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CoverGuess: A game with covers

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Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 2:55am Top

After a brief try-out on the Beta Group, CoverGuess is live.

More soon.

Update: I love that nobody's posting. Everyone's trying to win—to beat ConceptDawg!

Mar 2, 2010, 3:20am Top

I am trying to beat divinenanny. ConceptDawg is slow comparatively.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:25am Top

Can I suggest setting a cookie for only seeing the light box once (or once a week or some other period).

And can I suggest that scores be re-set after a specified period (daily? weekly?), with a hall of fame for those that get the most points (top 10?) in any given game period.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:36am Top

And can I suggest that scores be re-set after a specified period (daily? weekly?), with a hall of fame for those that get the most points (top 10?) in any given game period.

Yeah. I'll a "best today" or something.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:41am Top

2, I am trying to stay ahead of you ;)

Mar 2, 2010, 3:44am Top

You're a terror!

Mar 2, 2010, 3:44am Top

I have to give up. It's well after my bed time.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:47am Top

That's okay. There's no shame in being number two. Numero dos. Second banana. Also-ran. Silver medal. Newsweek. Pepsi.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 3:51am Top

Oooh, poor KingRat, and the sun just came up here ;). But that does mean that you can probably catch up when I am turning in tonight ;).

And for me, Pepsi will always be number one ;)

ETA, but there is a "cheating" mechanism/error in there. Sometimes you get the same cover twice. Entering the exact same keywords (they are never far apart, so this is not hard) gives you maximum points.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:52am Top

Yeah, it's because the databases are struggling right now. We just did this massive rollover of tables, and we're in trouble.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:54am Top

:/ Trouble never sounds good. I guess this is my cue to stop fooling around and get back to work....

Mar 2, 2010, 3:56am Top

I'm "retiring" for the night (actually very early morning here) while I am ahead of Tim. I'm sure he'll pass me again in five minutes (or less), but I'll be sleeping soundly, knowing I was ever-so-briefly ahead...

Cool game.

Mar 2, 2010, 7:38am Top

I've been really enjoying this, but I've noticed if everybody before you skipped you get 0 points if you actually tag the cover. Would be nice if you got the 0.25 for trying since you are the actual first person to tag it.

Mar 2, 2010, 8:03am Top

Great, fun way of getting good tags, Tim! Congratulations!

Mar 2, 2010, 8:21am Top

Also lots more for the tag combiners to do!

Mar 2, 2010, 8:33am Top

Is there no way to include points when people match off you? Otherwise after this is up for awhile, newer members are going to be racking up points like nothing. Even a small amount like 1/10th of a point per match would be ok.

Not that it matters, I'm having fun regardless. :D

Mar 2, 2010, 8:36am Top

The goal is to have fun, but also to build up a database of cover descriptions, to answer questions like "Do you have that book with bride on the bicycle?"

Very useful for the "Name that Group" book, or the poor folks who toil in retail. ("You know, that red book with the girl on the cover!"

Mar 2, 2010, 8:49am Top

Ack! Make it stop! I have to work!

(P.S. Is there a way to edit our tags to fix typos?)

Mar 2, 2010, 9:14am Top

I'd definitely like a way to correct typos.

Mar 2, 2010, 9:30am Top

Bah! You only have to be careful like me and avoid making tpyos.

Mar 2, 2010, 9:34am Top

Same here. :o(

Plus, someone please... MAKE ME STOP!

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 9:37am Top

20: But being careful would require us to slow down! :P

I accidentily typed "Aberham Lincoln" ...

Mar 2, 2010, 9:44am Top

I typed 'berad' instead of 'beard.'

Mar 2, 2010, 9:53am Top

Just hit my high. 34 matches on one book. As more people play 100 should be possible.

Mar 2, 2010, 9:56am Top

Hmm. Strangely unaddictive. I usually like this sort of thing, but once you've seen one airbrushed dragon, you've seen them all, and once you start putting in sarcastic tags, the hit rate goes down to zero very quickly.

Mar 2, 2010, 10:07am Top

I just got 38 with The Irresistible Revolution. :o

What's going to happen when each book has hundreds of entires?

Mar 2, 2010, 10:09am Top

I have just (a) wasted my lunch break and (b) discovered I cannot spell.

Mar 2, 2010, 10:11am Top

Being unable to type/spell is actually going to be an huge advantage to LT with this - when it's automated many querries will be equally misspelt/mistyped. So correct covers will still be returned!

Mar 2, 2010, 10:13am Top

Hit 50 on the Sherlock Holmes.

Mar 2, 2010, 10:32am Top

gah!, if I could speelll, I'd be doing sooo much better....

Mar 2, 2010, 10:37am Top

My life is complete. For a moment, briefly today:


(Tim, stop forcing me to waste my time here!)

Mar 2, 2010, 10:49am Top

#31 - And in the time it took you to upload that you lost your spot! I am going to go give the dog a bath and try to forget I EVER found this game. ;o)

Mar 2, 2010, 11:22am Top

Just woke up. (It was a LONG night.)

I must say, I predicted this would be catnip to some of you. :) When I went to bed I was in third place!

Some point soon I'm going to open it up to more covers from the same works. We need to cover more of them. But I need to somehow deal with the problem of covers that are basically the same.

Mar 2, 2010, 11:28am Top

Found a bug: under certain circumstances, it will stop giving me new covers and cycle through the last pair. Still working on just what those certain circumstances are: it seems to be related to skipping covers, but somehow that can't be right. I've skipped plenty of covers with nothing going wrong, and at least once it happened when I know I submitted a tag.

Mar 2, 2010, 11:29am Top

There's no way to close the instructions window in the iPod touch browser. And do we really need to see the instructions every time we visit the page?

Mar 2, 2010, 11:30am Top

>34 AnnaClaire:

It's when the DB is behind and you're moving quickly.

Mar 2, 2010, 11:32am Top

>36 timspalding:
So how do we get the DB to catch up? Sometimes it really doesn't take that long to know I won't think of anything.

Mar 2, 2010, 11:46am Top

I just got a new high (for me) of 73 matches :-)

Mar 2, 2010, 11:48am Top

Also, the quality of some of the covers is so bad you can't tell what it's supposed to be. At some point, can you weed out just the really low res ones?

Mar 2, 2010, 11:59am Top

39> That's easy points! "blurry" ;)

Mar 2, 2010, 12:12pm Top

Yeah, I save "blurry" for when the cover's IMAGE is blurry. Cheater!

Mar 2, 2010, 12:23pm Top

I never expected so many dragons. Sheesh. Better than unicorns, I guess.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:25pm Top

> 42

I've never seen so much fantasy and science fiction in my entire life!

Mar 2, 2010, 12:26pm Top

Way too addictive; had to quit.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 12:30pm Top

> 32

Ha, yes, I expected it would! It's okay, I don't actually have that much time to devote to it today. But I wanted to bask in my brief moment!

ETA: Wow, the ease of getting points has shot up SIGNIFICANTLY since I did it this morning. I'm regularly getting 20+ points, while earlier I was lucky to break 10.

I just got EIGHTY SIX on a single cover!

That's a good sign for number of tags per cover!

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 12:27pm Top

I know. And it's not like I'm favoring anything. Dragons, dragons. As I twittered, it really confronts you with all the cliches of book covers. Dragons is one. But also backlit woods, sepia photographs, legs and feet, fog.

Meanwhile, joririchardson must be stopped.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:31pm Top

If we all came up with a tag to indicate bad scans - say, poor quality, or bad scan - and used that rather than blurry, it would not only be freeish points, but could make weeding out bad covers pretty easy.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:34pm Top

I'm seeing a lot of tags that are describing the book's content, rather than the covers.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:36pm Top

We're so programmed to tag books that it takes a little while to learn to tag the covers objectively.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:45pm Top

>48 lilithcat:

Really? Well, that's going to be noise. We're going to mash this data up with our tag data, so you can say "What's the economics book with the eagle on the cover?" not just "What's the book with eagle on the cover?" So it will just wash out, as it were.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:46pm Top

We're so programmed to tag books that it takes a little while to learn to tag the covers objectively.

Yes it might be better if you all tagged some other category of things. Maybe we could do a swap with another site, and you could tag bird photos, or something.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 12:47pm Top

47> I think part of this is meant to make it approachable to users who never set foot in talk and would therefore not be in on any "standard" tags we make up here.


I want to see something like this coming out of this tagstravaganza.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:46pm Top

#48 - Blame me for one or two of those. I started playing BEFORE I had my coffee... and automatically typed in regular tags.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:48pm Top

#49 - EXACTLY!

Mar 2, 2010, 12:49pm Top

#46 - I was expecting more bodices and fewer dragons.

#52 - Glowy magic! I am so using that from now on.

Mar 2, 2010, 12:49pm Top

Yes, I've been tempted to type "glowy magic" already because of that chart. (I blogged that chart once. I love it.)

Mar 2, 2010, 12:50pm Top

I was expecting more bodices and fewer dragons.

True of life generally.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 12:51pm Top

56> I knew it! I was thinking I'd found that chart via LT somehow, but my google searches were fruitless. Didn't think of googling it back to your blog.

You know, this opens up a potential exploit - just type swords for everything, blazing through covers just as fast as LT will offer them. :D

57> LOL (no, really)

Mar 2, 2010, 12:52pm Top

59> So when do we get charts from this stuff? :)

Mar 2, 2010, 12:53pm Top

> 52

Right, I understand that - what I'm suggesting is something we could be doing /while/ we're doing this that benefits the site as well. Identifying bad cover scans in /addition/ to tagging to help whoever might be looking for a book.

I am, for the record, using 'bad scan' - if something comes of it and it's useful, awesome! And if not, then in the long run, it'll end up just noise.

Mar 2, 2010, 1:00pm Top

Is this using mostly Amazon covers? I have Netscape set to not show me Amazon images, and I don't see any covers.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 1:04pm Top

62> Yes.

ETA: C'mon, Tim, now that Amazon owns 40% of LT via their purchase of ABEBooks, surely you can just set LT to scarf down copies of their covers and make them your own. It's not like they'd be stupid enough to sue themselves, right? Right? ;)

Mar 2, 2010, 1:14pm Top

So we're supposed to get points for being the first to tag a cover, yet I've had a number of instances where I receive no points because I didn't match tags with any of the previous taggers--all who skipped the cover without tagging.

Is the first person to see the cover (regardless of tagging) getting points?

Mar 2, 2010, 1:32pm Top

I've improved it so that you should get credit if you are the first non-skipper who tags.

Mar 2, 2010, 1:46pm Top

"completely dark cover of meaningless" would also apply to a lot of the books by/about Friedrich Nietzsche.

Mar 2, 2010, 1:48pm Top

I haven't seen many mood tag, but that wouldn't be amiss.

Mar 2, 2010, 1:49pm Top

Dang it. I already tagged one that qualified for Glowy magic. I did say Glowing, at least.

Mar 2, 2010, 1:54pm Top

46: As I twittered, it really confronts you with all the cliches of book covers. Dragons is one. But also backlit woods, sepia photographs, legs and feet, fog.

Yea, I've been getting chairs. Lots and lots of chairs...

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 2:04pm Top

Couple of thoughts. First, it might be good in the instructions to give an example exactly like it would be typed. Something like:
chainmail, dragon, glowy magic

Initially, I read through a couple of times and still couldn't figure out for sure if I was supposed to be doing that or "chainmail dragon glowy magic" (no commas). Yeah, to people who are used to tagging it was probably a no-brainer because they've been programmed to enter that into any tag box. But this was me, and at 1am or so. I'd say if I can't understand it then, there might be a chunk of users who even at 3pm won't. So maybe an example on the intro page would clarify it.

Second, It seems a bit of a weakness that the score now is simply based on time spent. If I have an hour, I'm going to lose to anyone who has three hours, no matter how good I am. Maybe another scoreboard that might be interesting would give an average number of points per hour, along with an all-time high average. Make it a rolling average of your last hours worth of playing the game (play less than an hour, no average for you!).

