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Old January 17 2012, 01:55 PM   #16
Defcon
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

I like it, and as someone who always dutifully sent his rankings to Steve for his site it's nice to see something similar returning.

I wonder if it would be feasible to have "Classic review threads", so that over time more and more of the backlog would be included in the list, too. Obviously not every book at once, but maybe one thread per series every week or something like that.
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Old January 17 2012, 04:54 PM   #17
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Very nice. I think I'll be visiting that fairly regularly.
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Old January 17 2012, 10:55 PM   #18
Sho
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Thanks guys .

On the topic of adding more threads to it, there's a few notes to make, and bullet number two needs your input:

  • The data mining component of this currently filters the thread list for those having "review thread" in their titles before loading them up to look for poll data, to avoid having to load all of them (which would be a lot, especially on the first run to assemble the initial thread cache: it did look at all 140 pages worth of thread list in that case - on subsequent runs it only asks for a day's worth of activities of course, which is the shortest queryable timeframe). If you know of any threads featuring standard polls missed by this, please tell me and I'll add them!
  • There are various review threads that don't have a poll. Grafting polls onto them is possible, but inconvenient: According to Rosalind she can't add polls to existing threads directly, so to add one to the new The Rings of Time thread I had to open a second, poll-equipped thread, which she then merged into the older one. Now I'm willing to do this work for other threads, but it means a new reply (due to the merge) pulling them back to the front, which might be annoying, especially if done all at once. Maybe one per week? How do you all feel about this? And the mods would need to support it too, of course.
  • I also like Defcon's idea of occasionally opening new threads for old books, perhaps as a sort of community re-read initiative inbetween new releases.
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Old January 18 2012, 12:05 AM   #19
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Sho wrote: View Post
There are various review threads that don't have a poll. Grafting polls onto them is possible, but inconvenient: According to Rosalind she can't add polls to existing threads directly, so to add one to the new The Rings of Time thread I had to open a second, poll-equipped thread, which she then merged into the older one. Now I'm willing to do this work for other threads, but it means a new reply (due to the merge) pulling them back to the front, which might be annoying, especially if done all at once. Maybe one per week? How do you all feel about this? And the mods would need to support it too, of course.
<mod hat>
I don't mind, as long as it's not done all at once
</mod hat>

<research scientist hat>
if you add polls to old review threads now:
-- you won't have the same people who posted in those threads voting, so you don't get a good representation of the reviews.
-- what people vote a year (for example) after they've read a book would statistically be different from what they would vote straight after they've read a book. so the ratings would mean different things.

so, I would discourage adding polls to old threads, but rather have new polls for them, and have the ratings in a different table.
</research scientist hat>
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Old January 18 2012, 01:47 AM   #20
Sho
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Rosalind wrote: View Post
<research scientist hat>
if you add polls to old review threads now:
-- you won't have the same people who posted in those threads voting, so you don't get a good representation of the reviews.
-- what people vote a year (for example) after they've read a book would statistically be different from what they would vote straight after they've read a book. so the ratings would mean different things.

so, I would discourage adding polls to old threads, but rather have new polls for them, and have the ratings in a different table.
</research scientist hat>
Hmm. Those are good points. OTOH, my page is already liable to alter the dynamic of older polls: If I keep making posts while having the link to it in my signature, new people are invariably going to find the polls and vote in them. So we're going to see poll participation by non-posters anyway, and might as well extend that to "new old" threads, no?

Of course this does raise the issue whether my page is a problem because it interrupts the synergy between thread posts and poll votes. But I'd say lets not be afraid of a little change . Plus there never was a mechanic that required posting to poll - and I know that I, as a relatively new arrival, intended to vote in the older polls once I've read those books even prior to making the page.

Plus, there's something that might offset the problem specifically related to poll grafts: Thread subscriptions. The folks who posted in those threads would get notified of the new reply yielded by the merge, I think, and might thus vote after all. Or we could add a second reply specifically to provoke that.

