Rotten Tomatoes is making some big changes in order to combat trolls. Rotten Tomatoes has, for better or for worse, become an increasingly important tool for consumers who are trying to make decisions on what movies to see and what not to see. In recent years, certain users have been targeting movies such as The Last Jedi, Black Panther and, more recently, Captain Marvel, with negative reviews and comments. Now, the review aggregator is fighting back.

Previously, users were able to express their interest in seeing a movie, such as Captain Marvel, and that would generate a number that indicated the percentage of people interested in seeing that movie. That feature has now been disabled, as this number was particularly vulnerable to negative review bombing. As Rotten Tomatoes explains, there was some confusion between that number and the Audience Score, which is only revealed via user reviews once the movie has actually been released. Per Rotten Tomatoes...

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"As of February 25, we will no longer show the 'Want to See' percentage score for a movie during its pre-release period. Why you might ask? We've found that the 'Want to See' percentage score is often times confused with the 'Audience Score' percentage number."

The Audience Score takes user reviews, once the movie has been released and generates a percentage of positive reviews (rated 3.5 or higher), which indicates from an audience perspective whether a movie is "Rotten" or "Fresh." Ultimately, a movie will have two numbers; a Tomatometer critics score and the Audience Rating.

Part of the problem has been that certain groups are targeting various movies, for various reasons, ahead of their release to generate negative buzz. Recently, negative comments started popping up on the page for Star Wars 9, and that movie doesn't even have an official title yet. As such, Rotten Tomatoes is also disabling the comment function for any movie prior to its actual theatrical release. The 'Want to See' rating was 80% or higher before the so-called Trolls began their review bombing campaign on the movie. That score was brought down to a devistating 27% over the course of the past few days. As of right now, you can still see the 'Want to See' score on the official Rotten Tomatoes Captain Marvel page.

"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."

While this may not completely eliminate targeted trolling from the website, it's a good move from them to try and do what they can to combat this sort of thing. This website is a tool that can help moviegoers decide how to spend their hard-earned money and it can also be a major factor in determining a movie's success. At the very least, trolls with an agenda shouldn't have a major say in that and Rotten Tomatoes is trying to do the right thing.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott