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May 4, 2007, 1:50pm Top

are the percentages how closely our library's match? Are we going to get any explaination?

May 4, 2007, 1:50pm Top

It's cool by the way...

May 4, 2007, 1:53pm Top

If you float the cursor over the number it tells you how many books you have in common with that user, but I don't understand the percentage.

May 4, 2007, 1:54pm Top

That seems to be it, though I'm not sure if it's % of your library or % of the other person's.

May 4, 2007, 1:55pm Top

Check out the Blog

May 4, 2007, 1:59pm Top


NO, I DON'T like it. Not at all. The colors distract my eye so I end up reading every percentage before I read the post. Fine, have the numbers but do NOT make them so different from the rest of the page that I have to consciously ignore them.


(Not that I like have an opinion or something.)

May 4, 2007, 2:01pm Top

I'm not seeing the percentage thing ...

May 4, 2007, 2:02pm Top

Maybe a number alone without colour? Or make them visible only when you hover the cursor over user's name?

I don't mind the idea, but it seems unnecessary to make the number permanently visible.

May 4, 2007, 2:04pm Top

But Morphy, this is that horrible moment when you discover that you share the most books with the people you disagree with the most often. ;o)

Edited: May 4, 2007, 2:07pm Top

I also like the idea, just not the presentation. Without the color or on mouse-over would be great.

Edited: Hey, Miss 93% Clamapatra... I SAID I like the idea. :P

May 4, 2007, 2:08pm Top

Okay, I can see the numbers now ... clamairy is a 99%-er for me ... hmmmm ... you weren't talking about me in #9, were you?

May 4, 2007, 2:09pm Top

I need to go check out the Conservative Group. Tee hee.

May 4, 2007, 2:09pm Top

The funny thing is the (generally) most of the people I like on here have %'s in the 90 with me.

One MAJOR problem I think is related to this change is large threads take FOREVER to load, will do some more testing...

May 4, 2007, 2:10pm Top

What are you talking about?

May 4, 2007, 2:10pm Top

Just to add to my post 13, the inverse is not generally true...

May 4, 2007, 2:11pm Top

Rats. Morphy, I only see an 89% for you. Hmmm. Must be based on how we each compare with the entire membership. I did see one 2% in the Green Dragon. I shall shun her from now on. ;o)

Edited: May 4, 2007, 2:13pm Top

14 > Well in IE 7. and firefox 2.0 there are little boxes with % in them right by everyones user name in the threads...

May 4, 2007, 2:13pm Top

#14 - There are little pastel colored percentage boxes showing up next to other members' names in every thread.

May 4, 2007, 2:14pm Top

Okay, so I saw everything from no percentage at all to a 90-something for Reading_fox. The lowest number I've seen is in the 20's.

May 4, 2007, 2:15pm Top

Ze goggles! Zey do nothink!

I gotta agree with Morphy. The boxes of colors are not so good. That said, I lurve the concept!

May 4, 2007, 2:15pm Top

It took a few minutes, like maybe five, of being on the site before they started showing up ...

Edited: May 4, 2007, 2:20pm Top

> 14

Ha, they must have just "fixed" it, because suddenly the boxes appeared.

UGLY, UGLY, UGLY! It's really distracting. Next thing you know, it'll be animated smilies.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I really do not care about how similar everyone else's library is to mine.

This should be made an option.

May 4, 2007, 2:21pm Top

I think hell has frozen over.

Lilithcat and I agree on something. (Colored boxes are ugly.)


May 4, 2007, 2:21pm Top

I...the theory is interesting. The concept, like some people have said.

The colors are awfully distracting.

May 4, 2007, 2:22pm Top

In referance to the blog post by Tim, I think clicking on the percentages should show you the books shared with that user...

I like haveing the different colors to help quickly identify number groups

blue, green, yellow, red

using it to order the reviews I think is an excellent idea, KUDOS!

May 4, 2007, 2:24pm Top

I'm a color person myself so I like the different colors and they way they enhance the pages. But I'm going to be really snarky here and say that, while this is a great addition for people like me who like these sorts of little gimmies, surely the long-desired sub-libraries for Wishlist and Read-but-not-owned books are more important to members.

Okay, snark over.

May 4, 2007, 2:24pm Top

It's also making the site drag. And that's on a T1 connection.

May 4, 2007, 2:25pm Top

#22 I agree somewhat with you and perhaps even more with morphy's suggestion, make it a mouse-over thing. The raw count was always available by clicking to see someone's profile. But that's a social aspect of using the site/system that each of us controls and chooses to do or not do. Now it is forced to the forefront of all users.

Maybe eventually we'll have "profile controls" for this? So, no number means nothing in common, but does it also mean someone has marked their catalog "private?"

Edited: May 4, 2007, 2:28pm Top

readafw (#25) -- The colors vary according to what the percentage is. The lowest percentages (single digits) get a purple box, and the highest (90's) get pink ones. It's a pastel Roy G. Biv in reverse.

(edit for typos and thread popularity)

May 4, 2007, 2:28pm Top

Love it! I love the idea of seeing how you stack up with other users. I am also a color person, and love the cute colored little boxes!!

P.S. readafew, we only have 10% of books in common!

Edited: May 4, 2007, 2:33pm Top

> 26

surely the long-desired sub-libraries for Wishlist and Read-but-not-owned books are more important to members

No, what is more important is to improve the cataloguing data. We need to be able to include multiple authors, and, when a book by multiple authors is combined, to have the book appear on each author page. We need to have separate fields for illustrators, editors, etc., rather than having to use the "other author" field.

There is so much that needs to be done to improve the book cataloguing aspect of the site, and that should, in my view, take priority over "wishlists" and gimmicky graphics.

May 4, 2007, 2:46pm Top

This is getting really annoying. Talk is CREEPING. I used to have pages come up instantly. Now it is taking MINUTES. And this is on a T1. What happens when I get home to DSL?

How about moving the affinity to the profile page?

May 4, 2007, 2:53pm Top

I'm not having anywhere near as much slow-down as you are, Morphidae - in fact, it's not really noticable here (and I have DSL and I'm wireless, not plugged in).

I have decided that I can't yet decide if I like the function of it or not. "X shared books" would be simpler, but the percentile does have a certain appeal. I will need to take some time to think about it and get used to what it means, though.

But like I said before, I really dislike how it looks. The colors are distracting and don't fit in at all. I think it would be better to just have something like (30%) after the name.

May 4, 2007, 2:55pm Top

Morphidae (#32) -- I'm also using a T1 (or at least I think it's a T1), but I'm also having problems. The computer at my desk is several years old and kinda slow, and the percentages are only making things worse.

May 4, 2007, 3:00pm Top

I'm not experiencing any sort of computer slow down.

May 4, 2007, 3:01pm Top

The little boxes were a bit of a shock when I first saw them! I kind of like them, they're interesting. Then again I'm not experiencing any kind of lag, if I did I'm sure I would be very annoyed.

May 4, 2007, 3:01pm Top

Whew! I've managed to block the JavaScript for the boxes with AdBlock Plus in Firefox. I can read Talk without losing my eyesight!

May 4, 2007, 3:02pm Top

hm-m-m... don't want to mention names, but I'm not getting numbers for everyone, even though I share books with them. Why is that?

And, no, I don't think I like it. Its distracting. Plus, I hate change just as a matter of course.

Edited: May 4, 2007, 3:04pm Top

Some quick points:

1. It will certainly be made something that *can* be turned off.
2. The goal is, I think, to get it to the point where the least number of people want to turn it off.
3. If enough people hate it, we'll ditch it.
4. Monitoring the DB, I can see that it's not having an impact on site speed. But certainly it can take a few seconds to come in. The basic principle is that, if you haven't looked at a post in an hour, it takes 10-15 seconds to come in--after the page has loaded. Because it comes in after, it does highlight how long the long pages take. (Let's leave that issue for another time, okay?)
5. Keep the comments coming!


Edited: May 4, 2007, 3:14pm Top

I like it. I can evaluate the poster as well as the post now simply by the percentage number. ;-)

Kidding aside, I think it's a fun feature. I, too, like the colors, as do people who have a high percentile mark (as I see them) on this thread.

No complaints here.

In answer to your blog questions,
(1) I like percentiles better than shared numbers.
(2) The weighting is not confusing.
(3) I like the current "hover" status message. It should not move anywhere. If I want to do further social inquiry, I can check out the poster's profile then or later.

Edited: May 4, 2007, 3:24pm Top

>The basic principle is that, if you haven't looked at a post in an hour, it takes 10-15 seconds to come in--after the page has loaded.

It takes longer for long threads and it won't allow you to scroll to the bottom, click on next unread or edit your post until every percentage is placed.

And if you click on "Back to the top" it blanks and reloads the percentage so you have to wait AGAIN.

May 4, 2007, 3:25pm Top

>It takes longer for long threads and it won't allow you to scroll to the bottom, click on next unread or edit your post until every percentage is placed.

Really?! Browser? Altay, does IE wait for everything before letting you do anything?

May 4, 2007, 3:27pm Top

> 41 & 42

I'm on IE6 and I am not experiencing the lag.

That said, the delay in the percentages coming up does lead to unwarranted hope that you've trashed this feature. ;-)

May 4, 2007, 3:27pm Top

>41 Morphidae: that sounds like a browser setting. i think some browsers have an option of "wait for all graphics to load" or "load partial pages" or something like that... check your advanced options (or switch to ff - that doesn't seem to be happening in there).

May 4, 2007, 3:29pm Top

No lag here.

Optional, why not.

May 4, 2007, 3:31pm Top

IE6 here. And no, I am not able to use Firefox as it is a work computer and we are restricted as to browser.

What setting can I change to help with this?

*goes hunting*

May 4, 2007, 3:32pm Top

Morph's right. Using IE (latest version) the page is totally locked up while loading a topic with 147 messages. Not seeing this issue in Firefox.

May 4, 2007, 3:34pm Top

I have the same problem as Morph, and it is REALLY noticiable on long threads, I'm using IE 7.

May 4, 2007, 3:39pm Top

I'm mixed on how I feel about these. It's kind of cool to see the numbers... on the other hand I'm starting to picture users as percentages instead by their username. My main question is: Should this be so prominent? It seems minor (I say that nervously. Hope i'm not inspiring rath from Time and Co. I'm picturing a tired coders angrily gaping at the word minor.) Maybe that just a misguided first impression and I'm not fully appreciating the boost to Talk.

May 4, 2007, 3:47pm Top

I'm definitely getting some lag on IE ... perhaps this info could pop up only if you float the cursor over the poster's name?

May 4, 2007, 3:48pm Top

Distracting? Busy? Losing one's eyesight? wow. I never thought such tiny, pastel colored boxes would cause such outrage. jeez.

For one, I like it. I find it useful. pages take a bit longer to load, but nothing drastic.

May 4, 2007, 3:52pm Top

I'm on DSL with Firefox and XP Home, and I'm seeing a slight lag, but not enough to be bothersome. My virus scan is running in the background, too, so even my lag might be overstated.

I've read the blog entry, but I'm still having trouble identifying the utility of this feature.

The colors don't bother me at all.

May 4, 2007, 4:06pm Top

If people are minded, can you respond to the following idea?

Replace the percentiles with the--elsewhere standard--shared/library size numbers,

so _timspalding_ (20/953)


May 4, 2007, 4:07pm Top

personally I like the %'s more...

Edited: May 4, 2007, 4:10pm Top

I like this feature a lot! I like the use of the percentiles, in addition to the shared/library.

But I don't HAVE to have it here (even though it is really interesting!); on the profile would be good enough for me. Please keep it somewhere!!!!!

I am getting the slow load also.

May 4, 2007, 4:10pm Top

I prefer the percentile based on weighted measurement, it's more meaningful. For people with large libraries the ratio is useless.

May 4, 2007, 4:11pm Top

My thoughts on Tim's blog questions:

1. Now that I've read the blog I understand that the percents are percentiles, but I don't find this information particularly helpful, because (for me) most of the percentiles seem to be in the high 90s or the 30s (go figure), with one actually listed as -0%! The numbers shared are more interesting to me.

Furthermore, it will not be immediately apparent to anyone how these are calculated, so it will be meaningless to most LTers unless they go read the blog first.

2. Further, learning that the percentiles are weighted makes it, to me, even less useful. They seem to be a sort of arcane calculation and reflective of "sharing" only in an abstract sort of way.

3. I like seeing the number of books shared when I hover. I'm not sure that I like to see the % at all. When I click, I would like to go to a list of the books that I share with that person. Thinking about this again, maybe I'd like to see the number of books I share with a person just when I hover over the person's name. Hmm, not sure.

4. Where should they go? Well, it's interesting to see them in Talk, but they definitely seem too prominent . .

May 4, 2007, 4:16pm Top


No, the whole reason I like this new feature is because it's telling you something different from what you can already see on the profile page. The percentiles have a lot more information built into them than simply shared/size.

It would be okay with me if the number didn't show up on Talk, but I think it will be great for reviews.

May 4, 2007, 4:22pm Top

I actually prefer the percentages (minus the colored boxes.) I'd also like to click on the number and have our shared library come up.

May 4, 2007, 4:28pm Top

What we need to do is figure out what books predict ones opinion of the feature, then dynamically decide percentiles vs. numbers, colors vs. no colors and so forth based on the member's collection :)

May 4, 2007, 4:34pm Top

Tim, might I say - with great feeling...


May 4, 2007, 4:40pm Top

Once I understand the math, I'm sure I'll get to like the percentages, but I don't know that I'll ever like the colored boxes.

(Interestingly, about 75% of the posters in this thread score an 90% or more with my library. I suspect that means something. But I don't know what.)

May 4, 2007, 4:52pm Top

I prefer the percentiles. The coloured boxes not distracting for me at all.

I am looking forward to seeing the percentiles with the reviews (as was mentioned in the blog post).

Edited: May 4, 2007, 4:55pm Top

> 60 What we need to do is figure out what books predict ones opinion of the feature, then dynamically decide percentiles vs. numbers, colors vs. no colors and so forth based on the member's collection :)

In that case, I won't tell you what I prefer. I'll let LT tell me.

May 4, 2007, 5:01pm Top

I really like, although right now I'm only seeing a few boxes on a few people, which might be because I have so few books catalogued that there are many people I share no books with? Do you see a zero % when that happens?
For me the numbers aren't overly meaningful because I only catalogued books that are truly 'mine' and let other family members catalogue ones they bought, even if I love them and have read them more than the ones I catalogued. Having said that, I think the numbers will inspire me to catalogue more! (although I am sort of concerned about then our family having some books cataloged 3 times even if we only own it once... someday maybe there will be a way to 'share' books with other members).
The boxes seem distracting to me at the moment, but I think any new feature would distract me, so I don't mind at all :)

May 4, 2007, 5:32pm Top

>51 Bookmarque: Pastel or not, on a page with many, many posts it looked to me like a technicolor yawn.

Or, at 30, I'm finally getting old and crotchety.

May 4, 2007, 5:34pm Top

oy vey. come on. seriously. these tiny little squares are too much for people to deal with? they're such a small percentage of the screen. can't we adapt? oy vey.

May 4, 2007, 5:46pm Top

i kinda like it...

May 4, 2007, 6:01pm Top

I like it as it is. To answer the blog questions:

1) Percentage is better
2) Weighting is not confusing, and it makes more sense than unweighted
3) Number of shared books when hovering is fine; list of shared books when clicking would be nice.
4) As far as I'm concerned, it can go everywhere -- the more the merrier :-)

May 4, 2007, 6:05pm Top

I love the concept. Particularly as envisaged for reviews.

I would prefer to lose the coloured box - just a black number by the name, or maybe a coloured no. without the box as a comprimise.

I'm happy with the percentile, though a click through to the shared books would be fun.

Definite lag on IE, particularly annoying that you can't move until its loaded everything. Most users are not hugely IT proficient and won't want to fiddle with brouser setting, just to get LT to work properly....

May 4, 2007, 6:37pm Top

Yeah, Altay's working on the lag thing. Frickin' IE.

May 4, 2007, 6:43pm Top

Well, I love the boxes, I love the colors, I love the idea...
I hope this stays!!!!!!!

May 4, 2007, 6:55pm Top

We are giving new meaning to the term "nitpicking."

May 4, 2007, 6:57pm Top

There's quite a few frequent posters around that I'm at 99% with (naming no names.) The odd thing is, most of the time, they all seem to mouse-over at 255 books shared - there was *once* when I checked a thread, though, and numbers for the same people varied all over the place. The fact that the number is 2^8-1 makes barely-knowledgeable me suspect some sort of overflow issue in the programming, rather than my weird browser being weird as usual - is anyone else noticing these kind of issues?

I haven't seen it yet with any percentile other than 99, but it's possible it's happening.

May 4, 2007, 7:15pm Top

Short answer: I like.

Answers to Tim's blog questions:

1) I like the percentiles, with the shared number in a pop-up.

2) I don't find the weightings to be confusing at all (including your pseudo-equation in the blog comments), but I suspect that there should be a relatively in-depth description somewhere on the site.
Perhaps in a new "How LT Calculates..." group (that allows everyone to view, but only LT developers to modify) that explains some of the less intuitive weightings, statistics and algorithms. Right now, the explanations that exist are hard to find, being spread across a lot of discussions, blogs, etc.

3) I'm good with the shared number of books popping up when you hover over the field. When you click on it, I'd like to see it display the shared books (even though there already exist other ways to do this).

4) As a start, I'd like to see affinities in the discussions and in the comments section of my profile page. They would also be really cool in the You and none other list. I can imagine these numbers being useful on author, works (social information) and even tag info pages (although for tags it may be a little messy, since each member's name is already followed by the number of times they use the given tag). Affinities would be of less value to me on the various zeitgeist pages, however.

As for appearance--the colored boxes may be a little distracting at first, but I suspect that most members will get used to them quickly. In very little time, I'm sure that the colors will no longer draw focus as strongly as they do now (thanks for using pastels). And I'd definitely keep the colored boxes, since in other areas of the program this color-coding may be a real asset (such as in the You and none other list or on a work's social information page) and it would be good to keep the appearance of this feature consistent.

I suppose that I could remark that the specific appearance, as well as the numbers themselves, could eventually be optional--although this would require the development of a new member options page. Whenever a comment like this is made, however, there is an immediate backlash, with some members pointing out that the development of "frivolous" features are a waste of time when other more "important" features are supposedly in the works (what precisely is "frivolous" and what is "important" differs from member to member, of course). I will therefore refrain from making this remark.

I like this new feature -- I especially like the idea of affinities appearing in more places throughout the program (?) -- Please don't let this feature go the way of the spinner.

May 4, 2007, 7:19pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

May 4, 2007, 7:42pm Top

Okay, having done a more systematic survey, it does appear to be that everyone I share more than 255 with shows up as 255, regardless of percentile, but for me at least they still show up right in the profiles.

Oddly, I seem to recall that the one time I had different numbers, there were some 99% people who showed sharing *fewer* than 255, but I can't find anyone like that through profiles, and I can't replicate the numbers, so I dunno.

May 4, 2007, 7:56pm Top

> 77

I'm seeing the same thing -- everyone with whom I share more than 255 books has a 99% affinity.

Moreover, the pop-up on the affinity reads "You have 255 books in common" for members with whom I share over 500 books. So its definitely an error not a feature.

Hope this helps.

May 4, 2007, 8:07pm Top

I'm not experiencing any lag at all nor any problem with going directly to unread or back to the top. I'm wireless shared by two pcs and everything is as fast as it ever was. It's really weird that some people are having problems and not others.

Edited: May 4, 2007, 8:32pm Top

I was hoping there WERE no users who shared more than 255 books... 255 is, of course, the number that can be stored in one byte. I think I'll have to put something like "more than 255 books!" Moving to two bytes will hurt.

May 4, 2007, 8:35pm Top

I'm definitely experiencing a lag time with IE 6.0.

Edited: May 4, 2007, 8:49pm Top

Oh, dear, I think you've underestimated your fans, and how many of them have extremely large numbers of sf novels. There isn't anybody on my raw "users with your books list" who shares *fewer* than 255 books with me...

On the other hand, I don't really know if this is worth doubling the number of bytes! I mean, it's not actually *bothering* me or interfering with my enjoyment in any way; I already know I share a huge honking pile of books with them; I just was getting curious and having fun trying to break the new feature :P

If it is just that you can only store 255, though, why am I sure that at least once this afternoon I saw numbers higher than that come up? Was it being messed with, or was I hallucinating?...

Edited: May 4, 2007, 11:05pm Top

I like this feature! I've been discussing it in another group with some others who seem to like it as well. (They hadn't read the blog, and were kind of confused at first. :) The colors in the boxes don't seem to bother me at all. I hope we keep this feature!

Edited: I forgot to say this doesn't seem to be slowing my computer down at all. I'm using firefox with a wireless DSL connection.

Clamairy: So far, you have the highest percentage beside your name on my computer screen at 97%.

Edited: May 4, 2007, 11:56pm Top

For the following, I ask the forebearance of those of you who dislike this new feature or think that it is not worth the time spent on it.

The problem with the current one-byte approach, of course, is that you are getting good resolution at the bottom of the scale, and poor resolution at the top. If you don’t mind my throwing out my two cents worth, there’s a couple of things you might do to get around this while still using a single byte.

1. you could map a library’s maximum shared books* into an offset, using 0-255 to represent values extending both ways from the middle (or, better yet, the median**) of the set, rather than just book counts at the low end. If you did this, you would then need to add not only a “more than ### books in common” pop-up statement, but also a “fewer than ### books in common” statement.

2. for libraries with very large numbers of shared books you could allow each byte combination to represent more than a single number of books. You could divide the number of shared books by 256 and use the result as the resolution of the count. For collections with more than 512 shared books, for example, the values 0-255 would then be assumed to represent numbers of books that increase in twos. All pop-up statements would then be changed to read “more than ### books in common” (with the exception of the lowest one, which would read “fewer than ### books in common”).

Of course, you could implement some pretty sophisticated combinations and variants of these two techniques, if you really wanted. I also realize that, since the percentiles are based on weighted values, a "smooth" mapping to number of shared books does not in any way guarantee a "smooth" set of percentiles.

I hope you don't mind my throwing out these ideas. I have no expectations as to whether they will be useful (in fact, you may well have already considered and rejected both of these techniques).

Thanks, all, for your patience with another long post.

*for speed purposes, this could be stored for each user
**which could also be stored for each user to speed up calculations

May 5, 2007, 12:20am Top

It doesn't make the site drag -- I don't think it can -- the numbers don't calculate until you are actually in the thread and the page has already loaded -- that's why you don't see the numbers right away

May 5, 2007, 12:31am Top

So, it was not a phantom. IE did some of the JavaScript substitutions *very* slowly. Altay worked the problem all day and came up with a speedy solution, which he'll be pushing to the live site very soon.

We also came up with some display options—colored boxes, no boxes, off—but we won't be pushing them out until Sunday, I think.

May 5, 2007, 12:33am Top

>86 timspalding: Nifty! I can't wait to have the numbers sans colors.

May 5, 2007, 12:35am Top

LIFE is color! ;)

May 5, 2007, 12:36am Top

I know, I know. The husband does color matching for a plastics company so I hear about colors all.day.long!

Edited: May 5, 2007, 12:46am Top

Um, I'm not seeing any little boxes, colored or otherwise. I went to the blog and read about it so I know what to look for. But no boxes to be seen here: XP-Pro, AOL on dial-up.

Perhaps it's because I am a private library?

May 5, 2007, 12:49am Top

I'm with those who like the idea but don't like the coloured boxes. Looking forward to seeing the difference.

The 'affinity' % is interesting but it would make more sense to me to see
(%/ % ). ie I can see that someone is 98% to me but maybe I'm only 33% to them.
Since I'm seeing a lot of people in the 90% range, that would help me find 'more interesting affinity' faster.

May 5, 2007, 1:54am Top

Hi folks-

Altay, the mysterious new LT employee here. Couple quick things...

First, all you Internet Explorer users who were experiencing slow load times, sorry it took me so long, but I've finally ironed out the kinks.* It should be noticeably speedier now. If you're still experiencing problems, please let me know.

Second, like Tim said, it's clear that some of you love the new feature, and some of you hate it. So the next item on my plate is to let you customize how Affinity is presented, or turn it off all together.

Finally, thanks for all the great feedback (both positive and negative)! I'm psyched to have the chance to support such an active and passionate community, and look forward to making your LT experience even more fun and fulfilling.


* The IE issues turned out to be related to the otherwise-excellent Prototype javascript framework. If any webheads are interested in the specifics, feel free to get in touch.

May 5, 2007, 2:01am Top


Same here, except not AOL.

May 5, 2007, 2:16am Top

*continues to look puzzled* am I the only one who can't see the boxes any-which-where? FF on OSX here, but I also tried on IE6 on XP.

May 5, 2007, 2:31am Top

I love the percentiles and the colors!

May 5, 2007, 2:34am Top


That seems to make at least 3 of us. 2 have private catalogs. In your case perhaps it is because you have few books listed, and most of those aren't shared with many people, so the percent is coming out as zero?

May 5, 2007, 2:54am Top

Ah, I see why that books shared number was low then. Imagine there are lots with more than a couple of hundred in common.

Edited: May 5, 2007, 4:53am Top

Hmmm . . . clever idea, needs some development though. I really don't like the presentation of the data -those little black boxes are far too intrusive. Maybe a row of coloured or a pastel thermometer would offer the info without being so distracting.

On the other hand the information doesn't mean much - I've read the blog OK and understand the intention, but pretty much everyone here is in the 90%+ range, even Altay with whom I have only 31 books in common is at 80%.

And yes, AndrewB you show up as a blank for me so I guess that's smaller libraries (less than 200 books) and private that are excluded.

May 5, 2007, 3:18am Top

Thanks guys, I feel so inadequate :p

May 5, 2007, 3:32am Top


I don't think that private libraries show in "users with your books" on your profile page either, do they?

But on my profile page I see a list of public libraries, so thought I'd see some %s in "Talk.

May 5, 2007, 4:28am Top

99>AndrewB: you have to have at least 5 books in common with someone before it will calculate...

91>rynbooks: I like the %/% idea! It would give a much better picture of MUTUAL commonality.

May 5, 2007, 4:29am Top

Well, even though I don't (yet) quite understand how the percentages are counted (yes, I have read the blog - several times), I do like it. I'm also a color person and it doesn't distract me at all. And I hope that I'll understand the numbers soon :-)

And just for the record, those of you with private or small libraries also show up as blanks for me.

Edited: May 5, 2007, 4:45am Top


It's a percentile, not a percentage. The easiest way to explain it, I think, is by using an example most of us have dealt with, like a standardized test (in the US, that would be the SAT, ACT, GRE, etc; also IQ tests). When you get your score, you get a raw score (the number you got right) and a percentile (for instance, 93%). That 93% doesn't mean you got 93% of the questions right (a percentage), it means you scored better than 93% of the people who took the test (a percentile).

Here, when I see your post, the percentile next to your name is 93%. That means, of all the people on LT, you have more books in common with me than 93% of those other people. If your percentile was 100%, that would mean you shared more books in common with me than anyone else on LT. If there are 100 people on LT and you are at 93%, then you have more books in common with me than 93 of those 100 people.

