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1timspalding
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 9:51am Top

I've added a way for members to help out with our algorithmic recommendations, rating recommendations up and down.

Feature announcement: http://blog.librarything.com/main/2014/06/rate-recommendations/

Here's what it looks like:



You can look at how it works against your books, by going to https://www.librarything.com/profile_raterecommendations.php

What do you think?

2aulsmith
Jun 19, 2014, 9:54am Top

I've been playing with it since yesterday and I love it!

3timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 10:02am Top

What's your feeling on the "strength" of voting? (If you hit "refresh" you can see if you changed the order.)

The key question is obviously spamming. Clearly we're going to have to value members differently—the member who's contributed 100 ratings, agreeing with other high-credibility members higher than the new member who voted on six books by the same author. We have ideas, and we're not going to say what we're going to value. But ideas and thoughts appreciated.

4lilithcat
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:05am Top

The rating mechanism isn't intuitive. I don't think I've ever seen one like that (meaning all the little bars). I went to the page first, and couldn't figure it out until I went to the blog post.

Of course, now that I have figured it out, I'm off to play!

Boy, some of these recommendations are really weird! The second one for Diary of Florence in Flood is Perfect Behavior: A Parody Outline of Etiquette, which is a great book, but it has nothing to do with Florence or floods.

5_Zoe_
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:05am Top

Interesting. I'm curious about how much participation it will get—I wonder whether the views of a few users will end up having a disproportionate impact on the recommendations.

Looking at the Rate Recommendations page for a given book, I was inclined to vote on the books I've read and not on the books I haven't read. Is this a problem? The more helpful recommendations tend to be for less popular books.

6gilroy
Jun 19, 2014, 10:05am Top

So does this replace the simple thumbs up/thumbs down system that used to be part of recommendations?

7SqueakyChu
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:11am Top

I love this soooo much! Thank you, Tim.

This comes at a very helpful time for me as I'm trying to find the best recommendations of books in a genre that I never read so that I can get these books for a friend of mine in less than fortunate circumstances. There is simply not a high enough of a quantity of books in the member-recommended lists. This idea is perfect.

8anglemark
Jun 19, 2014, 10:08am Top

#5 by _Zoe_> I was inclined to vote on the books I've read and not on the books I haven't read.

Me too, what else could one do?

9anglemark
Jun 19, 2014, 10:09am Top

#6 by gilroy> The thumbs are for user recommendations, this is for automatic recommendations.

10anglemark
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:13am Top

Although it has stopped working for me. The https://www.librarything.com/profile_raterecommendations.php page is empty and clicking Random Work does nothing.

ETA: Ah, it takes 5-10 seconds for the content to load. Some sort of indicator would be nice.

11_Zoe_
Jun 19, 2014, 10:12am Top

>8 anglemark: Well, it should be possible to identify really egregious mismatches without reading. I might also downvote books whose main common element seems to be that they were both offered for ER. But in general, it seems that the system will just favour more popular books.

12SqueakyChu
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:16am Top

Do our responses move books up and down in the "compact" LibraryThing Recommendations list?

13lesmel
Jun 19, 2014, 10:16am Top

>5 _Zoe_: & >8 anglemark: Me three. Although, I guess I could rate based on if it's on my ever growing TBR.

14SqueakyChu
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:18am Top

I think it's best to rate after you've read a book. You'd then have a more accurate way of comparing. It would be more like..."If you've read this book, then you would like that book".

15anglemark
Jun 19, 2014, 10:20am Top

>14 SqueakyChu:: Yes, but what are the odds that you have read all the 30-40 automatic recommendations?

16gilroy
Jun 19, 2014, 10:20am Top

#5, 8, 13

Yeah, I'm only voting on books that I know and/or have read.
One thing the old system used to do is list if it was part of the same series. Where did that go?

17aulsmith
Jun 19, 2014, 10:22am Top

The profile_raterecommendations.php page throws me into https: even when I'm in http: when I start. I've been generally keeping LibraryThing in http because I thought I understood that it's not fully compatible with Firefox in https.

I was hoping that this feature could help get rid of the same author recommendations on the main page. If I like one Oscar Wilde of course I'm likely to like other Oscar Wilde's. I don't need a recommendation generator to tell me that. So far it looks like I'm the only one giving one bar to the same author.

