by   Ranker
Staff
in Data Science

Mitt Romney Should Have Advertised on the X-Files

With the election recently behind us, many political analysts are conducting analyses of the campaigns, examining what worked and what didn’t.  One specific area where the Obama team is getting praise is in their unprecedented use of data to drive campaign decisions, and even more specifically, how they used data to micro-target fans who watched specific TV shows.  From this New York Times article concerning the Obama Team’s TV analytics:

“Culling never-before-used data about viewing habits, and combining it with more personal information about the voters the campaign was trying to reach and persuade than was ever before available, the system allowed Mr. Obama’s team to direct advertising with a previously unheard-of level of efficiency, strategists from both sides agree….

[They] created a new set of ratings based on the political leanings of categories of people the Obama campaign was interested in reaching, allowing the campaign to buy its advertising on political terms as opposed to traditional television industry terms…..

[They focused] on niche networks and programs that did not necessarily deliver large audiences but, as Mr. Grisolano put it, did provide the right ones.”

 

The Obama team focused more on undecided/apolitical voters in an effort to get them to the polls.  Given that some Mitt Romney supporters have blamed a lack of turnout of supporters for the results of the election, perhaps Romney would have been smart to have created a ranked list of TV shows, based on how much fans of the shows supported Romney, and then placed positive/motivating ads on those shows in an effort to increase turnout of his base.  Where would Romney get such data?  From Ranker!

Mitt Romney is on many votable Ranker lists (e.g. Most Influential People of 2012) and based on people who voted on those lists and also lists such as our Best Recent TV Shows list, we can examine which TV shows are positively or negatively associated with Mitt Romney.  Below are the top positive results from one of our internal tools.

As you can see, the X-Files appears to be the highest correlated show, by a fair margin.  I don’t watch the X-Files, so I wasn’t sure why this correlation exists, but I did a bit of research, and found this article exploring how the X-Files supported a number of conservative themes, such as the persistence of evil, objective truth, and distrust of government (also see here).  The article points out that in one episode, right wing militiamen are depicted as being heroic, which never would happen in a more liberal leaning plot.  Perhaps if you are a conservative politician seeking to motivate your base, you should consider running ads on reruns of the X-Files, or if you run a television station that shows X-Files reruns, consider contacting your local conservative politicians leveraging this data.

You may notice that this list contains more classic/rerun shows (e.g. Leave it to Beaver) than current shows.  This appears to be part of a general trend where conservatives on Ranker tend to positively vote for classic TV, a subject we’ll cover in a future blog post.  The possibility of advertising on reruns is part of what we would like to highlight in this post, as ads are likely relatively cheap and audiences can be more easily targeted, a tactic which the Obama campaign has been praised for.  At Ranker, we’re hopeful that more advertisers will seek value in the long-tail and mid-tail and will seek to mimic the tactics of the Obama campaign, as our data is uniquely suited for such psychographic targeting.

– Ravi Iyer

by   Ranker
Staff
in Data Science

How Crowdsourcing can uncover Niche/Trending shows

At Ranker, people give us their opinions in various different ways. Some people vote.  Other people make long lists.  Still others make really short lists.  Some people tell us their absolute favorite things, while others list everything they’ve ever experienced.  One of the advantages of this diversity is that it allows us to examine patterns within these divergent types of opinions.  For example, some things are really popular, meaning that everyone lists them (e.g. Michael Jordan is on everyone’s best basketball players list).  Most popular things are also things that people generally list high on their lists and also get lots of positive votes (e.g. Michael Jordan).  However, there are some things that don’t get listed very often, but when they do get listed, people are passionate about them, meaning that they get listed high on people’s lists.  We highlight these items in our system using the niche symbol.

I’ve recently been examining our “niche” tag, which signifies when something is not particularly popular, but people are passionate about it.  There are many reasons why things can be niche.  Some things appeal specifically to younger (e.g. Rugrats) or older crowds (e.g.  The Rockford Files).  Other things have natural audiences (e.g.baseball fans who appreciate defense and think Ozzie Smith is one of the greatest players of all time).  The most interesting case is when something that I can’t identify starts showing on the niche list (see the list at the time of this writing here).