So it would just be a column that says:

Your hot streak
Best today: X pts/hour
Rank: Y

Last hour: Z pts/hour

Hot Streaks:
1. caras_galadhon (A)
2. saltmanz (B)
3. DeadGoodBooks (C)
4. Nerilka (D)

Or something like that. It might help promote people to play it casually who would otherwise see the daily scores of the people who've been playing it for hours and just think "why bother?"

Mar 2, 2010, 2:20pm Top

70> Immediately below the tag box, it specifies "tags separated by commas".

Mar 2, 2010, 2:27pm Top

46, 69

Trees. About a billion trees. It's like there's a latent memory in the paper asserting itself.

Hey, I sense a fantasy/horror plot in that...

Mar 2, 2010, 2:30pm Top

71> Yes, I am and was aware of that. It doesn't specify what a "tag" means in this instance. In the popup, it says "We give you covers, and you describe them in words." It doesn't say tags. Plus, sometimes words do need commas, sometimes they don't

For example, I wasn't sure if I should type
red sweater
red, sweater

That's why I think an example would be helpful. Maybe my example wasn't the best one and a better one (or more) could be put there.

Try to approach this as a user who is unfamiliar with the system, rather than someone to whom tagging is old hat. And then add onto the top of that that this game is being pitched as "describing covers in words" rather than "tagging covers with categories that they fit in".

Mar 2, 2010, 2:53pm Top

Any chance we could get a bigger entry box? I tend to type without looking at it, then cast my eye over it before hitting send. I'd have less typos if I could see everything I'd typed on the screen.

I've gone from 200 something to 104 rank in just over an hours play.

Mar 2, 2010, 2:58pm Top

Bah! I just met my first unicorn!

So, I leave to take my daughter shopping, and come back to find I dropped something like 30 places... Dagnabbit!

Mar 2, 2010, 3:00pm Top

75: I know. I left at 12th earlier and came back to 50th. And I left to go READ for crying out loud. =P

Mar 2, 2010, 3:00pm Top

#75 Just think what it'll be like when you get up tomorrow morning and people on the other side of the world have been playing ALL NIGHT and overtaking you in hordes.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:03pm Top

Who said anything about sleep? *feverishly continues tagging*

Mar 2, 2010, 3:04pm Top

I wish I would quit spelling penguin as penquin... gah!

Mar 2, 2010, 3:08pm Top

I've gone from 200 something to 104 rank in just over an hours play.

Only.. :)

Mar 2, 2010, 3:13pm Top

Is it coincidence to frequently get 2 very similar covers in a row? For example, once I got two cival wars novels in a row, once it was two fantasy covers with dragons, and once I got two WWII "soldier in a trench" covers. And I just now got 2 covers featuring nudity (The Complete Poems and On Blue Waters)

Mar 2, 2010, 3:18pm Top

I think I'd better stop. My tags are getting more caustic.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:20pm Top

Arrghhh, aren't there enough ways to waste time on LT? I can't stop. Not that I want to, but how do you skip covers? I can't find it in the instructions.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:21pm Top

83: Just hit the submit button without entering anything, and you'll skip it.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:24pm Top

>81 Ape:

Thanks for the nudity links! :)

It's a coincidence, it's like how the iPod seems to know what you want. :)

Arrghhh, aren't there enough ways to waste time on LT?

Up to 1/4 of online members have been playing it at one time. I hope that calms down, or we'll never catalog another book again!

Mar 2, 2010, 3:27pm Top

84: Thanks

85: or we'll never catalog another book again! Arrghhh!!!

Mar 2, 2010, 3:28pm Top

Thanks for the nudity links!

Yea well, if I had to look at naked men I thought I'd force it on a few other people as well. Plus, there was a small chance some people would be blinded(temporarily, of course) and that would give me the opportunity to pass them in points. >:)

Mar 2, 2010, 3:30pm Top

65> I've improved it so that you should get credit if you are the first non-skipper who tags.

You know, it occurs to me that an evil strategy is to never skip a cover, but to enter some crap just in case it's the first time anyone has ever tagged the cover. Thus giving yourself automatic points and denying someone else "first non-skipper" points.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 3:33pm Top

88: I've only come across 1 book without tags, so you'd probably be wasting more time doing that than just entering accurate tags in the first place.

Mar 2, 2010, 3:47pm Top

89> Au contraire

Not that it's helping me anyway, at 0.25 points a pop...

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 8:47pm Top

I just got a cover with glowy magic!

Mar 2, 2010, 3:56pm Top

such an addictive addition to LT!

I've been marking some both "blurry" and "low res" in case that is useful in the future for IDing covers we need rescanned.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 4:01pm Top

why is Ellis Island being tagged for pictures of the statue of liberty? wouldn't liberty island be better?...

Oh, and I am using bad scan for poor quality pics.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 4:11pm Top

93> Not really, if I was thinking of that cover and saying "I'm looking for that book with the picture of Ellis Island on the cover." Mistakes are fine, because they'd be the same mistakes people would make when trying to find a particular cover.

Granted, they wouldn't be great if you really wanted a straight-up query of all the covers with the real Ellis Island on them, but I'm not sure that's what this is geared towards.

ETA: I guess, in theory, you'd have a larger % of hits on Liberty Island out of the total number of people who tagged it, and a small % of people tagging it Ellis Island. Maybe you could use that data to figure out that Liberty Island is right and Ellis Island is wrong. Of course, you have to make the dangerous assumption that the crowd actually has some wisdom...

Mar 2, 2010, 4:09pm Top

> 93

why is Ellis Island being tagged for pictures of the statue of liberty?

Because people dont know any better?

Mar 2, 2010, 4:21pm Top

4 people had it tagged Ellis and I was the only one to tag it liberty.

94> ya, I know, if many tag the same they will be able to find it, however i was in the minority on the book cover I tagged, so the group think happens to be wrong in this one.

Mar 2, 2010, 4:28pm Top

I'd think five people is probably way too small a sample size to be drawing any conclusions yet.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 4:59pm Top

Ranked back down in the 50's again. I see this is going to be a never ending battle! :)
Edit: Oh wait, I read that wrong. Only 30. Whoohoo!

Mar 2, 2010, 5:03pm Top

98> I could already see that, and hence I actually just lost interest. It's even worse in that the more people tag, the more likely you are to get points because you matched other tags. So points per book are just going to keep increasing, always giving new challengers a leg up over your score when you quit. Even with my "hot streak" suggestion, inflation is gonna get ya.

Mar 2, 2010, 5:05pm Top

I think the users/covers ratio got distended by a user who went absolutely mad today. We always give you another cover if you are out, and that cover then gets added to the general pool. So, if a member does more than 1/5 of the work of the feature, other members can end up "following" that member rather more often. It actually has a certain redistributive effect, as the eager member has fewer opportunities to match on others' tags.

Mar 2, 2010, 5:06pm Top

Well, so long as you continue, you'll be getting all those big points too. But there definitely is a lot of benifit to letting other people build up the tag database.

I just hit it big with I, Coriander. There is SO MUCH going on with that cover that there were tons of tags for it!

Mar 2, 2010, 5:08pm Top

It's even worse in that the more people tag, the more likely you are to get points because you matched other tags.

No, actually not. It doesn't keep tags open. Once a tag hits 5 members, it's closed. (Some get more because multiple users got the page before any of them could hit "submit.") So, unless a member can do more than 1/5 of the work in a given period, every member should have an absolutely equal chance of being in position 0-5 on any given book.

Mar 2, 2010, 5:10pm Top

I wonder how many covers I'll have to do before I get one of my own books. It's rare to even get one I've heard of.

Mar 2, 2010, 5:12pm Top

I know. It's an eye-opener. People read some shit books! ;)

Mar 2, 2010, 5:15pm Top

Actually, I've found lots of covers that made me say "Wow, I really want to read that!" Fortunately, writing it down would slow me down, so my alread-huge wishlist hasn't grown too much...yet...

Mar 2, 2010, 5:16pm Top

102> I ran into a lot where only one or two people had tagged before me. I tried one right at this moment and three people had tagged it and one had skipped. The next one I tried had two people tagging it. Oh, and then the next one had 7 members, counting me. Is it that three of us had it up on the screen, so it wasn't going to shut out the other two of us when it hit five?

I left the page open and it sat there while I typed this. Then I submitted and it had 12 members, counting me. Yeah, so I'm finding if I go through fast, there are fewer members, and if I go through slow, there are more. I'd have to sit down and really think on it to decide if there was a best strategy. It's definitely no good to get out in the weeds where no one had matched anything, like I did earlier.

Mar 2, 2010, 5:19pm Top

.... See, THIS is why I flail in frustration when I can't get online for one freakin' night. *glares at Tim*

Yet another awesome time-waster. Tim, you are eating up my internet time! I can't spend ALL my time on LT! ........ Well, maaaybe...

I love it. It's creative and fun and yay!

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 6:08pm Top

It is AMAZING what some people can see in these covers! What are they taking??

ETA - I've just got four matches with the blank space after four skippers 'skipped' line. I entered a comma after the last of my tags. Is this meant to happen?

Mar 2, 2010, 6:29pm Top

Top tags so far:

blue 7275
woman 6771
red 6539
man 5995
black 5338
white 5326
green 3771
yellow 3542
girl 2749
orange 1972
trees 1875
purple 1705
face 1553
water 1497
boy 1359
pink 1339
sky 1335
tree 1275
house 1172
clouds 1112
sword 1083
horse 1082
brown 1082
text 998
photo 942
black and white 912
flowers 905
moon 892

Mar 2, 2010, 6:30pm Top

ETA - I've just got four matches with the blank space after four skippers 'skipped' line. I entered a comma after the last of my tags. Is this meant to happen?

Fixed. You may see those points vanish.

Mar 2, 2010, 6:32pm Top

Damn! Why didn't I keep my mouth shut?

Mar 2, 2010, 6:33pm Top

109> Thanks Tim, that's the last finishing touch my script needed.


Mar 2, 2010, 6:46pm Top

It's frustrating when my number of matches are low because people misspelled one of the words I used, or used the same words but together instead of seperate, etc.

Mar 2, 2010, 7:08pm Top

I have to hand it to you Tim, you accomplished what I might have considered nigh impossible. There's not been a single post in Recommend Site Improvements since last night. And in Site Talk, there's been two posts today - the one trying to censor your CoverGuess blog post and the one about the Goodreads iPhone App.

I think the codename for CoverGuess should have been PonyKiller. Or at least ConstantRequestsForPoniesKiller.

Mar 2, 2010, 7:18pm Top

Is there a way to edit your tags if you made a typo or a mistake?

Mar 2, 2010, 8:02pm Top


Maybe we could do a swap with another site, and you could tag bird photos, or something.

I've already seen mislabeled birds on covers here! Cost me a point because someone couldn't tell a frigatebird from a "seagull".

Mar 2, 2010, 8:08pm Top

I don't think I could tell a frigatebird from a seagull, though I haven't run across that cover . . . yet.

This is seriously addictive.

Mar 2, 2010, 8:21pm Top

Tim> You've got some spillover on your scores box, at least in FF 3.5.7, IE8, Safari 4 and Chrome on XP.

Mar 2, 2010, 8:23pm Top


I'm sure a lot of people couldn't (in silhouette, anyway, which is what the cover was), I'm just surprised at people confidently assigning wrong labels instead of going with "bird, silhouette".

Mar 2, 2010, 8:25pm Top

Oh my god, that game is an *evil* eater-of-time.

Lorax, I've been visualizing myself as a "Name that Book" poster and entering both the correct tags, and what I think an unfamiliar person's best guess would be. :)

...Also, I'm using the tag "blurry" for a cover where it's clear that the photo was deliberately blurred in the original - can people tagging for bad scans please specify it's the scan that's blurred, and not the original? I don't want to be looking for a book that I remember as having a blurred portrait on the cover, and come up with every bad scan on LT...

Mar 2, 2010, 8:48pm Top

My God, that's addictive. I have to stop now or dinner will never be ready.

Edited: Mar 2, 2010, 9:21pm Top

I honestly thought it looked like a seagull. I was surprised though when I saw other players calling it a dove or a crow. At least a frigate bird, whatever it is, sounds nautical

Mar 2, 2010, 9:53pm Top

114> Bread and circuses for all!

