by    in About Ranker, Opinion Graph, Pop Culture, Rankings

Ranker’s Rankings API Now in Beta

Increasingly, people are looking for specific answers to questions as opposed to webpages that happen to match the text they type into a search engine.  For example, if you search for the capital of France or the birthdate of Leonardo Da Vinci, you get a specific answer.  However, the questions that people ask are increasingly about opinions, not facts, as people are understandably more interested in what the best movie of 2013 was, as opposed to who the producer for Star Trek: Into Darkness was.

Enter Ranker’s Rankings API, which is currently now in beta, as we’d love the input of potential users’ of our API to help improve it.  Our API returns aggregated opinions about specific movies, people, tv shows, places, etc.  As an input, we can take a Wikipedia, Freebase, or Ranker ID.  For example, below is a request for information about Tom Cruise, using his Ranker ID from his Ranker page (contact us if you want to use other IDs to access).
http://api.ranker.com/rankings/?ids=2257588&type=RANKER

In the response to this request, you’ll get a set of Rankings for the requested object, including a set of list names (e.g. “listName”:”The Greatest 80s Teen Stars”), list urls (e.g. “listUrl”:”http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/45-greatest-80_s-teen-stars” – note that the domain, www.ranker.com, is implied), item names (e.g. “itemName”:”Tom Cruise”) position of the item on this list (e.g. “position”:21), number of items on the list (e.g. “numItemsOnList”:70), the number of people who have voted on this list (e.g. “numVoters”:1149), the number of positive votes for this item (e.g. “numUpVotes”:245) vs. the number of negative votes (e.g. “numDownVotes”:169), and the Ranker list id (e.g. “listId”:584305).  Note that results are cached so they may not match the current page exactly.

Here is a snipped of the response for Tom Cruise.

[ { “itemName” : “Tom Cruise”,
“listId” : 346881,
“listName” : “The Greatest Film Actors & Actresses of All Time”,
“listUrl” : “http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/the-greatest-film-actors-and-actresses-of-all-time”,
“numDownVotes” : 306,
“numItemsOnList” : 524,
“numUpVotes” : 285,
“numVoters” : 5305,
“position” : 85
},
{ “itemName” : “Tom Cruise”,
“listId” : 542455,
“listName” : “The Hottest Male Celebrities”,
“listUrl” : “http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/hottest-male-celebrities”,
“numDownVotes” : 175,
“numItemsOnList” : 171,
“numUpVotes” : 86,
“numVoters” : 1937,
“position” : 63
},
{ “itemName” : “Tom Cruise”,
“listId” : 679173,
“listName” : “The Best Actors in Film History”,
“listUrl” : “http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/best-actors”,
“numDownVotes” : 151,
“numItemsOnList” : 272,
“numUpVotes” : 124,
“numVoters” : 1507,
“position” : 102
}

…CLIPPED….
]

What can you do with this API?  Consider this page about Tom Cruise from Google’s Knowledge Graph.  It tells you his children, his spouse(s), and his movies.  But our API will tell you that he is one of the hottest male celebrities, an annoying A-List actor, an action star, a short actor, and an 80s teen star.  His name comes up in discussions of great actors, but he tends to get more downvotes than upvotes on such lists, and even shows up on lists of “overrated” actors.

We can provide this information, not just about actors, but also about politicians, books, places, movies, tv shows, bands, athletes, colleges, brands, food, beer, and more.  We will tend to have more information about entertainment related categories, for now, but as the domains of our lists grow, so too will the breadth of opinion related information available from our API.

Our API is free and no registration is required, though we would request that you provide links and attributions to the Ranker lists that provide this data.  We likely will add some free registration at some point.  There are currently no formal rate limits, though there are obviously practical limits so please contact us if you plan to use the API heavily as we may need to make changes to accommodate such usage.  Please do let me know (ravi a t ranker) your experiences with our API and any suggestions for improvements as we are definitely looking to improve upon our beta offering.

– Ravi Iyer

by    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    in Data Science

Siri (and other mobile interfaces) will eventually need semantic opinion data

Search engines, which process text and give you a menu of potential matches, make sense when you use an interface with a keyboard, a mouse, and a relatively large screen. Consider the below search for information about Columbia.  Whether I mean Columbia University, Columbia Sportswear, or Columbia Records, I can relatively easily navigate to the official website of the place that I need.