This is especially helpful for someone like me, who doesn’t always know what is ‘hot’ and naturally looks to data to find new quality entertainment.  Awhile back, the show Community consistently was showing highest on our niche algorithm.  Few people listed it as one of the best recent TV shows, but those who listed it tended to think very highly of it.  I was intruiged enough to watch the pilot on Hulu and have since become hooked.  Community has since graduated from our niche algorithm as it became popular.  Sometimes passion amongst a small group is how a trend starts.

As Margaret Mead believed that only a small group of citizens could change the world, so Malcolm Gladwell has shown how a small group of trendsetters can signal changes in pop culture.  Not everything on our niche list will become the next big thing, but it’s certainly a good place to search for candidates.

Among the things that people seem to be passionate about now, that aren’t so popular, are several good candidates for up and coming movies, bands, or TV shows.  Pappillon is currently hot, scoring over 2 standard deviations higher in terms of list position on our best movie list, despite being less popular than most movies.  Another Earth and 13 Assassins,  seem like potentially interesting and under the radar films from 2011. Real Time with Bill Maher‘s niche status may be due to appeal particular ideological group, but Warehouse 13 appealed to just my niche as it had passionate fans on both the best recent TV shows list and the best Sci-Fi TV shows list (it has since graduated from the list due to increased popularity).  Warehouse 13’s highest correlated show is one of my favorites, Battlestar Galactica, so I’m definitely going to check it out.

I tend to be a late adopter of pop culture, but thanks to the niche tag, maybe I can be a little hipper going forward.  Take a look at our niche items as of October 20, 2012 and any comments on other things to consider checking out would be appreciated. Or perhaps take a look in a few months time and consider whether our niche tag successfully captured coming trends in a few cases.

– Ravi Iyer

by   Ranker
Staff
in Opinion Graph

The Best Possible Answers To Opinion-Based Questions

Ranker, as an openended platform for ranking people/places/things, is a lot of different (awesome) things to different people. But the overarching goal for Ranker has always been to provide the best possible answer to opinion-based questions like “What are the best _____?”

Popular sports and entertainment vote lists often grow into being a great answer within 12-72 hours as they get lots of traffic quickly, but the majority of Ranker lists take 1 – 3 months to build to full credibility as visitors on Ranker and from search engines find them and shape them with votes and re-ranks.

I thought it would be fun to showcase some Ultimate Lists and Vote Lists in other categories that haven’t gone viral, but through the participation of lots of Rankers over a few months have indeed become “the best possible answer” to this question.

Food

You all clearly love to weigh in on the start of the day, and the 5 o’clock hour:

Best Breakfast Cereals

The Best Cocktails

But you also have strong opinions on hydration during the day:

Best Sodas (and for the more calorie-conscious among you The Best Diet Sodas)

And even specific Gatorade flavors (thanks for the list Lucas)

Snacking, whether it be on a particular type of cheese, candy bar, or even as granular as a specific Jelly Belly flavor (thanks for the list Samantha but what’s with all the chocolate pudding haters?)

Dining out, specifically at Italian chain restaurants

A list I am not authorized to vote on, pregnancy cravings

And hundreds more, including perhaps a new category entirely – food nostalgia (I do miss those Crispy M&Ms myself)

Fashion/Beauty

Not categories that I personally check up on much, so I was psyched to see quite a few solid rankings here, some of them high-end but mostly stuff you can find at the mall:

Best women’s shoe brands

Best denim brands

Top handbag designers

Fashion Blogs

Sulfate-free shampoos

And even a men’s facial moisturizers list (have only tried 3 or 4 myself, but agree with their relative positions on the list)

Travel

Rankers, I know from a number of you that as we’ve been adding datasets of “rank-able objects” over the last year, one of the most-requested ones that we don’t yet have is hotels/resorts. Trust me, it’s still on the list. But in the meantime, it’s been heartening to see how many of you have participated in these great resources for travel destinations and attractions, like these:

Best US cities for vacations

Honeymoon destinations

Coolest cities in America

Theme parks for roller coaster addicts

And my personal faves, “bucket lists” of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders and historical landmarks.

