There are all sorts of sites that allow you to rate various things connected to your life – your teachers, your professors, your workplace, your doctor, your neighbours (oops, appears to no longer exist). And now, a site that allows you to rate your politicians as well.
Most of these sites are based on anonymous ratings so you have to take them with a grain of salt as the people most inspired to write a review will be those who either felt really bad about or really good about who/what they’re rating. I suspect those who had an average experience aren’t likely to take the time to write anything.
But I do think there’s some legitimacy to these sites, especially when you look at the ratings in aggregate. When I did Web 2.0 instruction with our branch librarians in Southeast Regional Library, I would bring up RateMDs.com to talk about how web sites like these were putting power directly in people’s hands.
Early on, one librarian asked me to look up a specialist who had done her recent surgery and which she’d had a really negative experience with. Many of the reviews were similar but always along the lines of “This doctor has a terrible bedside manner but is an excellent surgeon.”
After looking through these reviews, the branch librarian said “If I’d known that ahead of time, perhaps my experience after surgery wouldn’t have been so bad.” (Of course, in the “grain of salt” category, another librarian revealed that a bunch of the town councilors had gone on the site to give an average-at-best doctor really high ratings in an effort to keep him in the community and also to possibly draw new residents to the town!)
So again, while you have to look at these sites with a critical eye, they can help give you a more detailed picture of the people and places you interact with on a regular basis.
It will be interesting to see what a site like RateMyPolitician, especially since it deals with such a sensitive, polarized topic, might develop into.