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Upcoming Changes for Performance Reviews

Hey guys!

As most of you know, I’ve been wear testing and reviewing basketball shoes for 5 years now… yeah, long time. About a year or two into my time reviewing performance sneakers, I decided to implement a numbered rating [1-10] scale due to requests from readers/ viewers. The scale was meant to help those interested in performance models to visually see how each shoe stacked up on-court, and for easy comparisons between models if someone happen to have multiple models on their radar.

With the rating scale came complaints. Yeah, I know I’m not going to be able to please everyone… I understand and accept that. But, it’s gotten to the point where people are misunderstanding the numbered rating scale entirely. We’re in a world where 7’s are somehow negative (a 7 would be considered a C, which is a passing grade) and grading scales are supposed to somehow dictate my personal picks when it comes to the year end top ten lists… something that is based on my personal preferences.

Now, with all that out of the way… I figured it’s time to switch things up a bit. Everyone is aware that we’ll be removing the ventilation from reviews unless it has a major negative or positive affect on the shoes performance, and even then, it’ll only be discussed and no longer graded. From now on, we’re going to use a simple and fun way to describe performance attributes with WearTesters badges. These badges were created so that we could over simplify the scores, but still have them be effective in providing you with solid information in a way that was fun, engaging, and yet remain professional.

Check out the badges and their explanations on the next page.

  1. I think it is a good initiative, but also at the beginning the badges will be a little confused.
    IMO the transition will be slow…

      1. This might be confusing at first. However I think this is a lot more creative to rate sneakers. I suggest creating a video explaining beforehand on how this new rating system works since it’s confusing at a glance

        1. Agreed.
          Why can’t normal people have their scale?
          If some people have trouble getting what 7/10 means, they need a reality check. Or they just not aware that there are no perfect basketball shoes(except XX9 maybe) and you can’t get 10/10 on each attribute?

      2. People are idiots, they will still not understand this scale. They wouldn’t even understand if you had a colour coded single grade.

    1. Imo the reviews will be the same this is only a visual change
      Understanding of how the shoes perform will be indentical so no 1 needs to worry lol
      At least for the people that read and watch entire reviews

  2. Im fine with this, but I feel like with this new system comes a less precise scale. With the old scale you could have it from 1-10 and then fraction ratings. But with this it is limiting it from a 1-4. So a shoe’s traction could actually be somewhat worse than another shoe, but still get the same grade. The new scale won’t stop me from reading your stuff and watching your videos, but I feel if you had just gotten rid of the final, average score, this whole misunderstanding regarding the scores could be fixed. Sometimes its just better to ignore the stupid people ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. I disagree, but its all good. If a shoe has worse traction than another then it won’t share the same badge. Simple as that. Unfortunately, numbers seem to make people go crazy. Either that or they’re just stupid, but I’d prefer to think of it as confusion.

      1. TBH, I reckon it is a little bit of both. With all the work you put into these performance tests and rating, people still are confused. People should use their grey cells a bit more often. I like the badge system for a quick first impression, but I have to say, the rating under the old system – at least to me – was nice, compact, easily comparable and precise. Anyway, keep up the excellent work Chris

        1. Too many differentiating opinions on the matter which is exactly why it needed to be changed. Unfortunately, not everyone seems to be on the same intellect level when it comes to numbers, as explained in the write-up.

      1. Actually no because I understand that you have to look at the categories separately and the final average score doesn’t truly show how good the shoe is because 1 category could bring the whole score down. Don’t insult me

        1. Jared is just ignorant ignore him, I get what you saying stayg for example a shoe that would previously had a 8 on traction will likely get a starting 5 badge the same way a 9 would even though the 9 is slightly better. However I enjoyed the old system this system I’m sure will be just as good an help more people who didn’t get it before. Good job nightwing

  3. This will help the slow people follow the site. Haha. You helped me make the decision of purchasing the Rose 2.0 when they first came out and I’ve been following your site ever since. You can’t please everyone and you should just keep doing your thing Nightwing. Hope you can come to NY again

    1. lol, thanks. Speaking of the Rose 2, thats another reason why this system makes more sense. Those received a certain number for traction back then, but today I’d probably rate it less after having experienced better traction. Same goes for cushion etc. So I think this system will even things out in the long run. I should be in NY for ASG.