Mar 2, 2010, 10:57pm Top

I've been playing it safe and doing things like "crow, raven, bird."

>120 melannen: I'm using bad scan.

There should somehow be bonus points for being the first to use a technical term for something.

Mar 2, 2010, 11:23pm Top

Hey, has this novelty slowed down cover uploading to catalogues? I know I'm on a super-slow connection, but this is ridiculous, it's the second day I can't upload any covers.

Mar 2, 2010, 11:28pm Top

oh dear, I should stop. Getting snarky. Have tagged a book as "heteronormative romance".

Mar 2, 2010, 11:37pm Top

So, reconditereader, what kind of a cover gets "heteronormative romance"? Inquiring minds want to know. ;-)

Mar 2, 2010, 11:37pm Top

My favorite typo so far is Barbed wife.

Mar 3, 2010, 12:18am Top

"I've already seen mislabeled birds on covers here!" I figure if people (like me) are trying to recollect a cover the generic (even if wrong) description is more likely to be what they think of. I know I would think: what was that interesting book with a seagull on the cover? even if it technically wasn't a seagull. Likewise I can't tell a rat from a mouse. So I sort of play this like a word association game rather than a right/wrong thing :)

Mar 3, 2010, 12:37am Top

127 staffordcastle, you know, those ooky ones with a man and a woman holding hands and running in the sunshine and smiling and in soft-focus and, and, UGH.

I totally do the thing from 120: I imagine how I would describe this cover if I had forgotten it and had only a vague general impression of it, couldn't remember, and was fishing around in my memory. That's why tagging something as seagull when it's really a frigate bird is ok. (-:,

Mar 3, 2010, 12:43am Top

128> The Barbed Wife? Wasn't she in The Canterbury Tales?

Edited: Mar 3, 2010, 1:05am Top

130: Ooohhh I haven't gotten any of those icky-romantic ones yet. *evil smile* Wonder what I'll tag those...

I love this because I can branch out so much. With my personal tags, I try to use things that I know I'll use on other books too (I hate using a tag only once). But here, with covers, I can do stuff like "bending man" and "gold drapes" and it's fun!

edit: I'm number 20 in the "last hour" list right now! Totally made my night.

Mar 3, 2010, 1:28am Top

Hey, has this novelty slowed down cover uploading to catalogues? I know I'm on a super-slow connection, but this is ridiculous, it's the second day I can't upload any covers.

What happens—a timeout?

Mar 3, 2010, 1:30am Top

I've only been getting 0.25 for being first, for the last zillion books. No fun anymore. I want to see what others have tagged!

Mar 3, 2010, 6:16am Top

Plurals. Bah. Can't we combine them or something.

Mar 3, 2010, 6:33am Top

And one word-two word identicals - fryingpan vs frying pan, dragonrider vs dragon rider...

Mar 3, 2010, 7:17am Top

So... many... dragons... and castles on top of hills.

Is is possible to contract OCD? beacause if so, I think I've just gotten it...

Seriously, though, I don't think it's that bad to misdefine things - people searching for covers later are just as likely to mistake things as we are - I mean, how do you tell a crow and a raven apart anyway?

Edited: Mar 3, 2010, 7:25am Top

#137 Yes, and there was one where I correctly called the animal a mule (look at the ears and body), and everyone else had called it a horse. But I guess that means people looking for the cover would call it a horse too.

Mar 3, 2010, 7:32am Top

Reminds me of a Henry Reed poem about describing fields of fire in the British Army:

"There are three kinds of tree, three only, the fir and the poplar,
And those which have bushy tops to".

Infantrymen have no subtlety.

Mar 3, 2010, 7:46am Top

Ah, yes, but that was before "How to recognise different trees from quite a long way away - No.1: The Larch"

Mar 3, 2010, 8:42am Top

Couldn't we have the ability to correct a typo, even if it does not lead to more points for us? Mine just make me crazy. :(

Mar 3, 2010, 8:48am Top

Aw, this morning I'm finding that every 5th cover I do or some such is a brand new one (low points!). And then probably another 1/5th are ones that only one or two people have tagged (low points!).

Could we maybe add stats for total number of covers done? That would make such time periods a little less discouraging!

Mar 3, 2010, 9:03am Top

#141, Ditto.

Mar 3, 2010, 9:37am Top

A quarter point for a cover no one else has tagged yet is so chincy for the effort put in. We should at least get a half point per tag for putting in the effort with the points for matching added on top of that.

Mar 3, 2010, 10:02am Top

I think we should get 1,000 points for tagging something nobody else has tagged, and at least 10,000 points for each successful match. With so many points awarded, we would all likely work until we starved to death.

Come on, Tim. Easy coding to give us lots more points! LOTS AND LOTS MORE POINTS!!!! Bwoo hah hah hah!

And if you can't give us more points, I want a pony.

Edited: Mar 3, 2010, 10:11am Top

Thanks, Tim, for another reason to hang out on LT when I should be accomplishing other things! This is addicting and fun! But it does need a way to correct typos...I am embarrassed by one of the tags I typed that was misspelled, plus I didn't get any points for it even though it matched others--or would have if I had spelled it correctly.

Edited: Mar 3, 2010, 10:33am Top

145> It was a simple suggestion for how to make the point system better. Sorry, I like to think about things like what makes a good game. And it's not like it would take much time to code anyway, unlike the pleas to allow people to correct their spelling after the fact. So there's no need to get all sarcastic on my ass.

ETA: Wasn't the use of the word pony in relation to the suggestions of others banned? Or was that just the posting of pictures of ponies?

Mar 3, 2010, 10:49am Top

147> I understood the suggestion and agree with your "good game" comment. I was just joshin' with ya. Note that despite my snarky comment on points being worthless, I've got 3,000+ and am working furiously to stay in the top 100!

Thanks for the heads-up on the "p" word (I didn't know that).

Mar 3, 2010, 11:01am Top

Thanks for the heads-up on the "p" word (I didn't know that).

That was just a snarky comment of my own.

Mar 3, 2010, 11:24am Top

147-149> No, no, no. It's falsely claiming things are violations of the ToS that is banned.

Pardon me, I have to go flag myself.

Edited: Mar 3, 2010, 11:40am Top

Will be fun to see how many people match all my typos!
Like ookshelves,buldings etc....

Mar 3, 2010, 11:41am Top

See, I would have just assumed ookshelves referred to the Unseen University library.

Mar 3, 2010, 11:45am Top

Re: Correcting typos

Really, don't worry about it. With this kind of system, it won't matter as much what one person typos, because that tag will show up less often. The only typos that stay will be ones that multiple people would make, which is fine because that's the kind of typo someone may make when they're searching for the book cover later.

Speaking of which, Tim says the system cuts off at 5 users (normally). That number actually seems a bit low, especially if it's in the context of a game where people are going to pass on typing in the more obscure/difficult to describe stuff so they can get to the next cover and score some easy points.

Mar 3, 2010, 11:47am Top

Your right it may be Kristenn!I'll have to tag that if I get the right Pratchett!
Thanks for the info brightcopy.

Mar 3, 2010, 12:36pm Top

A quarter point for a cover no one else has tagged yet is so chincy for the effort put in.

I made it that way because I thought the math of 1 point was too high. But I now think it's a little funny, in a sadistic way, when your great efforts to tag something end up producing only 0.25 points. It strikes me that all games are based on cruelty. Consider it the Molasses Swamp of LibraryThing.

Mar 3, 2010, 12:39pm Top

Oh, no, it's not wrong to misidentify things, if you think it's a seagull chances are other people would too -- I was just riffing on Tim's suggestion that we go tag bird photos, in a context where accuracy presumably would actually matter.

(A frigatebird. The forked tail is instantly recognizable or at least a "not-a-seagull" indicator; the extremely long wings are distinctive as well if you know to look for them.)

Mar 3, 2010, 1:17pm Top

> 155

We should at least get .25 points for each /tag/ we make instead of for the entire cover!

Mar 3, 2010, 1:35pm Top

> 155, 157

"We should at least get .25 points for each /tag/ we make instead of for the entire cover!"

But one could game the system by simply having ready a "copy and paste" set of random tags. So if I put in 100 random tags and it happens to be untagged to that time, I'd get 25 points.

Now I guarantee I wouldn't do anything like that (really, what's the point - this is just fun) but someone COULD.

Mar 3, 2010, 1:39pm Top

158> Several times I've thought you should pick up points later when other people come along and assign your tags again. Kind of a "yup, you posted good tags, even though you were the first."

Plus, I like the idea of earning points while you're not actually playing. ;)

Mar 3, 2010, 2:00pm Top

I can't cite it because I don't feel like going back and finding the message, but I would really, really like to second the suggestion that the box be made bigger so we can see more of the tags we've already typed.

I feel like that would help with some of the typos, and I personally have a tendency to repeat tags without realizing it.

Mar 3, 2010, 3:28pm Top

I'm looking forward to seeing how these tags can be analyzed.

For one thing I want to know how many covers get tagged headless or head cutoff, and how many of those are women - i know I've had one headless man so far compared to half a dozen headless women.

Mar 3, 2010, 3:30pm Top

#161 - And were the headless women exposing cleavage? I seem to have had more than a few of those.

Mar 3, 2010, 3:41pm Top

162: I used the cleavage tag just 1 time and now it seems like I'm flooded with them. I'm so glad I didn't type "male nudity" on that book of poety, phew!

Mar 3, 2010, 3:44pm Top

#163 - You think it send you more of whichever tags you use the most? I am so not using that 'dragon' tag, then!

Mar 3, 2010, 3:48pm Top


My "headless" covers have been so gender-specific that I'm using "woman with no head" as the tag.

Mar 3, 2010, 4:18pm Top

I read a column about sexism in comic books called "She has no head!" It's a remarkably common design choice in so many genres.

Mar 3, 2010, 4:31pm Top

On another note, I've had a couple instances now where I've seen the same cover twice. Not just a combination issue or re-using cover art, but actually the same record -- my tags from the first time show up the second time. Caching issue?

Mar 3, 2010, 4:39pm Top

167> I had the same thing happen, which is pretty significant considering I've only played the game for a grand total of less than an hour. And it was pretty close to each other, like with only two or three book in between. Happened a handful of times.

Mar 3, 2010, 4:41pm Top

I've also had the same thing happen, usually a sequence of two or three books directly after the first time I saw those books. But my own tags haven't shown up -- it says I skipped that cover. So, because I thought it would be "cheating" to enter my tags again, I skipped them when they reappeared.

Mar 3, 2010, 4:41pm Top


Right, I should have mentioned that -- both times this happened it was in quick succession.

Mar 3, 2010, 4:55pm Top

I've added daily stats.

The head thing isn't just women, though. Faces are specific. Without a face, you can project anything you want on someone.

Mar 3, 2010, 4:55pm Top

Reading this: Judging Books by Their Covers: U.S. Vs. U.K. makes one speculate on how powerful data mining on his scale, could be, perhaps throwing up all sorts of interesting cultural preferences.

Mar 3, 2010, 5:01pm Top


The head thing isn't just women, though. Faces are specific. Without a face, you can project anything you want on someone.

That's true, but both some studies like the one kristenn mentions and my experience with CoverGuess suggests that it's women far more than men.

Mar 3, 2010, 5:06pm Top

But are women on covers more often than men in general, and not just the headless variety?

Mar 3, 2010, 8:09pm Top

Daily stats aren't working. To be more specific, the last hour stats may well be correct, but the "Today" stats are just repeating the "Last Hour" stats and they're not right. I have a score of 2,000 something, all gained today, but not in the last hour and it's not showing up on the Today stats.

Mar 3, 2010, 8:21pm Top

Is it broken for anyone else?

Mar 3, 2010, 8:23pm Top

We broke it!

Mar 3, 2010, 8:25pm Top

Yes, it's frozen...

Mar 3, 2010, 9:24pm Top

Yeah, I was just getting on to say it's frozen and I guess I'm not alone.

Edited: Mar 3, 2010, 9:27pm Top

#171 The head thing isn't just women, though. Faces are specific. Without a face, you can project anything you want on someone.

