Meaningful conclusions about the relative performance of NLP systems are only possible if the gold standard employed in a given evaluation is both valid and reliable. In this paper, we explore the validity of human annotations currently employed in the evaluation of document-level quality estimation for machine translation (MT). We demonstrate the degree to which MT system rankings are dependent on weights employed in the construction of the gold standard, before proposing direct human assessment as a valid alternative. Experiments show direct assessment (DA) scores for documents to be highly reliable, achieving a correlation of above 0.9 in a self-replication experiment, in addition to a substantial estimated cost reduction through quality controlled crowd-sourcing. The original gold standard based on post-edits incurs a 10–20 times greater cost than DA.