  4. so you had to dumb it down for all the stupid ppl out there. thats unfortunate. hopefully it wont come off quite as corny as it seems now. basically its a 1-4 scale and I imagine only the “starting 5” and “6th man” will be used for the vast majority so really the ratings themselves are nearly meaningless

  5. I don’t get itโ€ฆ.


    Nice change up. It’ll help those who can’t figure stuff out for themselvesโ€ฆ

  6. i like the old way i guess, more transparent and you are able to find its proper place within a 1 – 10 scale. Prob is most shoes being rated are the high end items (which we all want at some point) and most rating sit at the top of the scale which would be expected. My only wish i guess is these Top 3 reviewers N Dub, KG. Foamer, Nice Kicks all review seperate shoes as opposed all reveiwing the same shoe because there is never any shocking details that come out its almost like all the reviewers say the same thing. It would Great to see a true Collab amongst the reviewers almost like all the shoes in a bowl, the reviewer grab a pair and bust a review that way we can see how all the kicks perform as opposed to 5 reviews of the Lebron 12 when they all say the same thing. Food for thought or food to trash.

    1. That’d be interesting, but not possible since we all live pretty far from each other. And it’s those top tier models that everyone searches for reviews on. Being honest, nobody was ever searching for PEAK, Under Armour, BrandBlack etc. at one point in time bc everyone was so fixated on Kobe 6, LeBron 9, Jordan 2010 etc. So if everyone only reviewed some of the stuff ppl were interested in then everyone’s growth would have been limited quite a bit.

      Having multiple opinions isn’t a bad thing anyway. At least not to me. Esp when it works in the shoes favor. Everyone enjoyed the “insert shoe name” and then it’ll just ease the mind of the consumer that was interested in them.

      I do my best to branch out, grab clearance models, no name brands, budget friendly etc. type of shoes so that people would understand that performance doesn’t always come with a high price. But, consumers tend to be biased and only go for what will make them popular, or what their fav. athlete is wearing.

      The real problem, IMO, is people not digesting information the way they should. But thats a discussion for another day.

      1. Completely agree with multiple reviewers – besides, we want to play in the top level shoes as well. Let’s just say I wrote for this site these past five years instead of Counterkicks, why would I let NW do the Kobe 8 and me do the Lebron X? We both want to do it and experience that shoe. Remember, we are shoe geeks too, who just happened to get creative and good at relating to readers.

        I like the new system – “badge of approval” and all.

      2. Totally get it, I’m one of the guys that tries everything. That’s the beauty of a “wss” store where you don’t have to talk to a salesman, the shoes are just sitting there and you can try them all on – high end to garbage. When you you look holistically what the top 4 reviewers are doing it appears everyone is pooling in the same direction for the good of all. I know it’s for the love of the game / footwear that this even exists so yeah – truly appreciated just seems like there is a next step to what you all are doing – not sure what it is but just feels that way. I have always read and contributed to reviews when it was just east bay comments so all this content is very cool no matter.

        1. Yeah, KLO, I see your point – this reviewer over here is doing the Lebron, oh, so is he, and him, but what about the $85 shoe at Academy sports or the Reebok joints that came out? Variety, and I think NW does a great job, not that you are saying he doesn’t. Truthfully, I have gotten over 300 pairs of shoes for review in almost 5 years, and most were off brands, and I found some jewels. But that doesn’t interest readers, for most part. Ball’ was a company no one had heard of, and they made a good shoe for cheap. I have some 361 runners right now, but no one will care.

          Sucks – we try to switch it up, but the public wants Nike. One reason I try to get names like BrandBlack and Peak out, not as an Eff U to anyone, but just to show there are good shoes from most brands if you look hard enough.

  7. Interesting new concept NW. I think that this will definitely make it easier to understand that a shoe is “good”, “acceptable”, etc. Where the questions will come will be those who are looking to compare direct attributes in terms of “better” which for many things can be subjective. A decent example might be traction but I understand where this new system could handle that as well with the 6th man being “It works” and possible hall of fame for something like the Kobe 9. This is very interesting and I look forward to the first review that implements it.

    1. Agreed, plus, we must not forget that the review does not solely depend on the final ratings, for example, when nightwing reviews a shoe with excellent traction, but maybe a tad less better than that of another shoe, he can still give them both the “starting five badge” because they both have great traction, yet mention that one is a bit superior to the other, which he often does.

