What is the purpose of this rating
Interesting question - having just spent the equivalent of 3 full days doing it! What "purpose" indeed.
I think there are 4 potential "beneficiaries" of the exercise and we will all have taken part with a different "balance" of benefit to each of them in mind
a. The individual "Rater" - who gets a record of his/her ranked visited sites (and presumably gains some personal "recompense" in terms of additional knowledge from developing it) and can publicise their views both for their own satisfaction and for the "benefit of the others"
b. Other individuals in the Community - who might be interested in seeing how others, whose reviews they might read and with whom they might have been in regular contact across many years, have rated sites - whether they agree with or "trust" them or not. Indeed the reviews might even influence their views on such matters ("up" or "down")!!
c . The "Community" as a whole - which gains an additional tool for understanding/analysing the WHS domain and a source of discussion and interest to while away the days not spent on the road!
d. The "World at large" who, via Google etc, might hit on the rating as a source of information to help them decide where/where not to visit.
I dismiss d totally - the situation envisaged by whoever wrote the e-mail to Els just will not occur, either to "good" sites or to "poor" ones! Despite its growing numbers of hits, this site will never be a source of influence much beyond its fairly low number of individual community members - at least compared with the TripAdvisors of this World!
We can each assess how much we were driven to do the rating in order to create benefits for each of groups a, b and c. I will say that I am slightly disappointed in the results of the exercise in terms of benefit to c. The lack of a standard for doing the rating based on at least a partially "objective" set of criteria (I accept fully that no such rating can be totally objective) does detract from the benefit to the "Community". Insofar as the ratings reflect more the personal experiences of individual visits rather than the non-personal value of the WHS, the overall conclusions which can be drawn about those sites for the "Community" are reduced. As discussed, we can devise ways of "looking" at the data which identify some aspects of subjectivity and try to bring out the "non personal" differences as seen by a group of travellers who "know" more about the domain than most other cohorts. We will see.
The main conclusion to be drawn so far might be that there are few WHS which are so "poor" for some of us which aren't equally regarded as a "magnificent visit" by some others! I suppose that in itself is useful learning - the next time I visit a site and think "This really isn't a very good site" I should be thinking "Someone else would be finding this a fantastic place"!!