Great stuff – these lists and 1000s more like them are true testimonials to the “wisdom of crowds”. Thanks, crowds!

by   Ranker
Staff
in Opinion Graph

The Best Possible Answers To Opinion-Based Questions

Ranker, as an openended platform for ranking people/places/things, is a lot of different (awesome) things to different people. But the overarching goal for Ranker has always been to provide the best possible answer to opinion-based questions like “What are the best _____?”

Popular sports and entertainment vote lists often grow into being a great answer within 12-72 hours as they get lots of traffic quickly, but the majority of Ranker lists take 1 – 3 months to build to full credibility as visitors on Ranker and from search engines find them and shape them with votes and re-ranks.

I thought it would be fun to showcase some Ultimate Lists and Vote Lists in other categories that haven’t gone viral, but through the participation of lots of Rankers over a few months have indeed become “the best possible answer” to this question.

 

Food: you all clearly love to weigh in on the start of the day, and the 5 o’clock hour:

Best Breakfast Cereals

The Best Cocktails

But you also have strong opinions on hydration during the day:

Best Sodas (and for the more calorie-conscious among you The Best Diet Sodas)

And even specific Gatorade flavors (thanks for the list Lucas)

Snacking, whether it be on a particular type of cheese, candy bar, or even as granular as a specific Jelly Belly flavor (thanks for the list Samantha but what’s with all the chocolate pudding haters?)

Dining out, specifically at Italian chain restaurants

A list I am not authorized to vote on, pregnancy cravings

And hundreds more, including perhaps a new category entirely – food nostalgia (I do miss those Crispy M&Ms myself)

 

Fashion/Beauty: not categories that I personally check up on much, so I was psyched to see quite a few solid rankings here, some of them high-end but mostly stuff you can find at the mall:

Best women’s shoe brands

Best denim brands

Top handbag designers

Fashion Blogs

Sulfate-free shampoos

And even a men’s facial moisturizers list (have only tried 3 or 4 myself, but agree with their relative positions on the list)

 

Travel: Rankers, I know from a number of you that as we’ve been adding datasets of “rank-able objects” over the last year, one of the most-requested ones that we don’t yet have is hotels/resorts. Trust me, it’s still on the list. But in the meantime, it’s been heartening to see how many of you have participated in these great resources for travel destinations and attractions, like these:

Best US cities for vacations

Honeymoon destinations

Coolest cities in America

Theme parks for roller coaster addicts

And my personal faves, “bucket lists” of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders and historical landmarks.

Great stuff – these lists and 1000s more like them are true testimonials to the “wisdom of crowds”.  Thanks, crowds!

by   Ranker
Staff
in New Features

10 Things You Didn't Know Ranker Could Do

Portable Lists

Portable Lists

Did you know that all the lists on Ranker are portable? I’m sure you’re all, ‘what does that even mean?’ and also ‘stop staring at me like that!’. Well, they are. Let me explain further, yes? Say you make a list, or just really like another list you’ve see on the site… you would click the “embed” button on that list, and then go copy a little piece of code that you’d then paste onto your own site or blog. And there the list would be, with voting still on it and everything.

What’s in it for me? You’re saying that now, aren’t you? Well, first… if you don’t have a site or a blog: nothing. Sorry. Move to the next thing on the list. But if you DO, and if you have a community there whom you would like to poll or maybe just to entertain? Well, this little portable list app is for you. Also: free, just in case you thought I was trying to sell you something.

Let’s give you an example. Say you have a blog about BBQ techniques. (If you do, please email me your URL, because I love BBQ), and you write a little post about the best store-bought BBQ sauces. Well, just come to Ranker, make said list of BBQ sauces, turn on voting, publish it, and click the ‘embed’ button. You can quickly choose what size you want the list to be and grab the code. Once it’s pasted onto your site, your visitors can vote – right there – for their favorite sauces. It’s content for you! It’s fun for your visitors. Ranker gets a BBQ sauce list! Win and Win and Win!

Add Images

You’re making a list of your favorite things about San Francisco (#1. Sourdough Bread, #2. More Sourdough Bread, #3 …) but the photo our database gives you doesn’t look delicious enough. No worries, you can change it! Hovering over the image will give you the option to “edit” or “view”.  Just choose “edit” and you can search right there on the spot from Flikr’s copyright-free images OR upload that photo your girlfriend took of you stuffing bread into your face hole down on the Pier. If there’s no such photo, but you know where the perfect one is on the internet, you can paste the url in and we will go grab it and upload it for you! You can even make your images extra big by choosing “blog view” in your list options as you build.

