LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world (Part II)
This is a continuation of the topic LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world.
This topic was continued by LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world (Part III).
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The wiki links are quite helpful and I'm rather liking the flexibility. Still, I'm looking at a LOT of editing....
I feel like I should get an Goodreads refugee T shirt.....
I'm still finding my feet but I'm liking what I'm seeing so far! I'm very happy to know that private groups are a feature here, I run a couple of them over in that other place.
>3 bunwat: Bun, are there any plans to move/duplicate your groups here?
#14 from previous thread - 'I might be convinced to drop the "dead salmon" color… '
I've grown attached to this color. Besides, it's more like poached salmon. Just add a few capers and all will be well.
The color looks fabulous on screens that are calibrated exactly like mine. All other screens it doesn't work with. :)
>6 timspalding: At least it isn't beige. I am constitutionally and possibly genetically adverse to beige. Beige would be a deal breaker.
The first LibraryThing color was appropriately called greige which, actually, is a color—the color of raw wool.
8> That's just....itchy
I am now finding my library is full of blank lines along with most of my books. Import problems, I suspect, as I don't see blanks in my export file. Ah well, it's a grand opportunity to learn how to use the catalogue!
Since I enjoy doing things like this anyway, I am taking the time to enter my books individually, and manually. I didn't like the way they came in via the importer. I still would have had to do a lot of editing to them to get them listed the way I want. Entering manually lets me know exactly where I am on my master list, and make sure I do not overlook tags, collections, and other information I'd like to be sure is accurate, including the proper cover. It's going to take quite awhile. I have 634 books I've read to add, and another few hundred I own, but haven't read yet to add. I won't worry about my To-Read list yet, if ever. We'll see. This site seems to be amazing for slightly insane, OCD, perfectionists who thrive on making lists, and love to collect books and read.
>290 - Thanks Tim - That information about GR and the funding/business model helped me understand some of the discussion a little better.
After 5 years here at LT, I know I'm still not using as much of LT as I could. It seems to have soooo much if you want to make use of it. It can make it seem a little overwhelming and busy at first. I try to have as little to do with Amazon as possible. They seem to be the Walmart of the internet and I hate that "we have the most so we can undercut anyone" mentality.
For the person from the other thread that wanted to know about book formats - I created my own collection for my ebooks and just have them listed to more than one collection. I think when you come to a new site for the first time, it's always a little overwhelming. I hope folks from GR will give us a chance to make them feel welcome as many people did when I joined. I've gotten a lot of great help here - there's always someone who knows the answer.
This site seems to be amazing for slightly insane, OCD, perfectionists who thrive on making lists, and love to collect books and read.
Yes, yes it is.
"This site seems to be amazing for slightly insane, OCD, perfectionists"
I entered the majority of my library (about 8600 volumes now) BY HAND because at the time a friend gave me the $25 lifetime membership (one of the best gifts ever), I couldn't afford a scanner or Cue Cat. I also love searching through the web until I can get a perfect match for the cover of the used book I bought in, say, 1985.....heh.
So, I am a bit confused. Not unusual, but even so. Why does Amazon buying Goodreads make all the Goodreads people want to come here? I welcome them of course. I just don't understand. Is there something changing immediately that makes them less happy with the way the site is working?
Amazon will own Goodreads, which means they will own all the information on Goodreads and can use it as they like. It also means they can use Goodreads as a marketing tool to support not only nonbook sales, but to push Kindle and Amazon published authors. And many people are simply opposed to Amazon's business practices and have no faith that Amazon will not, in the course of time, make deep changes to Goodreads. Goodreads has a much more liberal review policy than Amazon, maintains that users own and control their own reviews (which Amazon does not), and Goodreads has taken great effort to be independent of a retail arm so as to build a reputation for mostly unbiased reviews. Many GR members were there because of that independence. The distaste for Amazon and concern for what Amazon will do once it owns and can control Goodreads is causing many GR people to come here, because LT's owner has stated that LT is and will remain retailer independent, with user owned/controlled reviews and a unbiased, free opinions.
Does that help?
I've been a lifetime member here since 2006 (wow, didn't realize it had been _that_ long) and a GoodReads member since I think 2009. My heaviest use there was probably 2010-2011, and after that I became rapidly disenchanted with one thing after another, and the surprise Amazon acquisition was the last straw. I've made great friends there, I'm not deleting my account there, but for me there's a big difference between helping to build a community and working for free for Amazon so they can sell me stuff. No thank you. I used GR mainly for social networking, book discussions and tracking what I was currently reading, and I'm a catalogue maven here -- LOVE the data, love the various sources, love the member-uploaded covers.
I've always found people to be very welcoming and polite here in discussions, but I think a big drawback is that there are no notification emails. I don't know whether this is something LT is planning or even wants, but when I have to keep going back to the Talk page and checking to see if someone's replied to me (at least that's the fastest way I've found to do it) I typically just forget the conversation is still going on (I'm really absentminded). I personally find the format of the discussions clunky -- there's no way to separate different topics out into folders or threads -- and hard to navigate. The discussions are definitely _here,_ it just takes more digging and work to find them. It takes digging to find good discussions on GoodReads too. I do get frustrated at looking for active discussions here only to find lots of dormant groups, but those seem to be separated out a bit better than the last time I searched.
I think the culture shock that is going to hit the GoodReads refugees is there's no Facebook-like friends feed here. On GR, everything comes through the feed -- status updates, comments, discussions, and so on, or people have email notifications in various formats (digest, single, individual comments, &c &c). On LT, unless you have the Talk page open all the time, it seems more like you have to go around to various discussions (I'm not saying one is better than the other, just pointing out what I see as the difference). I personally had a love-hate relationship with the GR feed, and wouldn't want to see something like it here, but it would be nice if there was an easier way to keep track of/be reminded of discussions.
majika: I think I'm the only non-OCD person on LT.
You've got at least one companion now. I'm about as non-OCD as they come.
krazy4katx Why does Amazon buying Goodreads make all the Goodreads people want to come here? I welcome them of course. I just don't understand.
What Murphy-Jacobs said in #15 as well as the fact that about this time last year, Goodreads librarians spent a ton of time rescuing book entries because Goodreads was removing from its database all of the information that had been sourced from Amazon. (Amazon was demanding that its information not be used in conjunction with links to its competitors. I think the librarians were given less than two weeks notice that the change was going to happen.) Now to turn around and sell the company to "the enemy" around a year later? Feels like a huge slap in the face to many.
Goodreads made that switch voluntarily, to position itself.
I've been having trouble with GR for some time, more and more distant and unresponsive staff, more and more stuff broken and not fixed, more and more disregarding member feedback, increasing fixation on random clickety click features to generate lots of site activity for promotional purposes. The Amazon sale was just the straw that broke the camel's back for me.
>25 bunwat: I jumped ship several mos back for similar reasons. I was a happy GR user until around the middle of last year, when things just seemed to start going downhill faster & faster. All the catering to the authors, ignoring the users, things not working, etc. So I finally said Enough!! and hopped on over to the LT acct I had sitting around. Couldn't be happier about it!! :D
Of your three complaints about GR—well, you'll find we have a lot of bugs. With luck, we'll make progress on them.
But without bugs the environment would be too sterile. What would we complain about?
> 27 You know, in the early days Otis kept a list of what he and the staff were working on, problems reported and the priority, etc. He was very good about letting us know that they were aware and working. Even if it took months, it seemed like the complaining was less because users felt heard. Although that particular discussion topic still exists, I don't think it gets much attention or updating.
Do you have something like that around here (I thought I saw something, but at this point it is all a bit of a blur)? If not, that might be one item from GR that would be worth having here.
19 Talk can seem unmanageable but there are ways to make it more manageable. At the top of any Talk page there's a section called Your World. You can join or watch different groups and them choose to view Talk by Your Groups. Or by threads you've posted to with Your Posts. Or you can star threads you're interested in (by clicking on the star just underneath the Group name at the top of the thread) and then look at Talk through the Starred view. (That's what I do, and every now and then I go back and check my groups for new threads I would find interesting.)
And I do keep the Talk page open and update it when I have a chance to check it.
Just by the way, I would HATE to have a feed that told me everything that was going on and I would even more HATE getting notification e-mails! If LT ever goes in this direction, there's got to be a way to opt out.
timspalding: Goodreads made that switch voluntarily, to position itself.
Whatever their reasoning was, I think there are many who wouldn't have felt quite as betrayed by the sell as they did if last year's events hadn't occurred.
I agree with rebeccanyc, I found the constant updates; "your friend added a book!, your friend made a comment! your other friend is reading another book, your third friend made a fourth friend who made a comment and added a book!..." to be kind of stalkery and confusing and generally cranky making. But it was possible to turn most of it off.