  8. Haters gonna hate, players gonna play, and raters gonna rate.

    Whether you use numbers or badges, it’s the feedback from the actual written reviews/videos is what I will be interested in. Thanks for the good work.

  9. I fail to see how it was ever confusing, but maybe because I’m taking it at face value. Different strokes for different folks! Kudos for not fearing change.

  10. I’m liking the new system you have, with the simplify version by using badges, but every badge looks a little plain, maybe it would be better if the badges have colors, rather than every badge being just black and white, it will be easier to differentiate one from another, but that’s just my opinion.

  11. Sorry to say this, but this is a terrible idea. The number scale was great and if you wanted to change the scale then you could just do letters. This is confusing and inaccurate. This would make a shoe with pretty good cushion 8 look like the same as a shoe with great cushion 9 or 10. Please consider changing back. Cause this will draw viewers away.
    Wish the best

      1. I guess he meant that it will be hard to differentiate a shoe with similar ratings due to non-numerical grading. For example grading Kobe 9 cushion vs Clutchfit cushion. Let’s say if both receive “Starters”, it will be hard to differentiate which cushion would be superior. If numerical it would be much easier ex: Kobe 9 traction = 10. Clutchfit traction = 9. So it is easier to compare with different shoes.

          1. Sure it’s not crucial, it’s unlikely any of us will be in pain because we can’t tell any more which shoe is a 10 and which is an 8 in say cushioning or traction (since they are both ‘starting 5’ in the new one). But like you used to say – it is not unimportant which shoe we as consumers pick, what with the price increases over the years and all. And some of those choices are based on details. I COMPLETELY understand you are trying to discourage from commenting all the idiots who for some reason care about overall ranking and where their favorite shoe goes like it’s the end of the world or something. while completely disregarding the category element which is supposed to be the most helpful. But honestly I think you shot yourself in the foot a little bit with this major change, because most reviewers wouldn’t have been able to analyze features as accurately to even have a 1-10 scale like you did (actually 1-20 since you used half-points as well). At least nobody I have watched or listened to seemed to have anywhere near the experience and in-depth knowledge that you do to be able to be as accurate and sophisticated with their reviews. If getting rid of those haters was so important, then you should have just gotten rid of the OVERALL score. That’s all they care about, like – I love kobe not lebron, so if lebron’s shoe is a point better overall, I’m gonna bust a nut and make sure everyone knows about it. I really think they wouldn’t have done that solely based on one shoe being better in a certain category. Because, understanding the categories means you actually wear and appreciate the shoes, and therefore also appreciate the information that a great reviewer provides, and have moved up from your petty a-hole ranking (which I would give a ‘benched’ badge). Otherwise, I don’t see the new badges are any easier to understand than a 1-10 star system…provided the person can count to 10 I guess. I suppose they do look clean compared to the stars, but Nightwing, with all due respect to your badge designer, the most loyal and constructive of your consumers come here for the accuracy and insight, not the visual experience. We’ll take both, sure, but accuracy shouldn’t be taking a back seat because of mindless haters, who are pretty much impossible to completely get rid of anyway. But hey, that’s just my view, and I wouldn’t be sharing it if I didn’t totally appreciate everything that you are doing for us Nightwing. I do think it’s got that Ventilation is no longer a category even with the others that you rank, because the select people who do consider ventilation when purchasing can just watch your video review. Saying – the ventilation is great or ok or non-existent – should be a good enough guide. Same goes for the people who play mostly outdoors, and want to know how the traction feels & looks like for durability – just covering it with a quick good/average/bad assessment should be enough. And as mentioned above, getting rid of the Overall score should go a long way in dissuading the 10 year old fanboys from their little tantrums for the rest of us to see, while the rest of us can just use the categories like we always did. Thanks again for all your hard work & happy new year NW!

  12. How about adding a seperate outdoor value option? I think it would help those who in need of shoes for the blacktop and can’t find enough information in the sections such as traction and materials.

  13. This is really the best way to go about it. In the end, a point or two difference will not be discernable to most people. What does matter to me is that all attributes meet the starting 5 grading, and I’ll take it from there and read the actual review. I’m a stickler for fit and cushion so I’d definitely value hall of fame rating on those, but again, it comes down to what NW says. People need to stop putting so much emphasis on the grading and focus on the actual review. That’s where you can find the nuggets.

