There are too many articles bemoaning the Bleacher Report rankings system, and too many that begin by bemoaning this fact.
Everyone is bitter: bitter about the way the rankings work, bitter about other people criticizing the rankings, bitter about the rankings' very existence, bitter that good sportswriters feel the need to pontificate bitterly instead of reporting from the bleachers.
Here is a detailed plan for how the rankings should work: no bitter aftertaste, no added sweetener.
1. Establish three or four simple criteria for rating an article of each type
For instance, an opinion piece should be i) well-written and ii) persuasive: grammatically sound, well-structured, and with evidence of a clear argument, if an open-ended one; iii) insightful and iv) original: Does it offer fresh perspectives, relevant examples, and sharp analysis, even if on a well-worn topic, or is it cribbed from a real journalist?
2. Set out the relevant keywords at the end of every article
Readers should decide how far they are fulfilled, either "yes" and "no," or "not at all," "somewhat," and "fully." That's four clicks instead of one, but strict criteria eliminate agonizing over stars.
Does this article show more than usual persuasive panache to stand out from the crowd? Yes or no.
4. Two article lists on section pages
"Hot shots" for new, highly rated articles with fewer than 10 or 15 ratings, plus the existing top stories feed.
5. Rank writers not by their last fortnight's output or number of reads, but by their last 10 stories' ratings, up to a three-month cut-off
Quality, not quantity.
6. A list on my homepage or profile of the last 25 stories I read
Prompt me to pick my favourite each time I read 25 new articles. Otherwise five-star or new top rating to generate automatic pick.
7. A clear divide between "journalism" and "chat"
Match reports, analysis, and well-constructed opinion features constitute journalism, the sort of pieces that merit syndication—a more tailored elaboration on the "syndicated writer" status, if you like.
Slideshows of cheerleaders, pieces under 300 words, and many "humor" articles to be classed as "chat" or "fan chat." Writer and editors to determine this.
There we go; nobody got hurt.
And here's some added sweetener after all: Keep reading, keep writing, and keep loving sport. I'm no Bleacher hater, whatever the rater!