#29 -- There's a Bug Collectors group, and it links to the bug tracking page -- not sure if that's quite what you had in mind?
"He was very good about letting us know that they were aware and working. Even if it took months, it seemed like the complaining was less because users felt heard."
I don't feel heard here at LT. I am not heard. Does anyone here feel heard?
#35, Collectorator, I have nearly always had prompt and helpful responses when I've had problems, if that's what you're getting at.
36, Jeremy is very helpful with little stuff, true. But big stuff lingers and lingers ...
"I've been having trouble with GR for some time"
Don't forget the Giant Ugly Green Button, which was nightmarish at the time but a cakewalk compared to this.
"kind of stalkery and confusing and generally cranky making"
Well, the giant gifs in reviews going by on the feed that were sometimes stills from porn movies made me cranky, definitely.
Yeah, I see sorting Talk by the groups but the 75 Books Challenge for 2013 is flooding that right now. One good thing about the GR feed was you could filter out what you wanted to appear on it. I opted out of most of the notification emails, but there was a gidget thing on the site that would pop up when you had notifications (usually).
I was very dependent on my stream, and was very particular about those people who I marked as visible in my stream, so I quickly eliminated any gif-prone types. I also turned off notifications about friends and groups and comments -- I will miss opening that main page and seeing a list of reviews and new books. A lot of my reading choices came from that. But I'm sure I will adjust.
I could never get the dang stream to work the way I wanted so I finally gave up and just ignored it.
>42 the_red_shoes: It is not unusual for the 75ers to be speeding along. You might want to check out that group. It is pretty much the only group where I participate just now. It's busy there and I need time to read... and you know, have life.. watch Doctor Who etc.
So, I am a bit confused. Not unusual, but even so. Why does Amazon buying Goodreads make all the Goodreads people want to come here? I welcome them of course. I just don't understand. Is there something changing immediately that makes them less happy with the way the site is working?
Amazon does not care about people; they care about dollar signs. People in the GR community put in a lot of time and effort, volunteering, only to have it sold off and now it will be commercialized.
Amazon is known for censorship. First, they routinely meddle in reviews, trying to restrict writers from reviewing other writers in their genre, or just at their whim. They also block or censor books at their will if they are considered "offensive"... their policy on this reads as if were written by a third grader. "What we deem offensive is about what you would expect." Meaning they can block an author's content (and take the author's royalties) for no reason at all.
Both of said policies are inconsistently applied. In some cases, legitimate reviews are removed, although other bogus ones are allowed to remain, EVEN THOUGH THE REVIEWER ADMITS THEY DIDN'T EVEN READ THE BOOK. Also, I'm an author of erotic literature (admittedly, some of my work has darker themes) and I had a book blocked with a blackmail theme.... but they had no problem with an even darker book which involved a woman being electro-tortured.
I think I speak for most writers when I say that Amazon is a necessary evil.
43>> Do you have Hot Reviews showing on your Home Page?
There you can see some of the best current reviews by others. They are voted HOT by members who have read them. Maybe that would help?
42> There are certain groups that can really take over your 'World'. I have found two ways of dealing with this.
1) Join or watch the group. As each topic comes up, decide whether you want to read it. If not hit the (x) and it won't show in your list any more. (This is how I deal with Off Topic.)
2) Don't join the group. Now and again go over to the group page and hit the (*) for any topic you want to have show in your list. (This is how I deal with my challenge group.)
43> You can get a list of reviews and new books from friends on your homepage - that's your "Connection News" module. It can be populated with friends, Interesting Libraries, Private Watch List, and also your 100(?) most similar libraries.
I think it offers review, rating, and added options. I just do review/added - one to see what my connections think of books, and the other to see what new books are garnering interest.
>43 Murphy-Jacobs: Have you had a chance yet to explore the Connections feature? It's one of the modules on your home page, and you can also view it under the Connections link on either your home page or your profile page. You can see what your friends, your top 50 similar libraries, your interesting libraries, etc., have recently added, rated, and/or reviewed.
>50 cbl_tn: I'm thrilled that it's there for those who like that kind of thing. I'm even more thrilled that I don't have it on my home page and taking up most of the page. This is my biggest beef about GR: you couldn't shut that thing off!
>51 Steph310: It's pretty easy to avoid in GR too. I have my GR homepage set to "discussions" instead of "updates" and under that set to "groups", so all I see is the groups I belong to and a static number of the most recent discussion topics in each. I didn't like the clutter either, but this way I avoid it entirely.
Similarly here, I delete topics under "Talk" which I don't care about following and I avoid joining groups which clutter up my talk forums with too many topics that don't interest me.
>52 tottman: That what I do too, although I didn't like being "forced" to join groups just to see less of the "clutter." If you don't join groups, when you click that "discussion" tab, it places random posts about books from your library. So really, there is no way to turn the "social" off. If goodreads allowed us to really customize the homepage (for me, that means putting the panel on the right side of the screen front and center and hide the "updates" section), I might not even consider LT. While I understand why the anger and exodus, it's not like I post a lot of reviews or work as a librarian. I'm a private person. What I think about what I just read is my business, no one else's. I'm just not the sharing type, but I'm not disparaging those that are.
This is what I love about Librarything. We both get what we want.
>4 Murphy-Jacobs: Sherri it depends on who comes over. If a lot of the membership of any of my groups comes I will restart the group. Once I figure out how.
You could customize your home page to not have Talk at all and then when you want to see what's top of the list do Hot topics on the Talk tab. That way you wouldn't have to be bothered with the social (not join Groups) unless you're in the mood.
What kind of groups did you have over there? Maybe LT oldie members may want to join.
> 10: This site seems to be amazing for slightly insane, OCD, perfectionists who thrive on making lists, and love to collect books and read.
Ah, finally I understand why I like it here ;-)
>60 BarkingMatt: Just as long as no-one tries to mix the "slightly insane OCD perfectionists" with us "quite insane OCD perfectionists." I mean, I'm willing to mingle with the moderately insane OCD perfectionists, but not the "slightly". Bunch of amateurs.
By the way, there's another perfectly reasonable way to keep up with threads on talk that you want without having to join groups to reduce clutter. Star the threads you're interested in, then switch your talk view to "Starred".
There are probably as many ways to use Talk as there are users. Personally, I always have the view set to "my posts" so I can follow threads that I've participated on. Threads that are interesting to me but that I don't have anything to say on just yet, I star. When I catch up on everything in the "my posts" view, I switch over to "my starred." If time permits (it hasn't lately) I might then look at topics in "my groups" -- or I might visit certain groups individually to make sure I'm not missing any new threads. I also catch new threads by occasionally switching over to "hot topics" to see what's trending, so to speak.
I fear the men in the white coats coming to take me away, ha ha, if I admit to being more than slightly insane. =)
Its a quote from Alice!
Alice says: How do you know I'm mad?
Then the Cheshire cat says: You must be. Or you wouldn't have come here.
Which is so appropriate I had to fall over.
I've had a whole glass of wine and am deleting duplicate books, therefore am unequipped to do any braining. I could only get as close as the Mad Hatter :(
Well, that was pretty close!! I couild really use a glass of wine but I've got none and I'm not willing to drive to go find it right now.
Saw a sign the other day...
"Beer now cheaper than gasoline.
Drink don't Drive."
Drinking coffee here since it's still "morning" for me, (I work nights and keep the same hours even on my nights off unless I make specific plans to go somewhere) tho since I'm not going out anywhere, I am adding some Sambuca to it. :)
I don't have a lot of alcohol in the house because I was on a lot of post-surgical painkillers a couple of weeks back. I did find a bottle of Asti. That'll do. :)
I happen to have a fair amount of alcohol here.. ( long story ) but come on over.. we can sip while all y'all wait for books to happen in your accounts. *peering out from under hat*
I just want to throw my hat in the ring for a mobile app, too (Android! ANNNNDDROOIIDD!). The Goodreads app is pretty sucky, but it's functional and better than nothing when I'm out at a bookstore and want to check my catalogue.
I'm willing to give LibraryThing a shot, but this struck me as being slightly hypocritical from Tim's original post:
"The same goes for many other players. With Amazon in the drivers' seat, you can bet that B&N, Kobo and Indies are going to drop and be dropped by Goodreads like a hot potato. If any non-Amazon "buy" buttons remain, they're going to be buried deep. And B&N is hardly going to encourage people to use Goodreads now that every item of data Goodreads get goes to build Amazon and the Kindle features Goodreads is promising."
It's disappointing that every book Main Page here on Library Thing has a direct link to Amazon and only Amazon. To find titles from other retailers you have to go to a secondary page. That's fairly buried deep too isn't it?
