Archive for June, 2007

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Favorite authors, public contacts, other tweaks

Favorite authors. You can now “favorite” an author, and peek at other member’s favorites. You favorite on author pages, and the results show up on your profile. This has been available for a couple of weeks, but I never announced it. I’ve also brought the feature to more of the site, including your author gallery, author cloud and the Author Zeitgeist (pictured to the right).

I think it adds a fun new dimension to the site, and one we should have had from the beginning. It’s a good example of “unlearning the lessons of Amazon.” Amazon is a great site, but it conditions everyone’s thinking about what a book site should be and do. Marking books makes a lot of sense on a commercial site, but marking authors could distract people from the products. LibraryThing is about distraction, not commerce.

Jane Austen and J. R. R. Tolkien are currently in a no-holds-barred fight for first place. Not a pretty sight.

Public contacts. LibraryThing’s original “watch list” was private. Members—with me at the head—found “friends” lists a little creepy, and too susceptible to—as BlueSalamander put it—”drama.” (Worth quoting: “The drama [on LiveJournal] by “friends lists” borders on the ludicrous.”)

But public lists have their uses. Sometimes you want people to know who your friends are, or whose libraries you find most interesting. And many people just don’t feel the way I do. After a protracted—and not necessarily final—public discussion of terms, I’ve settled on “Contacts” (public) and “Watch list” (private). I think it’s pretty clear in context.

So far, only a few people have public contacts. By default, all watch list entries stayed private. You can flip them to private on your profile.

I’ve tried to keep the drama low. “Contacts” is purposefully vague, and there is no automatic way to see who has added you on your “contacts” list. I wanted to make it possible to give someone’s library a nod, without igniting a full-scale popularity contest. And you can be damn sure I’m not going to start automatically adding me or other LT people to everyone’s “contacts” list when they sign up. (I’ve been thinking that my wife, Lisa Carey, might be added to everyone’s favorite author list, however.)

Other features. I’ve finalized a couple of other small features and feature tweaks:

  • Author and book Zeitgeists are now updating more frequently. It’s all section-by-section, but everything should turn over roughly once per day.
  • The Author Zeitgeist now has a “show more” link for all the categories. Go nuts.
  • Talk topics have been partially de-Javascripted, for people who like to use tab browsing. Basically, if you click on the topic itself, it works. If you rely on clicking anywhere in the row, it’s still using Javascript and tabbed-browsing unfriendly.
  • Recently-tagged books now refresh more frequently. A security problem was also solved.
  • Users with your books takes up less space on the screen. A full list—in twice the list—is available if you click “more.”

Labels: authors, contacts, features, new feature, new features, watch list