by   Ranker
Staff
in Data Science, Pop Culture

On Touchdowns and Tastes: This Sunday’s Conflict Of Fan-Interests

 

helmet images courtesy of http://nfl-franchises.findthedata.org

 

The greatest moment of fear in my childhood came on the eve of my first ever family trip to Manhattan. It wasn’t the flight or the crowds or the crime rate that had seven-year-old me scared. I was terrified because I had been brought up to believe that any and all Yankees fans were villainous scum, lowest of the low, the nadir of human development. Visiting the city and actually interacting with people from New York had an effect on me akin to realizing that there wasn’t a Santa Claus: I was faced with the reality that not all Yankees fans are evil. It just wasn’t mathematically feasible. You can’t run a city of 8 million people without having some people who don’t suck. This, of course, is a key part of the unspoken acknowledgement all (nonviolent & sane) sports fans have; that sports fandom is a mostly regional thing, and that there’s no point in thinking those who back another team are truly inferior, or even all that different from you.

However, if you told that to anyone from Baltimore or San Francisco right now, they’d likely try to argue for the ideological superiority of their respective squad. With the Super Bowl literally on the horizon, this is not a time where people deal in shades of gray. But are there any real, quantifiable differences between the fans of the Ravens and the 49ers? Anything else on the line in this contest?

Weirdly enough, yes. The Ranker correlation data for supporters of the Ravens and the 49ers is strikingly dissimilar. You’d think that there would be some commonalities between the likes and dislikes of the two teams, even just those that stem from the demographic features of “football fans”. But no, the pop culture tastes of the two teams have a strikingly miniscule amount of overlap.  Let us examine some of the correlations based on user behavior at Ranker.com.

For one, There is also absolutely zero consensus where music is concerned. 49er’s fans listen to an eclectic mixture of genres: up-and-coming rappers like Kendrick Lamar sit right next to INXS and 90s brit-poppers Pulp. Yet where the Ravens are concerned, classic rock is still king: Hendrix, CCR, and Neil Young are an undisputed top three. The 49ers also have the Ravens utterly beat in terms of culinary taste. Monterrey Jack and Cosmos are a fairly clear favorite among fans, while Baltimore’s stick to staples: Coffee, Bell peppers, and Ham are the only food items that correlated enough to even be tracked.

 A Snapshot from Ranker’s Data Mining Tool

TV tastes also varied between the two teams: Ravens fans stuck to almost exclusively comedic faire (Pinky and The Brain, Rugrats, Mythbusters and Louie correlated strongly), while the 49er’s stuck to more structured, dramatic shows, such as The Walking Dead and Dexter.

Some of these differences can be explained away geographically (In-and-Out Burger, a prominent correlated item for the 49ers, isn’t going to appeal to anyone on the east coast since they just don’t have it), but when the data is stacked up, there is a very noticeable dissimilarity in interests between the two teams. One could, of course, use this data to try to advocate for the superiority of one team over the other (I won’t even get into the far more extensive video game tastes of the 49er’s). However, the far more intriguing question at hand lies in what we all really watch the Super Bowl for: the ads.

If, as the data suggests, there is such a difference between the interests of the average 49er’s fan and the average Ravens fan, how will the ads attempt to bridge this gap? Since I could give a damn about the score (neither team is the Pats, who cares), I’ll be keeping track instead of whose team’s interests are catered to by the adverts. On Sunday, one team will win on the field, and another during the commercials.

– Eamon Levesque

by   Ranker
Staff
in Data Science, interest graph, Opinion Graph

The Opinion Graph predicts more than the Interest Graph

At Ranker, we keep track of talk about the “interest graph” as we have our own parallel graph of relationships between objects in our system, that we call an “opinion graph”.  I was recently sent this video concerning the power of the interest graph to drive personalization.

The points made in the video are very good, about how the interest graph is more predictive than the social graph, as far as personalization goes.  I love my friends, but the kinds of things they read and the kinds of things I read are very different and while there is often overlap, there is also a lot of diversity.  For example, trying to personalize my movie recommendations based on my wife’s tastes would not be a satisfying experience.  Collaborative filtering using people who have common interests with me is a step in the right direction and the interest graph is certainly an important part of that.