Gads. Did that make sense at all?

May 5, 2007, 4:49am Top

Yes, it actually does! I feel so stupid...

Edited: May 5, 2007, 6:03am Top

They look ugly to me. Good they'll be optional later ;-)

A solution to keep me from turning it off as soon as I can would be to display it further to the right (just before 'read' for example), and only the percentile, without a frame, without additional colors. I don't mind the information being there, but it's standing much too close to the name (to me).

May 5, 2007, 6:12am Top

#92- Altay.
Welcome! Hope you enjoy working at LT.

Thanks for fixing that lag. Its noticeably better today.

Those with large libraries, are always going to have high %iles with everybody You will probably share >100 myshelves: books with every user - which is the case for only a small cross-secion of LT users, hence you will always be a top percentile. Maybe the weighting could be jiggled as 52 books is still giving an 80 percentile.

I second SilentAway's #75 for a "this is how we calculate group!"

I get a nice contrast from 5-98 percentiles. With a few blanks for no common books, or private libraries. Maybe the weighting could be jiggled as 52 books is still giving an 80 percentile.

May 5, 2007, 6:13am Top

Great idea, but it's too intrusive. The color scheme should be changed or something.

Btw, why do I get -1% for lilithcat?

May 5, 2007, 7:58am Top

Okay, just FYI - this morning I'm getting shared numbers at well over 255. Did it get changed or is really weird stuff happening?

May 5, 2007, 7:59am Top

Altay, Thanks for the fix. It worked for me. So glad you're now a part of the LT team. Welcome!

By the way, I see that the cute little numbered boxes are directing my attention to the posters as well as the messages. That's a good thing, IMHO.

May 5, 2007, 8:01am Top

91> 101>

I'm with you ryn_books and pdxwoman. We really need the % / % values to indicate mutual affinity.

Edited: May 5, 2007, 8:34am Top

Ahhhhh, soooo much better! Yes, it is much faster. And thanks for working on personalized options. I'll definitely keep the percentile up there, I'll just turn off the colors.

(Edited: I'm sorry. The older I get, the more easily I am distracted. It sucks, but I have to deal with it.)

May 5, 2007, 8:35am Top

Previously, I would notice the posters name first; now the boxes draw the eye first. Would like the boxes to be less obtrusive and/or moved away from the name.

Otherwise, I find this an interesting feature. I would just prefer more subtlety.

May 5, 2007, 9:05am Top

Hi there, Altay. Thanks for the fix. I'm enjoying the extra info and the colors don't bother me. In fact I think they're rather easy on the eye.

I believe that after some time we will get so acclimated to them that we most likely won't even notice them... UNLESS we are looking for them.

May 5, 2007, 9:06am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: May 5, 2007, 9:09am Top

Here's a possible alternative presentation - I only changed the CSS - that keeps the info but loses the box and the number.

May 5, 2007, 9:21am Top

> 86
We also came up with some display options . . . off

Thank you.

May 5, 2007, 9:55am Top

>106 reading_fox: Readiing_Fox> But the blog said that the percintiles are calculated based on your weighted libraries should cancel out the large library effect. Still its odd that so many of the people I see are at 95% and above. For some data points, I have mellenen at 98% sharing 82 books, while Greyhead is at 94% sharing 84 books. lilithcat is at 11% sharing 8 books.

I suspect that the numbers are thrown off by a very large number of people with small libraries. I wonder how many dormant accounts there are of people who entered two or three books and never come back?

May 5, 2007, 10:30am Top

#117 - I believe you are correct. I would suspect those people may make up the majority of members of LT. Those of us who post with some regularity AND have more than a handful of books cataloged may actually be in the minority here. According to the Zeitgeist page there are 190,324 members.

May 5, 2007, 11:37am Top

AndrewB: You only have 13 books cataloged. YOu need to share 5 books with someone to have any percentage at all, so you're not going to see many.

>High percentiles. This is a function of who's on Talk—active users with lots of books. That said, when I go into a knitting group it's all below 30%. ;)

>even Altay with whom I have only 31 books in common is at 80%.

First reaction: You have 31 books in common with Altay. You have 31 things to talk about right off the bat. This is good, not bad! Second reaction: This is the bias against less active members with small libraries. (There are a lot of people who came, entered 30 books and left for good.)

>the %/% idea!

I think it would get (more) cluttered.

>I don't mind the information being there, but it's standing much too close to the name (to me).

I get where you're coming from here, but the idea is to make it ubiquitous throughout the site—the same convention of name plus affinity everywhere.

>Btw, why do I get -1% for lilithcat?

Your books are all Unsuggesters for her books? ;) Okay, a bug. She's a 0% for you.


I like that idea. Maybe smaller, like the PR box on the Google Toolbar.

May 5, 2007, 12:15pm Top

115 > Here's a possible alternative presentation

This would work nicely here, I think, but would take up too much space on pages where members' names appear in horizontal lists (such as the author, works-social info, and tag info pages). If the idea is to have this information "ubiquitous throughout the site", then I would want to choose appearance based on how it would look everywhere. That's why I favor the colors, incidentally--I don't particularly care for them here, but I would like them very much in some other contexts (the You and none other list, group membership lists, etc.).

108 > this morning I'm getting shared numbers at well over 255

Really? For me it still seems to be cutting off at 255.

May 5, 2007, 12:22pm Top

I've never seen this as I only share more than 255 books with two other users and I don't think I've ever seen them in Talk.

May 5, 2007, 1:19pm Top

I checked a couple of users who share over 255 books with me; 255 is still the number given.

May 5, 2007, 1:30pm Top

I share over 255 books with a handful of users, only one of whom I see on talk, but for that one, with 258 shared books, the number shows up as 255 and the percentile as 98%. Strangely, but I guess because of the weighting, I have 99% for someone with whom I share only 154 books.

Edited: May 5, 2007, 1:42pm Top

I haven't been here in a while. Just some random observations:

I'm using two dixie cups and some fishing wire (aka dial-up) and this page loaded pretty fast with the percentage thingies. However, as I hit "post a message" the bar is creeping along with the speed of a turtle with sciatica. Not good.

It's not distracting, but I like having new toys to play with. Maybe turning it off could be an option?

May 5, 2007, 1:57pm Top

As just a %, I don't find it useful. It doesn't tell me if we truly have an affinity -- just that they have more of my books than anyone else. Since I'm about 3 books short of 2000, that % doesn't tell me much.

I don't want to have to go check and see if I'm also at a high percentile on the other person's list by checking their profile. I guess I don't like it as much as I first thought...

May 5, 2007, 2:50pm Top

>Strangely, but I guess because of the weighting, I have 99% for someone with whom I share only 154 books.

Well, each percentile is going to represent hundreds or thousands of users.

>However, as I hit "post a message" the bar is creeping along with the speed of a turtle with sciatica. Not good.

Tell me if this remains so. There will be short-term slow-downs, but I haven't noticed this happening generally.

May 5, 2007, 2:51pm Top

You know, it COULD give someone's place in your list—#23 or #3500 or whatever. That way might work better. What do you think?

May 5, 2007, 3:03pm Top

Just a thought - wouldn't a distance metric be more intuitive? The non-symmetry and non-transitivity seem less than optimal.

May 5, 2007, 3:23pm Top

127 > I'm not sure, could that be one of the user preferances?

Edited: May 5, 2007, 3:50pm Top

You know, I'm gradually going off this idea. I don't have a problem with it being there, but it's not something I want to see against every single post. Without the transitivity (nice word!) I don't know if the person who I think is a cool dude in my 99-percentile reciprocates the feeling or thinks I'm a boring fart in his 20-percentile. It's something I'd be very interested to see about members of groups that I belong to, but I'd probably be prepared to go to the Group Zeitgeist page rather than have it switched on all the time. I started a thread to gather this info for one of my groups, but it's not as compact or comprehensive as it would be on the Group Zeitgeist page.

And another thing ... I think in one of the posts to the blog entry, someone put in a request for the results to be logarithmic. I have some sympathy with this idea, because I would want the descrimination at the top end of the scale to be finer in resolution than at the low end.

And another thing ... Time for pizza.

May 5, 2007, 4:04pm Top

I've been catching up on group postings for the last few hours and have found that for the last hour or so, I've ignored the new affinity percentiles completely (colors and all). They were only distracting when they were new (oh, the mind is a wonderful thing). I'm not saying that everyone should like them, but rather that those whose main objection is that they draw too much focus should perhaps give them some time. For those with aesthetic objections, I'm glad that appearance options are in the works.

May 5, 2007, 4:36pm Top

From the blog: "I think it's neat, but given the confusing nature of the "percentiles", might it be better just be expressed as a number (call it a similarity coefficient if you want a geeky name for it!) without the misleading percent sign?"

I like that. Anyone?

Edited: May 5, 2007, 5:49pm Top

#132- Sounds good to me!!

May 5, 2007, 5:03pm Top

132> works for me!

May 5, 2007, 5:09pm Top

The pages are loading very quickly for me today--last night I couldn't even read a long thread with my old puter and dial up as it was locking up before all the numbers loaded. Reboot, reboot, reboot. So thanks! I apprecate the fix....new puter is high on the list but not for a while. I was thinkin for a while I would no longer be able to read the threads.

