Remembering Maxwell Smart

Flick does a masterful job remembering actor Don Adams.

Back to Back Homeruns

On the Sex Pistols, of course. The back end courtesy of RIA dinosaur Ruby.

Welcome back Ruby!

Imagine This

Imagine you could go to your profile page and click on a link that said "Show Me Recommendations from my Trusted Network."

This would take you to a menu where you could choose from things like Books, Movies, Television, Web Sites, Bands, etc. Let's say you chose Televison.

The system would then spit out a list of highest rated Television Programs, according to those within 3 degrees of your Trusted Network, together with reviews of those programs from people that you trust. All other ratings and reviews data would be filtered out.

We're not that far from this.

And the Trusted Network functionality is what's going to allow this to happen.


edt4 on the Sex Pistols

edt4 makes a compelling case for why the Sex Pistols should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

I'm not sure about the Sex Pistols, but this is a Hall of Fame caliber post.

More on Trust...

So there's more to the story with this whole Trusted Network thing.

While I do think it is oddly comforting to see a visual display of our RIA cronies on our profile pages (Flick's profile pic is my favorite), and I think aesthetically, the profile pages look much nicer now - having visually pleasing profiles is not the end game here.

And while I think it is helpful for folks browsing the site to get a feel for whether other people trust the author of a particular review, the expected benefits of this feature go far beyond that.

Here's the vision:

I think that our hand-picked Trusted Networks (those that you trust) can evolve into the foundation of a personalized recommendation system for every one of us.

Imagine if you could filter out the ratings and reviews of every hit and run poster with an agenda on RIA, and only see the recommendations of those who are connected to you via your personal trusted network, or via the trusted network of those you trust.

If this site had this functionality, you would not just be getting the unsolicited opinions of the entire universe of RateItAll reviewers - you would be getting the aggregated recommendations of only those folks who are connected to you by links of trust. This network could be extended 2 degrees out, three degrees, four degrees out, etc. - to whatever degree that you felt comfortable with and that provided sufficient data.

That's what we're shooting for here. By identifying posters that you trust, you are linking yourselves not just with those individuals, but also with the networks of those individuals. In technical terms, for every additional node on your personal network, the power of that network grows exponentially.

So what does that mean? I think in terms of RateItAll, it means that the more we are able to organize ourselves into trusted networks, the more value our community can provide in generating relevant, helpful, personalized recommendations of things like movies, TV shows, products, restaurants, travel destinations, music - and even more subjective things like politicians, blogs, and Web sites.

As many of the most prolific RIA users trust each other, the networked value of this system is not apparent yet. But I think you can see signs of its power. I've noticed several relatively unknown users showing up as trusting some RateItAll heavyweights. Clicking through to the profile pages of those unknown users shows that in some cases, that trust is returned. What can we deduce from this? One very plausible conclusion is that these little known RIA users have a real life / offline connection to the RIA heavyweight. In my mind, this makes the value of their opinions that much more significant, and makes me trust their reviews a bit more.

This is network theory in action. And I think maybe the coolest aspect of it, is that each of us controls our own Trusted Network. Only we can decide who we trust, and because RateItAll is a free service open to anyone, we have the power to pick and choose from everyone we know - online or offline - to build a powerful, customized network that we can learn from.

Stay tuned, as this is a work in process.... as always, comments are welcome.


Getting Closer on Search...

OK folks, the search engine is getting better and better.

A search for College Football Stadiums now returns what it should.

A search for "Corpse Bride" now returns what it should (thanks Kamylienne).

I think the entire site has been successfully indexed now.

The last tweak we are working on is to put heavier weighting on the name of a particular item or category... For example, the search results for "Jessica Alba" should result in a page called "Jessica Alba" outranking the "Dark Angel" page. Currently, it's not.

We're working on this... hopefully we'll have things sorted out in the next day or to.

One question for you all.... do you think we should continue to partition search - in other words, break it up into RateItAll, Weblists, Local - or do you think we should offer the option to search site wide? Feedback welcome.

Trust Network

There is now a visual Trust Network live on each user profile page.

More on this to follow :)


Addition to Site Rules

We added a new entry to the RateItAll site rules today.

It is now off limits to name specific employees when reviewing a company or service, or to disclose personally identifying information (emails, phone numbers, addresses, etc.) in reviews.

This addition is consistent with RateItAll's themes of trying to stay away from personal attacks in reviews, and to focus on more helpful information such as quality of service.