Facing away, obscured faces, silhouettes, etc, tend to be both male and female, or sometimes you can't tell. Heads cut off so you only get the body or upper body, or chin down - far more likely to be female in my experience.

Mar 3, 2010, 9:52pm Top

... aaaggghhh ... it's down. why? why? whyyyyyyyy????????

Mar 3, 2010, 10:17pm Top

I had to take it down. It was causing...errr...issues.

At any rate, it will be back up as soon as we can work out a fix. Certainly within the next hour or two.

Mar 3, 2010, 10:26pm Top

Oh well, guess I'll just have to go back to voting on tag combinations. (Or maybe I should try doing something productive with my life.)

Mar 3, 2010, 10:37pm Top

Productive? What's that mean? :P

What "errr...issues" were there?

Mar 3, 2010, 10:41pm Top

It'll be back soon. Somehow it ran out of covers (!).

Mar 3, 2010, 10:51pm Top

*eyes bug out* That's.... impossible!

Mar 3, 2010, 10:57pm Top

Well, it was instructed to choose certain ones and not others—popular covers to popular books that we knew Amazon had a cover for. It's got a looser standard now. I'm going to figure out how to make it respond in the future.

Mar 3, 2010, 11:59pm Top

It would be awesome if there was a way to get points when later taggers match your tags. I keep getting stuck behind someone who seems to think you can only use one tag, and I have all these great tags I'm not getting any points for. Somebody call me a waahhmbulance. ("You're a waahhmbulance." There, I said it so you don't have to.)

Mar 4, 2010, 1:07am Top

I'm concerned that members are skipping too much. I'm not sure how to deal with it, but here's a recent example.

Mar 4, 2010, 1:17am Top

I've change the rules, so that "skipping" doesn't count toward the total attempts to categorize the book. But it still counts as "done" to you. So if you skip a lot you'e going to be working on fresher books.

I'm also going to be changing the tallies retroactively to remove the skips. So a lot of books are going to open up that are almost full. So there'll be a bunch of points on offer.

Mar 4, 2010, 1:28am Top

okay, your "almost full" comment got me wondering. Maybe you've said it and I just missed it, but the covers get "closed" or whatever after a certain number of people/tags/whatever, right? How many?

I try not to skip unless I just have no idea how to describe it (I've skipped a few sci-fi covers simply because the terminology is so far beyond my grasp).

Mar 4, 2010, 1:47am Top

#189 The "Naming and Shaming" that you just did should cut out a lot of skipping! :)

Mar 4, 2010, 2:11am Top

Okay, when is that *censored* lightbox going to go away? After the millionth time I go to the CoverGuess page, or what? It's very annoying!

Mar 4, 2010, 3:07am Top

I love being able to use the tag "glowy magic." I've adapted it for "glowy technology" as well, for use on those Sci-Fi covers.

Totally cool way of thinking about covers. So many silhouettes!

Mar 4, 2010, 3:35am Top

I tagged a couple 'glowy tech', when I got them intermixed with glowy magic covers. But mostly I just tag them 'machine, wires, glow' - that sort of thing.

Mar 4, 2010, 4:48am Top

Scores are (still?) broken for me. Just an endless loading box - IE8 on XP3.

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 11:44am Top

Hide the peanuts!! the elephant! the elephant is loose!

"Error: Rampaging elephant error. Hide the peanuts and try again later."

(I suppose I should note I got that error message in the score box area. Instead of scores)

Mar 4, 2010, 12:08pm Top

>193 Heather19:

Oh, close it! It only appears when you return to the page. As you play, it doesn't.

Mar 4, 2010, 12:09pm Top

>197 MikeBriggs:

Seems fine to me, even in as you. Transitory?

Mar 4, 2010, 12:11pm Top

You know, I'd earn a lot more points if I didn't make so many typos . . .

Mar 4, 2010, 12:14pm Top

So, no love for the iPod touch/iPhone?

Mar 4, 2010, 12:18pm Top

201> Considering how painful it is to type on them, I would actually think the way Tim could show their users the most love is to specifically block CoverGuess from working on them. ;)

Mar 4, 2010, 12:20pm Top

You can't click the button at the bottom of the frame?

Mar 4, 2010, 12:33pm Top

Hey! I just got a DVD case instead of a book cover!


Mar 4, 2010, 12:35pm Top

Yeah, it happens. It must have gotten combined into the book.

Mar 4, 2010, 12:38pm Top

Oh, the humanity...

Mar 4, 2010, 12:40pm Top

Oh the humanity indeed: I just typed a period instead of a comma and got no points instead of two points.

Mar 4, 2010, 12:41pm Top

Yeah right. Thanks a lot... As if I didn't already have a big enough problem with internet addiction -- Tim MUST come up with something like this.
I'm hooked!

Mar 4, 2010, 12:49pm Top

>203 timspalding:
There's no way to scroll to the bottom of the lightbox window - http://www.librarything.com/topic/86064#1827805

>202 brightcopy:
It's less painful to type on my touch than it is on a regular keyboard. I sliced my hand open with a broken glass - using my desktop is pretty harsh right now. Not to mention the arthritis that makes using a mouse impossible sometimes. If it weren't for my touch, I wouldn't be able to use LT as much as I do.

Mar 4, 2010, 12:53pm Top

I've stopped the box just for you. That was the fastest way.

Mar 4, 2010, 12:55pm Top

199> Yes, transitory. It went away when I refreshed the page, though I went through several books with that as an error message before I stopped to see why I was seeing something other than scores there.

The elephant has left the building, peanuts can come out of hiding.

Mar 4, 2010, 1:03pm Top

>210 timspalding:

Yay! Thanks, Tim!

Mar 4, 2010, 1:23pm Top

A whole lot of books have awfully ugly or stupid or boring or all three of the above designs. I am beginning to hate with a passion anything "artistically" blurred, lighted, slanted, superimposed, shadowed OR JUST PLAIN BIGASS-LETTERED.

Leaves, wistful faces, flowing scripts, silhouettes, swirly, raybursting, smoky, foggy, dazzly woo woo--ugh.

Mar 4, 2010, 1:27pm Top

Tim, I just had a book repeat. There was one book intervening. I pasted in the same tags as the first time and got 7 hits on my own tags.

Mar 4, 2010, 1:30pm Top

I've had enough repeats by now (as have several other people -- see messages #167-170, and I've had more today) that I've given up on the game for now. Either I repeat my own tags and get credit, or I skip it and show as having skipped.

Mar 4, 2010, 1:33pm Top

Sorry. The database you were on got behind. It's back now. Consider it a bonus! :)

Mar 4, 2010, 1:35pm Top

Hmm. I'm getting one point now instead of .25 for new covers. That's cool.

Mar 4, 2010, 2:35pm Top

*bangs head on keyboard*

Can I second, (or third or forth) the request for a larger box in which to type the tags? It would be easier to spot the places where I typed a '.' instead of ',' and where I typed things like 'ornage' instead of 'orange.' Please? Pretty please with dragons, unicorns AND glowy magic...

Mar 4, 2010, 2:39pm Top

BIGASS-LETTERED. My new favorite tag! I hate this game 'cause I can't stop playing. I have other things to do!

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 2:43pm Top

I just hit 44 points on The Subtle Knife, a personal best. What kind of top scores are you getting?

eta this cover: http://pics.librarything.com/picsizes/a4/b2/a4b243a337c4e1759304c6c52514141414c3...

Mar 4, 2010, 2:42pm Top

Made stuff bigger.

Mar 4, 2010, 2:45pm Top

#221 - Bless you, Tiny Tim!

#220 - I got an 80 on something. Don't remember what, now.

Mar 4, 2010, 2:47pm Top

221> Something screwy happened. In both FF and IE on XP I get a big gap:

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 2:48pm Top

My tag box is still runty.

#224 - "Mind the gap. Mind the gap."

Mar 4, 2010, 2:51pm Top

>223 brightcopy:
I noticed that gap too. (XP/FF)

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 2:57pm Top

Bah! I need a break. Got no points because I typed 'dancing squirrel' while the person ahead of me typed 'squirrel dancing.' There is no justice! ;o)

Mar 4, 2010, 3:58pm Top

Tim, some feedback: I just played for about 20 minutes, and I estimate that for 8 out of 10 covers I was the first to tag. Not sure if this is intended behavior...? I probably went through 30 or 50 covers that way.

Also, I got a lot of cases where the page reported "1 match," but the listing of users & tags only showed users who had "skipped," and no tags.

Thanks again for the diversion.

Mar 4, 2010, 4:44pm Top

223 & 224

I like that gap! That's where I park my tablet input box to write my answers. It's perfect.

Mar 4, 2010, 4:46pm Top

Granted, I may be being thick, but what's a tablet input box?

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 4:59pm Top

226: I know what you mean. I've gotten to the point where my tags will look like this:

Space Ship, Spaceship, Space Craft, Flying Ship, Grey, Gray, Colourful, Colorful

Etc, have to cover every spelling and spacing of the word(s).

But then I'll get like 2 hits and all that typing will be for nothing. It seems ALL my matches today have been off color (colour? =P) and I haven't been getting more than 5-8 points per book because all I get is a big list of people who have hit the skip button. =/

Mar 4, 2010, 5:01pm Top

Tim> Why not remove spaces within tags, at least for the point deciding part? You can figure out what to do with the data later.

Mar 4, 2010, 5:11pm Top

#230 - Yup! I've typed "sail, boat, sail boat, sailboat" and also "grey, gray" but I forgot about adding colourful to colorful!

Mar 4, 2010, 5:13pm Top

I just had The Three Musketeers and typed the following tags:

Colourful, Colorful, Men, Hats, Brown, Blue, Red, Water, Bridge, River, Tower, City, Musketeers, Feathers, Feather Hats, Brick, Bricks

And got 0 points because there were 2 skips and 1 person who only entered 1 tag (castle)

Could it be possible to limit skipping to a certain number of times per day/hour?

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 5:18pm Top

233> This is where the suggestion to give you retroactive points when other folks come along and match your previous tags would come in so handy.

ETA: This would skew it further towards "most descriptive" and away from "fastest to enter tags." I can't help but think this would be a good thing for the ultimate purpose of tagging all these covers.

Mar 4, 2010, 5:18pm Top

I think it's better to have skips than bad answers. If I can't discern what's in a picture then it's maybe best I don't label it... Is tagging something as just castle better than having skipped it? (Especially now that skips don't count and actual attempts do...) {I will admit to skipping some, and labelling some with only one or two things myself... some I skipped because the pictures weren't loading though...}

Mar 4, 2010, 5:19pm Top

232: Yea, I like "colorful" for those books with lots of bright reds/greens/yellows/blue all on 1 book. It's better than typing each color.

There are lots of tags I'm surprised I don't see more of. I use "Big Author Name" when the author name is HUGE but the title is small. I also use "leather" on those paranormal romances with leather-clad women but I never get any matches off it. :(

Mar 4, 2010, 5:21pm Top

235: I do agree, but maybe it would be better to limit people to, say, 5 skips per hours. At worst, people could at least enter the colors.

Mar 4, 2010, 5:22pm Top


My typing skills are horrible, so I use a tablet input device. It is like a large touchpad, and I write on it with a stylus. Onscreen, there is a window with lines, and whatever I write shows up in that window. My writing shows up as I write on the tablet, them converts to type, then I insert it anywhere that you would normally use a keyboard to add text. So the tablet input box is the little window that shows me what I wrote, and I can park it anywhere on the screen. That space at the top of the game page is perfect because the box doesn't cover anything up, and has room to expand as I write. And I'll admit that this is definitely a niche usage.

Mar 4, 2010, 5:23pm Top

> 236

Yea, I like "colorful" for those books with lots of bright reds/greens/yellows/blue all on 1 book. It's better than typing each color.

But if the ultimate purpose (or one of the purposes) of this is to help people find a book via what they remember the cover looked like, then surely tagging it "red", "green", "blue", or even "red green blue", is more helpful than "colorful".

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 5:27pm Top

239: Actually, I disagree. Some books I would describe as nothing other than colorful. I don't mean books that have lots of colors(like a fantasy novel,) but things with lots of bright, vibrant colors. I'll have to post an example the next time I come across one.