Colors look good too.

But.....I am getting the 'large library effect" in a different way. I have 500-600 books posted so far so perhaps I'm a low-to-moderate size library. But the 'people in pink' high percentiles I'm getting are from people with very large libraries who I share 5% or less books with. For instance I see clamairy at 96%--we have 27 books in common (she has 1100+); pdxwoman at 85%-we share 19 common books out of her 2000+; haileleb 86% with 31 common books out of her 8200+;nperrin at 85%-we share 12 of her 500 posted books. I'm sure they see my percentiles as pretty darn low!

May 5, 2007, 5:16pm Top

It's always tricky to what extent it's about shared books, and to what extent library size matters. I mean, if we share 50 books, how much does it matter than I have 5,000? I think it depends on the books, frankly. Then there's the problem of incomplete entry. Most people on LT have not actually finished cataloging all their books; many don't want to. If I share 50 books with someone who has 500 books, but really has 5,000, how do we count that?

May 5, 2007, 5:19pm Top

#132 - Yes, but do make it a real metric. I.e., A's similarity to B = B's similarity to A, and if A is very close to B and B is close to C, then A is close to C.

There are lots of ways to do it. To give a concrete example (though at the risk of sounding pretentious), one could represent users as bit vectors indexed by books. To adjust for book frequency, replace the 1's by the IDF of the book. To adjust for library size, normalize. Now everyone is a point on the unit sphere. To get a metric, use arc distance. I.e., dot product gives you cosine, take arc cosine to get arc distance.

Those computations are fast and easy and should actually be very similar to what you're doing now, except that the distances will be symmetric, and will obey the triangle inequality. To get fancy, do dimensionality reduction on the book space. That gets a good bit more expensive, but may give a better distance measure.

Edited: May 5, 2007, 5:29pm Top

I like the similarity co-efficient. Given the amount of fudge (well special sauce presumably) on the weightings this indicates its not an easily translatable term. I'm quite happy for it not to be a "metric" A=B, but would like to see what B's number for me is. ...

There is still a slight lag after posting - all the numbers refresh when you do so, but it's much better than yesterday.

The colours are becoming slightly less intrusive, but I'm still not a fan. Given the high end bunching maybe the palette could be spread lopsidedly, red, pink, purple for 80-99 and the other colours a bit wider. I did like the comment higher up, that instinctively green is "better" than red, so the highest match should be green, with red reserved for very poor matches.

May 5, 2007, 5:31pm Top

#138- "I did like the comment higher up, that instinctively green is "better" than red, so the highest match should be green, with red reserved for very poor matches."

True, I see red and I think 'Danger, Will Robinson.'

Edited: May 5, 2007, 7:43pm Top

Haven't been on for a few days so just finished wading through all the talk....

Love the feature, colors are fine, speed is fine.....BUT. There is a large library bias.

Tim's last post raised some issues for me. I have a small but growing library at 179 titles...as was stated before this may give me high percentiles with some people. They may have 2000 books and I may actually only share 5% of the titles in their library.

Yes it is good to know we can discuss some titles...but it is not a true reflection of similair reading tastes - which I would like to know when looking at reviews. If you have 5 historical fiction novels I love out of 100 it means something different to me than 5 out of 2000. You tell us the # we share when we hover - can it read 5/100 or 5/10000. I think this would be a better indication.

Having said that I love to play with info - thanks for the new fun.

Any news on wish lists!!

May 5, 2007, 11:55pm Top

Once the percentages appear, if there is a name that does not have a percentage, does it mean that you and that person share no books in common?

May 6, 2007, 12:22am Top

141> a person has to have at least 5 books in common with you to get a percentile

May 6, 2007, 12:29am Top

141> and have a public library.

The little boxes are growing on me. I'm beginning to really like them.

May 6, 2007, 1:43am Top

Still no little boxes, just unusually slow loading and timing out, over and over and over. This is not progress, unless you can get the option to turn it off set up PDQ.

Considering how often LT users clamor for other site improvements (user-defined fields, wishlists, etc.,) I wonder why the putatively scarce tech staff time is being devoted to this sort of frippery.


Edited: May 6, 2007, 7:30am Top

I like the percentiles - I wouldn't like to see it replaced by "books shared" - but the coloured boxes are very distracting. Keep the number, but get rid of the box.

EDIT: Well, seeing the percentiles was interesting for about 20 minutes, but other than that I don't see the point of them? Perhaps they should only show up when you wave your mouse over somebody's username.

Edited: May 6, 2007, 3:43am Top

I don't particularly care about the "affinities" themselves, but I agree strongly with those who want the ugly pastel boxes to go away.

Now the constructive criticism: Instead of having the ugly boxes, why not have the affinity and number of books shared pop up when you float your cursor over someone's username? More feature, less ugly.

ETA: The colors really do disrupt the otherwise pleasant scheme of Talk.

Edited: May 6, 2007, 4:50am Top

made me realise why I didn’t see anything. There is only one thread with posters with whom I share any books.

#84 / #180
Just before I reached #84 I thought of storing some logarithmic value in the one byte.

As for the small libraries: I only entered the 5% of my books I’d like to talk about. I’d vote for a weighted ranking in the list of people I do share books with. I don’t know how (perhaps use tags?) but somehow I’d like to restrict the reverse comparison to ”my” category of books.

I like the % / % idea, combined with GreyHeads presentation that would give something like:

|==== |
| ========|

The bars don’t need the distracting colours. It could be shown very small where the onMouseOver shows an enlarged version and perhaps some additional statistics like on the profile page. Just 16 pixels for the length of the tiny bars would allow you to store both values in a byte. It wouldn’t hurt the experience if the onMouseOver took a second (or two?) to retrieve the additional information.

May 6, 2007, 9:52am Top

#144 - you don't see any percentiles because you have a private library and given this fact, it is not surprising you label this social function frippery.

May 6, 2007, 10:31am Top

At the risk of being called a Cranky-Pants, I have a large, public library and consider this to be frippery. I'd much rather have them work on something important than this fluff. But complaining all the time usually only gets you snarky responses. I'm just grateful that Tim allows us to personalize as much as he does.

May 6, 2007, 10:54am Top

The numbers were interesting for a few days, but now I'm finding myself getting crabby (Morphy and I must buy our pants at the same shop) because these pages are loading much too slowly. :o/

May 6, 2007, 11:35am Top

Streamsong -

I see you at 84%.

May 6, 2007, 3:31pm Top

I'm still not seeing anything, numbers, colors, whatever. I double-checked, and I share more than 5 books with all the people I've checked so far, but still nothing. I'm running Firefox 2.0 on Windows 2000 Pro.

May 6, 2007, 4:32pm Top

I still find the numbers can be a little strange because, presumably, of the weighting. For example, I'm in the 99th percentile with someone I share 154 books with and with someone I share 255+ books with, in the 98th percentile with someone I share 67 books with and someone I share 144 books, 104 and 67 for 96th percentile (so, depending on the person's library, 67 books in common can put me in the 96th or the 98th percentile). In other words, I'm still not finding the percentiles that meaningful to me, but I don't have a problem with them being around if others like them.

May 6, 2007, 5:08pm Top

haileb--thanks for letting me know. It's amazing to me that you see at 84% with 31 books shared out of your 8000+ book library (0.4%). For me, it does validate that perhaps the weighting systemdoes have merit.

skullfaced--I see you at 67% with me with 6 books shared. Perhaps someone with firefox will be able to help you.

It still is fun but the first day or two I checked all the common books for every poster--now the new is wearing off and I'm a little bit less obsessed.

May 6, 2007, 5:15pm Top

skullfaced: I'm using Firefox as well and I see 87% (47 shared books) for you. I have no idea why you're not seeing anything.

May 6, 2007, 5:31pm Top

My own 2 cents . . . . The colors are too strong in comparison with the colors of the rest of the site. The first thing I notice when I load Talk is the numbers rather than the person's user name. I would rather see their user name first - that seems a bit more community-like. Perhaps the numbers could be another shade of blue. I'd also get rid of the different colors for different levels of shared interest - it seems to highlight the differences between people too much. Again, not so community-like.

The math is counterintuitive to a non-math person. On the blog comments I saw a recommendation of a sliding scale and/or a scale of 1-10. This would make a lot more sense to me. Perhaps the hover-over could have the percentile?

May 6, 2007, 6:57pm Top

Some comments:
- I don't especially like this feature but can understand if others do;
- The colours seem like a good swatch to have chosen but again, each to their own;
- For me loading has been slower today than yesterday, and it is a little annoying having to wait for the numbers but once up then other pages seem to load as fast as before;
- I'd welcome an on/off switch;
- More fundamentally however the “affinity value”, doesn’t mean very much to me; I just looked at the Sci Fi board where users have been submitting their scores. Science fiction and I have never mixed and I have little or no affinity for the genre; yet 15 out of 25 scores to date are in the 90’s for me, suggesting I have a greater affinity for those users than for others. I understand why because in any library there is a mix of books and several if not many sub collections reflecting a user’s interests. Presumably I’m getting those high scores on some marrying up of our other sub collections but definitely not the Sci Fi aspect. (I imagine that library size matters here, so maybe there are some refinements required to the maths for those of us with larger libraries)
- However if there was a way of finding these users who had the same interests as mine based on my tag cloud for example then I’d be very much more interested – although only interested – I don’t think I’d beat a path to their door – although I may take more notice when one of these “super affiliates” were to comment on a message board, (in fact come to think of it maybe what I need is a way of “only” seeing the comments from these “super affiliates” – it would cut down my browsing time……)
- for that reason I’d rather see these scores as an optional extra on (e.g.) the Zeitgeist page and be able to refer to them when I want, rather than have to see them (and wait for them to load) each time….and BTW a more regular update of the Zeitgeist page would be more welcome to me than these so called “fripperies”.

