The Minus Two to Five Scale

Firstly, i begin with an apology to anyone who is offended by the origin of this philosophy. Grading women (or men for that matter) is not exactly the most honorable of ways to begin new thinking but i have tried to be honest and in truth it has proved a popular in jest with many people i have told this to. It has also evolved into the most useful graduated scale i have ever heard of. It goes something like this:

So, many years ago, probably while waiting for a bus, my good friend Dave Boulton and I decided that a one to ten scale is not really sufficient: the most common answer is normally 12 (something that always grates on my nerves) and even when used sensibly, the middle numbers are somewhat ambiguous. In fact anything from three to seven can be a bit difficult to gain any real information from. So we slid the scale down, possibly something to do with my Maths and Physics studies at the time, to -5 to 5, with a negative as a no, a positive as a yes, and zero being “I would, but i wouldn’t tell anybody about it”.

This quickly got changed again. We speedily realised that there really isn’t a need for five grades of no; all you really need is “No” and “Definitely no” with the latter often described in more crude terms, so it quickly shrunk to -2 to 5, with the numbers meaning the following:

-2: A firm no. As in, definitely not, don’t even ask, “are you serious?!”, or even simply expressed in violence. The latter is not recommended or endorsed by the website…

-1: This is just no. There isn’t any real conviction to this, which would obviously drop the grade a number, but it is a definitely a no.

0: As discussed earlier, this is simply “I would, but i wouldn’t tell anyone”, or maybe a better description would be, “I’d do it, but i wouldn’t recommend it”. This could be the definition of indifference, a climb or a crag that you wouldn’t have to be dragged to kicking and screaming, but if you found yourself at, you wouldn’t be overly thilled. To be fair, there are worse things, but there are two numbers for things like that.

1, 2, 3, 4: These are the obvious and essential levels of yes, which in practice are more than enough. Any more, and distinguishing between them becomes a little too tricky. Once you’ve tried the system, i’m sure you’ll agree, and there is a footnote below to make things even easier.

5: This important number gives that 12 number that was mentioned above, without rendering the scale utterly pointless. It is designed to stand for “unobtainable”, that thing we all aspire to find but can never possibly achieve. It is essential to note that you can never actually find a 5, and as soon as this comes in to being, it would instantly be downgraded to a 4. In the original days of the scale, it was used to describe things that no longer look the same as they did, like Ursula Andress in Dr No for example, just so you get the idea. Please respect this as by using this number for things that actually exist would render the scale useless, much like the 1 to 10 scale that prompted this whole thing.


Many years ago, i asked a friend what he thought of something, and he gave the answer a 2.5. This is not acceptable (as was viciously explained to him at the time, much to my regret shortly afterwards) and you are not allowed to decimalise the System. This is a throw back to my Physics degree days, and as soon as you decimalise the system (including fractions, as they are simply a different way of expressing a decimal for those non-Maths-minded readers) you may as well as have a negative infinity to infinity scale, as decimals continue forever. However, in order to allow some flexibility to the scale, you are allowed to give an answer with mathematical parameters. So for example, you are allowed to say that something is between a 1 and a 2 if you can’t quite decide. This is important to note, as without it, the scale can be very inflexible,

So there you go, a new graduated scale of preference. Please respect the constraints of the scale as described, and if you do use the scale, also credit me with it’s creation. Hope it’s useful for you!

© P Edwards September 2011

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