FAQ for IMDb Ratings

What are IMDb ratings?

IMDb registered users can cast a vote (from 1 to 10) on every released title in the database. Individual votes are then aggregated and summarized as a single IMDb rating, visible on the title’s main page. By “released title” we mean that the movie (or TV show) must have been shown publicly at least once (including festival screening)

Users can update their votes as often as they’d like, but any new vote on the same title will overwrite the previous one, so it is one vote per title per user.

Are ratings the only tool IMDb offers to assess viewers’ opinion of a title?

No. When available, IMDb title pages also include a Metacritic Score for a title, as well as user reviews and links to professional critic reviews from newspapers, magazines and other publications. We aim to offer a variety of opinions on a title so users can make informed viewing decisions. We also always display the breakdown of the ratings so users can see the distribution of votes and determine how uniform or polarized the opinion of a movie is.

How do I see my ratings?

Your Ratings includes your entire ratings history. You can navigate to this page by clicking your name/ID in the upper right hand of the navigation bar at the top of every IMDb page 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, movies you rated are listed in chronological order (most recent ones appear first) but you can change the sorting order and select the options by which you want to refine by clicking on the dropdown menu at the top of the list.

How do you calculate the IMDb rating displayed on a title 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 (i.e. the sum of all votes divided by the number of votes), although we do display the mean and average votes on the votes breakdown page; instead the rating displayed on a title's page is a weighted average. To display the detailed votes breakdown, click the number of votes located directly below the average IMDb user rating. For an example, see the User rating breakdown for Inside Out.

The IMDb weighted average does not change upon receipt of each new vote, but instead is updated numerous times per day.

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 via each title’s series page.

What does ‘weighted average’ mean?

IMDb publishes weighted vote averages rather than raw data averages. The simplest way to explain it is that although we accept and consider all votes received by users, not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight’) on the final rating. 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. In order to ensure that our rating mechanism remains effective, we do not disclose the exact method used to generate the rating. However, please rest assured that the same calculations are used to generate the rating for every title listed in the database: we don’t adjust the rating for individual titles. There is no bias in how votes are weighted based on which title they have been cast for.

I don’t agree with the IMDb rating. Is your system broken?

The rating displayed is correct, as based on the calculations used to generate all ratings for all titles in the database. 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.

Statistical considerations aside, there is really no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ rating for a movie. You can argue that the rating is reductive or too simplistic, and that is a fair point: the IMDb rating aims to distill and aggregate the opinions of millions of IMDb users about a work of artistic expression into a single number from 1 to 10, so obviously some nuances are lost in the process and the end result will inevitably disappoint some users or cause disagreement. But we believe that the rewards outweigh the risks. As the #1 movie website in the world with hundreds of millions of monthly visitors, we are in a unique position to offer a real time reflection of fan sentiment.

Why should I trust the IMDb rating to be accurate?

IMDb ratings are “accurate” in the sense that they are calculated using a consistent, unbiased formula, but we don’t claim that IMDb ratings are “accurate” in an absolute qualitative sense. We offer these ratings as a simplified way to see what other IMDb users all over the world think about titles listed on our site. We believe that these ratings provide a fun and useful indication of the opinion of a movie held by the general public, but ultimately each individual is the arbiter of what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ when it comes to judging the value of a work of art. Think of ratings more as a guide than as an incontrovertible qualitative verdict. In the final analysis, opinions about the quality of movies and TV shows are subjective, and the IMDb rating is no exception.

Should I just look at the IMDb rating for a movie to decide what to watch?

The IMDb rating is only a number. Although it can be useful and informative by itself, there are many other factors which should be considered when trying to evaluate a title, starting with the total number of votes it received. A rating derived by the votes cast by hundreds of thousands of users may be more reliable than a rating based on the opinion expressed by a dozen people: larger sample sizes often result in a more representative aggregate rating. It’s also always useful to review ratings in the context of when they were cast: popular opinion of a movie tends to change over time, in some cases peaking early and in others growing slowly over time.

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

Everyone watching a movie or show brings their own personal history and tastes, which factor 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, as critical and popular opinion often diverge.

Our weighted average attempts to reduce this effect. The concept of the wisdom of the crowd (i.e. the collective opinion of a large group of individuals rather than of a single expert) 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 movie has received awards and great reviews, and surely deserves a much higher rating. Can you update the rating?

