How Goodreads calculates Top Reviewer Rankings

July 8, 2014 Discussion, Interview 53


Rankings – I’m sure many of you who are Goodreads addicts have noticed them and though – ‘Oh wouldn’t it be lovely to have one of those Top Reviewer rankings.’ I know I have – but then I realized it’s probably pretty crazy to get there.

Then I started wondering – how do they calculate all that jazz. So I asked the questions and Suzanne, the VP of Communications over at Goodreads was lovely enough to answer them!


 The what you need to know about ‘Top Reviewers’ rankings

TABITHA: What reviews get counted towards becoming a Top Reviewer?

SUZANNE: We count both new reviews and also reviews that were edited in a meaningful way by date. (So, if you wrote a review three months ago and then updated it with additional thoughts this week, it would reflect in your review count this week.)  We only count text reviews, not books that are just star rated.

Some members like to enter their reviews in batches so this can impact the numbers.

TABITHA: As you said only Text reviews are counted. Then Goodreads users that write text reviews are in the running for the Top Reviewer ranking based on the number of reviews they post weekly. (Or update meaningfully weekly). So posting your reviews on a weekly basis is the best way to make a difference in your ranking correct?

SUZANNE: Yes, if you post a lot of reviews in a seven day period, then it will impact on your ranking in the “This Week” category.

TABITHA: What is the weekly basis that reviews are tallied on? Monday through Sunday?

SUZANNE: It’s actually the past seven days (much like “This Year” is the past 12 months). And because I know you’ll ask, “This Month” is 30 days. 🙂  And, because I’m pretty sure you’ll want this too: we update the lists on the following days – This Week (Wednesdays), This Month (Thursdays), This Year (Saturdays), All-Time (Sundays). Have I successfully read your mind? 😉

TABITHA: Does the ranking system take into account at all the number of unread books you have on your other Exclusive Goodreads shelves such as “To Read” or “Wish-List”. Does the number of unread books you have on your shelves impact the ranking system at all is pretty much my question.

SUZANNE: No, only your reviews are taken into account.

TABITHA: Is it true that Top Reviewer Rankings are broken down by country?

SUZANNE: Yes, you can see Top Reviewer Rankings by country. Click on “The World” link and then “My Country” link to see the top 100 reviewers in your country. (Another way to get a country’s ranking is to click on “The World,” then click on one of the reviewers from another country, click on their #x reviewer status under their profile picture and that will take you to the Top 100 Reviewers in their country.)

TABITHA: Are there any other algorithms that are pulled in and used towards ranking? How active the Goodreads user is? The amount of likes on their reviews?

SUZANNE: No, all that’s counted are the number of text reviews that have been written during the appropriate period. Where the number of likes on a review is counted is in the Most Popular Reviewers.


So now taking some of that into account – does knowing this change the way you view that Top Reviewer ranking score? I know it does for me. I really don’t care much about it either way anymore. (Ok honestly that originally said something like “I could care less, or give a rat’s patoot.” 🙂

There is no accurate way to calculate something like that. Would I be cynical if I said top reviewer type ranking systems just encourage more use of a system, abuse of the system and that hey I use the system anyway to see what friends are reading and to track my own books I own and read – so why sweat it?

Because personally if you think about it – someone who is very very active on Goodreads and who just puts in random things into the review area – without having read the book – say their *pre squeeeing* love for it, or even a “read review coming soon* or maybe even just a few lines of text and then oodles of gifs, or making small changes to already written reviews, technically all of these things would count to their ranking so, yeah, need More be said? There is just no way it can be accurate unfortunately. Lol

While I’m sure it would be nice to have that Top Reviewer tag next to your name, just don’t sweat it. I know I don’t spend enough time diligently updating my reviews to ever be able to manage it. So, what do you guys think of the system?

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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53 Responses to “How Goodreads calculates Top Reviewer Rankings”

  1. Rabindranauth

    Bah, that thing’s overrated. The whole vote system is a glorified popularity contest.

