A question from Ed that makes better sense to answer as a short blog post (and to assuage my guilt over leaving it there for three days without replying):
"AS an author, would you say generally its better to give a story a 5 rating or none at all on literotica or just for contests?"
For Lit's contests, sad to say, no vote is indeed better than anything other than a 5 for the majority of authors. The reason is how the scoring works. For an entrant to be eligible it must pick up at least twenty-five valid votes. Once a story gets over that threshold, the score is then the average of all votes. This can throw up the counter-intuitive scenario where a story with twenty-five perfect 5 votes will place higher than a story with ninety-nine 5 votes and one 4 vote. It's not Literotica's fault. Whatever they run with is going to be less than perfect, because that's how it is when judging an activity as subjective as writing short stories.
So, while a 4 is technically a "good" vote, because the winning entries usually end up with final average scores of around 4.80+, it's easy to see it doesn't take too many "good" 4 votes to completely torpedo a story's chances of winning. Unless the author is struggling to reach the twenty-five vote threshold, they really want 5's or nothing. Knowing this, the savvy authors tend to enter very long stories with slow build-ups, warm and fuzzy endings, and obtuse titles so that the more disinterested readers have already backclicked long before they even get to a rating button.
(Now what kind of cynical, soulless monster of an author would even think of engaging in such shameless skullduggery. *whistle* Iron Girders and Steel Springs *whistle*)
At the end of the day it's best to treat the contests as a bit of fun and not too seriously. If you think a story only deserves a 4 (or a 3 or . . . ulp . . . less), give it a 4. Ultimately all literary contests are nonsense. Peel the layers back and all that lies at the heart is flawed subjective opinion.
Good for a giggle, though.