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Balloting Rules

The following rules apply to the balloting; they have been essentially unchanged for a number of years, although the early years were different. All voters rate films on a 9-point scale, from "Absolute Best" to "Least Favorite". The average rating of a film is then converted to a scale of +4.00 (good) to -4.00 (bad). Films only qualify for Most Liked if they are rated by over 15 viewers, and are neither documentaries nor archivals. There is no minimum vote count for Top Documentaries and Top Archivals. We define archivals as film which have shown at any previous SIFF, or which were in theatrical release 5 or more years before the festival. Passholders may choose only one film in each special category (Best Director etc). The film with the most votes wins. All results come with the caveat that they are only as accurate as the early-AM data entry skills of passholders who have seen 100 films in the past 25 days.

It is just fine to rate more than one film Absolute Best or Absolute Worst, especially when you are rating a reasonable number of films.

In June 2017- the rankings were reversed to match the SIFF balloting scale with the higher number being better. This is the new rating scale.

  1. Least Liked
  2. Way Below Average
  3. Below Average
  4. Average
  5. Above Average
  6. Great
  7. Truly Great
  8. Almost Best
  9. Absolute Best

For historical context: We sometimes get questions about how the text descriptions are assigned to the numerical ratings. From June 2009-June 2016, the ratings were:

  1. Absolute Best
  2. Almost Best
  3. Truly Great
  4. Great
  5. Above Average
  6. Average
  7. Below Average
  8. Way Below Average
  9. Least Liked

We have tweaked these text descriptions a number of times over the years in order to make the ratings more useful and transparent. In particular, we found that when "neutral/average" was assigned to 5, the bell curve of all ratings was centered well above 5, making the ratings less useful. Starting with the 2000 ballot, we moved "neutral/average" down to 6, which had the desired effect of bringing the average rating closer to 5. Presumably most Fools actually like movies, and/or do a good job of avoiding movies they would otherwise have rated low.

randomness