Add Video

Making a list of your favorite clips from The Daily Show? Or maybe it’s a list of your favorite Sad Songs to Eat Ice Cream By? Everything goes better with moving pictures and sound! I read that in a study somewhere. It’s just as easy to grab video as it is to grab images. Choose the ‘add video’ from the dropdown while you are building your list, and you simply search youtube for what you want. Preview it, select it, and you are done! Something to note… switching your list to Blog View will display video better, but you can still use it with List View… it will just open videos in a popup.

Vote in Groups

You know another creative way you can use Ranker? Create a list for you and your friends to add to and vote on. A list on a topic that’s personal just to your group. Suppose you are a new mom and you want to poll your friends for the best foods to feed your baby? Create a starter list, “allow” others to add to it in your List Options and share or email your friends the list so they can add their favorite things to the list. It could become a resource for you, your friends, and even the whole internet!

Following

It’s possible you didn’t know that you can follow lists and other users on Ranker. You can. There’s a follow button on all Ultimate Lists – just under the list name – and on all user profile pages. Once you press that button, we will set alerts to let you know when the list or user is active. So, if you decided to follow the Ultimate List “Best Movies of 2012″, every time someone added their own version of the list to the Ultimate, we would let you know so you could go see how the list had changed. Following another Ranker user will let you know when that user makes new lists!

Copy A List

Ordering lists might be easy, but thinking up things to put on them isn’t. It can take research, thinking, more thinking and sometimes pondering. If you spend a lot of time and effort, make a really impressive list, and maybe want to use part of it to start another one? You can, we gave you a way to copy your own list to start another one. The option is in the yellow dashboard present on all your own lists.

Know what else? If you built an awesome list and then put voting on it… well, all those people voting on it is cool and all, but it changed your original ranking and you can’t get it back. But wait! You can! There’s a link inside the edit interface that you can click to make a copy of it as you originally ranked it! That you can save and publish with voting turned off, so everyone will know what you really think.

Use Reference Lists

Ranker is packed with reference lists, we just don’t really highlight them so much. These are lists of informative, unranked, alphabetical things – like “All Expressionist Painters” or “All Italian Fiction Writers”. All our reference lists are there just for you to start lists with!

Find “Listopedia” in the nav bar and browse the thousands of encyclopedic lists we keep locked in there. (You can also just search for the topic you are looking for). There is a link on each of our Reference lists that allows you to copy the list as a starter. There’s a whole mess of items for you to work with and all you did was click a button! Take this list, rank, delete, add to your hearts delight! It’s a ridiculously fast and easy way to make a really intensive, comprehensive list!

Ultimate Lists

You may have noticed our awesome Ultimate Lists by now. They are our pride and joy. These are the lists that form when enough people re-rank lists on the same topic. We take all these opinions (in list-form), combine them, average them out, and present the consensus to you. All the lists that make the Ultimate up are still there, viewable through the dropdown, but the Ultimate List lets you see what all that data looks like crunched together. At a glance, you can see what all voters and listers think are the top things for that topic. We’ve put little icons on the list items that are notable – as in, those that were the most up-voted, or the most listed, or ranked at #1 the most – so you can see very quickly what the community thinks on that topic.

And! Suppose you have also already made a list on that topic? And you want to see how your re-rank stacks up to the consensus? Add it! I will explain: We have a Best Movies of All Time list, for example, and if you have already made your version of the best movies of all time, you can go in to edit your list, open List Options and choose to ADD it to the Ultimate List family so it will be taken into account with the rest of the re-ranks. Then you can see where the things you chose fall on the master list, and how your list matches up with everyone elses’.