I think there are too many bars. So far I've only been able to think of four levels:

1 - This book is nothing like the book in question or the recommendation is so blatantly obvious as to be stupid

3. This book is sort of like the book in question

7. This book is very much like the book in question

10 (or is it 9, I didn't count) This book is very much like the book in question and is as good or better.

18timspalding
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:27am Top

The rating mechanism isn't intuitive. I don't think I've ever seen one like that (meaning all the little bars). I went to the page first, and couldn't figure it out until I went to the blog post.

Yeah. I don't know. We didn't want stars because then people will understand them to mean "I liked this book," whereas it's about whether the recommendation is a good one for the book in question--a subtle but important difference.

Boy, some of these recommendations are really weird! The second one for Diary of Florence in Flood is Perfect Behavior: A Parody Outline of Etiquette, which is a great book, but it has nothing to do with Florence or floods.

They're the same ones on the work page generally. The only difference is sorting, and I believe the work page throttles same-author works at two per author.

The existence of bad recommendation is why we're doing this. In non-fiction realms, I think LT is the bomb. But fiction—especially literary fiction—is very tough to do well. We're looking for help ranking them and, indeed, we'll be using some of the ranking data to improve the algorithm in the first place.

Interesting. I'm curious about how much participation it will get—I wonder whether the views of a few users will end up having a disproportionate impact on the recommendations.

Yeah. A concern, I agree.

So does this replace the simple thumbs up/thumbs down system that used to be part of recommendations?

No, that's only for member recommendations.

I was inclined to vote on the books I've read and not on the books I haven't read.

Me too, what else could one do?


Meh. It depends on the genre. When looking at non-fiction books, I can spot a really bad recommendation even when I haven't read the book. On books with only 15 copies--usually the lower limit--the top few will often be good, but there'll be wrong ones stuck in--a book about Alexander the Great will recommend a HAM Radio Book, or something.

ETA: Ah, it takes 5-10 seconds for the content to load. Some sort of indicator would be nice.

You don't see a slight yellowing of the area?

I might also downvote books whose main common element seems to be that they were both offered for ER.

The system currently has a slight bias against that, so ERs don't recommend ERs too often. But it may not be strong enough. That would be a good one for us to look at specifically.

But in general, it seems that the system will just favour more popular books.

Right, in theory. But we can calculate how popularity maps to ratings (i.e., how many more ratings books get because they're popular), and apply that against the value of the ratings. In other words, we can notice that a book is getting up voted more than you'd expect, or less, or what.

Algorithms are fun.

19lesmel
Jun 19, 2014, 10:22am Top

I'm starting to down vote an author I know I don't want a recommendation.

20timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 10:26am Top

Do our responses move books up and down in the "compact" LibraryThing Recommendations list?

Yes. The order is the same, excepting the lower same-author throttle and the aggregation into series.

One thing the old system used to do is list if it was part of the same series. Where did that go?

It's there in the "compact" view, which is the default. I didn't want to clutter this one up too much.

People have asked me to add back the have-it checkmarks. I'll do that now.

I was hoping that this feature could help get rid of the same author recommendations on the main page. If I like one Oscar Wilde of course I'm likely to like other Oscar Wilde's. I don't need a recommendation generator to tell me that. So far it looks like I'm the only one giving one bar to the same author.

Well, it's an interesting question. I think same-author recommendations are good in some circumstances. Like series, the solution may be to aggregate them into one thing. To my mind, voting same authors one-star by default is going to come off poorly. They aren't bad recommendations. They're just not ones you're interested in.

21lilithcat
Jun 19, 2014, 10:27am Top

ETA: Ah, it takes 5-10 seconds for the content to load. Some sort of indicator would be nice.

You don't see a slight yellowing of the area?


I'm seeing a greying out of the page, and it sits for several seconds. Hard to tell if it's actually loading or if it's freezing.

22_Zoe_
Jun 19, 2014, 10:31am Top

I was hoping that this feature could help get rid of the same author recommendations on the main page. If I like one Oscar Wilde of course I'm likely to like other Oscar Wilde's. I don't need a recommendation generator to tell me that.

Based on existing member recommendations, I don't see this happening. The combined wisdom of the LT masses says that if you like Breaking Dawn (the fourth Twilight book), the best recommendation for you is Eclipse (the third Twilight book). The other two books in the series are next.

