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How the ratings work for Our School Needs

Over the last two weeks, the Bing Education Team has poured over every single Our School Needs (OSN) submission. We read compelling essays, watched hilarious videos and looked at powerful photographs. Many of us were in tears. It is incredibly hard to determine who "needs" something the most. Every OSN entry made a strong case and told an interesting story on behalf of their school. Finalizing the editorial picks was especially difficult. It may be cold comfort to those who did not make the cut, but believe me when I say that EVERY entry was deserving.

Yesterday we announced the 30 semi-finalists. Fifteen of those projects were chosen by our team, based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to: effectiveness of their essay, creativity of their photos and/or video, the school's actual need, etc. The other 15 were chosen based on highest total ratings. Some of you were curious how our ratings were determined, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain exactly how the Our School Needs (OSN) ratings work:

Each "star" is worth 1 point. Giving a project 5 stars is worth 5 points, 3 stars equals 3 points, etc. We added all the points up and the highest 15 scores were determined to be the winners.

A few people thought the winners were determined by the highest average rating. Let me give you a couple scenarios for why average rating was not used to determine winners:

  • Project A is submitted to the site 8 days before the end of the contest. They get a lot of 3s and 4s and a few 5s, and their rating is, let's say, 4.1. A good score. They have 500 people vote on their project too. Clearly if 500 people thought it was average, better than average or great, then it's a pretty good project.
  • Project B is submitted to the site 4 hours before the end of the contest. They get three people to vote, and each is a 5. Their average rating is 5. But they only have 3 people vote. Their average rating is higher than Project A, and if deciding between the two, we would legally have to accept Project B, if we went by average rating.

Here's another scenario. What if someone comes to the site, and starts giving all the high scoring projects 1s? And they tell their friends to do the same. Those projects are getting scored low because another person thinks that rating them down will help their own project. The way highest total rating works is that even if someone gives other projects a bunch of 1s, that project is still getting some benefit. Maybe not as much as projects getting 4s and 5s, but enough where it's not hurting them.

I know a lot of you worked incredibly hard on these projects. You should be very proud of the work you did on behalf of your school and your education. Thank you.


  • I am very confused.  Would you please show me where in the official rules this is stated?  I do not  see it anywhere under "rating enteries" .  We have never seen the phrase "highest total ratings"  until this blog.  We did however see that the "official contest rules" would be followed.  We were under impression, based on what we read in your official rules that

    "Rating Entries: All approved Entries received will be posted on the "Our School Needs" website online at and visitors to the site will have the opportunity to rate the Entries. The Rating Period will be held on dates outlined above. Site Visitors must follow instructions on the Our School Needs website to rate the Entries. Kids 13 and under may rate Entries with the help of an adult. Site visitors are asked to evaluate each Entry by equally applying the Criteria outlined above (weighted equally).

    Site Visitors may rate as many Entries as they wish, but may only rate each Entry once during the rating phase.

    The fifteen (15) highest rated Entries (five (5) per Category), as determined by user rating, will be deemed a Semi-Finalist. Then the remaining Entries will be reviewed based on the Criteria outlined above by an editorial board made up of education enthusiasts and Bing employees. They will select fifteen (15) additional Semi-Finalists, for a total of thirty (30) Semi-Finalist Entries to be submitted for final judging. "

    I am not sure why "highest total rating"  was not disclosed to us instead of "highest average rating" if this was the determining factor.

    Also, your project B example could not be possible.  The deadline for entering a project solved this issue.  Projects had to be submitted two days before the rating ended.

  • Unbelievable. The rules clearly state:  "The fifteen (15) highest rated Entries (five (5) per Category), as determined by user rating, will be deemed a Semi-Finalist." AS DETERMINED BY, USER RATING!  There is no mention of highest total ratings.  You tallied average rating on all entries.  This is UNBELIEVABLE.  Bye-Bye BING

  • This is a real shame. We teach our kids to play fair and then have to explain that they will unfortunately run into people throughout their lives who will change the rules after the game has already started. I am disappointed in everyone involved. When the rules state "The fifteen (15) highest rated Entries (five (5) per Category), as determined by user rating, will be deemed a Semi-Finalist.", it's generally safe to assume that this is the rule EVERYONE will be going by. Instead, as in so many other disheartening situations, we are now given a different "interpretation" of the rules. For those schools who really rallied their supporters to JOIN BING so they could vote, it's a shame that they aren't given a TRUE chance to compete.

    I for one, contacted people from out of state, folks without kids and others just to help my daughters school. I will DEFINITELY LET EVERYONE KNOW that BING is more interested in our info than holding a fair and honest contest. BING IS NOT BEAUTIFUL TO ME!

  • The Discover Bing “Our School Needs” contest caused by child pain and did not effectively promote Bing as a competitive new search engine. My child, Benjamin, age 10, made and submitted a project by himself, ( Project #351, Mountain View Elementary School, Taylors, S.C).    The direct link to his entry in the contest is below:

    The contest website crashed twice during its last few days. On Friday, October 22, 2010, Benjamin’s entry had a 4-star rating.  When we received notice late that afternoon of technical difficulties with the contest website which required extending the contest deadlines, Benjamin made new posters, re-printed 1000‘s of flyers and letters, and re-sent his emails, with help from his parents.  He also asked the school administration to change the marquis sign at his school and persuaded the principal to send a phone message to the entire school to reflect these new dates and request ratings.  We received innumerable emails and phone calls from people reporting their 5-star rating for Benjamin over the weekend.

    On Monday, October 25, 2010, Benjamin’s entry had a 4.1 star rating, which was posted on my Facebook page at 1:14 p.m., with a link to his entry page.  On Tuesday, October 26, the  last day to rate entries,  the link to his page crashed.  (Please see attached email.)  I received phone calls and emails from people complaining they could not access his contest link page by email or on Facebook.  I confirmed  the link was unavailable by email links or on my Facebook page.   When Benjamin’s link came back online later that day, his rating had decreased to 3.9, where it stayed for the duration of the contest.  I cannot explain to him why his rating went down in the last hours. He is confused and disappointed.  The contest email address was unavailable after the contest.   I hope this letter prevents the next child from having Benjamin’s experience.