Mobile devices require specificity as the cost of an incorrect result is magnified by the limits of the user interface.  When using something like Siri, it is important to be able to give a precise answer to a question, rather than a menu of potential answers, as it is far harder to choose using these interfaces.  As technology gets better, we will start to expect intelligent devices to be able to make the same inferences that we are able to make about what we mean when given limited information.  For example, if I say “how do I get to Columbia?” to my phone while in New York, it should direct me to Columbia University, whereas in Chicago, it should direct me to Columbia College of Chicago.  Leveraging contextual information is part of what makes Siri special, as it allows you to, for example, use pronouns.  Some have said that Siri has resurrected the semantic web, as, in order to make the above choice of “Columbia” intelligently, it needs to know that Columbia University is located in New York while Columbia College is located in Chicago.

I have made the case before that people are increasingly seeking opinion data, not just factual data, online.  It bears repeating that, as depicted in the below graph, searches for opinion words like “best” are increasing, relative to factual words like “car”, “computer”, and “software” which once were as prevalent as “best”, but now lag behind.

The implication of these two trends is clear.  As more knowledge discovery is done via mobile devices that need semantic data to deliver precise contextual answers, and more knowledge discovery is about opinions, then mobile interfaces such as Siri, or Google’s answer to Siri, will increasingly require semantic opinion data sets to power them.  Using such a dataset, you could ask your mobile device to “find a foreign movie” while travelling and it could cross-reference your preferences with those of others to find the best foreign movie that happens to be playing in your geographic area and conforms to your taste.  You could ask your mobile device to play some Jazz music, and it could consider what music you might like or not like, in addition to the genre classifications of available albums.  These are the kinds of intelligent operations that human beings do everyday, leveraging our knowledge both of the world’s facts and the world’s opinions and in order to do these tasks well, any intelligent agent attempting these tasks will require the same set of structured knowledge, in the form of a semantic opinions.  Not coincidentally, Ranker’s unique competency is the development of a comprehensive semantic opinion dataset.

– Ravi Iyer

by    in Popular Lists

The List of the Week: September 11, 2011 Edition

Time for another look back at the lists that mattered this week on Ranker.com. Might be a big of a somber post, in light of the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Just seems wrong to delve into the usual list of the week round-up style hilarity. (I know, I know, hilarity isn’t even a strong enough word… but I’m trying to be serious here.)

Ranker community members noted the tragic events of 10 years past this week with several compelling lists, from this collection of films looking at the events of 9/11 to a trip through the history of US conspiracy theories, including the arguments that, and I quote, “9/11 was an inside job.”

Also, don’t miss this list of the ways 9/11 changed how we talk, a look at phrases and concepts introduced to daily American life by the events of 9/11. (Including that old favorite, “if _______, then the terrorists will truly have won.”

There were some other happenings this week worthy of Ranker lists.

For one, “Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star” at long last hit movie screens, and the acclaim was universally absent. In fact, with a current rating on Rotten Tomatoes of 0%, it’s safe to say that the film is the worst-reviewed of 2011. (Really saying something…) Exactly HOW unfortunate and joke-free is “Bucky Larson”? Here’s a sampling from Ranker’s list of The Worst Bucky Larson Reviews:

“You may or may not laugh, but at least you’ll be closer to death and no better for it.” — Rob Humanick, Slant Magazine

Ouch.

In other entertainment news, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” signs off from its 8th season tonight, prompting Ranker users to look back on the best-ever premium cable shows. Curb is currently coming in at #3. Who’s doing better? Check out the list and see, why don’t you?


What? Stop looking at me like that!

Earlier this week, in a surprise move, Google purchased dining guide publishers Zagat for an undisclosed sum. (Our sources say $300 billion, which is why we stopped listening to them a while back.)

This makes over 100 other companies that have been gobbled up by the search giant in the past few years. But what were Google’s best-ever acquisitions? Leading right now? DODGEBALL! No, just kidding. It’s YouTube. And come on… it can’t be that hard to see why…


Awwww, how cute. I’ll give you $300 billion!

