I'd started a similar topic somewhere else and someone sent me here... so let me put in my 2 cents worth...
First off… Yes, ratings can be subjective, but the current rating system is subjective anyway, isn't it? It’s based on only ONE person’s opinion, and it seems that some people don’t seem to follow the guidelines set up by geocaching.com. Isn't a 1/1 supposed to be handicapped accessible? Well, I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve gone to a 1/1 that was NOT! If people who went to the cache were able to rate the terrain you’d end up with a much more balanced rating. Same thing goes for difficulty.
So, what I’m suggesting is that people who log have the opportunity to rate the cache on the same criteria as the person who hid the cache… difficulty and terrain… and that everyone’s ratings are averaged in to give a more accurate representation.
But the other part I’d like to see rated is creativity and/or beauty. Sooo many caches are over-looked because they’re off the beaten path, or might be a little more difficult to get to. But if they’re rated for their creativity or beauty, people might find that they’re worthwhile.
Yes, you can learn different people’s styles and avoid doing their caches, but that doesn’t work too well when you’re in a strange area.
I personally don’t have time to read the profiles of EVERYONE on geocaching.com, and we don't generally read the logs because we're afraid of getting too much info that will take the challenge out of finding the cache. We may scan them quickly to see if there are a lot of purple faces, but that's it.
As for the contents of the cache… is that really the point of this hobby? Not for us, and I daresay not for most. For us the point is getting out into Nature, getting a little exercise, seeing beautiful sites, and visiting places that we’d probably never know were there!!!
OK… so what I envision is something really quite simple… as you log your find you click on a number (1-5 like the current system) for 3 categories: difficulty - terrain - creativity/beauty. You can only rate it once and you can only rate it if you log a find. The cache-owner does NOT know your rating, so they can NOT alter it. As someone else said, it would only be rated by people who are interested in doing the puzzle caches, or the micro caches, or the hiking caches, so you'd get a more balanced rating.