If all else fails, I think the forum population is relatively stable, so the intersection between folks watching the traffic back then and watching the traffic now is pretty large. If they see those threads pulled back up and check out the new post, they're going to vote. Especially if we include something in the posts to encourage them, pointing out this consideration.

So all things considered I'd prefer the poll graft option myself .

Last edited by Sho; January 18 2012 at 06:41 AM.
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Old January 18 2012, 02:31 AM   #21
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Yeah, I think poll grafting probably doesn't make any sense. You won't get many people voting, for one. I think it might be better just to skip those.
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Old January 18 2012, 02:35 AM   #22
Sho
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Thrawn wrote: View Post
You won't get many people voting, for one.
The page might change that by making old threads a lot more visible, though . Like the four new votes The Children of Kings got ... though admittedly there was also this thread behind that.
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Old January 18 2012, 06:39 AM   #23
Kertrats47
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Defcon wrote: View Post
I wonder if it would be feasible to have "Classic review threads", so that over time more and more of the backlog would be included in the list, too. Obviously not every book at once, but maybe one thread per series every week or something like that.
I kind of like that idea, too... maybe a "book club" style posting, a past Trek classic that can be voted on every week. Only one per week is a good idea, though, to limit the clutter. As someone who is slowly making his way through the Trek catalog and blogging the attempt, I approve!

Sho wrote:
The page might change that by making old threads a lot more visible, though . Like the four new votes The Children of Kings got ... though admittedly there was also this thread behind that.
Yeah, I have to admit I went back and rated The Children of Kings because of this thread.
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Old January 18 2012, 01:28 PM   #24
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Alrighty, as promised earlier I went and added little vote distribution graphs to the "Voters" column, to better visualize what exactly goes into a score .

For example, a book in the middle of the pack might be there because voters predominantly picked "Average", or it might be a polarizing specimen that garnered both "Outstanding" and "Poor" votes. Whichever is the case is apparent at a glance now. The Children of Kings is a good example of the latter at this time.

Edit: Forgot to mention: On the topic of the poll grafts, I did a little more brainstorming with Rosalind and think that it should actually be possible to add polls to existing threads without the cumbersome merge maneuver after all. However, we might still want to reply to them after adding a poll to encourage votes by previous posters, to offset the effect Rosalind mentioned, and thus still requiring throttling to once per week. That said, I'm holding off on this for now and waiting for more feedback first.

Last edited by Sho; January 18 2012 at 01:51 PM.
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Old January 18 2012, 06:42 PM   #25
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Maybe it would be wise to wait with expanding the list until after the software-switch to Xenforo that is planned for the relatively near future.

Probably that will just be a minor change for you in the code (I have absolutely no idea about programming/coding), but I thought you should at least know about it.

I like the distribution graphs by the way.
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Old January 18 2012, 07:29 PM   #26
Sho
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Defcon wrote: View Post
Maybe it would be wise to wait with expanding the list until after the software-switch to Xenforo that is planned for the relatively near future.

Probably that will just be a minor change for you in the code (I have absolutely no idea about programming/coding), but I thought you should at least know about it.
Whoa. Thanks for pointing this out, I had indeed no idea.

I've taken a quick peek at XenForo's own installation of XenForo to determine how hard it will be to adapt the data miner: http://xenforo.com/community/