>80 Johnnie_cakes: If you've been on GR a while, you know that that's a direct result of Amazon's demands for anyone using their API as of a little over a year ago.
hey Johnnie_cakes - you can change the links in that section to reflect much more than just Amazon. I've got B&N, Google Books, Project Gutenberg and many others. Once you add them, they're on top just like Amazon.
Here's the blog post explaining the way the quick links are set up - and why only Amazon is on the first page:
If you click the edit pencil a work page "quick links" section you will find the following explanation:
"Note on bookseller links
As part of its Terms of Service, Amazon prohibits competitor links on a book's "primary" page. As LibraryThing derives some of its bibliographic data from Amazon, we have to follow their rules.
To comply with this provision, bookseller links, including your "Quick Links," will only appear on secondary pages, such as "Get this book," "Local Book Search" and "All sources."
For more on this policy see this blog post."
Oh, I understand why it's that way. It's just disappointing. And as I said, hypocritical to say someone else will hide/bury buy buttons when all similar buttons on this site are on a secondary page.
Can't read all of these two threads, so I'm sure I'm seconding things others are already saying.
There seem to be 2 main sides to this, though not unrelated: 1) attracting new members to LT, esp. Goodreads refugees, and 2) developing new relationships with publishers, indies, etc. to counter the Amazon hegemony.
I don't have many suggestions for #2, but what I would prioritize for #1 are the following.
1) Add Books.
I saw yet another thread today with someone complaining about how complicated it is to add books. So those Add Books changes can't come soon enough, but they also need to be done in a way that is more intuitive for those people who don't currently find it intuitive. I use the Add Books page, as do many long-time LT members, and that works fine for me, but clearly many people don't find that method intuitive, and want an easy way of searching for the book *first* and then adding from there. And why not: LT has tons of book info, and when I want info on a book I search for it on LT; it makes sense that someone might also want to add books at that point.
2) Design and usability.
This goes beyond the salmon and cheap-Easter-egg-dye color scheme (which I admit I've never liked). When this discussion comes up people too often *oppose* design and smarts or design and data richness etc. That's a false dichotomy. Good design is not about making something look flashy or pretty. Good design is about usability: good design is about how the visual layout of the pages help people to quickly and easily find information. LT just does not do this very well at all. So many people are confused when they join. There is no easy way to find that many features even exist, nor to figure out where they are once you know, nor to figure out how to use them. HelpThing is great and I've contributed to it, but how many people even know it's there? The pages on LT in general are visually cluttered so that it's hard to do a quick eye-swoop, so to speak, to assess how the page works and what you can do on it. What you need to do is not just contract a visual designer but have a really hard think about how people currently navigate the site, how people want to use the site, all the features on the site, how to make them more accessible. I think you're already getting some good advice in this thread from former GR users and other new users who use the site in totally different ways than I would, and who have trouble figuring out how to do the things they want to do. There are many valid ways to use LT, but the current organization and design can make it very difficult to make good use of some of LT's most valuable features. Someone needs to give some thought to developing pages on "What you can do on LT?" and laying it out clearly. You shouldn't have to follow the new features thread, the blog, and all talk discussions to have a good idea of all the features here. They should be easy to find for a new user. Form and function need not be opposed: yes, I do think you need to redesign the site's visuals to make them less dated, but that doesn't mean making the site flashy: it means making it cleaner so that users can more easily find their way around.
3) Emphasize recommendations.
This has always been one of LT's strongest assets -- it was why I first joined -- and I never understood why recommendations got so buried. Make them front and center. (And again, not just *that* recommendations exist, but how they work, how members can use them, etc.)
4) Facebook and Twitter
I don't use either of these services, but lots of people do, and I frequently see threads saying that the integration isn't working properly. Go to the people where the people are, and make LT work for them in ways that mesh with the ways they're using the internet.
LT is way behind here, and again it's a question of going to the people where the people are. I want to be able to use LT in a mobile way, to check things when I'm out, to see if I already have them, to scan something and get LT book info. Every now and then I try to pull up LT my Android, but it really doesn't work conveniently. And yes, please, not just iPhone: not everyone has i-everything.
While I myself would find some of these changes useful, I'm thinking more of what you need to do to attract new members, and to keep up with how people do want to use such a site and will want to use such a site.
I don't use Facebook or Twitter, but I do post reviews on Tumblr and that integration (depending on how it's set up) would be very useful to me.
LT is hard even for long term members. I've been a member for six years and I still struggle with simple things like finding the ER page. I end up getting to it via the email or a comment on my Profile page because I keep forgetting where the link is. It shouldn't be that hard.
>88 Morphidae: There's usually a quick link to ER from the home page, there's the ER box (if you keep it there) and I think the News, or Announcements? box also has it when there's been a new batch added, until some other "news" comes along...? Something higher up on my page I'm pretty sure has had it at times. I rarely do stuff from the home page but that's the way I seem to have taken to, to getting to ER at non-new batch times.
>88 Morphidae:/89 - And there's a link to the LTER page right on your profile, too :-)
>90 jbd1: There is indeed, and I've used it, but the home page one doesn't need any scrolling. ;)
I think Morphidae's point is not that there aren't links there. It's that they're not easy to find. That's the bigger problem of navigability/usability/design that I was also talking about.
On the other hand, you can't have everything top and centre. And people disagree a lot about what they want top and centre.
I can't find one on the Home page. It took me a minute or two to find the one on the Profile page. I was expecting it to be on the top or right navigation and instead it's buried in the text.
ETA: If you want to attract publishers, it should be MUCH easier to get to ER.
I'm one of the newbies and I'm still finding my way around here so I expect I will have more to say as I learn the site. But there are a few things I can say now
In Tim's initial post in the first version of this topic he said
While outright Amazon hatred is a minority feeling, it's a real one, and something LibraryThing can benefit from. We need to justify those feelings by making it clearer than ever that LibraryThing respects your data. (I think we need to discuss new terms that bind LibraryThing as much as they bind users.)
I don't hate Amazon. I use Amazon. I buy socks and teabags and laundry soap and office supplies from Amazon. But to me books aren't socks or pens or file folders. They are something a great deal more important than a monetizable commodity to be hawked at the lowest possible price point by megacorporations.
Based on my experiences with Amazon I don't believe they get that. I believe they will give it lip service if that what it takes to get my money, but they don't actually give a damn about the cultural importance of intellectual property. Or even understand why it matters. That's why I fled.
So if you want to set yourself apart, get it. Do what Tim said. Begin with respecting our data. Demonstrate as clearly as possible that you respect our data. And respect the data of all the authors, alive or dead. Then go beyond that. Show that you understand that the value of books and of conversations about books is not simply that there's money to be made off them.
Books aren't widgets. They are boxes full of ideas.
>95 Morphidae: - Just checked - you've got the LTER module on your homepage turned off, so that's why you're not seeing it. You can add it back with the "customize this page" link in the beige box at the top of your home tab (and you can drag-and-drop those modules so they show up in whatever order you like, too).
ETA: Note that when there's an open LTER batch, that module also shows the top-requested books so that you can click right through and request. It looks a bit different right now than it normally does since we're between batches at the moment.
Nice to see you too! And all the goodreaders, even if I don't recognise y'all.
I find this thread to be very interesting to read and it is nice to see that the developers are seeking input and responding. Bravo.
I know that I am hammering on an issue that has been done to death, but I wanted to repeat it again just so that it is in this thread.
In my time I tried Shelfari and GoodReads and honestly neither of them were what I wanted. They seemed to be trying to reach a population with a different set of interests than me. What I wanted, and what LibraryThing provided perfectly, was a way to catalog my personal library and to be able to sort, tag, and find information easily. I wasn't interested in telling my friends what I was reading or creating auto Facebook posts.
How bad did I want LibraryThing to achieve its goals? Well alot. Interestingly enough I just happened to be in an odd position to know many people in our local and state library systems and I was constantly mentioning LT. To the point where I was asked at one point if I was getting a kickback LOL. Some of those folks have now gone on to work in other companies like SirsiDynix where they are also influencers.
However, what happened after some time is that I saw that my primary desired feature wasn't being addressed. I want an iPhone/iPad app that responds quickly and allows me to scan in my books and search by tags and sort and display lists. So over time I have given up being an evangelist for LT and pretty much stopped loading new books into the system. Now I just keep track of them in an excel spreadsheet and that I sync over to the phone.
I honestly think the biggest thing that LT could do to reinvigorate itself is to provide the iPhone app that its customers have long been begging for.
I still want to see you guys succeed, but this request has fallen on deaf ears for so long.
Bun is the smartest twitchy long eared critter you'll see and she speaks well.
Here's a little something else to be tossed into the ever growing pile of tweaks and twitches and so forth. Drop Down Menus for common tasks, especially things like tags.