Mar 4, 2010, 5:33pm Top

If I couldn't skip an image whenever I wanted, I wouldn't play CoverGuess much anymore.

Personally, I could care less about my score, for me it's about churning through covers quickly and keeping it fun. If I have to squint at a cover or hem and haw (is that a boy or a girl?) or hit up dictionary.com or Wikipedia to make sure I'm using the right term (is that an umbrella or a parasol?) than the game loses its fun. Even simply inputting the color isn't always easy (is that red or orange? is it my monitor or the scan that makes it look that way?)

I like that I can glance at a cover, say "Screw it, I'm not investing my time in deciphering that," and immediately load a new one.

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 5:36pm Top

> 234

Agreed. Skewing the game to reward longer, more-descriptive tags and tag sets would probably be a good thing. I would suggest something like .25 or .50 points for matching by later taggers.

Another suggestion: award more points for matches on less-common tags. For example, imagine four persons have tagged a cover as follows:

user 1: red,dress,girl,arch,bike

user 2: red,girl,gate

user 3: red,woman,church,bike

user 4: St. Peter's, Brandenburg Gate, Marie Antoinette, woman riding bike

Now when user 5 comes along and tags, he or she would receive more points for matching on St. Peter's, Brandenburg Gate, or Marie Antionette than on any of the more common tags.

I'm not saying the more common tags aren't useful; they are, especially since many users wouldn't be able to identify the images by their more specific names. But I think the more specific tags would be particularly useful for cutting through all the noise if you had a clearer idea of what you were looking for. (There are likely to be a lot of results returned for a search on "red,bike,woman" or the like.)

I probably spelled Brandenburg wrong, so no points for me... ;-)

Mar 4, 2010, 5:38pm Top

242> Actually, the way I'd like for it to work in my little dreamworld is that it wouldn't matter if you're the first or last person to tag the book - you'd get the same number of points based on all the other taggers.

This is, understandably, much more complicated to code.

And your last suggestion would be great for people matching other people's typos! ;)

Mar 4, 2010, 5:40pm Top


Well, I think overspecialization is a bad thing, here; based on stories of actual attempts by patrons to describe books by their covers, the colors are probably the most useful tags. You don't hear people saying "It had Marie Antoinette riding a bicycle past the Brandenberg Gate", you'll hear "It was red, and there was a woman on it." I'm going for generic figuring we're trying to match vaguely-remembered descriptions. My being able to correctly identify and tag a frigatebird isn't going to help if 99% of people, including the person trying to find the cover, call it a "bird" (or worse, a "seagull" -- specific but wrong!)

Mar 4, 2010, 5:41pm Top

> 239

Nope. "Colorful" works much better for me than listed all the separate colors. I remember the cover as being full of many colors, but probably won't remember which specific colors they were. This is for covers with more than 2 or 3 colors, of course.

Another factor: I'm somewhat colorblind -- I can recognize that a cover has many colors, but probably won't be able to correctly identify each one. (I stopped tagging covers with the colors I have trouble with, because CoverGame results would show me that others had tagged "red" when I used "green.")

Mar 4, 2010, 5:50pm Top

I do "colorful" too, but I also have a fondness for "bright", for those books that have glaring red/yellow/etc backgrounds.

And 242: That's another reason I tend to "skip" the sci-fi covers. Most of the tags will be like "Luke Skywalker" or whatever, and all I see is "man". I don't know those characters!

I think the worst, in terms of being able to think of tags, is the no-image covers. The plain, just-text ones. I do "text" and "plain" and such, but it's hard to think of much more then that.

Mar 4, 2010, 6:37pm Top

I had another go today, but I think I'm temperamentally unsuited to this game. As various people pointed out, what wins points, and what will be useful, are the simple-minded tags, but there's no fun at all in sitting there bashing out "grey, clouds, woman, road, gateway" (or "green,purple, dragon,sword") incessantly. To stay sane, I want to put in tags like "airbrush kitsch" and "headless woman"(*) or "designer stubble", but no-one's ever going to search with tags like that.

(*)What is it with all this cropping? I'm sure I was taught to get the subject's eyes in the middle of the frame, but on book covers the convention seems to be that subjects are cut off either above the neck or above the mouth. On the rare occasions that you do get the upper part of the face, it's cropped the other way, so that you only get one eye and half a nose. Strange.

Mar 4, 2010, 6:42pm Top

>246 Heather19:
The appropriate tag for all-text covers is either "Optician's chart" or "PhD".

Also odd: books with all-text covers tend to specify the academic qualifications of the author, which is the literary equivalent of restaurants that have photographs of the food on their menus...

Mar 4, 2010, 6:52pm Top

I topped out at 89 points. Has anyone hit a 100 yet? I think I would have come closer on another but I left the comma out between water and waterfall. My tag was water waterfall which of course matched nothing.

Mar 4, 2010, 7:04pm Top

>248 thorold: "books with all-text covers tend to specify the academic qualifications of the author, which is the literary equivalent of restaurants that have photographs of the food on their menus". I do like that!

>246 Heather19: Not knowing the difference between R2D2 and a Dalek is not shameful, but why on earth do people tag a book about Mark Twain with a photo of Mark Twain on the cover as 'man' rather than Mark Twain (or even Samuel Clemens)?

Actually 'Mark Twain' did appear on Star Trek - http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Samuel_Clemens - Oh, the power of Google!

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 7:11pm Top


Because it's possible that people might not remember it was Twain, or might not recognize him. I always do both -- the purpose of this exercise isn't to prove how smart you are, it's to help identify books by their covers.

Edited for typo

Mar 4, 2010, 7:11pm Top

250> I liked Jerry Hardin's impression of Mark Twain when it was first on Star Trek 18 years ago. But re-watching it the other day made me want to shove knitting needles in my ears.

Mar 4, 2010, 7:13pm Top

Uh...... What was with the blank cover? No title or nothing.

Edited: Mar 4, 2010, 7:27pm Top

>251 lorax: C'mon, lorax! The Illustrated Biography of Mark Twain with the man's signature across the cover? Worth a guess, surely? Not likely to be Albert Schweitzer.


Mar 4, 2010, 7:30pm Top

Is the gap gone yet?

Mar 4, 2010, 7:30pm Top


Not all books with Twain are that obvious, and tagging with "man" as well enables interesting statistical data mining, while doing absolutely no harm.

Mar 4, 2010, 7:43pm Top

My pet peeve, while we're airing them, is people who tag with content- or title-related information. "Sci-fi". "Biography". "Idiot" (in a context where it was clearly meant to refer to the author). How much clearer does it need to be that we're tagging covers, not books?

Mar 4, 2010, 7:48pm Top

Sometimes a genre has a specific identity factor. 90% of cyberpunk covers will feature an eye.

Mar 4, 2010, 7:48pm Top

I personally haven't been using genre tags, but some covers do just scream fantasy or scifi.

Mar 4, 2010, 8:11pm Top

Is CoverGuess going to be around for awhile? Would a CoverGuess group be a good thing? This thread is already quite long bit I'm not sure where one is supposed to start another one.

Mar 4, 2010, 8:25pm Top

In the interest of improving my numbers I would like to point out that Newbery as in the Newbery Medal only has one r. ;)

Mar 4, 2010, 9:36pm Top

>> 254: You don't follow the "name that book" group very closely, do you?

I can totally believe someone going in to that group saying "I'm looking for a book I saw at a friend's house - I think it was a biography, but not sure who, anyway it was set in the 19th century - I just remember this one photograph of a cat in it. The copy I read was a trade paperback and the cover was a black-and-white photo of a man with a moustache who looked kind of like a Civil War general."

(And then somebody will, in fact, guess the right book from that description and the cat's name. Because LTers are just that good.)

Mar 5, 2010, 3:18am Top

>>262 melannen: (et al.)

When I worked in a bookstore, we'd get people knowing the color of the cover and whether it was fiction. And that's it. (*I* always remember the full title, author name, and publisher, myself. Yeah, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I can sell you for a very good price...)

I'm amused at a couple of people who have used one or two words per cover. Because when you're looking for one of the dozens of books about Clifford the big red dog, "dog" is going to be the tag that lets you zero in on that book....

Mostly I'm geeking out a bit by seeing tags almost in real time. and tags for random books, too, and not just the ones in my own libraries. It's always kinda cool to see how other people think differently about comparatively simple things, such as a painting with a dog in it.

Mar 5, 2010, 5:17am Top

The game is fun and it's nice to see one's username climb up the list, but the main thing I'm thinking while I'm doing this is the thread in the Librarians Who LibraryThing group about weird requests from patrons. It's funny generally, but there are a LOT of posts about patrons who come in and ask for the "red book with the bicycle" or some such, and this tagging system will be a treasure trove for those poor but heroic librarians!

Mar 5, 2010, 9:47am Top

#263-I agree with you on how people see covers different I think its funny how people see so many colors different.

Mar 5, 2010, 9:52am Top

When there is an identifiable person on the cover, I tag with both their name and man/woman. It's definitely better to have both choices, because both will end up searched for.

Mar 5, 2010, 10:26am Top

I don't see the point in specifying every single color on the cover. Sure if there's a dominant color I use that since that's what someone might remember about the book but putting every single color in their just dilutes the data.

Mar 5, 2010, 10:49am Top

Does anyone else notice a high percentage of covers that are for the audio versions of a work? I just did Captain Alatriste. The audio version is included in the "Covers from Amazon" for the work, but is not the default shown. Why are the audio versions showing up for tagging in preference to the book covers?

Mar 5, 2010, 11:14am Top

--> 267

Good point.

Mar 5, 2010, 11:34am Top

Mar 5, 2010, 11:39am Top

#267 - Memory is a funny thing. What someone remembers of a cover 5 - 10 or even 20+ years later might not be the color that is dominant at all. It might be the single splash of red across the bottom, or something equally less noticeable on first glance.

What we're trying to do here is help people reconnect to a certain cover using flawed human memories.

Mar 5, 2010, 11:42am Top

271> Yes, but as jjwilson is right to point out, putting all those colors in there makes the data useless for people with both good memories and bad. Flawed human memories are bad enough. Don't combine that with flawed data.

Edited: Mar 5, 2010, 11:57am Top

I'm not convinced it's 'flawed' if the colors are on the cover. I'm not listing them all unless that the cover consists ONLY of colors. (Or if whatever the cover art is meant to portray is totally indiscernible to me.) I've seen some interesting covers.

(Edited so grammar police won't shoot me.)

Mar 5, 2010, 11:56am Top

If every book with a tiny bit of red gets a red tag then so many books will come up on search for red that it becomes useless.

Mar 5, 2010, 12:02pm Top

What if that one red object, though small, is meant to be the one thing that draws the observer's eye? My guess is you're better off typing 'red flower' or whatever the object is, as opposed to just red.

The thing is, this is a 'points awarded' game, and people have been scoring more highly for typing every single word they can think of that someone playing ahead of them might have typed. At some point there might be some serious clean-up needed for these tags. (Even if it is to get rid of all my typos.)

Edited: Mar 5, 2010, 12:10pm Top

I'm not sure quite how the search facility will be designed to work once the data is collated?

We are all using a lot of one word tags (it certainly ups the chance of matching against tags and getting points) - but in reality people asking to identify books don't usually spit out single words and are less specific and often more inaccurate.

Although, obviously, asking to search on key words is likely to cast a wider net.

Flawed human memories may be bad enough but surely, in part, the whole point of this is designed find away to work with those incomplete memories and come up with an answer or valid suggestion.

We at least have the cover in front of us when we are tagging, those acting on memory won't so some 'flaws' or technical inaccuracies are essential for it to work.

I do agree about diluted data but it can be hard to know what people will pick up on.

Mar 5, 2010, 12:15pm Top

> 275, 274

I think you both make some goods points here. On the one hand, tagging every little color (or shape, or object) on covers will result in a signal-to-noise ratio that will make the data much less useful for both general and more-specific kinds of searches. On the other hand, it's a points-awarded game, and the "tag everything I can see" strategy results in more points...

