The Cannarf Rating System

The problem I have always had with objective ratings and reviews is that they aren’t objective at all. The expectations you bring to a movie or a book always color how you receive it. So instead of trying to take the subjectivity out of my reviews, I decided to go the other way and make them completely subjective and based on my expectations.

A few years ago I created something called a “Cannarf”. What’s a cannarf? Well, a cannarf is a unit of measure used to rate books, movies, TV shows, and basically anything under God’s blue sky.

I did this because the one question I found myself asking friends after they’d read a book or seen a movie was, “Was it better or worse than you expected?” To me, their answer to this question gave me more data than any other question I could ask. I don’t care how the movie stacks up against all other movies. I don’t care if the book was a classic or not. Just tell me this: what were your expectations going in, and was it better or worse than you expected?

The Cannarf Rating System goes from -10 to +10. If a book or movie is exactly what you expected it to be, it gets 0 cannarfs. If it does not live up to your expectations, you give it negative cannarfs. (-1 cannarfs means it just barely fell short, -10 cannarfs means the gap between your expectations and how crappy it was are as big as the cosmos.) If it is better than expected it can be scored from +1 cannarfs all the way up to +10 cannarfs.

The cannarf scale is totally subjective. That’s why I love it. In fact, a better movie might get a lower cannarf rating just because the expectations you had for it were so high. ForĀ  example, here’s pretend reviews for 2 Shia LeBouf movies I saw in the past year:

+ Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: This movie was basically exactly what I expected it to be. Dumb and fun. I enjoyed it, but the bit at the end with the aliens was a bit too dumb for me. -1 cannarfs.

+ Eagle Eye: I had pretty high hopes that this movie would keep me on the edge of my seat and deliver a nice plot twist at the end. In the end, the only thing it delivered was a tired idea that I’ve seen too many times before. -3 cannarfs.

Did I like Indiana Jones a lot better than Eagle Eye? Not really, but I penalized Eagle Eye because i had higher hopes. That’s how it works.

The other thing I like about the Cannarf Rating System is that the cannarf ratings build on themselves. If 3 of your friends read a book and give it positive cannarfs, then it might push your expectations of the book so high, that the book doesn’t meet them (even though you liked it). As a result, you have to give it negative cannarfs.

Anyway, that was a long explanation for a fairly simple concept: I rate things based on what my expectations were, and I quantify them on a scale that I call ‘cannarfs’ because I like to make up words.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I am going to start reviewing movies and books and such on my blog, and I’ll be using the cannarf system to rate them. (And now I have a post I can refer new readers to for an explanation.)

First book review coming later today…

29 thoughts on “The Cannarf Rating System”

  1. jason, cannarf is a really fun word to use. the more you say it, the funnerest it gets. it’s especially fun when someone asks you how a movie was and your first instinct is to say “it was good, probably +2 cannarfs” but then you realize they will think you’re clinically insanem, so you just say “it was good.”

    geof, the CROME system for rating weddings is definitely still the most viable wedding rating system out there right now. Maybe I’ll remix that post and bring it out again at some point.

  2. Wow, I’m still wrapping my mind around the cannarf system. It is a fun word to say, and I love the idea of rating based on expectations rather than mere quality.

    You’ve totally rocked my critical world, Mr. Allain. +2 cannarfs?

    1. Ty,

      your not the first person to be worldrocked by the Cannarf system. It will probably be my legacy after I’m dead and gone and the whole world is using it.

      welcome to the future.

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