by    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    in About Ranker, New Features

Why Ranker?

A post from Ranker CEO Clark Benson:

 I like to rank things.  I have been making lists all my life.  So do a lot of people (according to Zogby International, 80% of people make lists).

When I was in middle school I probably read The Book Of Lists and The Book Of Lists 2 5-10 times each.  But I never read them cover-to-cover.   The beauty of a list is how self-contained it is.  Lists don’t require your undivided attention for hours on end – you can digest a list in minutes and still get a lot of depth.

There’s a quote from High Fidelity “what really matters is what you like, not what you are like.” 

I empathise a lot with that.  I’ve been keeping some form of a “journal”, most of my life – but only on rare occasions have I found myself writing multiple paragraphs about my day or my feelings.  Of course, a lot of it is that I’m a dude, and dudes just don’t spend a lot of time blathering about their emotional state.

No, what I write are singular thoughts and observations, a funny gag from a college buddy, a random business idea.

Or a list. I am VERY into music.  It is safe to say that I am an utter music fanatic. For me, music is time – hearing a song – even in my head – can immediately take me back to that time frame where that song was omnipresent in my world.  I don’t look back much, so I cherish the ability of music to almost force me to look back.  For almost as long as I could write, I would jot down lists of songs (and later, albums).

When I was about 9 I would sit by the radio on a Sunday morning and write down Casey Kasem’s Top 40, eagerly trying to guess the top 3 via a Sherlock Holmes-esque deductive technique (I know that sounds like a total waste of time but I am old enough that when I was 9 we didn’t quite have video games (OK, Pong had dropped), let alone the internet).  When I was packing my stuff to move to California after college I found a “Vote for Your 10 Alltime Favorite Songs” flier from Chicago radio powerhouse WLS-AM filled out in my 5th grade handwriting.  Sadly I threw this out and only remember half – “Jet” and “Band On The Run” by Wings, “Come Sail Away” by Styx, something by Queen, and – yes – “King Tut” by Steve Martin and “Rubber Biscuit” by the Blues Brothers (If you are a U.S. male of about my age you might understand).

OK that was a bit of a tangent – hope you are still with me – but my point is that personally, a list of the songs I loved at a moment in time is as close as anything I have to a personal history.  And I don’t think I’m the only one like this – I think a lot of us find that a record of the places they visited, the movies they saw in the theatre, the concerts or ballgames they attended, the people they had a crush on – is a very relevant keepsake of the past.  I’d like to think that a tool like Ranker could be used to easily document and save some of the events/places/things in one’s life, whether that list is published or just kept privately (about half the lists on Ranker to date are private lists).

Every year I make a year-end list of my favorite albums and email it out to a bunch of people.  I do it more for myself than for others, though I spend a bit more time on “the List” because others will see it.  Typing out every artist and album name is a pain in the arse, as is remembering all the album titles. “There’s got to be a better way” thought I.  I looked on the web and there are a number of sites for people to make lists – some of them general interest, some of them for specific categories of things.  But none of them really solved the problem of making listmaking easy enough to add real value to the user.  I wanted to blog, but I wanted to blog in list form, and I wanted the items to be drawn from the same database.  I like statistics, and I like using data to make decisions.  By using a central database for everyone to use to add items to their lists, we could generate endless statistical correlations and aggregations as more and more users joined in and ranked whatever their passions were.

So I decided to build Ranker. I spent a few years honing the idea mostly in my head while I was engaged in selling my prior web startup eCRUSH/eSPIN, and after taking some time off I dove right in, investing a pile of the proceeds from that sale (when we launched our closed beta a friend said, “Congratulations, you just spent a million dollars so you could put your 500 Best Bands of All Time on the internet”).  She was just ribbing me, but the goal in my head has always been to build a tool. It would have been a lot easier to just build a site for ranking bands and albums.  I thought “If I feel this way about music, someone else feels this way about cameras, or birdwatching, or The Simpsons”.

So we spent the time to build a platform that supports all kinds of different interests and passions. I wanted to combine the drop-and-drag “rank-ordering” interface of Netflix with the playlist-organizational capabilities of iTunes.  And of course build a social aspect, and a publishing platform, around this. And I’m a data nerd, I like to filter, and sort. The dataset we use from Freebase, combined with a lot of editorial effort, gives users the ability to sort, and (soon) filter any list by all sorts of properties.

We make it easy to build a list with a lot behind it – we give you default images and metadata, and a drop-and-drag/autosuggest interface to find and add items (as an added bonus, we even throw in the numbering).  Since we provide the entire format, this frees the user up for the fun stuff- putting things in order, deciding what’s best, what’s worst, what’s funniest.  Writing blurbs.  Rating items. Making lists and sharing them.

Since we launched I have been blown away with the quality and creativity of the lists our user have been making. It’s proven to be far more than just everyones favorites albums, books, and films. Given the early stage this site is at, I can’t wait to see the future. A few fave early user lists that I should have given a shout-out to months ago:

But at the moment of publishing this post, Ranker – cool as it is – is still a lot more one-dimensional than it will be very shortly. We’ve built a system where everything is connected, and that’s not entirely clear… yet. Stay tuned – there is a lot more coming down the line in the very near future at Ranker.