I was working on my site and implementing reviews when I looked at how it's done on AirBnb. I saw that they do not provide the star rating for each individual review. It caught me off guard and I'm wondering if it would catch other users off guard as well or if it is expected. What are the pros and cons of not showing the individual ratings?
forces the user to read the description
reading the description, encourages trust
less visual clutter
sentences are fundamentally more human than quantified numbers (robot speak)
(for airbnb) differentiates airbnb from traditional hotel sites
forcing the user to read, buries negative reviews, potentially making the offerings more attractive (by being less obviously negative)
quickly allows user to estimate how good the offering is
expected piece of information for internet savvy users
introduces more visual clutter
Yes, the lack of stars will catch users off guard. However, that is a strength and a weakness. First, some context.. Stars/percentages/averages are used as a shorthand heuristic for the viewer's brain. This heuristic is valuable to a reader because it allows them to avoid a costly energy exercise of reading. Instead of reading, the 'reader' can quickly glance at a rating and get a 'good enough' summary of all of those words in a fraction of the time.
The obvious question would then be, then why is the 'reader' attempting to read the comments at all (if humans generally prefer to not read) ? The answer to this is the same dichotomy that governs much of the physical world, which is people want EVERYTHING in exchange for NOTHING. The reader wants to know all of the information about their would be purchase, but without exerting any effort or time associated with reading... And this line of reasoning leads us to the main strength behind using stars/percentages/averages.
However, by providing this mental shortcut, the site encourages the user to not read the actual review.
I would imagine that Airbnb realized this. They most likely saw value in FORCING the user to actually read descriptions about a location in another human's voice, because of degree that is signals trust.
Keep in mind as well, that there are mainly two types of people who are compelled to review something.. those who have had an amazing experience, and those who have had a terrible one <- very motivated
In your site, I would ask yourself a number of questions.
What are your goals for reviews? (As in what is the experience that you want people to have? Please for the love of God don't just be adding reviews because other sites do. As an example your goals could be to 'A fast way to establish trust and create a feedback mechanism that holds providers accountable')
Would you prefer your users to get the information they need quickly, or more completely? Understand that if you choose more completely, forcing them to read a paragraph will likely result in most people reading the first sentence at most of each review.
Do you expect reviewers to be writing reviews that are actually worth reading?
How much trust is established between your users and what they are reviewing? (in contrast, a hotel already has a much larger degree of trust to a user than a random stranger)
It is hard to make a recommendation for you without knowing more details. Without knowing more, I would provide a single overall rating, and for individual descriptions, help positive words pop out of the descriptions subtly through the use of color or size. I apologize for the incompleteness of this answer, but I just wanted to get you an answer (as no one else has yet).