Our voting system is meant to offer a representation of what IMDb’s users think of a movie or show based on their votes. We do not collect or consider published reviews or critics' ratings or any other external factor (although we do offer links to critics reviews and display a movie’s Metascore): for the purpose of generating the IMDb rating, 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 movie/show was never shown outside the USA and yet you show several ratings from non-US users. Clearly these are fake and should be removed?

Location information is based on the locale the user provided when they registered with the site, not when they voted. An example: if a Swiss national registers with IMDb and enters their location as Switzerland, then visits the United States and sees a movie 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 for a fact that many people who negatively rated a movie couldn't have seen it. Will you delete their votes? They are clearly trying to negatively manipulate the rating.

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

There is no foolproof way to verify that users have actually seen the movie 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 movies that they have personally seen.

We are aware that there are people who may vote for the sole purpose of trying to lower the rating for a movie (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 movie that has only screened once at a festival. These can't be genuine ratings. Can you help?

In rare instances, usually centered around movies 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 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 artificially 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 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 movie 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. Movies 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 many more subsequent votes for the rating to change. 

The rating on a title changed even though the total number of votes did not. Can you explain this?

There are several possible explanations for this. First, users are allowed to delete their own votes. 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 frequently recalculated, so when the formula is changed the ratings will also change even without new votes.

Why are certain movies and shows missing an IMDb community rating?

We don't display a rating unless a movie or show has received enough votes to calculate a weighted user rating. We do not display votes for a movie or show 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 title 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 movie's release date or contact our Data Editors using the path IMDb Fan/Contributor questions > Titles > Production status / Release date with details of the movie's release date/status and we'll look into it.

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. If you are interested in what the most prolific IMDb raters think of a movie, rather than general users, this is the number you want to look at.

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

These lists can be found by navigating to "Movies, TV & Showtimes" in the site navigation menu and then selecting Top Rated Movies and Top Rated TV Shows from the drop down menu. Or, go directly to: https://www.imdb.com/chart/top or https://www.imdb.com/chart/toptv

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 (i.e. people who regularly vote on IMDb) are considered when generating the Top Rated Movies and Top Rated TV Shows lists. In addition to that, a title must have received a minimum amount of votes (currently 25,000) in order to appear in one of these 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

Where: 
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 list (currently 25,000)
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.

How can I share my ratings?

Votes are set to private by default. You can elect to make your ratings public by clicking your name from the right hand of the home page 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.

What are user reviews and how do they differ from user ratings?

While ratings are based on simple numeric votes cast by users for a title, user reviews are written essays, in which IMDb users explain what they liked or disliked about a title and offer other criticism. Reviews can vary in length from a few lines to several hundred words. The two are complementary to each other: users can either vote on a movie or write a review, or do both. Regardless of its content, a review has no effect on the user rating unless the same user has also cast a vote for the title.

Do you delete negative reviews for a title?

IMDb provides the review feature as a forum where users can freely express their opinions about movies or TV shows, as long as they do so in a friendly and civilized manner. As these reviews are user-generated, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of IMDb or our staff. We do require that users follow our broad guidelines for acceptable content, but we do not impose any special editorial guidance.

As long as reviews comply with those rules, we do not edit or remove them; however, if a review is brought to the attention of our moderators via the “Report” link (located below each one), we may temporarily or permanently suppress it if we determine that it violates our content guidelines or site policies, regardless of whether it expresses a positive or negative opinion.

How do you choose which review is displayed on a title page?

To present a variety of different viewpoints, user reviews featured on a title page are periodically and frequently rotated. The choice of featured review is automated and is based on these criteria, the most notable being that reviews containing spoilers are excluded from the selection. Users can also vote on whether they agreed or disagreed with existing reviews, and can sort the display of all reviews for a title based on chronological order, rating, usefulness etc. For an example of review listing for a title (and see all available display options) click here.

Why should I trust a particular review?

A link to the IMDb profile of the author is displayed below each review. This allows you to see how long they’ve been an IMDb user, how many reviews they’ve written and other historical data which can help you decide if their opinion usually coincides with yours and can offer useful guidance to assess their critical effectiveness.

Why don't the counts in the demographic breakdowns always add to the total number of votes cast?

The difference in the counts is because only some IMDb users have chosen to provide age, gender and country information when registering for IMDb. Since this information is optional, we cannot assign every vote to every category. 

To check or add your account details, please go to the Change your Details page.

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