That's why I suggested skewing the points so more points are awarded for greater specificity (e.g., matching on "red dog" gets more points than "red" or "dog" separately). I'm not suggesting that less-specific tags not be used; just that it would be good to have a way of encouraging more-specific tags as well, to balance things out. I'd much rather sort through the results of a search for "red dog" than "red" and "dog."

I don't know how one would go about "cleaning up" the data after the fact. If the data is going to be useful, the game will need to be fine-tuned (toward better tag results) as quickly as possible.

Edited: Mar 5, 2010, 12:20pm Top

I think it would make sense to limit the number of tags each person could put on a book to something like 5. That would force people to think of which tags really describe the book rather than every little detail that catches the eye.

ETA: Otherwise it just becomes a game of whoever has the patience to type the most tags wins.

Mar 5, 2010, 12:38pm Top


I agree. I mean, things like combining colorful/colourful, gray/grey, etc. can be done afterwards for data mining, and really there's no point in duplicating other than to up your score. I've been aiming for 4-6 tags per book, myself; enough to be descriptive, not so many as to be uselessly scattershot. Quick first impressions.

Mar 5, 2010, 12:43pm Top

--> 278

For game purposes, yes, but this may not be enough information for tagging data for book recall.

Mar 5, 2010, 12:49pm Top

Wasn't the game was designed to be fun? The scores were added to entice people to play longer and more often. Is it kosher to add the rules after wards? LOL

You have to admit it is amusing that so many seem to think that the way they've been playing themselves is the best way to play the game. ;o)

Mar 5, 2010, 12:58pm Top

Is it kosher to add the rules after wards?

Absolutely! It's because the dual purpose of this game is to have fun and to create a database of tags for covers.

Edited: Mar 5, 2010, 1:02pm Top

Then they should do it soonish!

ETA: And they should call them 'rule clarifications' instead of 'new rules.' ;o)

Mar 5, 2010, 1:03pm Top

> 281

I suspect the original and primary goal is to collect data about cover descriptions. The game was designed as a way to entice people to participate and do the work of actually entering the data. So getting more tags per book to support looking up a book is likely going to win out over reducing the number of tags for gaming purposes.

Edited: Mar 5, 2010, 1:07pm Top

280> Having focused tags would be better for searching rather than having scattershot tags that bring up a zillion books with little specificity.

284> The primary purpose of this suggestion was to improve the tagging for search purposes.

Mar 5, 2010, 1:23pm Top

> 285

Though there is such a thing as being too focused. If the search mechanism requires an exact phrase match to return results, then a tag such as "shirtless man embracing a blonde wearing a red dress", while nicely focused, won't help someone who uses the phrase "blonde kissing a man without a shirt".

Mar 5, 2010, 1:45pm Top

I tag dominant colours and colours of specific things that are really noticeable but also colours of the lettering (in multiple ways - like white letters, white lettering, white writing - figured that people might search for the colouring of the letters). I don't agree with limiting the number of tags per book. I tag loads per book but they range from generic 'atmosphere' tags to specific description tags. If the 'Name that book' group is anything to go by, there's no rhyme or reason behind which odd little specifics about a cover someone will remember. If you limit people to a small number of tags, you're going to get hugely generic tagging which I don't think is going to help people find the book. Sometimes is just little things like 'green writing' or 'red border' or 'little mouse in corner' that people remember. I'd find it really a bit pointless if you could only enter 5 tags, for example, per book. I love the game but I want to get comprehensive descriptive tags there for searching more than to top the leaderboard (although, I'd take topping the leaderboard too ... I did, for a moment ... until work got in the way ... but now it's the weekend and there's time to fight back ;-) ).

Mar 5, 2010, 1:52pm Top

If it were your first time visiting LT, where would you find CoverGuess?

Mar 5, 2010, 1:58pm Top

On your home page?

Mar 5, 2010, 2:02pm Top

> 289

But if you're just visiting, you won't have your own home page!

And if you are a member, it's there now, but it won't always be. After a while, the information will be pushed out by other announcements and blog entries.

Edited: Mar 5, 2010, 2:06pm Top

In this group (New Features) until Tim finds a new home for it?

Mar 5, 2010, 2:34pm Top

Assuming a Boolean search, is there any difference between searching for "red dog" and "red" + "dog"? Won't the same results come up?

In practice I would imagine that those using this system when it is more fully developed will, as I think most of us do perhaps unconsciously, adapt to searching in a way that gives them the best results.

Mar 5, 2010, 2:36pm Top

I would enter fewer tags if 'the system' could recognize plurals and punctuation differences - I can see that combining of spelling errors needs a human brain. I recently entered 'flip-flops' and got no points despite several other entries of 'flipflops' and 'flip flops'. This combination will, presumably, have to be made at some stage so is automation possible?

Mar 5, 2010, 2:36pm Top

And if you are a member, it's there now, but it won't always be. After a while, the information will be pushed out by other announcements and blog entries.

Indeed. Now that the Tag Combination link has been removed from the announcements I have no clue how to get to that page anymore, so I haven't visited it since.

Mar 5, 2010, 2:42pm Top

I think we need to redo the "more" tab. I want to divide it into things like utilities, connections, diversions, ways to help, etc.

Mar 5, 2010, 2:43pm Top

265: I agree with you on how people see covers different I think its funny how people see so many colors different.

Actually, that could be caused by the quality of someone's monitor. Mine, for example, is a little dark. Whenever I play a video game on it, I have to go in the settings and raise the gamma/lighting so I can actually see. As a result, a dark orange can look brown to me. Also, blues and purples can get a little mixed up. And dark greys can look black. Other people who have bright monitors could have the opposite problems, greys looking white and browns looking orange.

Mar 5, 2010, 2:47pm Top

--> 296

So what you're saying is that we're all actually entering the wrong colors! ;)

Mar 5, 2010, 2:53pm Top

I think the guiding principle needs to be "What might someone describe this as, if they remembered it, and were looking for it in a bookstore or library?"

So, for example, imagine a cover that was a rainbow hitting a pot of gold. In that case, I'd say tags like

rainbow, gold, pot, pot of gold

would be good, but NOT "red, green, yellow, blue." Because nobody is going to think of it that way. Just as you wouldn't describe a cover that had Obama on it as being composed of "a nose, a mouth, two eyes"...

Mar 5, 2010, 3:01pm Top

298: Yea, I agree. Sometimes though, a bar at the bottom of a book really is a good description of the color. For example, as I'm typing this I have this book:

And I listed the colors as Black, White, Red. I know the red is just a single bar at the bottom, but if I was describing it to someone, I would definitely say it was black white and red.

Mar 5, 2010, 3:05pm Top

I just received an electronic newsletter that answers the question "What's up with all the headless women?"

Short answer is that they use the same model to shoot a whole bunch of covers at once.


Mar 5, 2010, 3:09pm Top

I don't mean to flood the thread with book pictures, but earlier in the thread I said I would post when I came across a book I would label as "colorful" and I just got one.

There's no other word I would use to describe that other than colorful. :)

Mar 5, 2010, 3:11pm Top

301> Different strokes for different folks. I would never describe that to someone as "colorful". It would be like walking outside and saying "it sure is colorful out here."

Mar 5, 2010, 3:12pm Top

Particularly with books that have no images, just text, on the covers, I will sometimes use "black background", "red text" (or "red lettering").

Mar 5, 2010, 3:14pm Top

302: Well, there are plenty of books that show "outdoors" images that I wouldn't describe as colorful. I don't use colorful to describe a picture with lots of colors, but lots of BRIGHT colors. That picture is pretty hard on the eyes, because it's so colorful. =P

Mar 5, 2010, 3:29pm Top

304> Maybe it's a per-monitor thing. That image is actually fairly mundane on mine (pretty new high quality LCD with the saturation and colors not cranked up).

Mar 5, 2010, 3:30pm Top

I just had a good example of a crappy monitor messing with the colors a bit. I just had a cover with a bowl of fruit. They looked orange to me, so I typed "Bowl of Fruit, Fruit, Oranges, Bowl of Oranges" only to see that everyone else had typed LEMONS. My dark monitor made the yellow lemons look orange. :(

Mar 5, 2010, 4:53pm Top

#299 I would also tag that with "red stripe" and "red strip".

Mar 6, 2010, 2:34am Top

IJWTS that I'm entering more tags, and specific tags, based on my experiences in bookstores. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one specifying the colors of the text & background, either -- e.g., lots of Tom Clancy books are basically big letters on a black background, with a little image of something specific to the book.

In my head, there's a series of possible checkboxes: text color, background, people (how many, age, gender, what they're doing, standing or sitting, etc.), and objects.

Mar 6, 2010, 10:07am Top

Yeah, I added a few tags like black background, red letters but no one seemed to be doing the same thing. What I saw were the tags red and black and often green and blue and purple.

Mar 6, 2010, 10:41am Top



People often say things like - green or blue - a greeny bluey colour - blue background - big black letters - brightly coloured - a man and a woman - etc. rather than single words but there's relatively few flags like that being listed.

Mar 6, 2010, 2:54pm Top

#308/309/310 Well, if you hit any of the same covers as me, you're going to max out big time because I enter the whole shebang every time ..

Mar 6, 2010, 3:41pm Top

I put the color of the text/title etc if it's not black - red text, purple text, like that.

Mar 7, 2010, 10:45am Top

I've come back to this after a few days and everyone is tagging with single words now. I guess people have figured out how to get the most points, but I'm not sure it's the best way for people to find covers.

Mar 7, 2010, 11:35am Top

After all this hoopla I have stopped playing. There's nothing like an argument about whether or not you're playing the game 'the right way' to suck all the joy out of it.

Edited: Mar 7, 2010, 11:44am Top

yeah, i ignore what other people think about the best way (although i guess i read the post). i tag with phrases as much as i want, because i think "purple turtle" is way more descriptive than "purple, turtle".

i'm curious about a couple of things.

(1) is there a tag cloud somewhere for individual covers, where one can see?
(2) can we search by tag yet?
(3) this "max of 5" -- does that just apply to the points game? or is that actually a limit of tags for the cover? which would obviously destroy the ability to create an effective tag cloud for a cover. and destroy the ability to really use weighting algorithms, too, i believe. all this hoo-ha about people who tag every color that they see, versus the parsimonious taggers -- that would all even out in the wash if we had tag clouds. if there truly were a gajillion equally obvious colors on a cover then you would see that in a tag cloud. if there truly was only one main color then you would see that in the tag cloud. if a color was sort of a cross -- e.g., teal -- you would see teal, blue, green, in some interesting & relevant set of sizes.

... in other words, i want to see the other side of this game. the data. that's why *i* have been doing this, anyway! and frankly i would *most* want to tag my own covers.

and let's come up with the comprehensive cover pages too. i would like to be able to have cover designers / editors, illustrators, and so forth, as information about individual covers.

*galloping quickly away on my pony and leading an entire herd behind me*

Mar 7, 2010, 11:43am Top

And there must be cheating. How can ablachly have more points than I do? She has a job! She has a kid!

Edited: Mar 7, 2010, 12:46pm Top

315, yeah, i ignore what other people think about the best way (although i guess i read the post). i tag with phrases as much as i want, because i think "purple turtle" is way more descriptive than "purple, turtle".

The problem with that is, what if someone knows a cover has turtles but doesn't know the color? They'd look at the "turtle" tag but the "purple turtle" wouldn't show up because it's too descriptive . That's why I try to enter all the variations, "Purple, Turtle, Purple Turtle." I try to cover both the vague and specific desciptions.

Also, I'm not really seeing many 1-word taggers myself. It depends on who you are following I suppose.

Mar 7, 2010, 12:58pm Top

315> It means a max of 5 people putting tags on any one cover. Only it's not really a hard max, as I've seen it go over plenty of times.

Mar 7, 2010, 1:37pm Top

317> I guess I'm assuming that the eventual search algorithm will be able to search for individual words inside tags.

314> Sorry if my musings bother you. I enjoy thinking about the rules of a game and how it affects the gameplay. I also listened to Tim about how the ultimate goal was to come up with usable tags and I'm curious as to how the rules of the game affect what tags people chose.

When it comes down to it, I'm not really that interested with playing the game (partially since I'll never be able to devote enough time to it to get anywhere near the top score even for a short period of time). I'm more interested in tagging the covers for the sake of tagging the covers and the social utility of that.

