I received an e-mail from something called ICG Weekly Perspective. The writer, Joan, is a big fans of rating systems. She believes "they add useful and easily digestible value to otherwise pedestrian data content, and help effectively deal with the 'option overload,' so well described in the book The Paradox of Choice." She then reviews a couple sites that are heavily dependent on ratings.
The first site, TheFunded.com lets entrepreneurs rate venture capitalists. Quoting Joan: "Let's just say the process of asking people for millions of dollars to fund your dream and in most cases being rejected is a process that creates strong emotions. Various blogs written by and for venture capitalists quickly took strong exception to the site, claiming it was a pointless service: those who got funding tended to love those who funded them; those who were turned down were invariably filled with vitriol." You can only join this if you're an entrepreneur, and they have some sort of vetting process.
The other site is a new legal directory site Avvo. It rates "lawyers through a computerized assessment of 'various factors' that the company does not reveal, coupled with the ability of consumers to post comments." One can select a specific lawyer, or sort by geography
and/or specialty. Again, a bad outcome, even losses in unwinable cases, might well skew the results. I joined for free, which will allow me to post.
Joan: "The bottom line on ratings and user commentary is that to be valuable they need to be rational, and we need to tread cautiously in areas where emotions run high."