Sparano Scale

Overview. The scale is a way to quantify and talk about feelings. There are four ratings to choose from. Generally, in any category of things (advice, movies, food, essays, etc.), most will be Good™ or Not Great™ (in about equal amounts), some will be Not Good™, and very will be Great™.

Great™ + +
Good™ + • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Not Great™ • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Not Good™ – – • • • • •

It’s reflective. Ratings aren’t about the thing being rated, exactly — they’re a way of understanding the person doing the rating. Examining ratings can reveal patterns that help us understand ourselves and each other.

It’s subjective. Wholeheartedly. Ratings don't have to be justified — they represent feelings, and so, are always valid. The scale is not based on or intended to build a universal measurement of quality, and it challenges the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ taste.

Usage. The scale can be used conversationally since ratings are in plain language. Ratings with adverbs (‘really’, ‘kinda’, etc.) are equivalent to ratings without. In writing, ‘good’/‘great’ (without capitalization or the ™) aren’t considered ratings. On macOS, ™ can be typed with ⌥ (Option) + 2.

“How'd your test go?” “Yow. Not Good™.”
“How was the Husker game?” “Not Great™.”
“Have you seen Hostiles?” “Oh yeah, it was really Good™!”
“How do I look?” “Great™!”

Choosing a rating. It’s easy to identify Great™ and Not Good™ (the extremes). It can be helpful to decide between Good™ and Not Great™ (the middle choices) by thinking in terms of positive/negative. The specific qualities that distinguish ratings from each other will be different for everyone. Ratings may change over time, and that’s OK.

It’s intentional. There’s no middle choice, so all ratings hold weight. A fixed set of options means that Good™ is also, intentionally, not Great™, not Not Great™, and not Not Good™.

Adaption. The four ratings can be mapped onto other scales.

5-point scale (skip the 3)
10-point scale (use 1, 4, 7, 10) • • • • • •

Great™s are special. They isolate the things in the world that hold the most meaning. Great™s are rare and can be collected in one place. Every person’s list is a unique combination of their taste and experience.

Updated February 12, 2018. Link to this page with