Edited: May 6, 2007, 7:38pm Top

I've been away for a few days, and now there's so much to absorb! I'll probably post again later. For now, my thoughts are:

i. I think this will be great for reviews.

ii. I'd rather have this on the left of the name than on the right. The name is the thing I pay the most attention to, while the message number and the affinity rating aren't really important. So I don't like having the important thing sandwiched between two unimportant things; it makes it more difficult to see the name at a glance.

iii. I would prefer shades of blue to the colours that are currently there, or a bar like GreyHead suggested (though not on a second line). Even though the colours are pastel, they attract too much attention. Customization will probably deal with this, though.

iv. Yay, customization! But wait.... I thought Tim was absolutely against letting users set their own options for anything? But if it's possible for this, then maybe it will be possible for other things. I'd really, really like to be able to move ratings higher up on the works pages....

v. I think it's misleading that mousing over shows the number of books you have in common. That implies that the rating is based purely on number, not obscurity.

vi. I'm happy with percentiles in general, but the average user would probably prefer just a number, without the percent sign. Even if that number really is the percentile, it might be easier to think of it as an "affinity number" calculated by some mysterious formula (though the formula should be in the FAQ for those who care--new users probably won't read the blog comment).

edit: This also makes it harder to find where I am in a thread. The bold unread used to be the thing that stood out most; now I get distracted by the colour of the number.

May 7, 2007, 5:47am Top

skullfaced - check message 37 - are you using Adblock Plus or any other setting in your Firefox which happens to block Javascript?

May 7, 2007, 10:45pm Top

Alright...apparently without doing anything I am now seeing numbers in boxes. *shrugs* Weird.

May 7, 2007, 10:56pm Top

is there a relationship between the size of the thread and the amount of wait time? It seems to be so to me.

May 8, 2007, 12:39am Top

>161 gautherbelle: Yeah, IE6 choked a bit when I got to this page. I felt like I'd just gone back to dial-up. Pity those who actually are on a dial-up connection...

May 8, 2007, 12:45am Top

And upon posting the above, it sent my browser into (Not Responding) land.

OK, now I just hate these damn boxes.

May 8, 2007, 3:01am Top

Is this what has been making LT so slow??? I hadn't been anywhere near the message boards, and it was taking several attempts to enter each book. I am using IE 6.0, and every time I submitted a change, the little progress bar would hang up at 10%. Several times I had to exit IE and start over.

Then I got on a message board and saw the little % boxes, so had to search for a discussion on that, and this thread took FOREVER to load!

I saw some comments to the effect that the information does not show for private libraries, but it appears that is one way only. My library is private, but I see the colorful little boxes by most of the names.

So far I see no value in this information. Several users who have very interesting libraries show up with very low percentages, and others appear in the 90% range with very few shared books.

May 8, 2007, 3:46am Top

Another downside of IE. I have no problems with speed at home where I use Firefox, but at work where I can't choose browsers and have to use IE, it is extremely slow. At home and at work I have fast broadband connections and I am not really used to waiting for pages to load up to half a minute anymore. I guess I'm spoiled, but it is getting annoying.

Edited: May 8, 2007, 6:10am Top

Any thread with more than 30 or so posts now takes an eternity to load, even though I have very good broadband connection speed. When I click on the thread everything in IE7 locks up for about 30 seconds while the %s load....its a real pain!! :(

May 8, 2007, 6:23am Top

> 166

I have no problems in Firefox.

May 8, 2007, 8:05am Top

#165 & #166 - Same here. I'm using IE 7, and I used to be able to just read other sites on my other tabs while LT was loading when it got slow. Now I can't even view my other tabs because they all freeze while LT loads.

May 8, 2007, 8:21am Top

I'm THIS close to calling our IT guy to ask him to install Firefox on my computer. I am struggling with the reason I should give him... "Mmh, uh, *cough* there's this site I use that is really slow on IE". I'm sure he'd install it right away :-)

May 8, 2007, 8:30am Top

I'm not an IT professional and I installed Firefox in about 2 minutes. Very easy & you can import all your cookies, bookmarks etc. I still intend to run IE7 as my default browser (for all non-LT stuff) however :P

This thread now takes me 7 seconds to load instead of 30 seconds. Thanks henkl :)

May 8, 2007, 8:41am Top

I don't think Affinity has any effect on the rest of the site. If it's been slow, it's because it's been a heavy day—a big European push. But IE, while faster, is not as fast as it should be. Altay has been working through the problem, trying solutions, benchmarking them, etc. He should have something by late afternoon.

Edited: May 8, 2007, 8:49am Top

>170 digifish_books:: Well, yes, I know. That's what I did at home. But we can't install anything ourselves on our work computers (for obvious reasons...). We have to have someone with administrator rights to log on. And that's the IT personnel.

May 8, 2007, 8:56am Top

>172 Thalia:: Oh, sorry Thalia! I had assumed you were at home :P (because I am...). I forgot that people in other time zones might be at work... And yeah, I'm sure your IT guy will understand that your need for LT as being vital for productivity ;)

May 8, 2007, 9:16am Top

>173 digifish_books:: Unfortunately I don't have an IT guy at home... :-) So far I've managed to install everything myself.
Well, I will be home soon as well. Only one more hour here and then I'm off. I guess I should get back to it and actually show some of that productivity...

May 8, 2007, 10:15am Top

I don't find LT markedly slower, but I do notice that the boxes don't always load in Firefox when I first open a thread. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't, but if I click on "reload" they will appear. No apparent pattern in when they load the first time and when they don't.

May 8, 2007, 11:15am Top

i suggest we continue this discussion in a new thread. I've visited several others this morning that are considerably smaller than this one and the wait time is negligible.

May 8, 2007, 11:26am Top

TIM - what happend to your #86 - being able to turn it off by Sunday (ie two days ago?)

The IE lag was ok over the weekend, poor on monday but better by the time I got to this - thanks ALtay if you've been fiddling behind the scenes.

May 8, 2007, 12:54pm Top

Hey everyone, I'm really sorry about the mess.

Basically, there was a problem with Subversion, the system we use for version control on LT. Even though the IE slowness was fixed a couple days ago, this feature would revert to the old, buggy version every time that anything was updated anywhere on the site.

But we know what's up now, and it shouldn't be slow any more -- if it is, let me know.

>177 reading_fox:: reading_fox, #86 is almost done. Just finishing up and testing. Thoroughly. ;-)

May 8, 2007, 6:58pm Top

>178 altay:

Subversion...well the name is sure appropriate

May 8, 2007, 7:34pm Top

Thought I'd use this new feature for several days before stating an opinion.

When I first saw the boxes, the colors were incredibly distracting. After several days, this hasn't changed. My sight is yanked directly to the colored boxes every time, especially with the pink. The rainbow of pastels is putting me in mind of a toddler's bedroom. Or my grandma's couch ; )

As far as the actual data displayed, it's not really doing much for me. I'm getting mostly pink boxes anyway.

May 8, 2007, 9:00pm Top

well, I've only read about half of the messages here, but I seem to be in a minority.

I like the colored boxes and roll overs. Just a note for Tim. :) It's not distracting to me at all. I hope it at least stays an option.

May 8, 2007, 9:32pm Top

Could those who've used the percentages in constructive and novel ways please share with the group.



May 8, 2007, 10:09pm Top

I just have to say that having frivolous features like this added when there are features that are badly needed and much requested that are ignored, feels like a slap in the face.

May 8, 2007, 10:34pm Top

Coming back after just a few days I see a very interesting & technically advanced feature packed in a tiny little colored box. Wow! Can we have a few more such slaps in the face, please?:)

Altay, welcome! More scheme-heads are always welcome (even if they are slumming in Javascript;-). And may I suggest you guys check out other version control systems such as Mercurial? You can find comparisons of various VCS on the net.

Please, *please* write up all the neat things you discover/invent and publish them so that others can stand your giant shoulders. I suspect you guys @ LT are solving some seriously interesting problems!

May 8, 2007, 10:45pm Top

I still like them! And I am finding people with similar libraries...

May 8, 2007, 10:58pm Top

I like them as well, but do understand how some of the people who aren't fans of them feel. That being said, it seems like some are taking this a touch too personally.

Edited: May 9, 2007, 7:55am Top

This is starting to remind me of livejournal.

There is a problem inherent in letting members get so involved in requestion and discussing new features, etc - suddenly users (well, some users) think they (should) have power, and when some function that they personally don't see as useful appears, that means it's not useful for anyone, and clearly the site owners are ignoring the will of the people, etc etc...