    And on a personal note, it doesn’t make much difference to me. I’m one of the few Guyanese reviewers on GoodReads, and last I checked I was in the top spot with 1400 votes, and the person after me with exactly 25.

    Not to mention I know for a fact that if you have your profile set to private, or if you don’t have correct location data attached to your profile, you don’t even appear on any of the lists. So its not 100%.
    Rabindranauth recently posted…The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma by Brian HerbertMy Profile

      • Rabindranauth

        Honestly, I just have one goal when I write a review on GoodReads: I want to see my review on the book’s page, where readers will happen across it. As long as I have enough votes for that, I’m a happy camper, because it’ll lead to more friends with similar interests, more discussions, and a wider range of books. Its through this I made a friend who eventually lead me to DarkFuse, which is now one of my favorite publishers (those guys are the Angry Robot of the horror genre). But on a whole I don’t see a point to it; naturally top reviewers will be heavily biased to people who fit the majority of the demographic on GoodReads, and also people who have been with GoodReads from early on.
        Rabindranauth recently posted…The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma by Brian HerbertMy Profile

    • Wendy B.

      I assumed that the likes had something to do with it, but I’m disappointed to see that the number of reviews posted per week is also factored in. Or rather, it makes sense to include that, but there no control. Am I really supposed to believe the top reviewer is posting 70 books a week and still proclaiming herself a wonderful mother?

      Popularity contests are amusing and ranking is nice and all, but this is one that is clearly inaccurate, so I don’t bother to count it towards my list of important life achievements 😉
      Wendy B. recently posted…Wendy’s Summer Reading List + Worlds Without End Reading Challenge UpdateMy Profile

  2. kim { Book Swoon }

    I think most of us would agree that it would be nice to have that well sought after Top Reviewer badge next to our name. Your interview (awesome & thank you) with Suzanne from Goodreads puts a new perspective on *the how* that is actually achieved. I’m thinking I should post my reviews on a regular schedule (weekly) to be more effective. I do find it sad that the amount of *likes* and comments are not part of the factors taken into account. Thanks for the helpful information, Tabitha. It’s good to know that those growing “To Read” and “Wish-List” are not taken into account!
    kim { Book Swoon } recently posted…Book Review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. PearsonMy Profile

  3. Sarah P.

    I have seen this badge on my profile time and again but that’s just considering Philippine-based reviewers. I haven’t really cared much nor have I thought about figuring things out so I could be higher on that list. I don’t really like statistics so when I read the post, my mind just immediately swirled around all the information, no matter how basic or simple they were.
    Sarah P. recently posted…Review: Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria StolarzMy Profile

  4. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Yeah, which country you live in definitely makes a difference, and badges on your profile are nice, but it’s not something I’m going to strive towards. Like, I just looked it up, and the #1 Top Reviewer in the US is listed as having written 372 reviews this week. YEAH RIGHT. And then there’s the even more far-fetched Top Readers (354 books this week) and Top Users (10460 books added this week).<—–Ridiculous (if you're cynical, I'm cynical x50 😉 ).
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Mini Reviews: For a Few Demons More & The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim HarrisonMy Profile

  5. Amanda @ Book Badger

    I’ve seen it on people’s profiles, but honestly, it’s never been something that interests me at all. I know that even getting two reviews out a week is a big thing and is a steady stream for people, don’t overthrow them, but don’t not give them enough, it works, people are interested and like me, so a number to prove how fantastic I am isn’t going to cut it. It’s a competition, and if it’s a hobby, why compete? 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Book Reviews: United We Spy/A Gallagher WeddingMy Profile

  6. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    This is really interesting!! I’d actually always wondered about this, so all my questions answered. xD Thanks, Tabitha (and Suzanne!) My ranking is #28 in Best reviews…which leads me to wonder what the difference is between “best reviewers” and “top reviewers”??
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…10 Woeful Bookish Confessions from CaitMy Profile