Edited: Mar 7, 2010, 1:51pm Top

This game has seriously screwed up my brain. I stopped to watch Lost, and my brain kept yelling "trees, island, shirtless man." It wants to tag everything I see. :)

Is there a way for us to tag specific books instead of playing the game? I would like to tag some books from my collection.

A few days ago a friend was looking for "the book with the 3rd Doctor and a dinosaur." In this case, generic tags like man probably wouldn't be helpful. If I was searching for that book, I might try searching 3rd Doctor or Jon Pertwee, since there are hundreds of books with one (or more) of the Doctors on them. And with the way the game works, it seems unlikely that books will go to people who can identify the characters. (Besides, I want to take a break from typing "sword, dragon" for a while.)

Edit: In case anyone is wondering, we found the book eventually. It's Doctor Who and the Cave Monsters

Mar 7, 2010, 2:09pm Top

This game has seriously screwed up my brain. I stopped to watch Lost, and my brain kept yelling "trees, island, shirtless man." It wants to tag everything I see. :)

Trees, island, unbelievable plot twist!

Mar 7, 2010, 2:59pm Top

320: A few days ago a friend was looking for "the book with the 3rd Doctor and a dinosaur." In this case, generic tags like man probably wouldn't be helpful.

If there was a tagmash-like feature, then it would probably be fine. Everyone would tag it as "3rd Doctor" and "Dinosaur" and I'm guessing that book would be the only one (or one of few) to feature both of them. But you're right, sometimes more specific tags will definitely make searching for certain books easier.

Mar 7, 2010, 3:03pm Top

Just realized, if this information was made public (or used with a search function of some sort) it would probably put the Name that Book group out of business. :-P

Mar 7, 2010, 3:22pm Top

>323 Ape: Probably not - when I think of books from long ago that I am trying to recall, it's generally what they were about rather than the look of them.

If I do remember the look of any of the sci-fi I read when I was fourteen, the cover tagmash would be something like - red, silver, cleavage, raygun, alien, robot. There must be thousands like that ;-)

Mar 7, 2010, 3:50pm Top

324> Right. It's the existing tag mash feature on the books contents that should put the Name That Book group out of business.

Mar 7, 2010, 4:12pm Top

> 322

Everyone would tag it as "3rd Doctor" and "Dinosaur"

Not everyone. Not everyone would know that the man on the cover was "3rd doctor" or even that there is more than one. I"d probably tag it "dinosaur" and "Man" (or "man in white shirt".

Mar 7, 2010, 4:13pm Top

If there was a tagmash-like feature, then it would probably be fine. Everyone would tag it as "3rd Doctor" and "Dinosaur" and I'm guessing that book would be the only one (or one of few) to feature both of them.

I understand that, I just don't think a randomly selected group of 10 users will necessarily recognize and tag the 3rd Doctor, or any other character from a series they may not have seen/read. (If I hadn't just watched a ton of old Dr. Who, he would just look to me like a man with silly hair.) If I could choose the books I was tagging instead of getting random ones, I could take on a series or two. Well, maybe not all of the Dr. Who books - apparently there are over 800 - but I could make a dent.

I'd also love to be able to do the same for graphic novels. I work in a comic shop, and being able to search by covers could make my job so much easier.

Mar 7, 2010, 6:07pm Top

>326 lilithcat:

Yeah, but "Third Doctor" would come in from the work-level tags.

Mar 8, 2010, 1:01am Top


The CoverGuess blog post said the data will be available in feed form. I know the game's just started and you're still building a useful dataset, but are there any details on when/how we (libraries and others) can use the data?

I'd be happy even just with a search box somewhere on the LT site - something like LT.com/CoverFind that lets me type in "bride on bicycle" and shows me all the covers that match. Widgetizing such a search box for embedding on other peoples' website would be even better.

Thanks for yet another brilliant idea.

Mar 8, 2010, 5:19am Top

Thanks. I'll get on it soon, but not immediately. A simple tag search won't be good enough. It needs to be able to catch "bride on bicycle" when only "bride" and "bicycle" have been entered. I think we'll be popping it into SOLR.

Mar 8, 2010, 7:29am Top

I have to admit, whenever there is a book in the picture, I just can't prevent myself from tagging it. Even if it's in the background...I mean, it's a book, my eyes are always drawn straight to it...it's important! :)

Mar 8, 2010, 10:25am Top

Like I don't have enough distractions to keep me from doing things I need to do... *sigh* I'll stop at 250 points for the day...

Mar 8, 2010, 1:22pm Top

Here's a real example from Name That Book today:

The cover was red and it had a tower on the front but that's all I can remember.

(The poster also had a brief description of the plot, but not enough for anyone on the thread to identify it.) Note the lack of detail and the emphasis on color.

I think it's also important to remember that some things that people are trying to kludge into cover descriptions, like "sci-fi" or "biography", can be dealt with by mashing cover and work tags.

Mar 8, 2010, 2:04pm Top

I never said that the dominant color wasn't important but that naming every single trace of color on the cover isn't very useful, and in fact is harmful because so many more covers will come up on a search for "red, tower", many in which red is a minor part.

Mar 8, 2010, 2:10pm Top


Oh, I agree; I was responding more to the claims that we should be hyper-specific (e.g. a single tag of "red with a tall white tower with arches and some trees in the background", to engage in a bit of reductio ad absurdum.)

Mar 8, 2010, 2:57pm Top

> 335

A lot will depend on the options available when searching.

If the search function will have the option to return tags that have the search term in part of the tag, then entering longer and more-specific tags won't hurt. Users could still search for a tag containing the words "red" and "tower" and come up with the "red with a tall white tower with arches..." result.

Mar 8, 2010, 4:30pm Top

Yes, that's why I asked earlier if the search function would not work the same for "red" + "tower" as "red tower" (for example)?

Mar 11, 2010, 9:43pm Top

I see we now get a full point for being first to tag a cover. Better than fiddling around with fractions.

Mar 12, 2010, 2:48pm Top

I wish I wasn't following along behind someone that is only using one keyword only for each cover. Especially if the cover has a woman on it. They keep tagging that as "women" when there clearly is only one woman on it. I refuse to add bad keywords, ie keyword it as women, just for points.

Mar 12, 2010, 2:52pm Top


I've been there, though my bad-taggers I'm following usually insist on content tags, apparently being incapable of following directions. I usually quit the game for a while and come back later, hopefully with a different "batch" of taggers.

Edited: Mar 12, 2010, 3:16pm Top

340: Yea, I've stopped playing for awhile when following a bad tagger. Once, I was following someone who tagged strangely. We hit a Dr. Phil book. I, of course, typed something like "Man, Bald, Bald Man, Photo, Photograph, Dr. Phil" and got 0 points when I saw the bad tagger I was following tagged it only 1 time, with "Mustache" ...so I had to stop and come back later.

Mar 12, 2010, 3:29pm Top

341> In fairness to that tagger, any photo of Dr. Phil is going to be at least 75% mustache.

Mar 13, 2010, 7:33am Top

342: You have a point there. ...but he's also 50% forehead. The real mystery is how one man can be both 75% mustache and 50% forehead at the same time...

Mar 13, 2010, 7:52am Top

He must be a man and a bit! Not quite a man and a half though according to my arithmetic.

Edited: Mar 14, 2010, 12:24pm Top

Hmmm... I'm going for the 'damsel in distress'.

What about throwing out all tags made by people who type 'dragon' when they see a burning phoenix, and only 'woman' when there are plenty of other tags possible?

Mar 16, 2010, 9:28am Top

just discovered this, and found some of my questions answered above (like what to do about all my typos). Still a few comments -
- I found myself following someone who only put one tag per cover. So, for instance, I entered 20 tags, but only one of them coincided, so only 1 point. That happened with quite a few books so I stopped playing. (well, this is similar to messages 339, 340 and 341). It's strange really, because a first tagger, good or not, can only get 1 point anyway.

- And though most of the covers I've seen have been terrible, some were quite tempting and I would have liked a little box close by so I could click "add to your wishlist".

Mar 16, 2010, 10:04am Top

@346, overthemoon, with regards to the wishlisting. You can click on the little Librarything L icon under the cover (ctrl/apple click to open in new screen or tab) and from there find out more/wishlist the book. I hope this helps...

Mar 16, 2010, 1:04pm Top

Best matched tag yet: "q-bert" successfully matched another user's tag on this cover. I suspect that's showing my age more than anything else.

Edited: Mar 16, 2010, 2:20pm Top

I find that I can no longer tag more than a few covers at a time. The first few go well, them I get a string of first time covers, then the blank screen with the no more covers message. There must be millions of covers on LT, so why do we keep running out? (I'm still having fun when I can play!)

Mar 16, 2010, 2:41pm Top

And now we've got someone deliberately typing random gibberish into the tag list. Stuff like this:


Which means, when I'm the second tagger behind this twit and enter the first "real" tags, I get zero points. Jerk.

Mar 16, 2010, 2:54pm Top

I noticed. they have over 400 points for today and more often than not they've entered gibberish. From some of the actual tags they have entered I think it's a kid borderline to young to be on the site.

Mar 16, 2010, 3:49pm Top

I came to this thread for the same reason, that same spammy poster.

Some of his/her contributions seem to be well-meant. Perhaps he/she just doesn't understand how to skip covers without putting in gibberish?

It makes me desire some kind of "flag as spam" on contributions, although I suppose once there are enough other contributions these don't detract from the usefulness of the feature. They detract from the point of the game, though, and make the neat-and-tidy OCD side of me twitch!

Mar 16, 2010, 4:06pm Top

Ya he's got some scary tags but I think Anthony Bourdain would be thrilled with the tag man in his 20's!

Mar 16, 2010, 4:08pm Top


If you believe that that tagger is well-intentioned or innocent, I've got a bridge to sell you.

Entering one short and meaningless tag -- "cover" or "e" or something -- would be indicative of "not knowing how to skip". Entering twenty long strings of gibberish on a single cover is just abusing the symptom.

Mar 16, 2010, 4:19pm Top

#354-your right this is from a book with a yellow cover and a picture on it.This was his/her tags

Mar 16, 2010, 4:39pm Top

All I know is, I'm staying away from Coverguess until that twit gets tired of it. I have better things to do with my time than see that sort of garbage.

Edited: Mar 16, 2010, 6:18pm Top

>347 divinenanny: thanks very much, divinenanny, I didn't even think of clicking on those little icons.

Later: after two days of playing, I just found my first dragon! Time for bed.

Mar 17, 2010, 12:14am Top

I deleted all that users' gibberish tags. S/he actually started out doing it right.

Mar 17, 2010, 6:13am Top

You just know that there is use for this data out there somewhere...

Mar 17, 2010, 7:01am Top

358, Maybe the cat took over?

Mar 17, 2010, 12:17pm Top

358, thanks Tim!

Mar 18, 2010, 12:20pm Top

Something seems to be amiss. Someone just posted over 11,000 for an hour and over 16,000 for the day. If an actual score, good for them, but it hardly seems possible. Obviously, I ve been following this for a while and I can see no way this can happen, especially at this point in the game with less people playing at any given time. However, as I said, if on the up and up, I tip my hat.

Mar 18, 2010, 12:36pm Top


Maybe he found a way to script it? Automatically entering a single tag or set of tags for every book -- something like "man", where you'd get matches some of the time and a first-tagger credit some of the time -- could rack up a lot of points fast. Alternatively, maybe other people's points are somehow getting credited to him.

Meanwhile, I'm apparently the only person who can correctly spell "dalmatian" when it's right there in the title. Sigh.

Mar 18, 2010, 1:05pm Top

I wondered about that 11,000 points too. I haven't tagged any of the same books, so I haven't seen what kind of entries he's using.

In other news, I like following lorax on the game because I can check whether I labeled birds correctly. Lorax seems to know about birds, so I'm proud of myself when I get a match.

Mar 18, 2010, 1:45pm Top

I had the same two suspicions as lorax, and playing this morning I never 'followed' them when only 3 or 4 were playing which would seem to validate our conclusions. My apologies to those who follow me, I'm a terrible speller (and I'm married to an English teacher!) but I can copy from the title and I do tag "grey" and "gray" etc. on the same cover.

