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October 23, 2009

Google Reader's Personalized Ranking

Google Reader added a feature that tries to sort the posts from your subscriptions based on your interests. The option is called "sort by magic" and it's available in any Google Reader view, but it's not enabled by default. "Your personalized ranking is automatically generated. It takes into account your past reading behavior (including liking and starring), and global signals. This process is completely automated and anonymous," mentions an article from Google Reader's help center.

The ranking algorithm was designed to prioritize the posts from subscriptions you frequently read and the posts that are popular among your friends and other Google Reader users. "Try clicking the like button on things you think are important or enjoy reading, and we'll learn to put items like that first," suggests Google.


Another change is that the list of recommended feeds and the "popular items" feeds have been consolidated in the new "Explore" section. "We use algorithms to find top-rising images, videos and pages from anywhere (not just your subscriptions), collect them in the new Popular items section and order them by what we think you'll like best," explains Google.


Google Reader is now more clever, as it uses attention data to personalize your reading list based on your past behavior.

10 comments:

  1. How is this any different to the old 'Auto' sort?

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  2. Google Reader's auto sorting (no longer available): "This works by prioritizing subscriptions with fewer items. So, with this setting, your friend's blog with one item a month will not be drowned out by higher volume sites such as the New York Times because we'll raise the blog to the top."

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  3. For whatever reason, my "Popular Items" is not filled with content I might even conceivably like, but with loads of pictures of cats or silly signs.

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  4. "Popular Items" is a feed that's not related to your preferences. It's just a list of items that are suddenly popular (many people "like" them, share them etc).

    http://www.google.com/reader/atom/pop/topic/top/language/en

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  5. Google's message at the top of "Popular Items" says "These are items from the Internet that you might enjoy. Hit the smiley face at the bottom of items that you like -- we'll customize your list to help you discover even more stuff.". I assumed this meant (over time) it will become more personal.

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  6. It seems it´s only avaliable in english language

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  7. What may be interesting is how does Google Reader define personal "interestingness". Other than 'Like', do they also analyze based on link clickthroughs, attention span, 'mark as unreads', starring, topics clustering etc?

    I suspect they haven't been applying these metrics in depth though, as my feed recommendations always seem be stuff mostly uninteresting to what I've been diligently "liking" so far...

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  8. Looks interesting but if I'm in a hurry and only have a few min I want to look at unread items? Every time I've looked at the Personalized ranking stuff it's hitting items I've already read. Not very useful...

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  9. @KMFA:

    The default setting in Reader is to only show unread items, but you've probably changed it. Click on "Show xx unread items" at the top of the page.

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  10. Is there any way to say that you "like" in the Google Reader, hence voting for the article but to do so in a way that your identity is not revealed?

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