  7. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Meh … I have to admit when I get a friend request and I see that on a user’s profile (and they are from the US), I’m a little leery. I honestly don’t want those 350+ ‘reviews’ a week in my feed. I much prefer to see what my ‘friends’ are reading and saying than to see their insane number of updates. It’s all kinda silly. 🙂
    Lisa (@TenaciousReader) recently posted…The Magicians by Lev GrossmanMy Profile

  8. Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy

    What, there are reviewer rankings on Goodreads?? OK maybe I noticed that once a long time ago, but it’s not something I pay attention to. Probably because I know I’ll never be one of those top people. It is sad though that the system appears to be really easy to cheat. Which makes me wonder if those rankings mean anything at all. Awesome post, Tabitha!
    Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy recently posted…Tammy’s Top Ten Bookish & Blogging ConfessionsMy Profile

  9. Nikki

    …I didn’t even know they HAD rankings lol! But this is super fascinating even though I’ll never be one of them 😉 But what I love is that the Most Popular reviews are actually the ones I always look at to see if I’m interested in a book (ironically because they’re usually the most critical.)
    Nikki recently posted…The Glass Casket by McCormick TemplemanMy Profile

  10. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    This was interesting to read! I had no idea how they calculated the top reviewer spot, and after reading this I don’t think I’ll ever get up there, I’m just not that prolific a reader! I don’t really pay much attention to it on Goodreads, but I do on Amazon so I do wonder how it all works there too. Probably Amazon is just as ridiculous though!
    Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy recently posted…Review: Mansfield ParkMy Profile

  11. Mogsy

    It’s very confusing, because aside from top reviewers GR also has best reviewers and top users and top readers. People seem to mix them up all the time (especially the categories top reviewers vs. most popular reviewers). Regardless, they all just seem like they’re there for fun.
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin AhmedMy Profile

  12. Mogsy

    It’s very confusing, because aside from top reviewers GR also has best reviewers and top users and top readers. People seem to mix them up all the time (especially the categories top reviewers vs. most popular reviewers). Regardless, they all just seem like they’re there for fun.
    Mogsy recently posted…Book Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin AhmedMy Profile

  13. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Yeah, I do like the title but I’m just not all that concerned about it, especially since I tend to be more of a batch reviewer and rather inconsistent. I like hearing about how they dole out those titles, though. And, yes, it’s definitely a way to get people playing the “post your reviews here” game!
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Moving to WordPress…soon!My Profile

  14. Rachel @ Paper Cuts

    I’ve wished to be on the top reviewer rankings, but I just know there are so many people who get so many more books read and reviewed in any given week I know it won’t happen. I hate that it’s something that can be abused, but that’s inevitable. It sure would be fun, though… 🙂

  15. Miranda @ Tempest Books

    I always wondered about this! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I wish that Goodreads did more to make stuff like that on their site more accurate. Like, I remember looking up something like that one time and it was just a bunch of spam accounts that had “read” hundreds of books every day.
    Miranda @ Tempest Books recently posted…Bookish Beauty (#4): Strange and Ever AfterMy Profile

  16. Anya

    Haha wow, I had only a vague knowledge of these various rankings on Goodreads but now I really don’t care about them ;-). I’m tempted to not post reviews for a while and save them up and then put them all up in one week just to get the rank once ;-P And by tempted I mean it’d be funny but I’m waaaaaay too lazy!
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  17. Jessie H.

    Is it terrible that I didn’t even know that Goodreads ranked reviewers? I found this post very interesting but the knowledge isn’t going to change how I use Goodreads. Although, I’m interested to see if I ever made the Top Reviewer Ranking. I wonder if there’s a way to check to see if you’ve ever achieved that?
    Jessie H. recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday- Magic BreaksMy Profile

  18. Rose @ The Bedtime Bookworm

    I still don’t fully understand the Goodreads Top Reviewer stuff, even after reading this post. Not that that’s any reflection on your post, just on my ability to understand things like this.

