As if he were praying and singing." - Angelus Silesius, quoted in Simmel's On Individuality and Social Forms, p.391. (Yay for classical sociology!)

"Full bottle in front of me/Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work/And after many glasses of work/I get paid in the brain" - They Might Be Giants "Your Own Worst Enemy."

"I've an absinthe factory in my head" (jcbphd, 2009). [Liberties taken. -ed.]

#120 Jonathan D.

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 08:44 PM

Bottom line is that the point of a review module is to help people in a general sense make good purchase decisions. So it is most important for the reviews to be articulate, understandable, well written, and clear in their reasoning. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of that and try to create a "perfect" review system.

The point of a review module is not for seasoned reviewers to argue with each other over relatively minor nuances of reviewing, because that offers little help to those who actually need the reviews.


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