February 27, 2019
To better combat online trolls who have recently been waging campaigns to affect audience ratings for certain movies, Fandango-owned Rotten Tomatoes is making a significant change to its review submission model. Since the influential website relies upon credible ratings, “review bombing” that adversely impacts audience ratings is seen as a major issue. In order to minimize such a potential flood of negative reviews, users will no longer be permitted to post any audience reviews until the film in question appears in theaters.
“The company is also changing the way it polls moviegoers about whether they want to see a film,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “The moves are part of a broader effort to make the audience-rating system more trustworthy and useful to readers, Fandango President Paul Yanover said.”
The Tomatometer, which uses icons to visually denote ratings based on professional critics’ reviews, is becoming increasingly influential to box office numbers. “The site’s Yelp-like audience scores usually get less attention than the dreaded Tomatometer,” notes LAT. “But they still have sway, according to executives.”
Rotten Tomatoes is looking to elevate “the profile of its user ratings” and “counteract the problem [of online trolls] by changing how it reflects moviegoers’ interest in upcoming films.”
Rather than simply relying on the percentage of moviegoers who express interest in seeing a movie, Rotten Tomatoes will use a raw number to measure sentiment. It is also “considering ways to verify user comments” and “help users see more personalized scores.”
“It’s not our business to control opinion,” Yanover said. “People are going to love and hate different products for different reasons. Security and relevancy are major threads to create usefulness.”
According to Wired, “Efforts to affect films long before their release still exist on IMDb, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms. But seeing as Rotten Tomatoes is often one of the first destinations moviegoers visit when determining what to see, the site’s most recent move will sort out the good opinions from the bad ones — and on the Internet, as in the movies, that’s really the best way to settle the score.”