23_Zoe_
Jun 19, 2014, 10:32am Top

>20 timspalding: They aren't bad recommendations. They're just not ones you're interested in.

What do you see as the point of recommendations?

24anglemark
Jun 19, 2014, 10:34am Top

>18 timspalding: & >21 lilithcat:: If a book is loaded and I click to display another one, the page dims, yep, but when I first load it it's just empty and blank.

25aulsmith
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:36am Top

>20 timspalding: To my mind, voting same authors one-star by default is going to come off poorly. They aren't bad recommendations. They're just not ones you're interested in.

Aren't they bad in that they are blocking recommendations that you wouldn't think of yourself, because you have no experience with the books/authors?

I'll hold off, but this definitely needs more thought.

26SqueakyChu
Jun 19, 2014, 10:39am Top

>15 anglemark:

I was referring to the names of the books that were pulled up (the name of the main book itself). Many of those are books on my wishlist which I haven't read so I could not rate any of the recommendations.

27Lyndatrue
Jun 19, 2014, 10:39am Top

I haven't looked at the "Recommendations" link since not too long after I'd joined LT. I still find it to be uninteresting (in my case). My library is skewed by the books that I've kept, and that were ones I'd cataloged before moving them into storage. I don't believe I'd have the patience to go through the system to say "never show me this" when it's just as easy to ignore it entirely.

I'm still trying to understand what the point of automatic recommendations are. I own all the A. E. van Vogt books I am ever likely to own. I don't want (or need) any more (although I admit that I'd purchase a signed first edition of a couple of them). I don't need more How to Learn Latin books. I have enough of those, too.

The most useful thing I'd like as far as user recommendations is to be able to select a user and say "no more recommendations from that one" or "show more recommendations from this one" rather than what I see now.

28timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 10:40am Top

What do you see as the point of recommendations?

I think there's a difference between an obvious recommendation—especially what seems obvious to hyper-informed readers like us—and a truly wrong recommendation. LibraryThing's recommendation system has an obviousness bias--a sloping bias against recommending books by the same author, in the same series or simply more popular than the book you're on--that is, an obscure book shouldn't recommend a common one. But a certain obviousness quotient builds confidence. I mean, when you see that The Hobbit recommends Narnia, you think "Well, okay." Your eye skips over it, but it builds a little trust. If the Hobbit recommended 10 books you'd never heard of, you'd be more skeptical.

That's my take anyway.

but when I first load it it's just empty and blank

Good. yes. I'll fix that.

Aren't they bad in that they are blocking recommendations that you wouldn't think of yourself, because you have no experience with the books/authors?
.
Wait, say that again?

29aulsmith
Jun 19, 2014, 10:41am Top

>22 _Zoe_:

Good point

>23 _Zoe_: What do you see as the point of recommendations?

An excellent question. I want recommendations to get me to a book I wouldn't find through normal channels in a library catalog (author search, subject search).

But if LT want them to be the first stop for where to go next, then that's a different thing.

30norabelle414
Jun 19, 2014, 10:42am Top

1) I really love having the "less popular" button on the mass-rating page. Very helpful.

2) I think there is some utility in rating recommendations of the same author or within the same series. Some authors can vary widely in their books (for example, C.S. Lewis or Madeleine L'Engle) and even some large series can vary in subject matter from book to book (for example, Discworld or the larger Ender's Game series)

31lilithcat
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:45am Top

RE: same author recommendations

To my mind, the issue is, in part, whether these votes affect only what is recommended to the voter, or whether they affect recommendations to all.

If the former, do what you want, but if it affects everyone's recommendations, that's a different story.

Indeed, that consideration affects other votes as well. For example, I have an abecedarium based on Clement Moore's "The Night Before Christmas" (for which there is no touchstone - aargh - someone added illustrators as part of the canonical title!). For me personally, recommendations of other abecedaria are relevant, because that's what I collect, but other versions of the poem are of no particular interest. For someone else, it might be exactly the opposite.

32sturlington
Jun 19, 2014, 10:43am Top

>25 aulsmith: An example I can think of where voting up/down same recommendations would be helpful is an author who writes in multiple genres. If you like The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, you would probably want to read the sequel Children of God but you may not be interested in her historical fiction. If you like Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction, you won't necessarily be interested in her YA fantasy.