I'm compiling a paper list of my tags so that I can properly tag everything, but each time I go in I recall the ease of GR's drop down -- which was my own custom set -- and the simplicity of just clicking. Drop down/pop up menus like that was one of the more attractive things about GR (the UGB notwithstanding) in that it let me do things while being lazy -- that is, I could scroll through other people's books, spot one that interested me, clicky a little clicky button, check a tag, and have that book go into one of my "shelves" for later work (to remind myself to read it, to write a review on it, whatever). I found a huge number of books this way, and it made going through other people's libraries so much fun and so useful for building my own library.
There might be something like that here, but so far it seems adding books I find on other people's catalogues is click intensive and a bit confusing. I know there is a lot of individualism with the books -- you aren't picking from a pre-determined set of books to match up your own copy -- but sometimes I feel like I'm duplicating effort that others have done, or others will have to duplicate my work.
Anyway, I'm still pushing buttons and turning over rocks, so maybe it's all around here somewhere.
Newbie from GR here - just wanted to say that I absolutely LOVE LT, I've spent hours this weekend adding books, and covers, and tags, and just generally being surrounded by books, and it was great :)
I love the way this looks, compared to GR, the way it's organised and for me it's got all the right focus/non-focus, the information I need and not the one I don't need!
Someone above was saying about Tim being hypocritical... so here is another way to look at it.
My bookseller is Amazon - I use them any time I can* because they have the best stock, they are reliable and they are cheapest in most cases. But I need a site that does not belong to them for reviews, cataloging and general book chatter - and this is what LT is. If it is Amazon owned site, sooner or later they will come up with something like the Verified purchase they stuck on interviews awhile back and who knows what else. In LT my library says whatever I want it to say.
So the buttons to Amazon here are good for LT (well... for this user of LT) while LT remains independent.
*Except for some small presses where I will go directly to the publisher.
Murphy-Jacobs - Have you looked at your tag page yet? If not, click on the tags icon on the top of your catalog page. that will give you a list of all the tags you have used so far.
>101 Murphy-Jacobs: Adding books from other people's libraries does take more steps than on GR, so I generally add books manually. (Actually, I add all my books manually, because I want complete bibliographic control, but I fully admit to being a serious cataloging junkie.) It's not a perfect solution, but it is faster than adding a book through someone else's catalog, particularly for a book that I'm adding to my TBR (to be read) list and don't need an exact edition. I can just enter the title and author right quick, choose a collection, and presto, the book is in my catalog.
>101 by Murphy-Jacobs, Tim is opposed to something like that because he wants tags to be more spontaneous-like. He thinks they get stagnant if you have a set list like that. And to an extent, I agree. If there's a list to choose from, unless something is a total wildcard, people are more likely to just choose something off the list rather than coming up with something more unique.
Also, many of us use tags as keywords as well as categories. And with keywords the number of unique items can easily rise to the hundreds or thousands. This many tags is not really manageable with a drop-down list.
If you only have 10 or so categories, you might consider using collections instead of tags.
>107 eromsted: I had probably around 70 shelves or so on GR, the dropdown scrolled easily and was alpha-sorted, so it wasn't an issue to use. I doubt she's talking about such a low number. But indeed, it'd probably get unwieldy for most folk here. Exceeding 150 or so would probably start to get painful. heh.
I've got less than 2k. I also haven't added a huge amt of my books yet, and any unread ones have only a couple since I generally don't know many specifics about them.
My personal account has over 20,000 tags with >1k unique and the work account has ~60,000 with 1.5k unique so using the tag page to clean up tags is the best solution. A drop-down just wouldn't work well for a lot of people.
Yes, with a high number it would be a pain, I can see that. I am not a detail tag person -- I think I had about 40 or so shelves/tags between exclusive and nonexclusive shelves.
I'm not a "spontaneous" tagger -- I can't even wrap my head around that idea. My tags are specific and, used in combination, tell me what I need to organize my books. For example, I have a set of tags that indicate the book's status in my library -- I've read it, I want to read it, I want to acquire it, I've abandoned it, I'm curious about it but don't know if I want to read it or not yet -- and then a set of tags for the year I read a book, and then a set for what broad category the book fits in for me, as well as a few "specialty" tags for books read or wanted for particular purposes (like a book club or a research project). I created them as I needed them and eliminated them when they were no longer of use. No one else needs to use my tags, as they are unique to me and convey little information to anyone else. I just want an easy, consistent way to use them without having to correct typos or refer to a printed list. I know some GR people had as many as 100 shelves which were accessible from a drop down list available only to them.
Right now I'm using the collections for library status and the tags for the other two sets, which works fine, but it's still cumbersome.
Again, I don't expect anything to change. I'm just bringing up aspects of GR that I considered positive and worthy of consideration.
Yes, I'm just shy of 6000 unique tags and that number will definitely be increasing as I continue my clean-up and organization. A drop-down would be awful - as it is, I have begun a label system ("place:" "setting:", &c.) just so that the tag page is easier for me to manage.
>112 Murphy-Jacobs: For the most part I use the same things also, but there come books that would do better with one not already in existence; but if I'm just choosing from a list rather than adding them in myself, I'd likely just choose something that semi-fits and call it "good enough" rather than making a new more explicit one. That's the sort of thing Tim wants to keep happening. It's easy to edit tags though, if you typo them or whatnot, and it fixes all instances & merges them with the proper one. :)
>113 keristars: I do something similar. I have location: and author: (nationality) and series: and such tags. I like it having things grouped nicely like that.
>115 brightcopy: I don't know that I've actually seen the comments in question, I'm just repeating what I've oft seen repeated. heh.
114, 115, 116 >
Yes, I think the core issue is wanting people to use their own schemes of tagging, rather than copying other people's tags.
The most common objection to a drop-down for our own tags is that so many of us serious taggers have so many tags, it would be unwieldy. I'm not saying that's the definitive answer, but it is an issue.
I created an entire tagging taxonomy for my library that I ended up having to write down as my catalog grew and I amended the tag hierarchy. I ended up writing a catalog user's manual just to keep track of it all.
>118 casvelyn: "I ended up writing a catalog user's manual just to keep track of it all."
Did you catalog the user's manual? ;)
I'm not against a UI to add tags more easily, if they're your tags. Adding other people's tags strikes me as likely to defeat the point. Tags work because they're YOUR tags, not someone else's. We should, perhaps, make it easier to use others' tags to search your library, but I see loss if we made it easy to add data that was fundamentally another person's mental conception of your library.
>119 Katya0133: No, but I did put it online: http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/User:Casvelyn. I got tired of having another document open, so now if I need to remember how to do something, I just open another browser tab.
> 120 Tim
I am not really interested in anyone else's tags -- my brain works in its own peculiar way, and I personally think works quite well (when it works, that is). I don't always grasp other peoples' organizational schemes and they don't always grasp mine. But, yes, yes indeed, a quick, easy and consistent way to add my tags without having to check a list or make something up until later would be handy.
#120 by timspalding> This is what people keep asking for (their own tags). But I know at least once when we've discussed it, you've dropped in, thought we were talking about the other thing (site-wide tags) and never checked back. I'm not trying to be hard on you about this, as I know you have a lot to keep track of. Just letting you know that this just keeps getting misunderstood.
I'm not totally sure which is being proposed. For your own tags, the problem is just coming up with a UI good enough. I'm worried about a checkbox-style UI because it will tend to constrain your tag set to whatever fits in the UI. An autocomplete would be better, but comma-based autocomplete is hard.
> 86 excellent summary, thanx! Especially agree that site redesig would help a lot and that does NOT need to be flashy. Focus on key features, even in dead salmon color :)
My priority proposal:
1 book adding easier and also from book catalog page
2 liberate APIs, even if you do your own mobile apps
3 lists, lists, lists
124 > I was of the impression there was an autocomplete? Or is that a browser thing rather than an LT thing?
I find the browser autocomplete very useful, as my most frequent combinations are in there.
I would hate to see it covered up by a list of my own tags, because I have so many I would never find the ones I want in there. Not to mention how that could deal with the way I keep my tags ordered.
Yes, if you develop a drop-down tag list, I hope it will be optional. I too find the browser auto-complete helpful, but I have WAY too many tags to show in a drop-down list. When I'm tagging a book that's more unusual for me, I go back to my tag list to remind myself of the way I phrased an idea in the past.
Isn't it possible to create an autocomplete dropdown list that just uses your personal tags? I have a love/hate relationship with that sort of thing, but it is mostly love.
>130 southernbooklady: It's possible for a dropdown to be made, of course, but the thing is most people have far too many tags for such a thing to be usable. As for autocomplete, Tim just said "comma-based autocomplete is hard." So it seems unlikely there will be any changes there, or at least not for quite a while to come.
