- ★★★★★: This story stands on its own as a work of literature, never mind as a pony fanfic. If copyright laws weren't a thing, it could be commercially published. I'd buy a copy, anyway.
- ★★★★☆: This story was well-written, interesting, and engaging. It deserves to be 6-starred.
- ★★★☆☆: There are some minor problems with this story, but it is still unquestionably a high-quality work. I wouldn't feel that this story had been unfairly slighted were it not 6-starred, but I have no problem with the rating.
- ★★☆☆☆: Although this story still falls among the 10% of ponyfics which reside outside of Sturgeon's Law, there are significant and noticeable issues with the story or writing. A good read, but not something I would have awarded the highest possible star rating to.
- ★☆☆☆☆: There are significant, systemic problems with this story. I do not believe it deserves 6 stars.
Based on this rating system, I expect to award a lot of 3- and 4-stars. Again, please bear in mind what these star ratings denote. A story that I'd 5-star in a heartbeat on EqD might only get 3 using this system.