33lorax
Jun 19, 2014, 10:45am Top

19>

And that's why I don't really like this idea - that people are going to vote based on "this is not a book I would enjoy", rather than "this book actually has nothing at all to do with that book".

34lorax
Jun 19, 2014, 10:46am Top

32>

If you like The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, you would probably want to read the sequel Children of God but you may not be interested in her historical fiction.

I've actually heard multiple people say that Children of God retroactively ruined The Sparrow for them, so that may not have been the best example.

35sturlington
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:48am Top

>34 lorax: Well, that's a subjective judgment. It's just one of the first clear examples of writing in different genres that I could think of.

May I just add that I didn't need another reason to spend even more time on LibraryThing!

(Ok, maybe I did ;-)

36SqueakyChu
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 10:49am Top

In doing my recommendations of books Voted On by Others, I'm feeling that my seeing those ratings of others before I do my own might be affecting how I rate them. Is anyone else feeling this?

When I select "Voted On By Others", could the results be turned off until I cast my own recommendations? Then I'd like to turn it back on!

I know I can select from the other choices (More Popular, Less Popular, etc.), but Voted On By Others is my choice for now.

37lilithcat
Jun 19, 2014, 10:49am Top

> 32

On the other hand, you might have been unaware of the author's foray into different genres and be curious about the other books.

38aulsmith
Jun 19, 2014, 10:50am Top

>28 timspalding: Wait, say that again

I'm still thinking through your comment on confidence, but what I meant is that if I'm on the Hobbit and I see two recommendations for other Tolkien and then a bunch of C.S. Lewis and other stuff I've already read, those are all slots that aren't used for more subtle interesting recommendations like Pat Murphy's There and Back Again.

I think you have to do the C.S. Lewis etc., but if you take out the Tolkien's you have more room.

39sturlington
Jun 19, 2014, 10:53am Top

>37 lilithcat: Ok, then I guess what is the purpose of the recommendations? Should you rate books highly that are similar in subject matter and quality? Or just books that you liked, regardless of the subject matter?

Unrelated, I've seen the movie version show up in the recommendations. How to rate this? See To Kill a Mockingbird for an example. Certainly, you would probably like the movie too, but do we want to rate it highly, since LT isn't really intended for cataloging movies?

40lilithcat
Jun 19, 2014, 10:55am Top

> 39

Ok, then I guess what is the purpose of the recommendations?

That's exactly my question: http://www.librarything.com/topic/176292#4735387

41timspalding
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 11:00am Top

I've added the following note:



To my mind, the issue is, in part, whether these votes affect only what is recommended to the voter, or whether they affect recommendations to all.

They affect the global recommendations pool. They do not affect your recommendations directly at all yet.

>25 aulsmith: aulsmith: An example I can think of where voting up/down same recommendations would be helpful is an author who writes in multiple genres. If you like The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, you would probably want to read the sequel Children of God but you may not be interested in her historical fiction. If you like Ursula K. Le Guin's science fiction, you won't necessarily be interested in her YA fantasy.

Right. i wondered about that one myself. I haven't read her non-sci-fi stuff. I'm intrigued, but I up-rated Children of God and left the others alone.

I've actually heard multiple people say that Children of God retroactively ruined The Sparrow for them, so that may not have been the best example.

It's not as good a book. I wouldn't go so far as to say it retroactively ruined it—it's not the Matrix sequels or every Star Wars film after "Empire."

42_Zoe_
Jun 19, 2014, 10:58am Top

>28 timspalding: Recommending an earlier book in the Twilight series to people who have read a later book in the series is obvious even to a reader who isn't hyper-informed. I don't mind a basic level of obviousness, like recommending Narnia for the Hobbit; I can see the point about building trust. But recommending same-series books, out of order, for a series that really needs to be read in order just makes me think that the recommendation system is not worth a second glance.

In theory, I appreciate Nora's argument about recommending same-author books in certain circumstances: when they've written a bunch of very different books, or a series with multiple entry points. But if I'm actually looking for a Discworld book to read, the current structure of the recommendation system gives me approximately zero confidence that another Discworld recommendation will be appropriate.

