Rotten Tomatoes Revamps Audience Score System To Counter Online Trolls

The Rotten Tomatoes audience score has become sorely abused. Once an area of the review aggregator website where fans and audience members could share their thoughts on a movie, it has now become a cesspool of online trolls trying to poison public perception — often before they've even seen the movie. The latest victim of this mass targeting was Captain Marvel which, again, has not come out yet.

But following the string of movies that were "review bombed," including Black Panther and now Star Wars: Episode 9, Rotten Tomatoes is moving to combat online trolls. The review aggregator is drastically altering its audience rating system and preventing users from leaving reviews before a film's release.

In an editorial posted to Rotten Tomatoes' homepage, the website announced that it would "launch the first of several phases of updates that will refresh and modernize our Audience Rating System." No longer will fans be able to leave written comments or reviews prior to a movie's release. In addition, the "want to see" score — which previously had been represented as a percentage — is now being shown as a raw number tallied in real time in order to eliminate confusion with the "audience score." Here's more:

We are disabling the comment function prior to a movie's release date. Unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership. We have decided that turning off this feature for now is the best course of action. Don't worry though, fans will still get to have their say: Once a movie is released, audiences can leave a user rating and comments as they always have.

These are just a few of the major changes that Rotten Tomatoes plans to roll out for the audience rating system, which will still be featured prominently — now adjacent — to the critics' Tomatometer Score. The first system revamp begins today, with changes to audience score iconography, personalization and community features, verified reviews from ticket purchasers, and enhanced security to come.

"We're doing it to more accurately and authentically represent the voice of fans, while protecting our data and public forums from bad actors," Rotten Tomatoes said in its editorial. While this won't stop online trolls from attacking a film after its release, it (hopefully) could dissuade them from launching mass campaigns beforehand. However, we don't know the full extent of Rotten Tomatoes' additional security features, so perhaps they could implement changes that could thwart mass-coordinated "review bombs" that have taken over toxic fandoms recently.

You can read the entire Rotten Tomatoes editorial here.