However, you can predict more about a person with an opinion graph versus an interest graph. The difference is that while many companies can infer from web behavior what people are interested in, perhaps by looking at the kinds of articles and websites they consume, a graph of opinions actually knows what people think about the things they are reading about.  Anyone who works with data knows that the more specific a data point is, the more you can predict, as the amount of “error” in your measurement is reduced.  Reduced measurement error is far more important for prediction than sample size, which is a point that gets lost in the drive toward bigger and bigger data sets.  Nate Silver often makes this point in talks and in his book.

For example, if you know someone reads articles about Slumdog Millionare, then you can serve them content about Slumdog Millionare.  That would be a typical use case for interest graph data. Using collaborative filtering, you can find out what other Slumdog Millionare fans like and serve them appropriate content.  With opinion graph data, of the type we collect at Ranker, you might be able to differentiate between a person who thinks that Slumdog Millionare is simply a great movie versus someone who thinks the soundtrack was one of the best ever.  If you liked the movie, we would predict that you would also like Fight Club.  But if you liked the soundtrack, you might instead be interested in other music by A.R. Rahman.

Simply put, the opinion graph can predict more about people than the interest graph can.

– Ravi Iyer

by   Ranker
Staff
in New Features

Latest Features on Ranker

There are a lot of neat little things we’ve been working on around here in the lab. Things that make it easier and more fun to make the lists you want to make. Take a peek:

Send A Note

We were sitting around the other day in the conference room and someone said ‘hey, wouldn’t it be cool if users could talk to each other? Like email, sorta?”

So we decided that you guys should totally get in on this whole “electronic” form of communication. Now, If you read a list you like, or are intrigued by the genius behind “5 Ways To Make Homemade Spam”, you can go to their profile page and send the list-maker a note and let them know that there are actually 6 ways! And, because we believe in the goodness of the human spirit, we are sure you guys won’t use this new power for evil.

Send A Note

PS. You need to be logged in to see this new feature!

 

Adding Items

Remember that time you made your favorite movie list? But you couldn’t remember ALL your favorite movies, because you’re not a damned robot, right? And then you were looking at someone else’s favorite movie list – or maybe perusing the Best Movies of All Time list – and you saw Piranha II: The Spawning listed there. That is totally one of your favorite movies, but you forgot until just now! Well, we have a way for you to add it to your own list with a single click. If you click that blue ‘+’ button, you will get a dropdown with any relevant lists of yours that Piranha II might be good to add to. Select your favorite movie list from the dropdown and POW, that James Cameron classic is now on your own list, too!

Adding Items

PS. You need to be logged in to see this new feature!

 

SlideShow View

You already know that you have two choices for how your list displays on Ranker. you can write lots of lovely words for the internet to read with big pictures… or you can just create easily digestable stacked lists with small images. Now we give you a third option… Slideshow! Build your list like normal in Edit, put in nice pretty images that will look good big — this view supports any commentary you might want to add, too! Choose the ‘slideshow view’ option from your ‘list options’ popup, and when you publish your list will display one beautiful item at a time!

SlideShow View

 

Filtering Lists

We have so many lists on Ranker. So. Many. And sometimes it’s overwhelming, we know. God, we know. But we’ve been tagging lists (and so have you) for the last few years and we finally went ahead and made use of them. Now, when you go into any of the big category tabs on ranker (film, tv, people, etc) you will see a little array of blue buttons on the top of the right sidebar. You can use these little buttons to sort and filter the content of that category in a million different ways! Each new filter button will narrow down your results until you find the exact lists you are looking for. Go try it!

Filtering Lists

 

Stylish Copy

One of the things we’ve never really had so much around here is the ability to dress up the things you guys are writing on your blog view lists. Bolding, italics, stuff like that. Well, fret no more! We now support a simple text styling interface in Edit.

When you are building your lists, and you want to write stuff… just click on the text field for your item. There is a whole little string of new tools there that allows you to make your text a lot fancier! And easy! Always easy!

Stylish Copy

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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