New: Link: Bookarmy

Bookarmy is a book rating website.

Yes, I keep trying book rating websites. I keep hoping they'll turn into book recommendation sites. Bookarmy is a book recommendation website! Or, uhm, maybe. Hmm. Kinda. It hopes to be a book recommendation site?

You might remember a while back I mentioned I used a site called Wikilens. You'd tell it books you like and it would recommend others based on other people's recommendations. It was fun while it lasted; it was a school project and those people aren't in school anymore. The site shut down.

I'm on, where folks can rate things that they've consumed, e.g., books. I hit a milestone there this morning: I rated my 1000th book! But that site doesn't make recommendations. About a year ago, it gave me a list of five people who were "consuming the same things as Larry Hosken". OK, that's not the same as enjoying the same things that I enjoy. But maybe it's close enough. Let's see, is there some easy way for me to find things that these people rated highly, things that I haven't tried yet? Uhm, no. No recommendations here. Here's how I figure I'll celebrate rating my 1000th book: I'm stopping. No more rating books on AllConsuming. It's easy, they have a nice quick UI... but it's not getting me anything.

What? Bookarmy? I'm theoretically talking about Bookarmy? OK.

Someone at work pointed out a new site: It promises book recommendations! So I rated a bunch books on their site. And now I've got recommendations from them. But the recommendations so far... Uhm, they lack credibility.

Bookarmy has three ways of making recommendations:

People like you are reading sounds like a good idea. Bookarmy looks over its list of users to find people who are similar to me, book-taste-wise. Then it looks for books rated highly by those people. I guess. I guess that's what's going on. Elsewhere in their UI, they have a list of people who are my "best matched". So what are the top-recommended books for me in this category?

(If I scan down Bookarmy's list of people who are similar to me, at #4 I finally find someone who liked a book that I liked. That's one book that we have in common. On the other hand, if I look at a list of people who have rated many books, I can find someone named "Loosy" who has read a bunch of the same books that I have and we seem to agree more than we disagree. And I just found Loosy by stumbling around haphazardly. Hey, bookarmy people: I'd rather know about people who agree with me on 2/3 books than 1/1 books. I'm surprised Loosy isn't higher on my list of similar people than Nathanonline is.)

Your friends books If you're reading this, you're probably sad to see that Bookarmy recommends "friends books" to me. You're probably a friend of mine and thinking "Waaahhh Larry told other friends about this bookarmy site and now all those people are cliquishly trading book recommendations but they didn't invite me and they're leaving me out and I'm just going to go sit in the corner and eat worms". But I don't have any friends on Bookarmy. No, wait, I have eight friends on Bookarmy. No, wait, bookarmy's friend system is broken. Eight people have "friended" me on Bookarmy. Bookarmy is a social network site. You know how some people try to "win" on social network sites by having the most friends? So they "friend" everybody? Eight of those people have friended me. I said no to each of them. But but but bookarmy nevertheless says that I have eight friends. And it recommends books from them.

These books have been recommended by people who "friend" people they don't know. The only thing I know about these people is that they have a hobby that I don't have: random "friending". Thus, I'm not inclined to pay much attention to these recommendations. Or I might take these as anti-recommendations--maybe if I read these books, I'll turn into an annoying random-friending-person.

The good news is that I learned some new punctuation today:
Your friend's books: apostrophe before the s indicates that "friend" is singular
Your friends' books: apostrophe after the s indicates that "friends" is plural
Your friends books: mising apostrophe indicates that "friends" is zero

More from authors you like Hey, they can alert me to new books written by authors I've rated highly, yay!

Anyhow, if you're on Bookarmy and you know me, feel free to friend me. It's kind of embarrassing being on a social site with no friends. If you'd like to play around on a book-rating site, Bookarmy is fun. And maybe if enough people go there and rate books, they'll have better data. And maybe maybe they'll come up with some better recommendation ranking algorithm... I'm tempted to recommend it, because I would so much like it if there was a book recommendation service that had plenty of data to work with... But, really, it's not working well now.

I talked to a couple of folks about my bad luck on Bookarmy. One of them told me that if I rate books on Amazon, Amazon will tell me about similarly-rated books. Maybe I should try that. I tend to shy away from using Amazon because they oppress their coders. Maybe it's time I got past that.

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Posted 2009-03-07