First, let's take a quick look at how the data miner currently operates - you can probably skip this if you don't care for technobabble, but then what are you doing in a Star Trek forum? Anyway, here we go:
  1. It visits the forum's thread list page, using variables in the URL it loads to convey its desired view options, which are to sort the threads by their creation time from new to old, and to limit the listing to a specific timeframe. On the first run that timeframe was actually the limitless "since the beginning", and on subsequent runs it asks for only the last 24 hours, which is the lowest queryable timeframe and sufficient to catch new threads when running twice daily.
  2. With the thread list page loaded up, it walks over it (while following pagination links if there are any, i.e. loading further pages as needed) and notes down the URLs of any threads which contain a configurable trigger phrase, currently "review thread" (the character string search is done case-insensitively).
  3. Then it reads in the contents of its thread cache, a file containing the URLs of threads gathered in previous runs.
  4. Having this set of previously gathered thread URLs from the cache and a set of any new thread URLs gathered from the thread list page, it builds both the union of the two and the difference of them, i.e. sets containing all now-known thread URLs and of thread URLs not yet written to the cache. The latter is then added to the cache to serve the next run, and the former is used in the next step.
  5. For each URL in the just-computed set of all known thread URLs it visits them, mining any poll data from the thread page.
  6. Then it loops over the assembled thread data again, to eliminate those threads which do not follow the expected poll format, to separate them into two bins for threads meeting the minimum vote threshold and those which do not, to sort them (which the new, fancier page can actually do client-side using JavaScript as the ability to dynamically resort by clicking the column headers demonstrates, but just in case you don't have JavaScript enabled in your browser the static HTML served up to it still presorts the table rows by average score) and to generate the report page.
In effect, this gives it the following properties:
  • It picks up on new threads and their votes.
  • It picks up on new votes in old threads.
  • It picks up on new polls in old threads (i.e. it's already ready for grafts).
Now, back to XenForo. Looks like it allows me:
  • ... to list threads ordered by thread creation time by loading the right URL. However, it doesn't appear to allow me to limit the timeframe of the query. That means I'll have to adjust the thread gathering logic slightly to make it "walk over threads, possibly following pagination links, until hitting a thread that's older than the time of the last run" (or some fixed cut-off time delta vs. the current time). Fortunately it includes the creation dates right in the listing, so that's easy to compute. There's a bit of a curveball in the form of sticky threads with old dates leading the list, but I can easily skip over those of course.
  • ... to view poll results without needing to be logged in. It includes nearly the same data in its display of them as vBulletin does: Poll option texts, votes per option - what's missing is the number of total votes, but that's of course easily built by adding together the per-option counts.
Bottom line: The thread gatherer will need a bit of work, and I'll have to adapt the parsing code to slightly different HTML, but it shouldn't take me longer than writing this post did .

So, no reason to hold off on poll grafts. A more pressing question is whether XenForo allows for adding/grafting polls, which I haven't looked into yet.

Edit: After not finding a direct way to add a poll to a test thread I made in their forum. I found this question-and-answer thread: http://xenforo.com/community/threads...-thread.21206/

So, grafting is possible in XenForo, but only using the cumbersome merge maneuver, which we may actually be able to avoid in vBulletin after all. Dunno if it would be a good idea to add all the polls in one swoop while still on vBulletin, and then just throttle doing the "hey, did you see the new poll" replies (if we want to do those at all, etc etc). Then again I guess we already had come to terms with the merge requirement earlier.

Defcon wrote: View Post
I like the distribution graphs by the way.
Yay!

Last edited by Sho; January 18 2012 at 09:33 PM.
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Old January 19 2012, 05:46 AM   #27
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

I like it, interresting to see the vote totals per book thread.

Guess now I'll have to actually remember to vote in these things now.
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Last edited by CaptainDonovin; January 19 2012 at 05:56 AM.
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Old January 20 2012, 11:33 PM   #28
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Sho wrote: View Post
The Children of Kings is a good example of the latter at this time.
How weird that it still only has five votes. Did no one else but five of us have an opinion on this novel?
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Last edited by Therin of Andor; January 21 2012 at 01:42 AM. Reason: Mmm, left window open without posting?
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Old January 20 2012, 11:45 PM   #29
Sho
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

One of those I haven't read yet *lowers gaze in shame*.
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Old January 21 2012, 12:20 AM   #30
Sho
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Re: Tabulated review threads sorted by average score

Please excuse this double post, but a quick question: When I saw Stefan open that thread about Double Helix' Quarantine just now, I was sorely tempted to encourage him to use his powers as thread creator to add a poll, since it appears to be the first thread about specifically just that volume. However, I don't want to outstay my welcome and annoy everybody with this poll business in random threads until they're sick of it. Go or no go, thoughts?
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