How many feeds do you monitor?

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Postby KevinP » Thu Mar 20, 2008 6:20 pm

Thanks for your great feed reader. Sorry if this has been presented before - I looked but did not find.

My problem is that I have a lot of feeds. Over time I find that some feeds frequently offer items I'm interested in, while others rarely do. I make a mental note of this and occasionally remove feeds that are not productive for me.

It would be helpful if I had a way to simply rate or grade channel items. Over time the channel would build up a rating I could use to evaluate whether I need to prune it out.

The rating could be as simple as 0=Uninterested, 1=OK, 2=Great.

I'm thinking I could right-click an item and select "Rate 0", "Rate 1", etc. Also, I would most frequently be selecting "Rate all unread as 0". Or maybe there are combo boxes next to each item I can select for the rating.

In my Control Center I could see the current Channel rating next to the name, for example "Awasu (1.8)". :-)

Maybe there's an option to reset a channel's rating and maybe a sort by rating option. I guess you could go a lot of different directions with this.

Long term, maybe Awasu can collect ratings (opt-in from users) and offer them to other users.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

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Postby support » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:28 am

This is an interesting idea. I have the same problem (with over 350 feeds and I know there are people out there which much more) but as you said, there are lots of things you could do with this.

One thing I've been thinking about is letting people rate items and then use that information to identify similar items e.g. by highlighting them as they arrive (i.e. the program learns that you tend to like stuff about Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Or not...)

I'll make this thread sticky and we can use it to bounce around some ideas :-)

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Postby kevotheclone » Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:46 am

I've been thinking about commenting on this for a while, but I always seem to be too busy to post a reply.

Bottom line, I think a manual rating system could be useful, even though I personally do not have an immediate need for it.

Channel ratings by rating Channels
You could provide the ability to rate a whole channel, maybe on a 1-10 or 1-100 scale. Then you could incorporate the channel rating as part of Channel Filter criteria. So you could quickly filter channels to just your top-rated channels; or your bottom-rated channels for one last review before you give them the axe!

Since Awasu has Favorites we can quickly get to your top-rated channels just by adding a channel to your favorites, it's those bottom-rated channels that may be hard to determine, which is really what KevinP wants. Having two levels of ratings: 1) in my Favorites, 2) not in my Favorites isn't really enough levels to be useful in this context.

I do know of one feed reader that provides this type of capability, but it hasn't been updated since 2007, it looks like a dead product, and it doesn't have all of those great Awasu features that we can't live without.

Channel ratings by rating Items
Then there's rating channel items as KevinP suggests; where the parent channel will get a composite rating from its rated items. This sounds really interesting too and more versatile. It would be more work for Taka, but he's usually up for a challenge (based upon what he's already accomplished).

This feature seems like it could also be used to satisfy zakky's request for a way to delete channel items in a search channel:

If you can filter out certain items based upon the item's rating that may be just as good as a delete feature, plus the possibility of using it for other purposes as KevinP has requested.

KevinP would probably want the default item value to be zero (or the lowest possible value) and then any items rated above zero help to build the parent Channel's rating. Zakky would probably want the default value to be any value greater than the lowest possible value, so that they can filter out items below a certain threshold.

If the user is unable to specify the default rating for unread items then I think the best default value would be one in the middle of the scale that way you'd get the most versatility out of the feature. Let's say that you have a rating system of 1-5, and the default value for unread items is 3. KevinP can rate items he finds interesting as 4 or 5. Zakky can rate items that should be deleted (i.e. filtered out) as 2.

Does this make sense?

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Postby support » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:32 am

Thanks for the feedback. You give a detailed description of how such a rating system might work but you haven't covered what I think is the key question: what would such a feature be used *for*?

Any time I add a feature to Awasu, it's because it allows users to *do* something. People don't use Awasu for the sake of using Awasu, they have some other job to do and simply use Awasu to help them do it. So my question is what value would such a feature offer Awasu users? A few people have asked for this kind of thing but I remain unconvinced that it would add much value (although I'm happy to hear arguments and be persuaded :-)).

The most obvious application would be for Awasu to learn what kind of things you like and then find more stories that are similar but I have two problems with this. Firstly, Nick Bradbury recently posted an article saying that software that tries to learn how you work and adapt to that often doesn't do very good job of it and ends up getting in the way more than it helps; I tend to agree with this :-) Secondly, I already have far too much stuff coming in already, the last thing I need is more of it :roll: My personal experience has been that the best way to find more *quality* (and that's the key issue) content is to look at your favorite bloggers and find out who they like and link to.

Another possibility would be for Awasu to identify what your favorite channels are and somehow bubble them up in the order so that you get to see them first (e.g. give them priority position in the My Channels window or some kind of visual emphasis) but with judicious use of channel filters, arranging your channels in folders, use of the Favorites menu, etc., you can get the same effect and is guaranteed to be right, rather than hoping that Awasu can guess correctly how you like things.

kevotheclone wrote:You could provide the ability to rate a whole channel, maybe on a 1-10 or 1-100 scale.

One of the key design philosophies behind Awasu is to minimize how much stuff you have to do manually. I'd be really reluctant to impose a manual rating scheme since there are other ways you can get the information you need e.g. how frequently is a channel opened and for how long? which channels do you tend to open first after starting up Awasu? how long have you been subscribed to a channel? etc.

Code to track this kind of information was added years ago and IIRC, some of it it's still there but I got kinda stuck on how to best use it. I was hoping to incorporate this kind of thing into the Clean Up Channels feature so that you could locate, as you said, "your bottom-rated channels for one last review before you give them the axe".

kevotheclone wrote:the parent channel will get a composite rating from its rated items.