Finally this week saw the return of NFL football, when it seemed so close to being called off completely. And what better way to celebrate America’s game to Sunday afternoons than voting on and nominating your picks for the Greatest Running Back of All Time. Come on, give it a try. It’s one of the few times in life you’ll be able to give OJ Simpson a thumbs up and still feel good about yourself.

And with that, we’re signing off from another look back at the Ranker lists of the week. Be safe out there.

by    in Popular Lists

Lists of the Day of the Week. No, That's No Good…

What an eventful, crazy week of things happening that was, right? I mean, things happen every week, but this week…things REALLY happened. And Ranker users were right there, the whole time, making lists about it. Except for when they had to race to the fridge for a Diet Mountain Dew refill. Cause it was hot out there. (That’s not product placement, either. We at Ranker are just big fans of Diet Mountain Dew. Don’t judge.)

Here’s just some of the things that got listed this week…

RIP Betty Ford

One of America’s most outspoken and admired First Ladies, Betty Ford, passed away this week at the age of 93. Though historically significant for the bold feminist stances she made during her husband Gerald Ford’s relatively brief tenure as president, Ford is perhaps best remembered as the founder of the rehabilitation clinic, The Betty Ford Center.

The Center was forever memorialized in “The Simpsons” episode where Marge and Lisa take in a stage production called “Kickin’ It: A Musical Journey to the Betty Ford Center.” Observe:

The Simpsons…is there a single American organization they haven’t joked about at this point?

Anyway, for these achievements and more, it wasn’t a tough decision to add the late Ms. Ford to Ranker’s list of political wives who’ve overshadowed their husbands. I mean, President Ford was only president for 3 years! That hardly even counts! (Just kidding, Ford fans.)

Google Plus

By now, most of the Internet’s enthusiastic early adopters have flooded in to search giant Google’s new social network, Google+. What are the advantages of Google +, the new platform, over Facebook, the system everyone’s already been using for years, you may ask? Well…um…there’s circles for your friends! And…it’s not Facebook!

Not pleased…

If you’re one of the millions who’s giving The Plus a try for the first time this weekend, may we humbly recommend Ranker’s ultimate guide to Google Plus tips and tricks for navigating the site? It covers most of the big questions n00bz will have upon logging in for the first time (“what’re these roundy things with the faces in ‘em?”), and also has some more high-level suggestions like hotkeys for navigating a bit faster, and options for importing your Facebook buddies.

Carmageddon Approaches!

For those of you who don’t live in Southern California, allow me to explain. Traffic is already very, very, very bad here. And next weekend, the city is planning to blow up the side of a mountain (!) and will have to shut down the 405 freeway for 2 full days. This will have roughly the same amount of impact on Los Angeles traffic as a series of nuclear bombs going off at random intervals city-wide. Just with more potential fatalities. (Also, no one steal that screenplay idea!)

What do you do, hotshot? What do you do?

To help brace us all for the impact, Ranker’s Ariel Kana looked back in horror at the worst traffic jams of all time. I’ll admit, it made me feel a bit better. (In an odd coincidence, Ms. Kana was NOT the only Ariel to make a big splash on Ranker this week…)

Take It Bachmann!

Minnesota Representative and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is no stranger to controversy. She once proposed that someone investigate Congress to root out individuals with anti-American views, and she kind of implied that Obama might be responsible for the swine flu. As one does.

This week was no different, with Bachmann (and presidential hopeful Rick Santorum) making headlines for signing a document called “The Marriage Vow – A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family.” A passage near the beginning of the two-page paper caused some degree of uproar. It read:

“Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

Both Bachmann and Santorum responded by explaining that they were signing the “candidate vow” portion of the paper only, which pledges to, among other things, ban all forms of pornography. The group behind the document also removed the controversial passage later in the week.

New Movies!

We’re still in the height of summer, so a bevy of new releases continue to hit cineplexes every weekend. This week saw the opening of not one but two new comedies – the dark workplace satire “Horrible Bosses” and the slapstick Kevin Jame vehicle “Zookeeper.”

This doesn’t seem TOO horrible…unless she’s really biting down hard, in which case I’m fairly certain you can press charges.

We linked it a few days ago, but if you missed it…here’s Ranker’s guide to the most hilarious takedowns of “Zookeeper,” surely one of the year’s worst-reviewed films.