Items

Every time someone adds an item to a list, we make note of it. We count the number of votes it gets, the number of times it’s been used on a list and what relationships it has with other simliar items. We gather a lot of that data on that item’s page, which is a surprisingly awesome page most of you have probably never seen. If you go to the Best TV Shows of Recent Memory, for example, you can click on “The Simpsons” (which is currently #1 as it should be) and you will be taken to The Simpsons item page. There you can see every list on the site that has used “The Simpsons”. You can see where it’s been ranked on those lists, and you can see what OTHER things people liked who liked The Simpsons. It’s kind of amazing, actually. We get all nerdy about it all the time.

Leaderboard

Ah, competition. Bracing! Here at Ranker Headquarters, our calculating machines are always calculating. The number of voters, the number of views, the number of shares… we keep track of it all. With this info, we can actually tell which of you are the BEST at ranking things without having to put you in a cage with wild tigers, a legal pad and your 10 favorite albums.

You can find a link to this page off the home page, or any of the main browsing category pages. This ranking of rankers changes all the time, too. Our Top Ranker Leaderboard is where you can peek and see where (or if) you are in the top 100. More views on more lists gets you into this august company. Just think, you can tell your kids someday … I made it, son and/or daughter! I. Made. It.

by   Ranker
Staff
in Data Science, Market Research

Validating Ranker’s Aggregated Data vs. a Gallup Poll of Best Colleges

We were talking to someone in the market research field about the credibility of Ranker’s aggregated rankings, and they were intruiged and suggested that we validate our data by comparing the aggregated results of one of our lists to the results achieved by a traditional research company using traditional market research methodologies.  Companies like Gallup often do not survey the same types of questions that we ask at Ranker, in part due to the inherent difficulties of open ended polling via random digit dialing.  You can’t realistically call someone up at dinner time and ask them to list their 50 favorite TV shows.  You could ask them to name one favorite, but doing that, you can end up with headlines like “Americans admire Glenn Beck more than they admire the Pope.”  However, one question that both Gallup and Ranker have asked concerns the nation’s top colleges/universities.  How do Ranker’s results compare to Gallup’s data?  Below are our results, side by side.

Ranker vs Gallup Best US Colleges

From a market researcher’s perspective, this is good news for Ranker data.  Our algorithms have successfully replicated the top 4 results from the Gallup poll exactly, at a fraction of the cost.  This likely occurs because Ranker data is largely collected from users who find our website via organic search, so while our data is not a representative probability sample (assuming such a thing still exists in a world where people screen their calls on cellphones), our users tend to be more representative than the motivated Yelp user or the intellectual Quora user.  If you compare how representative Ranker’s best movies list is compared to Rotten Tomatoes aggregated opinion list (Toy Story 2 and Man on Wire are #1 & #2!?!?), you get a sense of the importance of having relatively representative data.

In addition, the fact that our lists are derived from a combination of methodologies (listing, reranking, + voting), means that the error associated with each method somewhat cancels out.  Indeed, one might argue that Ranker’s top dream colleges list is better than Gallup’s for precisely this reason as individuals are often tempted to list their alma mater or their local school as the best college, and the long tail of answers might actually contain more pertinent information.  Aggregating ranked lists from motivated users and combining that data with casual voters might actually be the best way to answer a question like this.

– Ravi Iyer

by   Ranker
Staff
in Trends

Synchronized Diving with Bain and Bill Murray

Just kidding, but have you guys seen The Dark Knight Rises yet? No spoilers, promise, but here are a few of the best TDKR movie quotes to get you jazzed. In other news, it’s 1.1 million degrees outside here in sunny Southern California, and we’re thinking about trying a few of these delicious summer cocktails to beat the heat. Vote to let us know which are your faves, or click Re-Rank to personalize your own list.

And as long as you’re in a voting mood, we’re looking for Ranker fans to fill out a brief survey for us. We’ll pick 20 participants and award them each a $5 Amazon gift card as a thank you. So get on in there!

Here are a few other awesome and interesting lists the Ranker Community has been upvoting this month…

The Best Summer Olympic Games Events

The 2012 Olympics in London are upon us. Opening ceremonies begin this Friday, July 27th, at 20:12 (get it?) BST. What do you most love to watch? Basketball? Synchronized Swimming? Equestrian Dressage? Hold on… that’s a real thing?