To take a concrete example, let's say I enjoyed Guards, Guards, which is the starting point of one of the Discworld sub-series. LibraryThing has three same-series recommendations for me: The Art of Discworld; a short story anthology that contains one Discworld story; and the fifth book in a different Discworld subseries.

Is this an informed recommendation that really helps me find another book to read? Do I have enough confidence in the system to pick up that fifth book in a different subseries because of its expected similarities to the book I particularly liked? No, I think it's much more likely that the system just isn't very good.

43timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 10:59am Top

I'm still thinking through your comment on confidence, but what I meant is that if I'm on the Hobbit and I see two recommendations for other Tolkien and then a bunch of C.S. Lewis and other stuff I've already read, those are all slots that aren't used for more subtle interesting recommendations like Pat Murphy's There and Back Again.

Right. So the problem is that many of those extra books will be rolled up on the combo view. So it's less of a spot-stealer. But I see your point.

Should you rate books highly that are similar in subject matter and quality? Or just books that you liked, regardless of the subject matter?

If the book isn't a good recommendation for the book, I'd rate it down. I like both Narnia and Lolita. But they are not good recommendations for each other.

44timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 11:04am Top

Recommending an earlier book in the Twilight series to people who have read a later book in the series is obvious even to a reader who isn't hyper-informed. I don't mind a basic level of obviousness, like recommending Narnia for the Hobbit; I can see the point about building trust. But recommending same-series books, out of order, for a series that really needs to be read in order just makes me think that the recommendation system is not worth a second glance.

I agree with you on the series-order question. It's a little tricky because some series are not like that--the order of the Bond books, for example, is not as determinative. But, yes, if that's coming up a lot, it needs to be dampened. I notice, however, that Breaking Dawn is recommending #3, but not the others.

45timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 11:06am Top

To take a concrete example, let's say I enjoyed Guards, Guards, which is the starting point of one of the Discworld sub-series. LibraryThing has three same-series recommendations for me: The Art of Discworld; a short story anthology that contains one Discworld story; and the fifth book in a different Discworld sub series.

I don't know the series, but the phenomenon may be something I understand. That is, because of the obscurity rule, it can a little scattershot. It's trying to come up with good recommendations, so it doesn't want to be obvious. Instead, it looks like it's grasping at obscure and irrelevant stuff.

What do you think the right answer is for such situations? Perhaps we can find something we both know better.

46_Zoe_
Jun 19, 2014, 11:08am Top

>44 timspalding: Right. Ideally this is something that member-voting could help to improve, since people can more easily identify whether series order matters in a given case. But I don't really see that happening, based on member recommendations.

I'm seeing Breaking Dawn as recommending #2 as well, just grouped into "same series".

47sturlington
Jun 19, 2014, 11:09am Top

>43 timspalding: By that reasoning, I probably wouldn't vote up books by the same author if the subject matter/genre were very different. If I wanted to discover other books by that author, I'd just click the author's name.

48_Zoe_
Jun 19, 2014, 11:12am Top

>45 timspalding: I wonder whether there could be some way to gather input from members on whether series order matters, beyond just asking people to take it into account in more vague generalizations?

Add a poll like:
a) Series should be read in order
b) Series has multiple starting points
c) Books can be read in any order

That could be interesting just in general (even more so if the multiple starting points could be specified), and could later be considered in recommendations too.

49timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 11:14am Top

>48 _Zoe_:

We could gather that. I also think we could infer it from the data. I'm betting for example that Harry Potter shows a strong tendency toward series movement. That is, there is a stronger "forward" correlation than there is within the bond books.

50_Zoe_
Jun 19, 2014, 11:20am Top

>49 timspalding: That would be interesting to see. I have no idea which method would be easier, but it would be nice information to have.

51Louve_de_mer
Jun 19, 2014, 12:34pm Top

Nothing to do with the recommandations themselves, but there is a misspelling here :
Be sure to rate the validity of the recommendation, not necessarily the quality of the book or its applicabiltiy to you. For example, don't down-rate merely because you've already read something.

52barney67
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 12:36pm Top

Maybe if you put a little 1 above the first empty block (of bars) and 10 at the block at the other end.

53timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 12:49pm Top

>51 Louve_de_mer:

Thanks. Fixed.

