Virtual globes allow internet users to view geographic data of heterogeneous quality created by other users.This article presents a new approach for collecting and visualizing informationabout the perceived quality of 3D data in virtual globes. It aims at improving usersÂ’ awareness of the quality of 3D objects. Instead of relying on existing metadata or on formal accuracy assessments that are often impossible
in practice, we propose a crowd-sourced quality recommender system based on the 5-star visualization method successful in other types of Web applications. Four alternative 5-star visualizations were implemented in a Google Earth-based prototype and tested through a formal user evaluation. These tests helped identifying the most effective method for a 3D environment. Results indicate that while most websites use a visualization approach that shows a Â“number of starsÂ”, this method was the least referred by participants. Instead, participants ranked the Â“number within a starÂ” method highest as it allowed reducing the visual clutter in urban settings, suggesting that 3D environments such as virtual globes require different design approaches than 2D or non-geographic applications. Results also confirmed that expert and nonexpert users in geographic data share similar preferences for the most and least preferred visualization methods.