The Most Outrageous Emmy Snubs of All Time

The annual nominations were announced last week, replete with a fresh batch of 2012 Emmy snubs. This list looks at the 50+ year history of the prestigious TV award and all the deserving actors, writers, and best boys who were never given one of those lovely statuettes of a woman catching a beach ball and being struck by lightning at the same time.

The Coolest Employers in Tech

Now that the economy is booming again [citation needed], tech geeks across the country are out securing for dream jobs at amazing companies. These big players look out for their workers, whether by offering stock options, sand volleyball courts, or, simply, a pleasant and stimulating work environment. Where would you like to spend most of your waking hours?

The 50 Greatest Discontinued ’90s Foods and Beverages

Nostalgia, thy name is hunger. The 1990s saw the rise and fall of some of the most delicious, innovative, and ridiculous snacks and drinks to ever be advertised during Nicktoons. From Shark Bites to Crystal Pepsi, which delicious, colorful ’90s foods were you most likely to trade for in the lunchroom?

10 Roles Almost Played by Bill Murray

Bill Murray: One of the greatest living actors, or THE greatest living actor? A favorite of audiences and directors alike, Murray was offered, attached to, or rumored to be considered for many roles you know and love, from Willy Wonka to Detective John Kimble.

Best Books for Toddlers

Despite the influx of new children’s books hitting Amazon every year, some old classics have stuck around for decades. Included are the best stories for toddlers and the very same books that taught you how to read, count, and share.

New American Idol Judge Picks

It’s official. The newest “American Idol” judge is… MARIAH CAREY. The “Butterfly” singer will replace Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, who are departing the show prior to its 12th Season. (Yeah, she’s Mariah, she can replace two people.) All week, Ranker users have been voting on who THEY’D like to see in the judge’s chair. See if you think they know better than Ryan Seacrest!

 

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by   Ranker
Staff
in Market Research

A Look Inside the Ranker Data Tool

You may have looked through some of the more fascinating, insightful posts her on the Ranker Data Blog and thought… how can he possibly come up with some of these connections?

Well, to be perfectly fair, the Ranker data tool does a lot of the heavy lifting. It allows me to quickly look through topics that have received a lot of up or down votes on Ranker, and make quick comparisons to other topics easily.

And here’s a quick look at how it all works…

We start by picking a general category we want and a specific item (or “node” in this case) from that topic. So under the category of TV, I’m going to pick the item “Boardwalk Empire.”

Now the tool knows that I only want to look at people who voted on “Boardwalk Empire.” The next step involves the tool looking for correlations – that is, relationships between “Boardwalk Empire” votes and other votes cast on Ranker. I could compare votes cast for or against “Boardwalk Empire” with votes cast on pretty much any other subject – films, foods, people, gadgets… you name it. Sometimes, this can be very interesting, as in this post, where we correlated people’s taste in breakfast cereals vs. films and tv shows.

But for the sake of explanation, let’s look at a more direct comparison, which usually yields more interesting results. So we’ll compare votes on “Boardwalk Empire” to votes on other TV shows, to see how well we can predict what fans of HBO’s Prohibition drama might also enjoy on the tube.

The results are pretty standard, and really show off exactly what the tool can do. When searching “Boardwalk Empire” correlated with other TV shows, here’s what I see:

Those percentages to the right represent what we call the “Lift %,” which basically just means “how much more likely is a “Boardwalk Empire” fan to enjoy X show, over a random person who does not have an opinion about Boardwalk Empire”? I’d ask Ravi to explain it to you directly, but his answer would likely involve fractals, and I don’t want to put you through that.

Trust me on this part, though… The higher the Lift %, the MORE likely a “Boardwalk Empire” fan will also enjoy whatever show we’re discussing.

Keeping that in mind, most of the results seem fairly predictable and straight-forward. A “Boardwalk Empire” fan would naturally be likely to enjoy “The Shield” or “The Killing,” two different hard-edged crime dramas with occasionally similar themes. Similarly, “Deadwood” seems an obvious fit – both are violent HBO series exploring crime in different periods of American history. In fact, there’s really only two outliers that make this list kind of compelling… What the hell are “Thundercats” and “Police Squad!” doing there?

