FAQ for IMDb Ratings

Who can rate movies and TV shows?

IMDb registered users can cast a rating (from 1 to 10) on every released title in the database. You can update your rating as often as you'd like, but your new rating will overwrite the previous one, so it is one rating per title per user.

How do I see my ratings?

Your Ratings includes your entire ratings history. You can navigate to this page by clicking your name in the right hand of the screen and click "Your Ratings" from the drop down menu. To view your ratings by genre, year, type and more, go to Advanced Title Search and select the options you want to refine by.

By default, your ratings are displayed in chronological order (most recent ones appear first) but you can change the sorting order by clicking on the dropdown menu at the top of the list.

How do you calculate the rating displayed on a film or show page?

We take all the individual ratings cast by IMDb registered users and use them to calculate a single rating. We don't use the arithmetic mean of the ratings (although we do display the mean and average votes on the votes breakdown) -- the rating displayed on a film's page is a weighted average. To display the detailed votes breakdown, click the number located directly below the average IMDb user rating. For an example, see the User rating breakdown for Inside Out.

A TV series rating is not the weighted average of the ratings of individual episodes. Instead, customers vote separately for the rating of the series as a whole

What does 'weighted average' mean?

IMDb publishes weighted vote averages rather than raw data averages. Various filters are applied to the raw data in order to eliminate and reduce attempts at vote stuffing by people more interested in changing the current rating of a movie than giving their true opinion of it. The exact methods we use will not be disclosed. This should ensure that the policy remains effective. The result is a more accurate vote average.

The average rating on film or show is wrong. Is your math off?

The rating displayed is correct -- please remember that the rating is weighted. We do not simply calculate the average by adding up all the votes and dividing the total by the number of votes.

To prevent abuse and minimize attempts to stuff the ballot or otherwise influence the integrity of the voting system, we do not reveal any details about how weighted ratings are calculated other than what is already documented. However please rest assured that there is no bias involved. The same criteria are uniformly used to calculate all the ratings for all the movies in the database.

Some users voted 1/10 for a well-reviewed movie, these votes must be fake. Can you remove these votes?

Everyone watching a movie or show brings their own personal history and tastes, which factors into how a user votes on a title. Just because many critics or other IMDb users enjoyed a particular title, does not mean everyone felt the same way. Vice versa, supposedly bad titles can receive good ratings.

Our weighted average attempts to reduce this effect.  The concept of the wisdom of the crowd, comes into play here, which is why we believe all IMDb users should be able to vote as they feel on the 1 - 10 scale.

A film has received awards, great reviews, and deserves a much higher rating. Can you update the rating?

Our voting system is meant to offer a representation of what our users think of a film or show based on their votes. We do not collect or consider published reviews or critics' ratings or any other external factor: only votes cast by IMDb users are counted.

We do not delete or alter individual votes and we do not adjust the results of our automated weighted rating for any individual movie / TV show. If the rating is lower than expected, it simply means that IMDb users who voted have a different opinion than those reviewers who liked it.

A film / show was never shown outside the US and yet you show a dozen ratings from non-US users. Clearly these are fake and should be removed?

Location information is based on the locale the user provided when he registered with the site, not when they voted. An example: if a Swiss national registers with IMDb and enters his location as Switzerland, then visits the United States and sees a film at a festival while in the US and then votes for it, the vote will be recorded as coming from a non-US user.

I know people who negatively rated a film couldn't have seen it. Will you delete their ratings?

Our standard for allowing users to vote on a film is very simple: the film must have been released and/or screened to the public at least once. If a film meets this requirement, we let our registered users vote on it.

There is no foolproof way to verify that users have actually seen the film that they are voting for, or that the vote that they are casting is what they really think about it, we depend on and expect our users to be truthful and only vote on those films that they have personally seen.

We are aware that there are people who vote for the sole purpose of trying to lower the rating for a film (this happens both ways -- there are just as many people who try to inflate a vote). We have several safeguards in place to automatically detect and defeat this type of ballot stuffing: even though we count and display all unaltered votes in the rating breakdown, we apply several countermeasures against all attempts to skew the rating and the weighted rating you see displayed on the site already takes all of the above into consideration.

There are thousands of people rating a film that has only screened once at a festival. These can't be genuine ratings. Can you help?