    1. Thats actually the biggest factor in the change. People look at a number and bypass the review. I know bc of the dumb questions being asked when the info is all there. Either read/ watch the reviews to learn something or go into the store with a blindfold on and pick a shoe. I dont want to hold peoples hands due to their own laziness. Its sad that things have come to this, but it is what it is.

      1. I think that’s one of the biggest problem we have as a whole. Too reliant on hand holding and not enough critical thinking and independence. People like to be told what to do. They like to be told what’s the best. Heck, reading some of the comments it seems some people like to be told what THEY like. Scores are often the easiest way for people to be told.

        I just hope people realize reviews are there so that they don’t have to buy every single shoe to find out what may work for them. The information in the review are the info they would get when they actually use the shoe. When I read reviews, I look for shoes with an outrigger, a balance between impact protection, court feel, responsiveness, and flexibility, snug, comfortable fit, and dependable traction. A score will not give me that info. Only by reading and watching will I get it. It’s a real simple process. Know what you value and see if the shoe meets your needs. You can do that by playing in them or make an informed decision by reading and watching reviews.

        Thank you for all the reviews and thoughtfulness in your reviews. I really learned a lot about shoes and it’s what got me into basketball shoes. I came a long way from wearing bad basketball shoes that would give and sprain my ankle at a simple cut. Much appreciation for what you do.

        1. agree with you on this, JP.
          Thing like that are needed.

          Traction, responsive cushioning (forefoot and heel, or throughout), some midfoot shank, support, durability and fit are what I look for in a shoe.

          Nightwing, visually with badges, it should help inform people in performance reviews.

          Thanks for letting us know about the changes.

        2. Bro, this is 2014. What is critical thinking? LOL! Jk. I’m 27 and my mother actually used to be a Critical Thinking teacher when they had such a thing. It’s really sad what is happening with society as a whole. I’m not even 30 and can easily see the generational shift that’s happened in the worse way. These kids don’t want to do anything that involves using real thought. Sometimes I read the questions that other people ask and scratch my head because I see the answer in the first sentence of a topic like “traction” or “fit”. SMH.

  14. Well I love the new system of yours but I’d like to make a suggestion. How about you keep them both. To give you an example: This shoe’s traction is 7 so the 6th Man bagde would be perfect. In that way you can still work with badges without writing down the scores but referring them in the video performance review. This could give us a better view of the shoe and how it plays on the court. In addition to this ventilation is somthing essential for a lot of players out there so if you could refer to it in the video without grading it would be great. I hope you take the above under consideration. With respect, Bbshoe-enthousiast

  15. I think its the same issue with the game reviews – people see number 7 and say: its a crap game and with shoes rarely getting anything below 7, you still end up with 3 grades (7 to 10)

    Good move and yes, people a stupid by large

    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  16. He Nightwing,
    I really like the badges and how you try to adjust your rating system. When I read the first page of this article I had a slightly different idea of the badges. But first I would like to analyse what you have done with the badges in comparison to the rating system from 1-10.
    You describe that you replaced numbers with badges.
    1. kind of above 10: “WearTesters Hall of Fame”
    2. 8-10: “starting five”
    3. 6.5-7.5: “6th man”
    4. 1-6: “benched”
    So you replaced a rating system from 1-10 with a rating system from 1-4. The badges are more intuitive, I’ll give you that. And you take care of some problems with the consistency of rating shoes in different years (for example traction: I felt like sometimes you gave shoes a less good grade then shoes from past years ( eventhough they were equal) because of comparison to other recent models. You wont have that problem anymore.

    How about a different approach.
    Lets stick with traction for the example. Under the title traction you might have badges for different attributes like:
    – Traction on perfectly clean courts
    – Traction on dusty floors
    – Traction outside
    You might even add (I would like that a lot):
    – great durability (for traction)
    – great durability outside (for traction)
    And for the crazy hoopers out there: traction on wet floors / traction in the snow (OK now I’m going a bit far)
    And if you have more specific badges / attributes you dont even need to but still could use a rating system, because a shoe either has the attribute or doesnt. And if you would really like to stick with the “WearTesters Hall of Fame” rating you could have the normal badges in black and white and the Hall of Fame ones in gold or whatever.