    I’ve never really cared much about what’s going on on Goodreads as far as Top Reviewer stuff goes. I tend to forget to post my reviews on there even after they’re posted on my blog, so clearly it’s not so much a priority. Now, status updates though: those I take very seriously! I love me some status updates!
    Rose @ The Bedtime Bookworm recently posted…Writing Positive Reviews is Really Hard!My Profile

  19. Kristen

    I think I have not noticed this, which you’d think I would, spending as much time on Goodreads as I do. Hrm. *checks it out and aims to hit the list*
    Kristen recently posted…Book Review: GatedMy Profile

  20. BookaholicCat

    I didn’t know how it works… it’s good to know, even though I don’t care much about it. I’m one of the top readers/reviewers because I’m in Turkey and the amount of users is a lot less here than in a country like USA.
    I also don’t believe much about the numbers, the #1 reader/reviewer allegedly reads like 60 books a week… really? I want to know how she does it.
    BookaholicCat recently posted…CATS-ilicious ThursdaysMy Profile

      • Finley Jayne

        I changed my whole book choosing method and I deleted my TBR list, GR account, stopped writing traditional reviews and stopped rating books (no more stars!). It’s gotten all Matrix like over here, lol. I was just burned out on all the rules and restrictions I had been placing on my reading, and I felt led to go in a new direction 🙂
        Finley Jayne recently posted…Discworld Series Feature: {Interlude #1} Cities of NoteMy Profile

        • Tabitha (Pabkins)

          Oh no I remember your several postings about changing the way you were going to read. Just didn’t figure deleting goodreads would have to fall in with that since some I know on there just use it to post their reviews and don’t use the rating system. But thats a good way to remove temptation or the pressure I suppose.

          It’s odd how book blogging can lead to reading being pressured in certain ways. Good for you for giving yourself a new direction.
          Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Review: Hollow World by Michael J. SullivanMy Profile

  21. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    I think (but not sure because I don’t pay much attention) that I’m a top reviewer or popular reviewer in my country. I don’t even feel like bragging about it. It’s just because my country is so small and the Goodreads users are so ridiculously inactive, lol. I didn’t know having one of those titles was important. Great post! You got the info from Goodreads themselves which is all the more interesting.
    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms recently posted…Review: Superman/Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Power CoupleMy Profile

  22. Kel (Booked til Tuesday)

    Very interesting. I figured it would be something along those lines, but thanks for investigating for us and getting the dirt! It doesn’t change much for me either. I still use Goodreads to keep track of what I’m reading and I post reviews there after they hit the blog, but most of my book activity is on my blog and commenting on others’ now. 🙂
    Kel (Booked til Tuesday) recently posted…ACID by Emma Pass (2 stars)My Profile

  23. Rinn

    It does seem a bit odd to me, because the other day I was one of the top reviewers for the UK – one or two of my reviews got a couple more likes than usual (which isn’t much really, most of my review interaction comes from my blog rather than GR). I was number 47 or something which surprised me with that little interaction, since I assume GR has a big UK userbase. :/
    Rinn recently posted…Feature: Prose & Pixels #3 – Lego Harry PotterMy Profile

  24. Nara

    I have one of those top rankings, but I think that’s mostly because I read quite a lot and quite quickly, and those books that I don’t do a full review of, I still like to leave a couple of lines on what I thought (and a full ratings breakdown). This is mostly because my book memory isn’t always that great, and having those few lines will often jog my memory about the book. To be honest, though, I don’t really care that much about the ranking. I always did find it a bit weird that they even exist, because I feel that GR isn’t really supposed to be about that sort of competitiveness…
    Nara recently posted…Read ALL THE BOOKS Update: Weeks 1 & 2 (July 1 – 13)My Profile

  25. Angie @Angela's Anxious Life

    huh… well that won’t be me. I certainly don’t write enough reviews to make this ever. I also used to be a huge goodreads user but not as much anymore. Well ever since I started blogging. Lately I haven’t even been cross posting my reviews to goodreads. Not sure why.. laziness I guess. How great though that goodreads took the time to explain this!!
    Angie @Angela’s Anxious Life recently posted…Wolfenstein New World Order- Video Game ReviewMy Profile