Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

CoverGuess: The game that helps people find books…

I just released an amusing diversion called CoverGuess.

Check it out here, and talk about it here.

What is CoverGuess?

CoverGuess is a sort of game. We give you covers, and you describe them in words. If you guess the same things as other players, you get points.

Why are you doing this?

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

What’s the best way to do it?

Think about it how you’d describe the cover to someone—pick out the most significant elements. Does it have a car or a pair of shoes? Color terms are good, and so are terms like “blurry” or “sepia.” Above all, pick terms other players will be using.

How do points work?

You get one point for every matched term, for each other member who had it. So, if you say “car” and “dog” and two other members said “car” and one said “dog,” you get three points. Obviously, it’s better if you’re not the first member to tag the image, but the system randomizes that aspect. When you’re the first to tag an item, you get 0.25 points for your effort.

Aren’t you trying to use members’ free labor to make money?

Yes and no. All the data here is released under a Creative-Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License, and will be available in feed form. That means any non-profit entity, like a library, can use it without charge. We also commit to license it on the same terms to any bookstore with less than $10 million in sales. That leaves huge companies. If any want it, we’ll charge them!

Anything else?

It was partially inspired by Google’s ImageLabeler. Our anti-spam engine does something similar too.

The whole thing was perhaps summed up best in a tweet to me:

Labels: book covers, new feature, new features


  1. Anonymous says:

    Will this work with WorldCat.org?

  2. Tim says:

    Absolutely. If OCLC is willing to link to LibraryThing wherever they use the data, we'd be only too glad to have them use it.

  3. thegreattim says:

    Are points for anything specific or are they more just an acknowledgment system like the helper trophies and medals?

  4. Tim says:

    No, the points are for matching other users' tags. If you match one, you get a point. So, the better you psych-out the others doing it, the better you do.

  5. Melissa says:

    LOL, was this inspired by all the emails on including book cover color in catalog records sent to AUTOCAT? This is a great idea! I'll have to try the "game" out when I'm not at work. 🙂

  6. Karen B. says:

    Very nifty! It's an interesting way to see how people think about images and tags, especially for books that are not in my own library.

    Sometimes the page doesn't load properly (wonky wifi on my end). When I refresh the page, the splash/explanation box pops up again. Any chance of letting that bit be skipped after the first time?

  7. henrik says:

    There seem to be a small bug: If you end your entered tags with an comma, you get rewarded with a point for every other use who skipped that book cover.

  8. dara85 says:

    I think this going to be a great thing. As someone who works in a library, I can't tell you how many times someone comes in with "it has a blue cover" or "there are boots on the cover'.

  9. SunnySD says:

    Hmmm – I can't get it to load at all in either Firefox or IE. Bummer.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This game is addicting!

  11. Larry says:

    This doesn't work from my Google G1 phone(Android). If I click on a link to the game I get an Instructions sheet which I can't close to get to the game 'behind' it.

  12. S.C.Squibb says:

    I know this is the wrong place but I need help with importing covers. Having taken the pictures & editedthem why are they being re-rotated when I import – this has not happened before & is annoying. Any help gratefully received

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