>52 barney67:

I hear you. But it's fiddly already. I feel like adding would subtract…

54lorax
Jun 19, 2014, 12:54pm Top

49>

How could you get that from the data? I understand that reading dates are quite rarely used, and date added won't always be reliable, especially for initial entry. And then there are series like Narnia - I would bet almost everyone says they read it "in order", but there are two different orders (technically known as "the right order" and "the wrong order" :-) ).

55timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 12:56pm Top

>54 lorax:

Who has what. If books are randomly distributed, that's one thing. If people tend to have 1 when they have 2, that's something else.

56gilroy
Edited: Jun 19, 2014, 1:11pm Top

Of a few series I have, I know reading order based on expereince:

Honor Harrington - Must be in order
Potter - In order (As discussed)
Xanth - Random okay
Incarnations of Immortality - Random okay, but order helpful

But it's hard to tell until you get into the actual reading. And I may not have cataloged the books in the series I've read due to not owning them/not remembering them until they get reprinted/found again.

57timspalding
Jun 19, 2014, 1:10pm Top

My favorite advice about reading a series is for Dune.

"Read Dune. Then STOP!"

58sturlington
Jun 19, 2014, 1:13pm Top

>57 timspalding: That's good advice. Wish I had heard it sooner in my reading life.

59BrainFireBob
Jun 19, 2014, 8:33pm Top

Question: Is there a way to remove recommendations that are partitive?

Example: I have the single volume omnibus Hawkmoon by Moorcock. It contains four books. All four of those books are in my recommended list- I don't want to rate them down and confuse the algorithm, but I'd like them to not "waste" recommendations!

60bestem
Jun 19, 2014, 9:01pm Top

>4 lilithcat: I really liked the bar mechanism for the types of ratings these are. I found it very intuitive. The only thing that would have made it more intuitive (although also more clunky and less likely to be used) would have been a slider that you could drag. That's just me though, and I understand that it would be less intuitive for some people.

61geitebukkeskjegg
Jun 20, 2014, 1:39am Top

Clicking "More recommendations.." does not work any longer. Error message "Problem. There is no work with that reference number."

62geitebukkeskjegg
Edited: Jun 20, 2014, 1:45am Top

>20 timspalding: "Do our responses move books up and down in the "compact" LibraryThing Recommendations list?

Yes. The order is the same, excepting..."


I don't see books "moving up and down in the compact list". What does it take to trigger a move? I.e. multiple votes, or..? (I'm mostly just awarding a "1" to recommended books that have nothing in common with the work in question except the author's nationality.)

63MarthaJeanne
Jun 20, 2014, 2:05am Top

>59 BrainFireBob: I would think that if the parts/omnibuses are on the lists for each other, that would be a really good time to rate books down.

64thorold
Jun 20, 2014, 3:56am Top

I think this is the first bit of LT I've found that is actually easier to use with a blunt finger on an iPad than with a mouse on a big screen - with the mouse I find I keep missing the rather narrow bars.
I appreciate your point about keeping it simple, but maybe it would be nice to have a little visual aid for finding the middle of the scale (e.g. a slightly wider gap between bars 5 and 6?).

65aulsmith
Jun 20, 2014, 8:56am Top

>61 geitebukkeskjegg: This was reported on Bug Collectors and fixed.

66JerryMmm
Jun 20, 2014, 9:48am Top

>63 MarthaJeanne: >59 BrainFireBob: Well, the part is not a good recommendation for the omnibus. But the omnibus is a valid recommendation for the part.

67JerryMmm
Jun 20, 2014, 10:00am Top

I played with it when I spotted it live before seeing any announcement.

re: the Discworld recommendations, I feel that if you like a Discworld book, any other Discworld book is a good recommendation, when given the choice Good or Bad. So that puts it in the 6-10 range. Next I see if it's in the same sub-series. Yes -> 8-10, No -> 6-8. If it's a good book and not in the sub-series, 7 or 8, if it's a bad book but in the sub-series, 8.
If it's an essential read and the next in the series it gets a 10.

68timspalding
Jun 20, 2014, 11:25am Top

It needs to consider the partitive, I agree. I think it may, but if it does, it should more.

69jjwilson61
Edited: Jun 20, 2014, 11:43am Top

Never mind.

70gilroy
Jun 20, 2014, 11:55am Top

Does the recommendation algorithm take the Contains section into account at all?