It is an unfortunate attitude, but I have seen it before. Some people on livejournal get absolutely furious about new features and changes when they aren't the ones that they think are the most important. And because this new feature appears, it obviously means they aren't working on any other features, too, right?

Imagine the havoc there will be if they ever decide to change the site colors or design. (Well, if you were on livejournal during the past year, you might know...)

I am not, of course, saying that members shouldn't be involved, and I can think of a couple of small changes that I think would be very useful, too. Anyway, this is all just my opinion.

May 9, 2007, 8:05am Top

#187: well said!
Its just boxes guys. Just little boxes. With numbers in 'em.

May 9, 2007, 8:31am Top

>187 bluesalamanders:

I think there's an element of truth in what you say. And its exacerbated by the fact that people get different things out of LibraryThing and can't always understand that other people differ. For example, a certain number of people think all social features are pointless; a larger group couldn't give a fig whether LCC sorts correctly. And, yes, half of users hate the design; the other half says it would leave if it changed.

So, since you introduced the point, how do you think LT can correct for it—involve people without frustrating them.?

May 9, 2007, 8:45am Top

> 189

how do you think LT can correct for it—involve people without frustrating them?

I've always felt that LT does a good job of communicating with users, but perhaps a prominent display of "what we're working on" would alleviate some of the gripes (and I admit I have occasionally griped myself) that LT isn't working on catalogue improvements.

May 9, 2007, 8:55am Top

> Just little boxes

Yes. But Tim asked for more comments (post 39).

May 9, 2007, 8:55am Top

I don't know. We could use twitter for that, I suppose.

I'm worried though. It could be a real straight jacket. For example, John and I spent a whole mess of time on caching and query serialization. If we put that up, people wouldn't "get" it. This goes twice for something like talking to publishers in New York. That's going to give users something free, book-shaped and plural, but I can't talk about it yet, so people complain it's pointless.

May 9, 2007, 8:56am Top

I agree, displaying what's being worked on would help.

It would also be nice if small improvements were either implemented immediately or some explanation were given about why they aren't as easy as they seem. For example, months ago there was a thread where everyone agreed that date columns should sort recent-first on the first click, and you noted that. But it hasn't been done. But to me, this seems like something that should take 10 minutes at most. So an explanation of why it takes longer would be nice.

May 9, 2007, 8:56am Top

Altay has a configuration thing *this close* to ready, btw.

May 9, 2007, 8:57am Top

I don't think it really matters whether we understand it or not; it would still show that something is being done.

May 9, 2007, 9:05am Top

No, I don't mean "understand" in that way. I mean that people would draw the wrong conclusions. It's hard to communicate non-user-facing priorities. The site "for us" is not the site "for you."

For example, I fixed search before some other priorities because the old way was a *serious* problem for stability and speed. And, although it *seems* very simple, it was actually quite hard. But if my twitter feed said "working to prevent servers from melting" for a week, people would get concerned.

Just thinking out loud. I don't have a strong opinion here.

May 9, 2007, 9:09am Top

189 - Tim

Livejournal really hasn't found a good solution for it. They try, with fairly regular updates (monthly, I think?) about what they're doing and working on. They talk about everything - minor bug fixes to major updates.

Something like what lilithcat suggested might help. It doesn't have to be a timeline - in fact, NOT having a timeline is better, so when things inevitably happen to screw it up, people don't get upset - but just a general "we are currently working on featues/updates x, y, and z".

And maybe also something like "we are eventually planning to add/update a, b, and c". That might calm some of the frustrations about certain features that are consistantly mentioned in this group and RSI.

May 9, 2007, 9:14am Top

It would definitely be nice to say "we are eventually planning to add/update a, b, and c". Then maybe there wouldn't be constant new threads asking for wishlists.

It might also be good to say "we are not planning to add d, e, and f" (things like finding all posts by a given user), with an explanation of why not.

May 9, 2007, 9:16am Top

196 - I think it's still better for people to see that you're doing something, even if it has no obvious effects for the user.

May 9, 2007, 9:21am Top

196 Tim -

Yes, but you could say something like "updating the search facility to help stability and speed". Uncomplicated enough that the layman has an idea what it is (if not how) but with enough detail to explain what is going on. I think we all - or, at least, most - understand that there are lots of things that need to be fixed that we won't necessarily see.

I mean, "working to prevent servers from melting" sounds cool, but there really is no need to be so dramatic about it (if you're concerned that we'll be concerned - we might, in fact, just be amused and trust you to fix it).

May 9, 2007, 9:21am Top

I agree on timelines. That would be hard, on both of us. I enjoy having members as colleagues, but I left Houghton Mifflin in order not to have a boss ;)

May 9, 2007, 9:46am Top

Even just a static page - development priorities.

I do like the idea of a "We're not doing this because" page as well. So we all know what not to ask for - or at least on what points to frame our reasons for wanting it.

May 9, 2007, 9:51am Top

It would be nice to see a list something like this:

*We're Working on It

*One Day You'll See It

*Never Going To Happen

With a sentence or two max.

I'd also add a big Disclaimer that the above is for informational purposes and you aren't requesting feedback. Otherwise, everyone will argue with you about what should be your next project. (Even more so than now, that is.)

Maybe you could put in the Blog as a featured article.

May 9, 2007, 10:26am Top

One thing that might help is once or twice a month ~1st and/or the ~15th give a general list of things accomplished since the last update,

3 bugs introduced,
15 bugs fixed
Those irritating orphan posts are fixed.
Added Affinities to talk, Check the Blog!

As a software Engineer, and kinda db specialist in our team, I know how much time db things can take for supposedly small problems that "HAVE" to be fixed.

May 9, 2007, 10:42am Top

I can see that you (Tim et al.) don't want to spend a lot of time updating a list of what you're doing because then you wouldn't be doing it.

And I can see that a lot of stuff is technical.

But I can also see that it's nice to know what you're working on -- partly so people stop (?) posting about the same features they want.

So my suggestion is to have a page that includes something like the following.

Ongoing Projects for Site Stability, Speed, and Growth

You could list a bunch of stuff there and not have to change it much because it's ongoing. It could include technical stuff and "spreading the word" stuff.

Then you could have a list similar to what Morphidae suggests (#203) (although I would leave out the "It's Never Going to Happen" because that will only generate a lot of requests for those very things, unless you do it the way reading_fox suggests in #202).

In this way, you wouldn't have to update it very often, but people would have a sense of what you all are working on -- you might also want to point out at the top of the page how small the LT staff is. Those of us who've been here for a while know that, know how hard you all work, and know how generally responsive you are, but this might be helpful for all the newcomers.

May 9, 2007, 10:43am Top

I'd also think some sort of page showing specific development plans would be helpful. Especially if it gave some indication of why some priorities are bigger tasks than people might think (e.g., they aren't possible until various other bits get rewritten). And why other things get implemented before the items on the list, either because they're something one person can throw together in a day or two, or because they need to be done to keep the servers from melting as the number of users increases.

It would at least let people know if you do plan to implement features that they clamor for. But then an item from the development page would need to get implemented now and then, or people would still get frustrated. And, of course, people could complain that time is being spent writing the development page instead of adding features ;)

May 9, 2007, 11:09am Top

Yay, Tim still remembers about LCC sorting! Hurrah!

...um, case in point. But yeah, I think recommend site improvements is actually really nice, a place where users can brainstorm and complain about the site without the busy busy developers feeling like they're compelled to follow every thread (but at the same time coming in often enough that we feel like what we do here matters.) It can start feeling really frustrating, though, and as if nobody cares, when we go a long time with no visible improvements (not even tiny ones) and the first thing that shows up is something nobody has ever asked for and has no immediate positive impact on the site's function.

(Although I do think that sorting reviews by affinity will be an excellent improvement, and affinities on the 'users with this book' list - it holds possibilities for improving the site-wide usefulness of social functions in ways I've been thinking about but have never been able to come up with a good way to do it - so thanks, guys. Even if I do think that in Talk shades of blue would be better than rainbows and the box should go before the name. :P)

I can see how a 'list of what we're working on' could be more trouble than it's worth, especially as things drop off the list without being finished, or you get working and stop having time to update. Something along the lines of a monthly 'root log' like they used on another site I visited might help with user frustrations, though - just a post at the end of the month talking about the things you *have* worked on, whether visibly or in the background (or even publicity-wise) and why, and how well they're going. The blog sort of serves this purpose, but since you only report finished changes there (which is good, and serves its own purpose) it can go for long periods, while you're working hard, feeling like nothing is being done for the users' concerns.

PS: I'm still getting a weird heisenbug where sometimes I see shared affinites over 255 and sometimes I don't. (also, the post a message box doesn't load right for me for messages numbered higher than about 200. I don't know if that's new or if this is just the first thread that long I've ever tried posting at the end of.)

May 9, 2007, 11:36am Top


The best way to alleviate frustration is usually to undestand why people are frustrated.

It's not about members trying to take complete control, but about expectations. If you say something is going to happen, people are going to be frustrated when nothing happens. Or if it appears nothing is happening (which is where the list would come in).

For instance, on another thread (other sites, just looking!), you listed LT competitors and said:

Seriously, we're amped-up now on development time, so if you see something you like, we can add it..