If Awasu allowed individual items to be rated, that would certainly influence the rating of the parent channel. But rating is a manual process so if you've got hundreds (or thousands :eek:) of items coming in every day, how is it going to be remotely manageable? This is a major consideration; Awasu is designed to let you skim through large amounts of information quickly so my guess would be that a large percentage of the articles will be ignored and only a few rated, thus giving skewed results.

And again, what would you use this rating information for? In 2.3.2, I added support for Outbrain which allows feed items to be rated in the hope that over time, they would add features that allowed Awasu to use that rating information (e.g. a "find stories like this one" feature or "find more stories that I might like") but I eventually took it out because no such thing appeared to be forthcoming. It's great for them, they get to collect all this information about what you're reading, but Awasu users don't get anything in return for going to the trouble of making the ratings. NewsGator made a big fuss a few years ago about their "attention" features which seems to me like the same thing; potential buyers of the company and/or advertisers will surely love all that yummy data but what do we, as users, get back?

In short, I'm always willing to accept feature requests but I'm skeptical that this one will be of much use to Awasu users. Trying to use it to get Awasu to adapt to how you work is always going to be problematic, if for no other reason than everyone works in a different way, and I'm kinda stumped to think of anything else it could be used for. On the other hand, I'm baffled as to why Twitter has become so popular. Why on earth do people feel the need to broadcast every minute detail of their day, every passing thought and even worse, why do people subscribe to them?! A rating feature in Awasu could be used to allow you to broadcast what you're currently reading but I find that somewhat narcissistic (and vaguely creepy). Maybe I'm just getting old... :roll:

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Postby kevotheclone » Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:37 am

As I mentioned I don't really have a need for this manual rating system, although I think I can see some benefit. So I'm really not asking for this feature, but since you (Taka) thought that this was "…an interesting idea" and made the thread sticky, it sounded like it was something you were considering. Then when zakky requested the ability to delete items and it sounded like you weren't considering implementing his request, my brain connected to the two requests as two use cases of a manual item-based rating system (combined with the ability to filter items above or below a certain threshold and the ability to identify channels above or below a certain threshold).

Since it seemed like you were somewhat interested in this I thought I expand upon the original request and demonstrate how you might be able to satisfy zakky's request at the same time.

The fact that no one else has replied to KevinP's post for 10 months indicates that his request must be "niche need". If 500 paying Awasu customers had replied and said they wanted a manual rating system, and 500 free Awasu users said they would upgrade if there were a manual rating system, I pretty sure you would be convinced that they're a need for this feature.

"…you haven't covered… …what would such a feature be used *for*?"

Actually, I think that I (and the original posters) did outline two uses:
1) KevinP's desire to find channels that he has read, but didn't find high quality content. He may want to delete these channels.
2) Zakky's desire to "delete" items from search results. This would have to be a new category of Channel Filter criteria.

Outside of these two use cases I'm not sure what it could be used for.

"People don't use Awasu for the sake of using Awasu."

Neither the original posters (OP) nor I meant to imply this. Both OPs mentioned a need, and I was just trying to connect their requests. However people do use Awasu, and in KevinP's case it sounds like he expressed an Awasu Channel management need.

"…my guess would be that a large percentage of the articles will be ignored and only a few rated, thus giving skewed results"

I 100% agree with you that most items will not be rated and thus will have the default rating only, whether that skews the result or not, I'm not as sure. With a 1-5 rating scale and a default value of 3 (neither good nor bad), if KevinP rates one item as a 2 in a channel of 10 items, using a simple Average function the channel's rating will be 2.9; in a channel of 100 items with a single item rated 2 the channel's rating will be 2.99. If he can run a "Channel Management" report to find all channels whose average item rating is below 3 he'll see both channels (hopefully with their score displayed) on the report even thought he's only rated 2 items. He'll see more dramatic results with the more items he rates and if he rates them with a 1 instead of a 2.

"…how is it going to be remotely manageable?"

As demonstrated above a user wouldn't have to rate everything as long as there's a sensible default value for all unread items and the numeric precision of Awasu is finite enough to discern 2.99999 from 3.

"…minimize how much stuff you have to do manually"

Both of the OPs requested a manual feature, and you just added a manual "Send to" feature in version 2.4, so I don't think their requests are totally out of line. By the way a big thank you for all the new Send to options particularly the ability to define my own. :D

To a certain degree, manually sending an item to a Workpad is a positive vote of confidence (a type of manual rating) for an item, but there isn't a way to track it over time and see: "Which Channels did I find the most Workpad-worthy items?" and "Which Channels have I never found a Workpad-worthy item?"

In fact KevinP's request (and maybe zakky's request) could almost be satisfied with Send to tools, but that's another post for another day (stay tuned):wink:.

NewsGator's Attention Report
They way I manually use Awasu is as you mentioned ("…skim through large amounts of information quickly…") and I "Mark all items as read", doesn't translate well to NewsGator's "Attention Report". If I open a channel and skim it quickly, I've given it my "attention" and NewsGator's algorithm will increment the channel's attention counter, even though I spent less than 10 seconds in the channel. That doesn’t work for me; it provides many "false positives".

Recommender systems
Yes I'm not overly trilled by most of the "if you liked 'that', this then you'll love 'this'" recommender systems. Although I have found them useful in some cases, so I think the important thing is that they do "get out of your way" when you don't want to use them, but are on demand when you do.

I don't get it either. Taka, I'll read you blog, but if you start "tweeting" don't expect me to subscribe.

I won't beat this dead horse anymore; it wasn't even my horse to begin with. I'll make my own feature requests at some point in the future, probably more generic API kind of things. Thanks again for the work you've put into Awasu to enable us to "hook into the flow of information" and perform our more-specific tasks easily.

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