71timspalding
Jun 20, 2014, 12:09pm Top

I'm not sure, frankly. I'll have to look.

72timspalding
Jun 20, 2014, 12:10pm Top

The thing is, it needs to be an "after" thing. The recommendations themselves need to have all the series, all the same-authors and all the part/whos. Because those are then used in various contexts that have different specifications. For example, our library recommendations take place on a pool of books that's restricted. So it's a post-filter.

73ksnider
Jun 20, 2014, 1:41pm Top

One thing I'd like to see added to your algorithm is to weight recommendations based on how much I liked another book. I get way too many recommendations for books based on other books to which I only gave 1/2-1 star. Give me more recommendations based on my 4-5 star books, please.

74timspalding
Jun 20, 2014, 1:48pm Top

Right.

75RGrayson
Jun 20, 2014, 1:51pm Top

I am somewhat confused by all of this -- it doesn't seem quite fully thought out, particularly in relation to other features of LT. For example, it seems that the intent here is to improve the automated recommendations by lowering the scores of those that don't meet certain "read-alike" criteria -- but there is already a separate list for that (what is the algorithm behind that list?). It also feels like it is muddying the distinction between automated recommendations and (more subjective) member recommendations. IMHO, there are probably getting to be too many features with similar concepts/functionality and the whole area of Recommendations needs to be rethought and reorganized into a single, unified concept that is simple to understand and use.
Not trying to make lots of work, just offer honest feedback.

76timspalding
Jun 20, 2014, 2:11pm Top

Some thoughts:

1. Read-alike a very different thing. The name is just a name. We should perhaps call it "Experimental algorithm" or something. Some people found it good, but overall it's not as good as our main recommendations algorithm, sometimes called "combined recommendations."
2. Read-alike is an all-library, all-you algorithm, not a work-by-work algorithm. It has nothing to say about what work should suggest another. That's why it appears only as lists for members, not for books.
3. The primary recommendations algorithm is a "combined" list, because it's based on the other algorithms on the "Recommendations…" page for a work--Books with similar tags, Special Sauce, People with this book also have, etc.
4. The goal of asking members to vote is to allow members to nudge the algorithm. The automated algorithm at LibraryThing--like algorithms everywhere--can be tripped up. If ten people who have a beer-brewing book by chance have a a biography of Nelson Mandela, the algorithm may detect that and recommend one for the other. The lower the number of copies (and tags), the more common that is. Similarly, some types of books--especially literary fiction--are just hard. People who read literary fiction read literary fiction. The statistical answer is--in that case--often wrong, as people don't perceive a linkage. So a member nudge can be helpful.

I agree that recommendations needs to be rethought into a more user-friendly thing.

77AnnaClaire
Jun 20, 2014, 5:28pm Top

>76 timspalding: I agree that recommendations needs to be rethought into a more user-friendly thing.

Especially something like, as ksnider pointed out in #73, using ratings to nudge things appropriately. Relying on collection-level settings to make recommendations is to some degree counterintuitive and, ultimately, unwieldy: I find it promotes using a longer list of collections than I might otherwise use (I can think of one that would not be using otherwise, even without taking a side trip into my catalog). And some of those people may have rated that beer-brewing book at half a star -- if its average rating is closer to four stars, a "normal" person would probably think that recommendations based on books they've rated so low would be less likely to produce recommendations.

Granted, down-weighting the influence of books you've rated below the average won't catch all such weird recommendations: I have a few examples of superbly irrelevant recommendations, including a a management book based on a French textbook that I (and the one other person to rate it at all) gave four stars. But at least it's a start.

78aulsmith
Jun 20, 2014, 6:44pm Top

Interesting side effect.

As I go through some of the lists of bad recommendations for fiction books, I try to think of something I would rate highly. If it's not on the list, I'm adding it to member recommendations.

Don't know if that's happening to anyone else.

79casvelyn
Jun 20, 2014, 8:26pm Top

What do the numbers after "Works with" and "Remaining" on the right sidebar mean?

80bestem
Jun 20, 2014, 10:27pm Top

>79 casvelyn: I believe "Works with" is how many works you have with recommendations, and "Remaining" is how many you haven't rated any of the 40 recommendations for.