In rare instances, usually centered around films whose content or subject matter are perceived as controversial or polarizing, we may notice efforts to influence the user rating for a title via organized mass voting campaigns and other similar tactics.

While it is our policy not to remove individual valid votes, please remember that IMDb already calculates weighted user averages using a mechanism, applied to all titles, which takes into consideration numerous techniques to inflate/deflate a title's rating, and attempts to neutralize their impact.

In other words, just because the ratings breakdown shows a large number of votes doesn't necessarily mean that those votes are have the same weight. Please rest assured that we always carefully monitor voting patterns for these titles and determine internally our best course of action to deal with them.

The rating on my film or show has suddenly dropped from 9 to 2. Something must be off. Is your system broken?

It's not uncommon for initial ratings to start high and then go down after a brief period of time. Films or shows with a relatively low total number of votes (less than a hundred) are particularly susceptible to substantial changes in the weighted rating. When a title only has a few votes, it doesn't take a lot for the rating to change.

The rating on the Film / TV Show changed even though the total number of votes did not. Can you explain this?

There are several explanations for this. First, users are allowed to delete their vote. So if the rating changes even when the total doesn't, it usually means that some people have deleted their vote while the same number of people have added theirs. Another common explanation is that the weight assigned to votes cast by certain users has changed, so the weighted rating will be affected even when no new votes have been cast.

Finally, please remember that our voting system is always being improved and the formulas used to calculate ratings (and defeat ballot stuffing) are tweaked regularly -- weighted ratings are computed daily, so when the formula is changed the ratings will also change even without new votes.

Why do certain films have a note saying "Awaiting 5 votes" instead of displaying a rating?

We don't display a rating unless a film has received at least 5 votes. And we do not display votes for a film before it has actually been screened/released. In some rare cases we may have an incorrect release date attached to a title, which means that the film may be already available, but still be marked as unreleased and therefore missing a rating. If this is the case, you can submit a correction to the film's release date or contact our Data Editors with details of the film's release date/status and we'll look into it.

What is the "IMDb Staff" category displayed in some vote breakdowns?

Those are ratings cast by IMDb staff members.

What is the "Top 1000" category displayed in some vote breakdowns?

Those are votes cast by the 1,000 IMDb users who have voted for the most number of titles.

Where are the IMDb Top Rated Movies and IMDb Top Rated TV Shows lists?

These lists can be found by selecting "Movies, TV & Showtimes" and selecting from the site navigation menu and select Top Rated Movies and Top Rated TV Shows from the drop down menu.

According to the rating, a title should be included in the Top Rated Movies / Top Rated TV Shows. Why isn't it included?

Only votes from regular IMDb voters are considered when generating the Top Rated Movies and Top Rated TV Shows lists. For details on how these lists are determined, please navigate to the list and scroll to the bottom.

To maintain the effectiveness of the Top Rated Movies and Top Rated TV Shows lists, we do not disclose the criteria used for an IMDb user to be counted as a regular voter.

How do you calculate the rank of movies and TV shows on the Top Rated Movies and Top Rated TV Show lists?

The following formula is used to calculate the Top Rated 250 titles. This formula provides a true 'Bayesian estimate', which takes into account the number of votes each title has received, minimum votes required to be on the list, and the mean vote for all titles:

weighted rating (WR) = (v ÷ (v+m)) × R + (m ÷ (v+m)) × C

R = average for the movie (mean) = (Rating)
v = number of votes for the movie = (votes)
m = minimum votes required to be listed in the Top Rated
C = the mean vote across the whole report

Please be aware that the Top Rated Movies Chart only includes theatrical features: shorts, TV movies, miniseries and documentaries are not included in the Top Rated Movies Chart. The Top Rated TV Shows Chart includes TV Series, but not TV episodes or Movies.

Can I change my privacy settings and share my ratings?

Votes are set to private by default. However you can change your ratings privacy, click your name from the right hand of the screen and select "Your Ratings" from the drop down menu. Click the 3 vertical dots and select "List Settings" from the menu, then select your preferred privacy setting, and click "Save".

However we may at our discretion unilaterally grant you a publicly-viewable badge or other forms of publicly viewable recognition based on the fact that you rated or checked-in for a title (while still withholding showing your rating). For the subset of badges based on completing a rating-based list, if you unrate any or all titles that contributes to gaining the badge, the badge will disappear shortly.

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