Instead of seeing any of those options members are requesting here at LT, we get colorful boxes (I know, everyone is probably tired of hearing about those boxes).

If you tell members you can do something if they want it, and produce something else instead, it looks like empty talk, which will create frustration. People just like to know they're being listened to, and that their opinions matter. Especially when they're paying members.

May 9, 2007, 11:46am Top

I still don't understand what the percentages are telling me. I share 86% with one user, we have 52 books in common. Then I share an 89% with someone else and we only have 40 books in common. So obviously the percentages mean more than the number of books in common. What else does it mean?

May 9, 2007, 11:51am Top

209 > It is a percentile, not a percentage and it is weighted, Your obscure books weigh more than Harry Potter, 1984 etc.

May 9, 2007, 11:53am Top

209 Gautherbelle - The way I understand it, it means that the user shares more books with you than 86% of users do, with more weight on obscure books.

May 9, 2007, 12:38pm Top


Given such a diverse audience, you can't please most people most of the time. All you can do is to listen to them, empathise with them, consider their needs along with your own goals, give them some idea of your vision and do your best. And from what I can observe LT seems to be doing a pretty good job of that.

There is such a thing as knowing too much -- that easily can lead to nitpicking and disappointment. I think it is good to leave some mystery in! If you say you are working on some feature, people *will* treat it as a promise to deliver so you have to be careful in how you present it.

I have suggested this before -- a wishlist would be handy. Basically a one line summary of a desired feature someone wants, possibly linked to a thread about it. Having a concise list like this would allow people to vote on something they really want and that can be of use to you and everyone can be on same page to what features are more desired. You can make it clear that just because something is on the wishlist doesn't mean it will be implemented but of course if you are sure to implement something it doesn't hurt to say it will be available at some point.

May 9, 2007, 1:00pm Top

I was a bit cranky yesterday, but it is frustrating to have a group dedicated to users suggesting improvements, but the only improvements that we see for months are things that no one asked for.

May 9, 2007, 1:13pm Top

Thanks for the responses to my questions. Now is there a quick and easy way to see what books I share in common with another user. I know my questions may sound simplistic to you more computer literate people, but I'm just trying to know how to use what I'm given.

Edited: May 9, 2007, 2:41pm Top

how do you think LT can correct for it—involve people without frustrating them.?

You can't avoid frustrating everyone some extent because we want the impossible: all of our requests now. I like how this Talk thread has worked because it allows users to vent their frustration and we know you are listening (which is really important). The alternative is silent frustration which is much worse.

I agree with many above, I would really like to know what LT is working on, and what is in the short and long queue. I guess that danger here is it 1. takes time, 2. hobbles flexibility and 3. might make users demand different priorities.

May 9, 2007, 1:18pm Top

214> currently the easiest way to view what you have in common is click on someones username and on the right hand side of the screen it shows the books you have in common, with a link to show ALL books you share.

Edited: May 9, 2007, 1:38pm Top

214 & 216>

there is also a link to see the books you share at the top of the page when you are viewing another member's catalog.

May 9, 2007, 1:52pm Top

Thanks SilentInAWay. We are in the 98 percentile so I checked out what we have in common. Some of my all time favorites. A few clunkers also. Such is life.

Thanks again.


Edited: May 10, 2007, 2:33am Top

> if my twitter feed said "working to prevent servers from melting" for a week, people would get concerned.

Or we'd understand that this is more important than other features.

> We're Working on It / One Day You'll See It / Never Going To Happen

I like that. If you'd rather 'never say never' you could change it to "Not going to happen any time soon".

I also like the traditional monthly "state of the state" ;-) - but then you'd have to remember everything you did last month; that doesn't seem practical.

Personally, I'm most curious about the things that have been "promised" (wishlist/collections, more author fields, more fields in general?).

May 9, 2007, 2:45pm Top

> 215
we want the impossible: all of our requests now

Impossible? How can this be?

~pouts and stamps her foot~

May 9, 2007, 4:31pm Top

It appears everyone who wanted to edit the affinity views can do so now...

great job LT staff

Edited: May 9, 2007, 4:36pm Top



If I turn it off, can I turn it back on?

Edited: May 9, 2007, 4:37pm Top

All right, you've got options!

Now you can click on the affinity number, and you'll be presented with a choice of a few display styles.

Currently, your choices are...
- Colored box+percent (the way you've been seeing it)
- Percent only
- Colored box only
- Scaled dot (higher affinity = bigger dot)
- Off

Thanks for your patience on this. As usual, lemme know if you've got ideas or bug reports.

May 9, 2007, 4:38pm Top

Yay also!! I find that I like the information - and I love now having the option to have just text, no colors. Thank you!!

May 9, 2007, 4:42pm Top

>222 Morphidae: Yup, you can re-enable it if you turn it off. Roll over the username and it should pop open a little box saying "Show affinity." Click on that guy and you'll see the options menu again.

Morphidae, you've had a change of heart since >6 Morphidae: "EW EW EW EW EW!!!!" ? =)

May 9, 2007, 4:44pm Top

Very cool! I turned the little colored boxes back on. I like them.

May 9, 2007, 4:45pm Top

I just hated the colored boxes. I like the idea in general. And I like that I can turn it off if LT is being slow then back on again later.

May 9, 2007, 4:50pm Top

After selecting the one with a percent but no coloured box, I'm still not seeing anything. Has it just become incredibly slow? I looked at a few shorter threads and didn't see it there either, but the option to show affinities when rolling over the username has gone away.

May 9, 2007, 4:51pm Top

Ok. I, with a private library, finally see the little numbers. Sorry; I find them useless. If I see 95% for people with whom I share 70 or so books, what would it show for those with whom I share over 500?

I do LOVE being able to turn it off. It was freezing my computer during a very slow loading period.

I second the suggestions about being told what is being worked on, considered, will never happen, etc. And I think that there should be a Group one could join (perhaps one that only staff could post to) for such announcements/reports. Discussion, protest, requests could remain on Site Improvements.

At present, one isn't sure where to look to find out what is going on, and it is too easy to miss a topic that contains such info.

May 9, 2007, 4:54pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

May 9, 2007, 4:56pm Top

Is anyone else having the unread not go away even though they've been read?

May 9, 2007, 5:04pm Top

>227 Morphidae: Right, if the feature is turned off, it won't try to load anything, so it should be a bit faster.

That being said, if it does feel especially sluggish, don't hesitate to let me know.

May 9, 2007, 5:09pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

May 9, 2007, 5:10pm Top

Nice. The numbers alone look fine to me.

May 9, 2007, 5:22pm Top

Just a Thanks to Altay.

I've gone for the little dots. Useful without being too intrusive or confusing.

May 9, 2007, 5:59pm Top

When did the colorful boxes change to just bold percentages? While I miss the colors, I know it's easier to focus on things like usernames versus percentages. I admit it looks nicer.

May 9, 2007, 6:08pm Top

Er... how do we go back to the numbers% display without the parentheses? That's how they were displaying before I decided to check out other options--but it doesn't seem to be included in the edit...

May 9, 2007, 6:14pm Top

I'm finding the dots show the information intuitively without being distracting.

May 9, 2007, 6:27pm Top

I like the dots. Much better, thanks!

Edited: May 9, 2007, 6:43pm Top

I'm going to answer my own question in case someone else is wondering the same thing (RE #236).

If we click the percentages (or the place where they once were), we have the option of selecting one of five different things:
->the colorful box with a percentage,
->the percentage in parenthesis,
->the colorful box alone,
->the colored dot,
->or off altogether.

Wish someone had explained that so some of us wouldn't be clueless. Luckily, I found out on my own by mistake. For the record, those are some really good options. :)

May 9, 2007, 6:44pm Top

Altay did explain it--see post 223.

May 9, 2007, 6:46pm Top

I'm having a weird thing happen now. When I hover over the percentile, I get the box that says how many works I have in common with the person. But, I also now get a lil gray box that repeats the number. No other text with it, just the number of works we have in common...so two boxes are showing up now.

May 9, 2007, 6:46pm Top

#241 cabegley:
Oh, sorry about that! I was reading this post when LT went down for a few minutes. It must have caused me to miss it.

My apologies, Altay! :)

May 9, 2007, 6:50pm Top

>243 Kerian: No worries, Kerian! It's probably worth reiterating every 10 posts or so. =)

>242 kawika: Kawika, working on it.

May 9, 2007, 6:51pm Top

Yay Altay!

Could we have an option with no parenthesis?


May 9, 2007, 6:53pm Top

>242 kawika: That's alt text for people who don't have images turned on in their browsers or are using accessibility programs like text-to-speech.

May 9, 2007, 6:58pm Top

My only suggestion would be to not have the "Show Affinity" pop up if the Affinity is already on.

May 9, 2007, 7:17pm Top

>242 kawika:, >246 DaynaRT: Fixed. You shouldn't see the extra hovery thing anymore.

>247 readafew: Also fixed. "Show Affinity" won't pop up unless affinity's off.

May 9, 2007, 7:37pm Top

Tim suggested we move this party over to a new thread, since this one's getting so long.

So if you've got something to say about Affinities, say it here.

Please don't post here anymore... this thread has gotten too long!

Here's the continued thead.

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