Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Recommendations for groups and authors! (but help needed)

I’ve added two new types of “recommendations”—”characteristic works” for member groups and “read-alikes” for author pages. We need your help improving the latter.

Groups recommendations. The group recommendations are on the new and developing “Group Zeitgeist” pages. Each group Zeitgeist includes two lists:

  • Most-held works. Shows the top books held by group members, with no weighting or adjustment–that is, Harry Potter often wins.
  • Characteristic works. Shows the top books, weighted the way recommendations are weighted–that is, it shows works held by group-members in unusual amounts.

“Characteristic works” works quite well. Librarians who LibraryThing lists Taylor’s Introduction to Cataloging and Classification, Library: An Unquiet History and even AACR2. Christianity‘s list starts with Lewis’ Mere Christianity, Cthulhu Mythos with The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia, Medieval Europe with The Civilization of the Middle Ages, etc.

Author read-alikes. The new “author read-alike” uses much the same algorithm, but the results are not always as good. For example, C. S. Lewis recommends George MacDonald, G. K. Chesterton and Madeleine L’Engle–good–but also Laura Ingalls Wilder–read by some of the same people who read Narnia, but not otherwise similar.

To help us improve the algorithm, we’re showing four different versions of the algorithm, and asking members to rate them with stars. Knowing both what authors fail and which version of the algorithm is better will help us develop a better algorithm. Keep in mind that we make recommendations to be interesting and entertaining, so a certain amount of weirdness is acceptable if it also produces something inspired.

So far, only about 2,200 authors have been calculated. You can see a list of the authors here, with your authors shown in bold.

Labels: authors, recommendations


  1. AnnaClaire says:

    If we want to make a brief comment or two about a particular version on a particular author, is there a specific place where we should do so? Would knowing that one version is skewing this way or that for so-and-so be useful for making improvements?

  2. Dianna says:

    Dickens seems to turn up on all of the authors I’ve looked at, from Garth Nix (children/teen fantasy) to Sayers (maybe?) and Dumas (which I get). Any idea why?

  3. Alphabetization is wonky, since it draws from urlname instead of canonical name. See, e.g., Ursula K. Le Guin, which should be alphabetized in the “L’s” as “Le Guin” but instead shows up in the “G’s” from the urlname (“guinursulakle”).

  4. Gilroy says:

    Noticed that the same authors tend to show up for the first two sets for many of my authors. Is this normal?

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