There’s probably a very reasonable explanation for this. Maybe a big chunk of people went to the “Boardwalk Empire” page and then immediately voted on their favorite ’80s cartoon series as well? It’s possible, but seems unlikely, as there aren’t any other animated shows in the Top 10 (or even 20!) of this group. Maybe people who like “Boardwalk Empire” – or crime shows more generally – also enjoy occasionally making light of a very serious subject by throwing on the adventures of Detective Frank Drebin of “Police Squad!” To investigate this, I’d probably look at a similar chart for the show “Police Squad!” and see if a lot of more serious crime fare appeared.

And what do you know? It does! Along with the expected other comedy series from the same era – “Welcome Back Kotter,” “WKRP in Cincinnati” and so on, sure enough we see that “Police Squad!” fans have also voted positively on “The Sopranos,” “Boardwalk Empire” and even “Miami Vice.” We could certainly do more research to confirm, but this definitely points me towards a preliminary hypothesis – fans of crime shows don’t really differentiate between funny or serious content. They just like the topic of crime and criminals.

To keep investigating, I’d probably look at some other crime dramas and comedies to see if I also got similar results. If, say, “The Wire” fans also tended to enjoy “Pink Panther” movies, or fans of “Hackers” also cited “Sneakers” as a favorite film, we’d be on our way to a full-fledged theory. But that’s a blog post for a different day, kids. Now it’s time for bed.

– Lon

by   Ranker
Staff
in Data Science, Google Knowledge Graph

How Ranker leverages Google’s Knowledge Graph

Google recently held their I/O conference and one of the talks was given by Freebase’s Shawn Simister, who was once Freebase’s biggest fan, and has since gone on to work at Google, which acquired Freebase a few years ago.  What is Freebase?  It’s the structured semantic data that powers Google’s knowledge graph and Ranker, along with many other organizations featured in this talk (Ranker is mentioned around the 8:45 mark).  This talk gives organizations that may not be familiar with Freebase an overview of how they can leverage the Freebase’s semantic data.

How does Ranker use the knowledge graph?  Freebase’s semantic data powers much of what we do at Ranker and the below graph illustrates how we relate to the semantic web.

How Ranker Relates to the Semantic Web

We leverage the data from the semantic web, often via Freebase, to create content in list format (e.g. The Best Beatles Songs), which our users then vote on and re-rank.  This creates an opinion data layer that is easily exportable to any other entity (e.g. The New York Times or Netflix) that is connected to the larger semantic web.  Our hope is that just as people in the presentation are beginning to create mashups of factual data, eventually people will also want to merge in opinion data, and we hope to have the best semantic opinion dataset out there when that happens.  The more people that connect their data to the semantic web, the more lists we can create, and the more potential consumers exist for our opinion data.  As such, we’d encourage you to check out Shawn’s presentation and hopefully you’ll find Freebase as useful as we do.

– Ravi Iyer

 

by   Ranker
Staff
in New Features

Embed Voteable Lists ANYWHERE With Ranker's New Widget

It’s fun and easy to make voteable lists on Ranker. You’ve been there, you’ve seen it. Everyone knows that. But until now, if you wanted your friends, your followers and your community to vote on a list, you’d have to send them a link (or post one on your blog) and hope for the best. Sure, sometimes that works out great. Check out how many people have voted for their favorite wrestling finishing moves or the best summer movie seasons!

But sometimes, you want to embed a voteable Ranker list on your own site, to poll your readers and start conversations. Well, now you can embed any Ranker list practically anywhere, whether it’s a list you’ve created or just something interesting you’ve found on the site. So whether you want to poll your readers about who should play Ana Steele in the “50 Shades of Grey” movie, Google’s smartest acquisitions ever or an original topic of you’re own, it’s now simple to do and will look great on your website or blog.

Here’s how it works:

Go to any Ranker Vote List and look for the “Embed” button near the top of the page.

Ah, yes, there she is…

Customize the coloring and size of your widget and we’ll give you an embed code which will then work on Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger and pretty much any other blog or website you can think of.

The Ranker widget in the wild!

Still have questions about embedding the widget? Check out our Widget FAQ or this helpful PDF overview of Ranker Widget features for more info. Bear in mind, the widget is still very new, and we’re still making tweaks, but you can install the widget at any time and it will update on your site automatically!

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