The Stack Archive

Uber experiments with emoji systems for rating drivers

Wed 16 Dec 2015

Uber is experimenting with potential new ratings systems to replace its unusual and controversial ‘stars out of five’ system. One user in Austin, Texas, posted a picture on Twitter showing the option of rating his ride with either a frowny, neutral or smiley emoji. Another passenger in Singapore was offered a binary thumbs-up/thumbs-down choice of rating.

uber-emoji-ratingsResponding to initial reports from Quartz, Mashable elicited a response from Uber about the innovation, with the company describing it as offering a ‘simpler ratings option’:

‘We always explore new ways to combine technology, research and data to improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers. In a few select markets, we are testing whether a simpler ratings option can make it even easier for riders to submit clear and accurate feedback.’

The five-star system has long been a cause of complaint from Uber drivers, since they claim not unreasonably that many passengers do not understand that any rating below 4.6 is punitive for the driver, and can automatically lead to them being fired having their account suspended.

What isn’t clear, and is likely to be of paramount interest to Uber ‘partners’, is the threshold at which accumulation of neutral or negative emoji ratings is likely to be equivalent to a 4.5 or lower rating. Riders may also feel the loss of granularity with the ‘thumbs’ ratings system, which obliges them to either express a uniform level of approval – ‘ecstatic!’ – for rides which they feel may have had some shortcomings, or to potentially tank their driver over a minor quibble.

Besides Austin, the alternative ratings system is being trialled to U.S. users in Denver and Nashville. Worldwide the experiment is taking place in Manchester (UK), Jakarta, Singapore, Brazil, Rio De Janeiro, Foshan (China), Cairo, Hanoi, Perth (Australia) and Dubai.

Uber drivers also rate passengers, though there’s no current evidence at community forum uberpeople.net that any drivers have seen a change in their own ratings systems, experimental or otherwise.

Uber have certainly needed a better system for a long time, since its implementation of the five-star system is unintuitive for the passenger, who may consider a ‘4’ rating a big compliment rather than a request for a pink slip.


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