    Thats just my 2 cents on the topic.
    To explain a bit why I felt the need to write this: I’m a mechatronic engineer in the automotive industry in Germany and use grading systems to do justify choices for technical solutions. I am also a passionated baller who is getting older and has little booboos in legs and feet. So I am very particular with my shoes ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. I like it, more of a shift towards running-reviews, where you use a spectrum, rather than rating, to see what shoe, does what. It should really help with the reader being able to form an idea about the shoes, rather than just knowing if the reviewer liked them, or not.

  18. i appreciate the old and the new ratings dude, but damn those badges look way too cool! thumbs up for that NW ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. Hey, Nightwing! just wanted to say this website has helped me a ton and is going to be reliable and friendly whether you use numbers or badges. Just a thought I had though that may help to make the grading system more thorough with the badges. Maybe you could do like a bronze, silver, and gold badge for each category that way when a shoe gets the same badge as another it can also show which is better in a category such as “hall of fame” by the color of the badge. Just a thought that might help. Keep up the good work!

  20. This will make you more popular with people who dont know basketball performance
    And it wont change how we understand your rewievs, seems ok ๐Ÿ˜€
    Thanks to your revies i got rose3,hyperdunks2013,howard3s,kobe8s,lillardcq2 and most imprtantly my fav m8advance
    And im happy with every model ๐Ÿ˜€
    Following for 3 years ๐Ÿ˜€

  21. Best technique for buying shoes every year
    Wait for a year for the price to drop below 90 then buy
    Procede to do this next 10 years
    I got the hyperdunks2013 and kobe8 last months for combined 120โ‚ฌ
    Melo m8a rose 3 for 140โ‚ฌ A year ago
    Howard3 for 35โ‚ฌ what a steal 6months ago,gave them for free to my good friend ๐Ÿ˜€
    Crazyquicks for 50โ‚ฌ on adidas.com
    All combined i saved like 50% on those 6 purchases

  22. I don’t like this new rating system either.

    If people had a problem with the old system, then they can go someplace else. No need to dumb it down for those people that couldn’t understand the numbers.

    I assume it’s for people that see a shoe get a score of 7 and then they take it as meaning that that shoe sucks, when in fact it is still a good score and a good shoe.

  23. I like this new system, I don’t understand why people are complaining given that most of the people are saying that this is catering to “the less intelligent”. However if this is really the case, then the more intelligent viewers should be able to decide how well an aspect of a shoe performs. Either way I like how this simplifies things, and honestly what difference does it make does anyone really say “Oh i was going to get this shoe, but nightwing said it had a 9 instead of a 10 in the traction area”.

    Idk maybe there are people like that but overall this was a good idea.

  24. this is a nice system… i’d suggest you still put up a final score in a scale of 1-10 though just to really differentiate really comparable shoes. Let’s say kobe 9 and AJ XX9 gets starting 5 on all attributes, they’d be equals but if let’s say you graded 9.3 for kobe 9 and 9.2 for xx9, readers can then see/feel that the kobe 9 might be just a little bit better than the xx9. Basically, you get to retain part of the previous scoring system.

  25. Yo nightwing this is my first time commenting on this site and I just wanna let you know keep up the good work! Believe it or not, i have been following your reviews for a long time now (seriously) even back before you use the song hi rez smiling for intro (iirc) and btw, thanks to you, i love that song ๐Ÿ˜€

    As for the score card, well that dont matter much to me as i have always read and watch the videos. God, i love doing it as much as you love putting em out. At the end of the day, that’s where you find all the information you need, down to the details that really may or may not matter to you.

    p/s: Sorry for my bad english. Im from Malaysia and english isnt my mother tongue ๐Ÿ˜€ again, keep up the good work nightwing!

  26. Nightwing, I saw you latest AskNightwing video and you mentioned BrandBlack is going to be selling at Finishline. That kind of sucks for us that aren’t in the US as they don’t ship internationally.

    Are they going to be selling any of their shoes at a retailer that ships internationally? Can you possibly ask them that question next time you speak with someone from the company please?

  27. Cool Nightwing, looking forward the brand new performance, but, no ventilation scores anymore?
    Hope we can get that back

  28. The drose 5 have 9.5 and the melo M11 hall of fame wich cushioning is better,bouncier more forward in the fore foot? excuse my english im in france

  29. @Nightwing I’ve been looking around and I’m just curious..which shoe received the most number of hall of fame badge?? ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d appreciate an answer from you ‘coz I’m too lazy to look into each and every single shoe review you have made so far.. TIA ๐Ÿ˜€

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