I personally think there's a lot more important things that need working on before something like this is even considered, so that doesn't bother me.
Yeah, what I really want is a server-side auto complete that will remind me whether I'm using post apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic.
It isn't quite as simple, but if you go to your catalog and click on Tags at the top you will see an alphabetic list of your tags (make sure you have All Collections open, or you'll just see the tags for the collection you're looking at).
I was thinking more along the lines of a little jquery (http://jqueryui.com/autocomplete/)
Right, but that only does it for one tag. What you want is autocomplete that plays well with commas—so you can autocomplete piece by piece without having a more complicated UI. For a one-term autocomplete, we have how CK works.
Click on "multiple values" under examples. It plays with commas quite well. Also check out the long list option under scrollable results.
132, 135, 136>
It seems to me that this sort of web service approach, even with lightweight JSON, could create a lot of web traffic that needs to be accounted for in the network and server architecture.
I agree with the suggestions that the use case presented (let me know if I am using "post-apocalyptic" vs. "post apocalyptic") is not quite enough to say that the browser autocomplete is not sufficient. When editing "my book" details pages in Chrome, I find that my recent commonly-used clusters of tags will show up if I start with the same one.
Some of this can be addressed with power edit and/or the page that shows your tags in use.
Background: I've been an LT member since 2006 and have been a major Helper contributor over time. I've never used Goodreads, but I know many people who do.
The "LT in a Goodreads/Amazon world" question ties back into what does LT want to be:
- A book discovery site
- A book cataloging site
- A book discussion site
- A book locator service (for sale, lending, or swapping)
- A place where you talk about books with your "offline" friends
I'd guess the answer is all of the above, and it can be. But right now I don't know if LT's purpose is as clear (or clearly differentiated) than Goodreads.
Case in point: my wife wanted book recommendations, so I told her up about LT. She signed up. Then she asked me where on site to go for recommendations. I explained that she had to upload her existing collection, then look at what was recommended. She winced at the time required, so I suggested she just upload some favorite titles. Upon doing that, she looked through the recommendations, found a couple that seemed interesting, but then got lost on the title pages trying to find what each book was about. She came back to LT a month later but didn't see any new recommendations of interest, then never came back.
Compare my wife's experience to Netflix, where you thumb up or down a few movie titles, and then it recommends several titles to you right away. The more you rate or watch, the smarter the recommendations become. Very simple and very effective. LTFL's Book Psychic tool seems designed this way, and you can understand its appeal.
Or compare that to how her friends use Goodreads. Some use it to log what they read, some use it for the social connections to their Facebook friends, but most just want good book recommendations or to talk about books they've read/are reading. And they want it through their mobile phone, because they're on the go a lot.
Librarything could be that site and have much wider appeal, but I think it needs to define what it wants to be and then aggressively focus their resource allocation on that. Changing the site color scheme may help, but what will help more is streamlining the home screen and the book and author detail pages. And making the discussion page less unwieldy. And so will putting a friendly face on the recommendation engine that learns from your inputs and capitalizes on all the tags and CK data (a huge competitive advantage for LT).
This site has incredible data and a passionate user base (plus the monthly giveaways are great), but LT has not taken off like other social networks, including Goodreads. I know authors and publishers do participate--find out what barriers they have to diving in and investing more. Look at where and when new members fall off. Show the site to non-members, and stand over your shoulder as they navigate. That experience can be eye opening.
There's plenty of room in the market for two great sites, and LT has all the programming, data, and empowered users to make the leap. But it needs to answer first why it exists, then focus on delivering on that user experience.
I've had a lifetime LT membership for I don't know how long, but I abandoned it for GR when I got my mobile devices (I have iOS and Android) because of the ability to scan books directly from an app. I'm a multiple-book-at-a-time reader, so GR's ability to mark my progress is helpful. I also love seeing the books I've read in a year (alas, I'm behind my goal for this year).
I've got a CueCat, but especially on an old computer, it was a huge, slow pain to scan a book into a spreadsheet, save it, upload it, then have to edit each book to be the one I actually owned. With GR, the moment I finish a book, I can open the app, click to my current read list, check read, and the book is tagged as such. Admittedly, it's been a while since I entered a book in LT, but I don't recall it being that easy.
I am a part of NetGalley, and it's awfully nice to have the code for my review right there ready to copy into NG's feedback system (and I have a tag that reminds me I have to review a certain book, which is great for those books I read months before their pub date).
I'll try to give LT another chance, since I'm uneasy with the Amazon sale of GR, but until I can have that quick-mark-read in an app or barcode scanning I doubt I'll delete my GR account.
tl;dr: mobile app, please, iOS and android. Easy book add, either via app or mobile site. Easy tagging.
>139 etoiline: There is a barcode-scanning book-adding app (LibraryThingScanner by Owlfish) but basically all it does is send the ISBN number to the "Add Books" page in your mobile browser. You still have to click on the edition that you want on the right side of the page.
>138 feldamundo:, feldamundo - I love that Netflix example. Yes, I like how the ratings/recommendations thing works there. Super-easy.....
I have an old CAT barcode scanner (I got it some years back when I picked up a copy of Bookography, a book/video/music cataloging software program -- that looks a lot like the LT catalog, as it happens) but I couldn't get it to work with the catalog here, possibly because I don't have the app, so that's for that tidbit of info, Noabelle14 :)
I joined LT in 2008 but didn't use it for long. Started using goodreads last year to try to find fiction I would like. It isn't very good at recommendations and I still had to sort through lots of "social" fluff to find books. What a chore. I'd rather be reading a new book than sifting through piles of reviews and comments and forums hoping to find something I might like.
I see LT has recommendations but they appear to be naive as well. Just because I read a book doesn't mean I liked it. I want recommendations based on similar tastes, not similar libraries. It would be a boon if LT could be the first book site that nails recommendations the way sites such as netflix and criticker have been doing for movies for a decade. The algorithms used at criticker are well documented.
Am I mistaken? Are there criticker-style recommendations someplace here?
>> 138. "This site has incredible data and a passionate user base (plus the monthly giveaways are great), but LT has not taken off like other social networks, including Goodreads. I know authors and publishers do participate--find out what barriers they have to diving in and investing more. Look at where and when new members fall off. Show the site to non-members, and stand over your shoulder as they navigate. That experience can be eye opening."
But does LT want to be a 'social network'? I escaped from GR because it was mainly that, if LT changes too, where do people go, those who just care about their books, cataloguing, tracking, organising, etc, with minimum 'social' or 'forced' social interaction?
I can't believe that throughout the world I'm part of a small minority that doesn't care about social networks - there has to be enough people to justify having sites for them.
(note - about the book forums in GR: more than half the discussion threads on books I've read seemed to focus on films/actors/actors for potential films/tv adaptations/want to see books into films... do we want that, really?)
#144 by bokchoy> This is something that's been rehashed many times here. Tim contends that whether you rated a work highly is much less informative than whether you cataloged the work at all. In other words, if you THOUGHT you would like a Civil War Alternate History book enough to read it and rate it, it doesn't really matter that you didn't like that particular one when you are trying to decide if you'd like other Civil War Alternate History books.
This viewpoint has a lot of well documented algorithms and papers to back it up. So it's really not about being naive.
On the other hand, I wish it did somehow take ratings more into account. If I love space opera but I tell it I've hated four different novels by a specific author (who is otherwise highly popular), I don't want it suggesting anything else by that author.
Regarding apps and barcodes and related topics.
Adding books in LT is best done on the "Add Books" tab page. Select the data source (e.g. Library of Congress, OverCat, Amazon -- in about that order on successive searches), put the cursor in the text box, and then swipe the CueCat over the ISBN-13 barcode (begins with 978 and may be on the inside front cover of a mass-market paperback).
It is NOT a good idea to search for a book, find it in someone's library, and try to use the "Add Book" button from that page. The result is a title-only search from the selected data source and may not work well for you. It adds many steps to the process and you'll be frustrated.
There is a user-created Greasemonkey script that will copy most of the fields from a detail page into the blank manual add form. This would allow you to copy a good listing that does not seem to be found in one of the data sources.
Mobile apps are frequently requested but in a community the size of LT, the income generated by a $1-$5 app does not come anywhere close to the costs of creating it. Hence, with a small programming staff that LT has (3 according to Tim's earlier post), developing apps for both iOS and Android would cause other programming to suffer from neglect. Tim's statements tell me that mobile development is not a priority with the current resources and work to be done.
There are user-created apps for both iOS and Android that will allow one to export their LT catalog and view a textual representation of their books on the mobile device (i.e. no book covers, generic or mine, are shown). I have found the one by Jouni for iOS to be a good way to quickly check to see if a book I have is cataloged. It is easier than using the full site or the seemingly abandoned LibraryThing.com/m site on the phone while on the road.