Need Your Help

I'm looking for specific examples with the new search engine in which you are not able to find what you need.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

A search for "College Football Stadiums" doesn't yield any college football stadiums.

Please send examples like this in, either through the site feedback tools, or directly me to lawrence AT rateitall.com.

Make sure to tell me exactly what you were searching for, and why you weren't happy with the results.

Thanks for you help.



OK, we're making progress on the new RateItAll site search engine.

We now have the category of each search result showing up, which makes it much easier to find what you need.

For example, see these search results for George W. Bush.

As you can see, the first three results show that you can rate him in the context of 1) US Politicians and Officials ; 2) US Presidents; and 3) Republican Convention Speakers.

We have a couple of more tweaks planned that should make the new search engine even easier to use... stay tuned.


Couple Weblists of Note

Kamylienne has set up two Weblists worth checking out: 1) a directory of Pet Lost & Found Websites; and 2) a list of sushi restaurants in Gainesville.

New RateItAll User USACollegeTowns.com seems bent on building Weblists of bars and hotels in every college town across the USA.

James W. Bevis has set up a phenomenal Weblist of each of the 156 original Twilight Zone episodes, complete with descriptions.

And yes, the Joan Jett fan club seems to have discovered the Weblister - click here for Joan Jett Songs.

And if that's not obscure enough for you, try out RIA's new list of RSS Readers and Parsers.


Do you want to add a photo to your RateItAll profile page...

....but don't know how?

We can help.

Just send us an email with your photo enclosed to data @ rateitall.com (but with no spaces) from the email account that is associated with your RateItAll account, and we'll add it for you.

We can also help folks who are tired of having a stretched photo on their profile page - just follow the same instructions above, and we'll format the photo for you and update your profile page.

We have a couple of features in the works that will result in a little more visibility for profile pages - so you may want to consider putting your best foot forward :)


Site Enhancement Update

Thanks to everyone who has reported bugs over the last couple of days including Flick, traderboy, genghis the hun, and tboneya. This sort of feedback is VERY helpful.

Here is the current status of the recent site enhancements:

- Quotation Mark Bug - new reviews that contain quotation marks are now correctly displaying those quotation marks. However, past reviews that used to contain quotation marks are not. We are working to restore all of those lost quotation marks.

- RateIt! Pop-Up Window - we have now completed the transition back to the RateIt! pop-up window. This feature should be bug free, and you should be able to rate from any area of the site: recent comments, item page, ratings list page, search results page, featured comment, user comments page, etc. One thing we're keeping an eye on is reports that the RateIt! pop-up window is too big, and it's difficult to click on the "submit" button. I am looking for more feedback regarding this issue - so if you are experiencing this, please send in feedback either via the blog, or directly to me at lawrenceATrateitall.com.

- Search - The new search engine is live, and we are continuing to work through some tweaks. I am withholding judgment on the effectiveness of this search engine until we can get the entire site indexed - this should be sometime later this week. In the meantime, you can access the old RIA search engine if need be.

- Site Speed - We've now completed recodes of every ratings list page on the site, as well as the recent comments page. We've also successfully doubled our database processing power. The site is absolutely humming for me right now, and it's as fast as I've ever seen it. I hope you are experiencing the same, and would love to hear your feedback.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for more feature enhancements, and keep the great feedback and ideas coming.


You asked for it....

.... and I have made it so.

The legendary RateItAll RateIt! pop-up window is back.

I have to say, you guys were right. It is MUCH faster and easier to rate via a pop-up window than via a stand alone page.

Thanks for the feedback, and please keep it coming.

Site Tweaks Going on - Beware!

Save any long posts that you make for the next couple of hours, we are working on the site, so performance may be a little dicey.

One of the changes that we're working on is the return of the RateIt! pop-up window. Despite glowing reviews of the new RateIt! page, we've decided to go back to the pop-up window.


Couple of Comments on the New Search Engine

Here are a couple of quick things to keep in mind as we test this new search engine:

- The site is not fully indexed. There are some pages that can not be found with the new search engine. We are working on this, and should have it corrected shortly.

- New additions to the site will not be found via the search engine. There will be approximately a 24 hour lag before new additions to the site start showing up in the search engine.

- The new search engine will only return items. So if you do a search for "Horror Movies," it will not return a link to the main Horror Movies section - just individual restaurants within that section. We're working to correct this as well.

