This concept means appraising someone’s character, ability, conduct and approach, which was a common practice from the late Han through the Jin and Wei dynasties. The practice was considered a good one when it was first introduced, as people were judged by their moral character and ability, not their family background, making it an important means of selecting officials based on their competence. Appraisal of others was a popular conversational topic among the people in the Wei and Jin dynasties. However, such appraisal gradually shifted towards people’s family status, power and influence in the late Wei and early Jin dynasties, which led to the establishment of the nine-rank system for selecting and appointing government officials. There was also a shift in making appraisals away from people towards poetry, paintings and calligraphic works. Thus making appraisals played a less important role in selecting officials while assuming a more significant role in the appreciation of art. This influenced literary criticism in the Southern and Northern Dynasties and led to the creation of works of literary critique on poetry, paintings and calligraphy.
- （许）劭与（许）靖俱有高名，好共覈论乡党人物，每月辄更其品题，故汝南有月旦评焉。 （《后汉书·许劭传》） （（许）劭和（许）靖都有名望，喜欢聚在一起详细评论同乡的人物，每个月都要更换品评的对象，所以汝南的人称他们为“月旦（每月初一）评”。）
Xu Shao and Xu Jing were both celebrities in Runan who liked to comment on their fellow townsmen and changed the subjects they commented on every month. What they did was referred to by the locals as “making monthly appraisals.” （History of the Later Han Dynasty）
- 诸英志录，并义在文，曾无品第。嵘今所录，止乎五言。虽然，网罗今古，词文殆集。轻欲辨彰清浊，掎摭病利，凡百二十人。 （钟嵘《诗品序》） （诸位名家编选的总集，意在收罗文章，并没有品评作品的高下。我的《诗品》收录，仅限于五言诗。然而古今的诗人以及他们的代表作品差不多搜罗殆尽了。我就是要辨明诗人的高下，指出作品的优劣，共计品评了一百二十人。）
Compilations of works of famous authors are meant to bring works together on an extensive basis rather than comparing their literary attainment. “The Critique of Poetry” I have compiled, however, is a selection of five-character regulated verses only. As almost all the poets and their masterpieces are already included in other compilations, mine just includes the works of 120 poets, with comments on the merits and demerits of their works. （Zhong Rong: Preface to “The Critique of Poetry”）