Jouni's app does have a barcode scanner. Its main purpose is to allow you to scan a stack of book barcodes and then send the list to yourself for loading in the bulk import tool.
Seeing the multistep process for adding a book, I don't think the experience on a phone with its slow networks and latency would be very satisfying. It is better to scan a stack of book barcodes and use bulk import. I've done this for groups of books. You can assign collections and tags for the imports and this can be effective.
LibraryThing takes a less "forward" stance on social networking. It's definitely a site where you can take it or leave it. Some use "friends" as much as on anywhere and participate on Talk all day long. Others review a few books and maybe mark a few users as "interesting" to them to talk to or just to browse their catalogs. And some pretend all the social stuff doesn't exist. We try not to force anyone to use LibraryThing the way we think they should.
Personally, I'm most interested in the social and the books being used TOGETHER. That is, I find it a lot more interesting to find people who share my books than to find people I know on Facebook because I went to high school with them. This is perhaps a cranky opinion, but it drives our priorities somewhat. So, for example, your profile shows who you share books with ABOVE your friends.
I find the book recommendation discussion interesting, as it runs counter to what I used GR for in terms of recommendations and what I hope to find here on LT.
Most -- if not all -- of the recommendations I found on GR came not from an algorithm based on my own ratings or reviews or even my library, but from the people who populated my stream with their reviews and additions. I had a fairly diverse group of people who I either followed or had in my friends list, and I had culled through them to pick a selection for my stream. I discovered a LOT of books that way, including books that were completely unlike other books I'd read or thought about reading.
While I did play around with the automatically generated recommendations, that was mostly for fun and curiosity. It occasionally turned up something interesting, but not often enough to make it a useful tool. But it seemed I could barely scroll through my stream of friend activity without finding three or four books that looked interesting, of which one or two were interesting enough to add to my own lists -- and this was on a daily basis. Some days I found all too many interesting books. Occasionally a book didn't suit me or please me, but more often I liked it or at least wanted to discuss it. (Even a book I don't like is fun if I get a good conversation out of it)
I hope to cultivate that same sort of reliable group here.
(and just as an FYI, I rarely find my Netflix recommendations useful. I just comb through everything and populate my queue with what looks good, then worry about it when I'm in the mood to watch).
> 149 Most -- if not all -- of the recommendations I found on GR came not ... from the people who populated my stream with their reviews and additions
That's been my experience on LibraryThing. I'm not sure what a "stream" looks like in GR, but the "Connection News" on my LT home page does just what you've described with a high degree of reliability. The only LT feature that facilitated discovery to a comparable degree for me was "Tag Watch," which has unfortunately entered an interminable deep freeze.
(The lamented LT feature for social purposes that I liked as much as Tag Watch was the list of Users Currently Reading on a given Work page.)
One of the less obvious recommendation engines is home page section 'Connection news'. For that to work you have to have connections - but it includes people with similar libraries that you otherwise don't know. So I look in now: A personal friend has entered several things, including a book that I am an 'other author' on. Nothing I want to try to borrow this time. There are only two other books in there today, and I'm not interested in them, but now and again real treasures show up there.
Another is the 'What should you borrow?' feature on the profiles. Notice that someone's taste seems to be similar to yours and go to their profile. Under the list of books you share comes "What should you borrow?" It takes a while to load, but once there you see what the other person has that might fit you, and can check if they rated it or wrote a review or comments.
>150 brightcopy: and >152 MarthaJeanne: - yes, I agree. I find Connection News very helpful too. The only addition I'd love there is the ability to see the posts of my connections too. Not for "stalking" them (I understand that has been a concern). But, it's more time-efficient if I want to jump into a conversation where I know there's a friendly face already participating. But, yes, being able to see reviews/ratings/adds of friends, similar/interesting libraries is definitely great for discovery. It's a feature that I keep meaning to use more.
>150 brightcopy: Brightcopy -- thanks :) I've poked at that a few times but haven't really climbed into it.
>151 paradoxosalpha: paradoxosalpha -- GR had a multi-part main page that was had a column of "live" data -- that is, it constantly updated with activity from the group of people I had selected to have appear and with the data parameters I'd set. Mine was set to show me books and reviews that my list of people had recently reviewed, added to their shelves (along with the shelf name), or rated, with the most recent at the top of the page pushing older stuff to the bottom (thus, a "stream"). I could click on links in each post to read the review, read more about the book, or make comments (or I could ignore it and get on with whatever else I wanted to do) While some people found it intrusive, it was possibly my favorite part of social GR and I often checked it a couple of times a day.
I like both the "What should you borrow?" tool and the member recommendations on individual works' pages -- other books that people suggest correspond well to each other. Obviously, since this is user-generated, some books have dozens of terrible suggestions and some have zero suggestions, but I often find great suggestions in there.
I don't care much for the "Recent Recommendations" tool because I find that new releases cloud it up. People who like reading new release tend to read several at once, so those books get associated despite having nothing in common besides a 2013 (or 2012, or 2011) release date. I still look at "Recent Recommendations" from time to time, but "What should you borrow" is much better. It can be a goldmine when you find the right library!
And I have found way, way too many things to read from "Connection news." There are two people in particular with similar libraries to mine whose great new finds show up frequently on my "Connection news," all pre-release copies, leaving me waiting for months before my library gets copies...
Be glad you have a library that gets them. Living in Vienna, if I want to read a (specific) book in English I usually have to buy it. It gets expensive.
A light-hearted moment, if you will.
The Millions published this today as their April Fool's gag:
Connection news works for me, seeing the books that my LT friends are adding or rating. But the main way I have picked up recommendations is by participating in an active discussion group (in my case, the 75 book challenge which is a very busy, active group). It means investing a little time in maintaining my own thread listing my ongoing reading, and visiting some of the other threads to see what other people are reading, reviewing and talking about - but the results have repaid that effort a hundred-fold. I used to be quite slow to discover new authors, or even to find out about new publications by existing favourite authors. Now I have had so many good recommendations, I have a pile of over 500 books waiting to be read!
I don't find the official LT recommendation feature very useful, because I have so far only catalogued about 1/5 of my total collection, and even fewer of the books I've read that I no longer own, and I find that since the recommendations are based on what I have catalogued, many of them are for the uncatalogued books I already own/have read. It is possible to click on 'No thanks' in order to dismiss a recommendation, but I'd rather have an option to say 'already own this' or 'already read it' as distinct from 'this kind of book does not interest me', since those are very different reasons for ignoring a recommendation. So I simply ignore the official recommendations but rely mainly on the interaction in my groups to give me loads of good suggestions.
I'm suprised that no one has mentioned how well the "what should you borrow" feature works. And just for the price of postage!
Re: all the app requests - I believe they've stated that they *can't* do an easy bar-code scan app due to the terms of using Amazon's data.
I've started using the Book Catalogue app to scan everything, but their interface w/ LT is minimal. I would love to see LT work with them to get an automated import or sync feature working.
Now if only we could get a copy of GR's Seasonal Reading Challenge over here...
Not trying to get into tangents, but, it is April 1st.... And, these Amazon jokes are too good to pass up, really. Announcing..... Kindle Zero. :)
#146 by brightcopy> Thanks for the background info about recommendations. Maybe that that model works sometimes. It's not very convincing though. I would be curious to read the papers and what kind of data they have backing them up. If nothing else, Tim has a great opportunity here to do a comparison between ratings-blind and ratings-biased methods with a respectably large data set.
I read stuff for a lot of reasons other than thinking I will like it. By rating that material I'm giving more data about my tastes. I can't see how ignoring the rating could make the recommendations better, but it will definitely make them worse.
Take the example of Patrick Rothfuss. I liked Name of the Wind and hated its sequel. Wise Man's Fear is really popular and a rating-blind algorithm will associate me with the people who liked it, which is going to lead to useless recommendations. When it could instead find people who had the same reaction.
But you say people have gone over this before so I'm probably not saying anything new. I would love to have the data to implement the criticker algorithm on books and see how it fares. For science! Mmmm data. :-p
I am not a big user of LT's recommendation features, but I get huge numbers of recommendations by following people's reading threads and reading their reviews of and comments about books there. I do use Connection News to catch up with what people are buying too, and I find it very useful, but far and away reading people's reading threads is how I learn about books that might interest me.
Yeah, I would like it if ratings were taken into account for recommendations. I would probably even go on a rating spree of my books if it actually did something - anything at all.
Tim can say he doesn't believe in ratings, and that's fine I guess. But as I see it: there is no point because it doesn't do anything. It's a self fulfilling thingy.