- The site continues to be divided into three partitions for the purposes of search: RateItAll, Weblists, and Local. You'll need to specify which part of the site you are searching via the drop down menu.

As we work through the kinks, the old search engine will stay available here:


New Search Engine Live

Finally we have a real search engine. Try it out, and please give me feedback.

We're going to be making some tweaks to it during the next couple of days to make it easier to use.... but again, feedback is much appreciated.


RateItAll is Back Up!

The new database is live, and the site seems to be flying.

RateItAll is Going Down....

.... Right Now.

We're putting the new database online. Just to review, this will double site processing power, and should have a noticeable impact on performance.

If things go well, we'll be back up within the hour.


RateItAll Will Be Down For Maintenance....

.... Tomorrow, September 13 from 11AM - 2PM EST.

We're going to try and install the new database again.

My first preference was to do the upgrade in the middle of the night. However, since we've had some difficulties with this upgrade, to be safe I decided to do it when the Tyan customer service desk is open.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

The Return of Real Time Comment Updates

I have enabled real time updates on both the recent comments page, and the user page.

So you'll now be able to immediately see comments that you post on your user page, and all comments that post on the recent comments page as they come in.

We'll see how it goes.... we have more server firepower coming in tomorrow (details to follow), so I'm optimistic that we can handle this now.


Well, we've recoded the main ratings list / weblist template for every RateItAll ratings list.

And so far, it seems to be screamingly fast to open a ratings list page. Here's an example.

Be on the look-out for bugs, as this was a significant code change.

We'll now be going through one by one the critical pages of the site and doing the same thing...

Code Upgrade Being Deployed....

Site may be unstable for the next few minutes.


College Football Players

With College Football season kicking into full gear, we've finally gotten around to updating our current College Football Players list.

If you don't see your favorite player, you can add him yourself.


Anyone ever been to Athens?

If so, check out our new list of Athens Tourist Attractions. Each item on the list has pictures and descriptions - here's a good opportunity to get that first review in on some high profile listings.

We're working on blowing out these sections for each of the major tourist cities in the world.

Here are some others to check out - if you don't see your favorite spot in any of these cities, make sure to add it by clicking on the light bulb icon:

Amsterdam Tourist Attractions

Barcelona Tourist Attractions

Buenos Aires Tourist Attractions

London Tourist Attractions

Madrid Tourist Attractions

Melbourne Tourist Attractions

Mexico City Tourist Attractions

Montevideo Tourist Attractions

Paris Tourist Attractions

Rio Tourist Attractions

Rome Tourist Attractions

Santiago, Chile Tourist Attractions

Sydney Tourist Attractions


New iTunes Phone Out

Anyone have the 100 song iTunes phone yet? Apparently it's also known as the Motorola Rokr.

I think I like "iTunes phone" better.

Gilligan Has Died

Click through to remember Gilligan, AKA Bob Denver.

People Who Creep Me Out...

The Weblist, "People who creep me out" has been removed.

As I've hinted for several months now, RIA is making a conscious effort towards moving away from these sorts of lists. Specifically, lists that are entirely personal in nature, have no theme, and are made up entirely of listings that can be found in other sections may not be long for the site.

I'm not planning any widescale purge of these sorts of lists, but you may start to see them dropping off one by one.



If you have ever considered making the trip to Germany for Oktoberfest, make sure to check out this must read post from earthbound.

More Katrina Fall-out

Two more Weblists touch on the subject of Katrina:

#1JohnDoeFan looks at some of the consequences of the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, and Magellan starts pointing fingers and assigning blame for Katrina's poor preparation and slow response.



Chief Justice William Rehnquist died last night. Comment HERE.

Speculation as to replacements on the bench is going on HERE.


Sprocket Data

Here's sort of a neat story about how the guy who runs Sprocket Data, RateItAll's hosting provider, has responded to Katrina.


DB Upgrade Unsuccessful

We'll try again tomorrow, once we speak to the good folks at Tyan.

RateItAll Will Be Down For Maintenance....

... tonight, starting at 1AM EST until roughly 4AM.

As mentioned in earlier posts, we decided to shell out the $$ and invest in a high powered database server. The new database will be powered by four, high-end, super fast processors (compared to two, high-end, super fast processors currently). And yes, that means we are doubling our processing power.

RateItAll's traffic grew by about 25% in August over July, and we're scrambling to keep up. I'm very hopeful that this upgrade will result in a noticeable difference in site speed...

The RateItAll Community Reacts....

....to Katrina.