81hipdeep
Jun 20, 2014, 10:46pm Top

The convention of the green check icon for books already in your collections, as in Lists, would be very useful here. I'm certainly not going to rate a recommendation for a book I haven't read yet, so a quick way to scan the list would be a big help.

82sturlington
Jun 21, 2014, 7:55am Top

>78 aulsmith: I did that in a few cases.

83SilentInAWay
Jun 22, 2014, 8:34am Top

A simple "Exclude other books by this author" link would do wonders for me...especially if the setting persists when I move to another book/author. (Obviously, once selected, the link would change to "Include other books by this author".)

I'm sure you've already considered this -- so consider my two-cents-worth to be a "yea" vote for this option.

84sturlington
Jun 22, 2014, 9:52am Top

Just wondering when rating recommendations: If I rate something less than a 5, i.e., it's not as valid a recommendation for that book, will that rated recommendation count more or less than something I have not rated at all because I have not read it? What if I rate it a 1 (least valid)?

85geitebukkeskjegg
Edited: Jun 23, 2014, 2:37am Top

>84 sturlington:
Seems like "rated 1" ranks higher than "not rated at all". Which makes downrating obviously meaningless recommendations rather useless, unless there's also some higher user-rated recommendations.

(Asked about this in >62 geitebukkeskjegg: , if there was an answer I haven't found it.)

86sturlington
Jun 23, 2014, 7:25am Top

> yeah, I agree, if that's the case, that there is no point in down voting.

87timspalding
Jun 23, 2014, 5:39pm Top

Seems like "rated 1" ranks higher than "not rated at all". Which makes downrating obviously meaningless recommendations rather useless, unless there's also some higher user-rated recommendations.

No, 1 is worse than not rating at all.

88sturlington
Jun 23, 2014, 7:02pm Top

>87 timspalding: good, that makes sense!

89nuatha
Jun 23, 2014, 10:41pm Top

Three sets of recommendations, the latest "God of Tarot by Piers Anthony" the first ten are all by Piers Anthony, the next ten are Jack L Chalker the remaining 20 have 8 Robert Asprin and 6 Alan Dean Forster.
An Andre Norton produced the first ten all by Norton, the third book had several of the same author but not as pronounced (can't remember the author)
I've found these to be too saturated with similarity to be able to score these as recommendations.

90Maripacs
Jul 4, 2014, 2:55pm Top

The first recommendation I get for Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

92MarthaJeanne
Jul 4, 2014, 4:09pm Top

There is also https://www.librarything.com/work/15124605, but I don't see any recommendations there. (Not combined so that the problem can be looked into.)

93Maripacs
Jul 4, 2014, 4:12pm Top

I have http://www.librarything.com/work/15124604 which would make 3 links to the same book

94MarthaJeanne
Jul 4, 2014, 4:14pm Top

Tim, have a look at the edition pages for these other works. Something very weird is going on.

95jjwilson61
Edited: Jul 4, 2014, 7:23pm Top

Tim, usually when I add a book then two or three days later I see new recommendations but I've added books over the past few weeks and my recommendations haven't changed in that entire time. Did this feature break the personal recommendations update process?

ETA: And now it looks like the order of the recommendations changed in the last 24 hours, so never mind.

96lquilter
Jul 4, 2014, 11:46pm Top

The link from "Recent News" (module on the home page) is to the athena server : http://athena.librarything.com/topic/176292

97hipdeep
Jul 6, 2014, 1:24pm Top

I'm surprised at the frequency with which I'm giving 6-point ratings of recommendations, and at the way that causes them to fall in the rankings. This makes some sense - if I'm saying "meh, I guess that's a good recommendation", then maybe the recommender algorithm did better with something else. Still, the blog post says "All things being equal, giving something six or more sends the recommendation up" and that's clearly not the case with many of the recommendations I've rated.

98Mantzikert
Sep 12, 2014, 12:23am Top

I'm only new to the site, but have worked as a database programmer in the past. I have a few ideas about using the ratings for making recommendations. But it is impossible to develop anything without some test data.

Is it possible to get some test data. I only need ID's (person, book and rating), so there should be no privacy issue.

99timspalding
Sep 12, 2014, 9:27am Top

Email me.

Cool name :)

100Mantzikert
Sep 25, 2014, 7:38pm Top

Hi Tim

Two emails so far. No replies. Are they getting there?

Thanks

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