>168 BarkingMatt: It definitely is a self-fulfilling thingie. I think way more people would use ratings and take them seriously if they actually did something.
Another voice in support of using your connections as a recommendations source. I've found tons of great stuff by looking at all of my interesting libraries' shared books. If 2 or 3 collections I like have a book, I'm gonna check it out. It generally works quite well.
Edited b/c typing and cats do not go together.
#167 by brightcopy> It would be a poor algorithm if it were to guess based on the author. The one in use at criticker makes a lot of sense, and works pretty well for me (I only have a hundred movies ranked; though they say it works best when it can find 200 movies in common with other users). Find users who have many movies in common with you. Calculate the difference in rank for each movie in common and average the differences. (Ratings are standardized into "tiers" first so that people's ratings can skew high or low but still be comparable.) The lower the number, the more similar your preferences. Now you can attempt to predict how you would rate a movie by finding a sample of people with similar taste who have rated it.
With so many variables, it's virtually impossible to anticipate how a single rating would influence this. We need the computer to do the number crunching. The cumulative effect of many ratings seems to be very useful. There are plenty of users on criticker that I share 40 movies in common with, but the similarity scores are terrible.
I don't think rating-blind prediction could approach this accuracy. But it is an empirical question that can be tested. Netflix did it. Split the existing data set into two parts. Use the "known" set to predict ratings for books that people have actually rated in the "unknown" set. Compare how rating-blind and rating-aware algorithms perform in predicting the ratings. I would do it, but I don't have the data.
>138 feldamundo: I think feldamundo makes a good point when he suggests that LT has to decide what it wants to be, and then put its energy and resources into being great at that -whatever it is. Personally I really hope that it doesn't decide that what it wants to be is an automated recommendations engine a la Netflix because I'm just not interested in that. Also I think that the search for such a thing when it comes to books may be difficult and resource intensive and largely chimerical.
I've seen a lot of people on a lot of sites ask for it, and I've seen some sites try to give it to them, and I've never seen people terribly satisfied. Which is to say, maybe don't hunt the boojum.
Also, I don't actually know very many really bookish people who are suffering from a shortage of things to read. I know a lot of less serious readers who are looking for recommendations, but like most of my friends I could stack the books I am meaning to get to soon and climb about up to the moon.
So that gets to a question about who your target audience is. Which may be a big part of deciding what you want to be. Unless you want to be all things to all people, which I'm pretty sure you don't have the resources for.
I'm a member of both, GR and LT, but I'm much more active on GR. You know why? Because here I have to pay to add new books and new reviews. I already imported my library from GR when I joined LT several months ago, long before this Amazon calamity, but now, unless I pay, I can't add any new books. So I don't. I do it at GR. LT would have more users, many more, if it were free. The color of the interface doesn't matter, but the price tag does. Facebook doesn't cost anything. Google doesn't either. And GR doesn't cost a penny to have as large a library as I wish. LT shouldn't too.
Strangely, nobody mentioned it so far.
Actually, in my opinion Facebook costs a lot more, because they would like to own me. No way I will ever have a Facebook page! My privacy is worth a lot more than $25.
>173 olga_godim: Its been discussed extensively on other threads relating to the GR sale, especially in the first part of this thread, here:
Basically by paying a membership fee we get to keep the site add free, once logged in, and has enabled the site owners to find third party investment, rather than being sold outright, like Shelfari and GR. It also means that members have a lot more control over where and how their information and reviews are used. $25 is a small price to pay.
And $25 is just the suggested price. Yeah, like so many have stated over the years, I'd rather be the customer than the product.
I discovered LT only a few days ago.
For me it is simply perfect!!! Everything in it is perfect!
I hope it will not change, or that it will change only accordingly to the same spirit, that is the highest respect for books and people.
>173 olga_godim: Facebook is free, sure, but then my eyes are bombarded by continuous advertising. It's nice to be on a site that doesn't depend on ad revenue and isn't constantly trying to sell me something. I thought the $25/lifetime membership for a service I use frequently was a steal.
While Google is free, the demise of Google Reader shows how free services are valued by a company (very little to not at all).
>173 olga_godim: Like everyone else has said, that "free"ness comes with a massive cost. A mere 20something dollars is a very small price to pay. When I came back to LT after being gone a while, I poked around a couple weeks, decided I loved it and it would definitely be my home, and paid for my lifetime membership long before I ever hit the 200 book mark. It's worth every measly little penny I paid, and then some. I'll even donate more money in the future, when I have more to give. Because it is that worth it.
I'm glad to be the customer and not the commodity. I pay for software all the time and this is no different. I buy cloud storage for data and this is no different. For some I pay a yearly fee equal to what LT charges for a lifetime. In all cases I'm the customer and not the commodity and I'm happy to know the difference. I dropped FB because anything I actually cared about got drowned in crap and what right did I have to complain? None...it's free.
I'm also happy to pay, to avoid being the product that the site is selling.
Why people expect everything on the internet to be free just confuses me.
>182 deadwhiteguys: Well in this case, because there are other sites out there doing the "same thing" (obviously in far different ways, and to most of us who choose to be here instead of there, far inferior as well) without charging users. Of course, as everyone has pointed out, that means the user is what's being sold, because generally nothing worthwhile is truly free.
Now, I'm happy to have a lot of free information on the internet, material I'd have had to pay a great deal for in the pre-internet era. I just would not buy all that if it were not free - couldn't afford to. The problem of paying for "free", valuable information is knotty. But the LT lifetime membership is affordable for me at $25, and it seems to solve the problem locally, at least while Tim remains in charge.
>184 brightcopy: Clearly not. Besides, reading the thread on there about it (which I'd been doing to correct the astonishing amt of disinformation spreading about LT) hurt my brain with all the people going "but it doesn't matter!" and "the internet has your info anyway, it means nothing!" and whatnot. Not to mention that no matter how many times they were told the "amazon owns LT too!!" garbage was, erm, garbage, people just kept repeating it, over, and over, and over, and......! *headdesk*
Whenever the truth is the least bit complicated, the falsehoods do seem to have an advantage.
I think people confuse the purpose of all these "free" sites they use everyday. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads- they're not created just to entertain you. They're created to make money by selling your data, end of story. There's nothing free about it.
(I know I'm preaching to the choir here, it just gets my goat when people get all entitled about free stuff online, as if no one deserves to make any money by providing services we use every frickin' frackin' day.)
>188 deadwhiteguys: Indeed. Which is why I don't use any of those (well, formerly GR, but I'd left already! haha). Nor google. And those sort of people in that thread also don't seem to understand that you can actually survive, and use the internet even!, without using those sort of companies. urgh.
> 172 I really hope that it doesn't decide that what it wants to be is an automated recommendations engine a la Netflix because I'm just not interested in that. ... I've seen a lot of people on a lot of sites ask for it, and I've seen some sites try to give it to them, and I've never seen people terribly satisfied. Which is to say, maybe don't hunt the boojum.
Amen! (Good to have you here, bunwat!)
The extreme emphasis on how good it is to be the customer rather than the product here does strike me as a bit problematic, though. Our $25 lifetime fees are not actually enough to sustain the site; a significant part of its revenue still comes from selling our data, via LibraryThing for Libraries. We may be customers, but we're also products.
> 173 LT shouldn't too.
I'm not sure how you managed to catalog 457 books without paying, Olga. (Import loophole?) But paid memberships keep LT advertising-free for its members and make it that much less likely that LT will be acquired by amazon or some other business.
I'm glad there's a price for full membership in LT. It changes a lot of things for the better here. Some of the "elitist" attitude of Thingamabrarians comes from the fact that we've made a purchase decision to use this site. And the value of a lifetime membership relative to the cost is ridiculously high.
Facebook costs far more than I am willing to pay.
192> That's a fair point, of course. But even assuming out of LT's 1.6 million "users", only 100,000 paid the $25, that's still $2.5 million dollars. While not paying the bills, I think that's a significant enough amount to make the userbase as a whole a real stakeholder. None of us knows the real number, but my guess is that's on the low side.
>194 brightcopy: Don't forget to factor in all the money they make selling the LibraryThong.
>194 brightcopy: Right. I certainly think there's value in being a real customer. It's just not a strict customer-product dichotomy.
#192 by _Zoe_> I might not be understanding everything that LTfL gets from LT, but isn't it true that users have a choice about whether their reviews get used on LTfL? In other words, we are the product only to the extent that we choose to be the product.
I freely admit that I have an imperfect understanding of this issue, so I'm happy to be educated if it's other than what I've said.
>197 rosalita: We have a choice about reviews, but I don't think we have a choice about tags.
That's true, but things like tags and recommendations which are used in LTfL come from LT too. It's aggregate data and doesn't feature your name/account but it's still user data being used.