Edited: Mar 18, 2010, 2:23pm Top

Nope - no scripts. I totally cheated though. Not going to tell you how I did it, but I'm really not very computer literate, so needless to say it's something that should be fixed since I suppose anyone can do it. I'm going to message Tim about it to tell him how I did it and I'll also see if he can drop my name from the scoring. I'd say I only scored about edit: 3k legit the rest was something I figured out. I was going to mail him as soon as I hit the high score, but I went to lunch.

Sorry all and carry on!

Mar 18, 2010, 2:31pm Top


I saw saxophone and wrote "trumpet"


*never playing again*

Edited: Mar 18, 2010, 2:52pm Top

Yah, I hate when that happens. Or when you look at the list and see something you included, but it is not checked off and you get confused. Then you realize that you misspelled the word. mmphs.

-> stewped spelling. peeps no nede spel stiff ritley. (joke)

Mar 18, 2010, 2:52pm Top

I wrote "saxophone" and saw everybody else had written "trumpet" -- no points for me!

Mar 18, 2010, 3:06pm Top


Sure it's the same book? Mine had a New Orleans pic on it, almost an exact match to a photo I had made... of a trumpeter.

I didn't look all the way down, but the few people on top all had it tagged correctly.

Mar 18, 2010, 3:11pm Top

Mine was a New Orleans one also, and I put saxophone

Mar 18, 2010, 3:22pm Top

#366: I like it when someone hacks a system like this and then announces it. One of the first packman games at our computer science department cost us very very many mouse replacements until someone with the same mindset as you took a binary editor and hacked the highscore file. After that the game lost its fascination and the mouse replacement rate went back to near zero.

Edited: Mar 18, 2010, 4:30pm Top

#372 Well, I hope I don't have the same impact as all that. I think it's a useful thing going on with the covers although admittedly, it may be more true if there's not a point value involved. But then, it'll be people doing it to be helpful, rather than being entertained. Either way, I'll try to do covers here and there.

Mar 18, 2010, 7:36pm Top

#370, Probably a different book. I got it yesterday and can't remember which one it was, but it wasn't New Orleans. It was a man leaning a little backwards playing a saxophone, a little blurry.

Mar 18, 2010, 8:25pm Top

I am very impressed at the number of people who can spell "silhouette" correctly.

Really. I'm amazed I can spell it correctly.

Mar 18, 2010, 8:32pm Top

>375 fugitive: My browser has spell checking, otherwise I would probably have used all the possible combinations of silhouette. I think I finally learnt how to write that word in english.

Mar 18, 2010, 8:35pm Top

375: Actually, I wasn't 100 percent sure on the spelling until after I typed it about 50 times in the game. :)

Mar 18, 2010, 10:11pm Top

375 - I looked it up. Someone out there likes to use 2 l's. At least I've learned something playing the game

Mar 19, 2010, 12:04am Top

I haven't played the game in quite a while, but remember accidentally double-clicking something at the end of looking at the cover, submit, I think, and it matched my guesses against themselves.

Edited: Mar 19, 2010, 9:42am Top

bah, I put T-shirt and tee-shirt and the ones before me put T-shirt and tee shirt, so I lost a point. I suggest that hyphens should not be taken into account. Differences in US and UK spelling are also annoying, I can't think fast enough to put two versions of every word with ou in it (colour/color), or two lls (traveller/traveler), and I would never even thought of grey/gray. There's also the singular/plural question.

And another thing: I put loads of tags, so people coming after me have more chances of scoring, while the people before me sometimes put only one or two. So I put a whole string of tags and only score one for "green".

Not fair, this game! And I can't stop playing.

>366 Sean191: Sean, I did wonder how you managed that score ;-)

Mar 19, 2010, 11:17am Top

374> The one I was thinking of and commented on as New Orleans has a man leaning backwards playing a saxophone, a little blurry, standing in front of a New Orleans style building (which is why I thought it was New Orleans, looks like a building I saw there).

If it is just a man leaning backwards playing a sax, then different book.

Mar 22, 2010, 2:19pm Top

375: I've been copying and pasting it. :)

Mar 27, 2010, 11:13am Top

Something went wrong with the Master of Ballantrae, I chalked up 21 points when really I should only have had one (only one other person had tagged, but all my own tags appeared with green ticks next to them).

Mar 27, 2010, 11:17am Top

Did you double-click on the submit button or something? I think that might cause it to register your tags twice, so you get them compared with themselves.

Mar 27, 2010, 12:25pm Top

that might be it... I was actually trying to go backwards to correct a typo and got my fingers in a twist.

Mar 27, 2010, 3:25pm Top

We are out of covers to give you!

How is this possible!?!?!

Mar 27, 2010, 4:31pm Top

I got that too, lilithcat, after only doing ONE cover yesterday. A refresh put it back in order though.

Mar 27, 2010, 10:07pm Top

Wow. Are we out? I'll have to relax the rules and big deeper into the barrel.

Mar 28, 2010, 8:02am Top

Tim, any reason so many of the covers are audio versions? For future searching use, most people would be looking for real books, wouldn't they?

Mar 28, 2010, 10:50am Top

ran out of covers ;-)

Mar 28, 2010, 11:56am Top

Yep. Out of covers.

Mar 30, 2010, 7:37pm Top

Out of covers again.

Mar 31, 2010, 4:48pm Top

We are out of covers to give you!

Mar 31, 2010, 6:38pm Top

A sincere form of flattery? Microsoft is crowdsourcing tags for their clipart!

Apr 2, 2010, 5:46pm Top

I am also out of covers and I have time to waste this afternoon!

Apr 2, 2010, 7:29pm Top

Apr 3, 2010, 9:54pm Top

We are out of covers to give you!

Apr 8, 2010, 9:39am Top

Since I got Monday a new announcement, my entry to CoverGuess has disappeared. It was fun to play the game and to learn new words. I hope this will come back.

Apr 8, 2010, 11:13pm Top

Sneeuwvlokje, the link is in the first line of the first message on this thread. You can then bookmark it in your browser.

Apr 9, 2010, 8:57am Top

Thanks Justjim.

Apr 9, 2010, 10:55pm Top

any word on the "out of covers" bug? I looove this game, but I can't play when it gives me that error after two covers.

Apr 11, 2010, 7:18pm Top

I've identified several paintings (The Death of Wolfe) Luke Fildes (Applicants for Admission to the Casual Ward) amongst others and apparently been the only person who has. Is there no way to link to classic paintings since I'd have thought it was quite likely that people might ask for "A book with Uccello's the Battle of San Romano on the cover"

Apr 12, 2010, 1:58pm Top

#402 - I'd have thought it was quite likely that people might ask for "A book with Uccello's the Battle of San Romano on the cover"

I know this is mean but the next time I get served in the bookstore by the one I don't like I'm going to ask for that exact thing, just to see the look of dismay that comes back at me.

Apr 12, 2010, 4:11pm Top

and if they can use Coverguess, they can go straight to it! Ta Daaaa~!

Apr 13, 2010, 3:54am Top

coming late to this thread, I skimmed through the 400+ messages but didn't see anything addressing 1) some of the pictures are quite small and difficult to see and 2) some of the pictures are very fuzzy and difficult to see.

I'm not getting any younger so maybe it is just my eyes.

Any way to view larger versions of the covers? I hate skipping them because I can't see them.

Apr 13, 2010, 9:29am Top

Dang, I assumed someone must have said this already. Sorry

Yes, can I support the previous message, please.

Apr 14, 2010, 12:35am Top


OMG that's not mean that's EEEVVIIIILLLLL! in a hilarious I-used-to-work-in-a-bookstore way.

May 5, 2010, 11:32am Top

If only you had asked for the sex of the people playing the game.

The results might have been rather amusing.

Aug 27, 2010, 10:28pm Top

I wonder if there's any way to apply http://www.alipr.com/ to the CoverGuess database.

Sep 1, 2010, 2:52pm Top

Started playing this again; getting kind of bored doing it, because I'm only getting first time covers on it, and as such, very little points. I put in lots and lots of tags, but it's not like I'm going to get anything back from it...

Sep 2, 2010, 10:49am Top

ooh...there's more! Thanks for mentioning it, I'll start playing again. :)

Oct 22, 2012, 2:10pm Top

So can anyone tell me how to use CoverGuess to get an answer? (I've played it lots in the past, entering terms....)

Someone on Livejournal posted a cover description so I thought I'd toss the descriptive terms in and see if anything pops up. But I don't know where to go on LT to do that (or if it's do-able yet).

Oct 22, 2012, 2:49pm Top

This sounds like an "identify that book" situation. There are groups on LT for that purpose and sites on the web as well, especially for children's books.

Of course the main issue is that some titles have multiple cover illustrations across different publishers, countries, or editions (or even generic ones in libraries) that someone might remember.


Oct 22, 2012, 3:02pm Top

It is an identify that book. I'm pretty sure amysisson is aware of the groups since she's a member of Name That Book. ;)

Using the results for identifying a book by what's on the cover has been talked about since message 17 up there.

It's a shame that all the work that went into this has yet to produce anything useful to users (I'm sure Tim had a ball playing with the data.)

Oct 22, 2012, 3:05pm Top

I don't recall the release of any feature using the collected cover guess data.

Oct 22, 2012, 5:13pm Top

Thanks, folks. Yep, I know about the Name that Book group .... I just thought since the bulk of the info the person has is about the cover, it would be more fun to go that route. I'm not going to bother posting it in Name that Book because I wouldn't be able to answer any Q's about it, but I will let that person know about LibraryThing and that group in particular in case they're interested.

Oct 17, 2013, 3:44pm Top

Roughly a year since the last post, can we seach the CoverGuess tags yet?

Oct 18, 2013, 1:45pm Top

any chance of moving CoverGuess to follies? More people might stumble upon it there and generate ever more information to be used someday...

Oct 18, 2013, 8:56pm Top

is it actually linked from anywhere?

Oct 18, 2013, 11:02pm Top

Tim said:

So I just put a link to it on my Notepad

Feb 21, 2018, 9:21am Top

I was reminded of this by yet another post in Name That Book that talked about the cover. This happens a lot. Is there any chance of making this data searchable? It seems a shame what we generated so much and then didn't ever do anything with it.

Feb 22, 2018, 10:00am Top

>422 lorannen: This being an old old thread, apologies for missing the context, but which data, exactly, are you interested looking at?

Feb 22, 2018, 11:36am Top

Can I butt in? How about being able to searh for, say, a blue, blurry picture of a camel, a palm tree and a sunrise?

Feb 22, 2018, 1:06pm Top

Here's an example where all those tagged covers might help a little: https://www.librarything.com/topic/287366 -- "...They normally had black covers with red somewhere on them..."

Feb 22, 2018, 3:47pm Top

Another example where tagged cover might help: https://www.librarything.com/topic/287370 -- "...I remember the cover art looking very mid 70s. Mostly reds and oranges, with an art nouveau style arch, the main character in the center, and a male character behind her..."

Feb 22, 2018, 5:54pm Top

>421 lorax: hear hear
>423 abbottthomas: exactly.
>424 lesmel: & 425 yes, within LT it would be useful, and in for public libraries this would be very handy. This type of functionally could be sold by LT via Syndetics Unbound

>421 lorax: How is the crowd-sourced data generated through playing cover guess being used? Is anything built yet that can use it?

Feb 22, 2018, 8:59pm Top

>422 lorannen:

See the other examples given here. If someone says "The cover was blue with sunglasses", it would be nice to be able to search for things tagged "blue, sunglasses".

>426 wifilibrarian:

Not to my knowledge, thus the request.

Feb 22, 2018, 9:21pm Top

>427 lorax: sorry, that question was for Lorannen. It would interesting to see what 8 years of cover-guess data looks like, even in a basic way, but building some tool to be able to search using the data, even better.

Aug 21, 2018, 12:34pm Top

Reminded, yet again, that being able to search the CoverGuess tags to find a book by its cover would be the greatest thing ever for Name That Book, where the askers frequently remember the cover in vivid detail but very little about the book itself.

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