The Article Rating System is a way of grading RationalWiki articles according to their apparent quality. The quality of articles on RW does vary somewhat between the good, the bad, and the appalling so a system was needed to show people which articles were reliable; particularly as a lot of criticism of RW stems from the fact that articles can be woefully incomplete. Many articles have had hundreds of edits and plenty of "expert" attention (atheism, homeopathy etc.), whereas many others are leftover relics of the Article Creation Drive and haven't been touched since 2007. Articles are given "brainstars" of bronze, silver or gold, with gold being (at least for now) synonymous with "cover" status. 
In theory, this shows readers what articles have received a good fact checking and have passed degrees of quality control. In practice is works as thus:
Even worse than the below.
Article is a stub. It's existence isn't worth the bandwidth you downloaded it with.
A bronze article probably has a few references and is likely coherent. There are 475 mainspace articles in this category
Someone's pet favorite project. There are 44 mainspace articles in this category
At least an HCM level 4 was had in arguing whether the article deserved to be on the cover. So you can be sure that it's totally worth the effort. There are 24 mainspace articles in this category.
Assuming a point system(0,1,2,3 points) similar to the GPA system, the average RW article has a rating of: ~.1184.
For a few months there was a Copper class, which seemed to have arrived unasked for. It was not popular and was killed off by Ace McWicked in February 2012.
The criteria for each article level are actually poorly defined. The official reason is that editors can be flexible and use good judgement in promoting articles. The actual reason was that they were hastily written by Armondikov as an example of what the criteria could be with an intention of discussing what they should be. Unfortunately these were then copied almost verbatim into the project page when it was properly started and apart from one or two tweaks and groans have been largely untouched.
Various attempts have been made at revamping it. Somebody suggested a separate nominations page so that promotions could be done properly, rather than on a completely ad hoc or even unilateral basis. Ideas about using voting up and down articles (a similar feedback system has been implemented in parts of Wikipedia) but whether this would be even workable is questionable. Like most revamps, they went nowhere.
Opposition from HumanEdit
Human does not like the system, which she describes as "OCD." She was partially responsible for the removal of the copper rating, although Ace ended up doing the dirty work. She has engaged in revert wars, both removing the rated template from talk pages of articles and blanking the template itself. She has called for a community discussion to ditch the system, and claims that she has brought the matter up in the past but has received no response, but an attempt in late May of 2012 failed to get anywhere. Human then restrained herself and managed to not raise the matter for a good month following this.
- ↑ Well, not really, as David Gerard made a point of going through every article (A to Z) and made edits to pretty much every single one.
- ↑ despite this, several silver articles such as "Conservapedia" have cover status
- ↑ Copper???
- ↑ essay ratings?
- ↑ another
- ↑ "the community does not exist as far as the creation of this template and its smearing all over talk pages everywhere."
- ↑ "god this is such garbage."
- ↑ "Where do I bring it to the "community"?"
- ↑ "I guess I have brought it up, and received no cogent answers. Just lazy people doing what lazy people do - make an easy way to make a statement, do it enough and no one can undo it."
- ↑ A short discussion
- ↑ The peace lasted until the 24 June