> 198, 200
We also don't have a choice about combining, or any of the other user-sourced data maintenance that goes on all the time. But we can feel better about doing these things for our own benefit when we've bought in. I do, anyhow.
Ah, thanks for the clarification. I had forgotten that tags and recommendations are also used in LTfL. It still doesn't bother me, but it supports Zoë's original point in #192.
It doesn't bother me either. I just think people should be aware, especially in a case like this where the not-product angle is being played up a lot.
I agree. Transparency whenever possible helps people make informed decisions.
If I understand the etiquette around here, 200 posts is about time to continue the topic, so I'm going to give it a shot, and hope some kind soul will fix my mistakes if I do it wrong. Conversation migrating to Part III (hopefully)
If you go to any other members profile, it's on the right hand side under "Books you Share."
For further discussion, go to part III of this thread, linked at the bottom of this page:
"Here's a little something else to be tossed into the ever growing pile of tweaks and twitches and so forth. Drop Down Menus for common tasks, especially things like tags. "
I have actually given up tagging books except in the most rudimentary way ("fiction," "nonfiction," &c) because I found the tag page so hard to navigate and without some kind of dropdown or autofill (which apparently Tim is opposed to?) it's almost impossible to weed out duplicates or similar phrasing. And I have over 8600 books here (actual books I own -- not "wishlist" or other filler) so navigating my library without tags is a real pain.
"Murphy-Jacobs - Have you looked at your tag page yet? If not, click on the tags icon on the top of your catalog page. that will give you a list of all the tags you have used so far."
I find the tags page almost unusable and I've been here since about 2006. I really dislike the columnar layout, the way it goes across _and_ down, the live linking -- everything. I remember wayy back when, I could actually see all my tags in one long vertical line down the page. It was a lot easier to edit them that way. Now I've basically given up. I do think LT needs to work on making tags more user-friendly, somehow, even if it's not via a dropdown menu.
Apparently from what I've been able to gather, the challenge with dropdowns for tags is a lot of members have more tags than will fit in a dropdown.
"Yeah, what I really want is a server-side auto complete that will remind me whether I'm using post apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic."
#210 the_red_shoes You can edit the number of columns your tags appear in, but I don't think you can get it down to 1 column.
My browser does attempt to autofill tags for me, but it's a browser thing.
Just curious, though, why you use author names as tags when you can sort by author names anyway.
"It isn't quite as simple, but if you go to your catalog and click on Tags at the top you will see an alphabetic list of your tags (make sure you have All Collections open, or you'll just see the tags for the collection you're looking at)."
People keep saying this and it's frustrating to me. When I look at my tags page, the cleanest view I get is in three columns (I only want one) and across, which means the first row looks like this
1920s 1980s 2008 election
If I choose down instead, the first row looks like this
1920s graeme gibson norah ephron
There's no way for me to see all the tags in just one row and picking out typos is really had, even moreso because of the magnifying mouseover trick. I've been a member here a good long while and found the tag page so frustrating I pretty much just gave up on it. If there's a better way to view tags I'm just too dumb to find I'd be delighted to hear about it. I don't want to autofill from other peoples' tags, I'm not even that attached to an autofill for MY tags, I just want some better way to navigate my tags so I can actually use them.
"Most -- if not all -- of the recommendations I found on GR came not from an algorithm based on my own ratings or reviews or even my library, but from the people who populated my stream with their reviews and additions."
Yeah, LibraryThing recs are just about as useless for me as Netflix recs and Amazon recs and GoodReads recs. I don't think I've ever found a recs engine that works for me, which isn't surprising, because I also like finding books through reviews. If a friend reviews a book I haven't heard about, or didn't think I'd like, that's worth a lot more to me than "you went to the trouble to enter a book on the Civil War so here are more books about the Civil War." There was a link going around about how more people than ever are choosing books based not on brick-and-mortar displays or newspaper reviews or online campaigns, but word of mouth. That kind of thing is really easy for me to find on GR, but a lot harder on LT.
Yeah, I don't get the problem with the tags page. It could be better, I'm sure (though I'm not sure how you'd "fix" it) but it's far from unusable. I pulled my own up just now to try and see how awkward it actually was, and I immediately spotted two or three tagging mistakes of my own and immediately corrected them. Seems to work fine for me.
Why do you only want one column though? Tags works well for me with 4 columns, reading across.
You are just expressing a preference at the moment and other people have other preferences.
Describe what you want to do and why it is hard for you at the moment.
Normalising "Post-apocalyptic" and "post apocalyptic" is very easy (at least for me). Just hover over the tag hit the edit link that appears and change the wording of one of the tags to the wording of the other. I usually get the first couple of letters right so they do appear very close to each other. Admittedly I don't have as many tags as you do but then I don't use author's names as tags.
215> I'm not sure why you're frustrated. That page gives you the option of sorting alphabetically or by number of tags, sorting horizontally or vertically, columns from 3 to 10, and several different font sizes. You say "There's no way for me to see all the tags in just one row" but you have way way more tags than could fit on one row. And you also express the desire to have only one column, but I think that would look really odd to have one column of thousands of tags with tons of white space. You'd have to scroll forever to see anything. What would be a clean view of your tags for you?
I agree with jjwilson61, I don't get how one insanely long column taking up only a fraction of the page width that scrolled down forever, would make things easier to see? To me that sounds like a massive pain to use!
I don't use tags, I use the collections option. It works for me. :)
(don't forget, Part III is waiting for you, just click on the link below:)
And I am the opposite. I don't use collections. Tagging works well for me.
>211 the_red_shoes:the_red_shoes: I find the tags page almost unusable and I've been here since about 2006. I really dislike the columnar layout, the way it goes across _and_ down
I must say that that's my least favorite part of the site so far (the across instead of down layout for the tag columns) - especially since the tag order is automatically done alphabetically. Reading the columns across instead of vertically when the order is supposed to be alphabetical drives me crazy. Granted, I managed to work around it by using numbers at the beginning of the tags so I could put things in the order I wanted; but man was that a pain. I'm not sure I'll ever be up to adding any new tags. I'll probably just make do with what I've already created. :o)
>223 TnTexas: - You can also change the way they're displayed using the options in the blue menu bar just above the tags list at http://www.librarything.com/tags/TnTexas (sort them alphabetically or by count, have them go horizontally or vertically, choose the number of columns to display, change the text size ...)
>220 PolymathicMonkey: PolymathicMonkey: I agree with jjwilson61, I don't get how one insanely long column taking up only a fraction of the page width that scrolled down forever, would make things easier to see? To me that sounds like a massive pain to use!
If the columns alphabetized vertically instead of across (abc down one column with the second column starting with d instead of a in the first column, b in the second column, c in the third column), I'd find them easier to use 'cause that's how my mind works with columns. It wants to read their contents vertically, not horizontally. So as things stand, I'd personally prefer one long column to several because while the list might be long, I could (probably) easily scroll to the section I was looking for.
Mine are alphabetized vertically. Yours can be too, if you click "down" in the center of the bar across the top of the tags page.
Mine are alphabetized vertically too. Now I see why it drives you crazy.
>223 TnTexas: jbd1: You can also change the way they're displayed using the options in the blue menu bar just above the tags list at http://www.librarything.com/tags/TnTexas (sort them alphabetically or by count, have them go horizontally or vertically, choose the number of columns to display, change the text size ...)
Other than to edit the tag names, I haven't played much with the tag page itself so that's good to know. Thanks for the info! :o)
But to be honest, that page doesn't bother me all that much since I don't spend much time staring at it. The optional tag area on my home page is what I was really thinking of. Those tags don't have the option to be alphabetized vertically - at least not one I could find. If you use more than one column there, you're stuck with them alphabetizing horizontally across however many columns you choose to use. Sorry for the confusion. :o(
(edited to add: I've just gone in and adjusted the settings on the tag page itself. Now they don't drive me so crazy when I do have to look at them. Thanks, everyone!)
For those who want their tags in a SINGLE column (the lowest number option is 3 columns), you can use this Stylish style:
Instructions on using Stylish: http://www.librarything.com/wiki/index.php/Stylish
I've also added it as a suggestion here:
214> "Just curious, though, why you use author names as tags when you can sort by author names anyway."
presumably for use with tag mash. so you can select say
Asimov, Science Fiction,
It doesn't make sense to continue the discussion of Tag Uage, which is Right Here Now, over in Part III in the middle to unrelated other topics. (I think the multi-parting of threads causes just as much confusion and problems as looong threads.)
> 214, 230
The reason I use author names for tags is so that I can group together books By the author with books About the author. I find this very useful.
This topic was continued by LibraryThing: How to succeed in an Amazon/Goodreads world (Part III).
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