Rating by popularity

Last week we introduced a new method to order the products in our galleries. We calculate each day the popularity of a product. In this blog post I will explain how the popularity algorithm works and the reasoning behind this decision. Up until this week our default sorting order in our galleries was based on rating. This led to quite static galleries since  the number of users which rate a product is quite low (relative to our visitor counts). There was also the “4-star graveyard” The perception that, a lot of products have a 4 star rating and it is almost impossible to get to 5 stars anymore. Models with 1 vote and 5 stars were ranked higher than a product with 28 votes and 4 stars. How do you compare? For these reasons we implemented a popularity algorithm and changed the default sorting of all our galleries to be based on popularity. The popularity is calculated based on both attributes of a products and the activity around a product. We use the following activity indicators and attributes:

1. Number of times a product is bought (not taking into account the quantity of the order)

2. Sum of all ratings

3. Number of times a product is viewed

4. Number of comments left on a product

5. Bonus for co creator products

6. Bonus for products for sale

7. Shapeways editor’s pick (only to be used in specific cases – no worries)

We calculate the popularity of a product within three timescales; all-time, month and week. The month and week timescales only look at the activity within that timeframe. I cannot disclose how we exactly calculate the popularity to avoid any abuse of the system. We did some extensive testing with the algorithm the last couple of months and we feel that is a major improvement in the way the products are sorted in our galleries.

The major drawback is that is now more or less a black box system for you as a user. It is like Google PageRank. A valid question is how do I get on top of the gallery? My hope is that blog post will help you understand and give you pointers on how to achieve that. Make sure there is lots of activity around your products. Blog about them (for views), encourage others to rate and comment on your models and above all sell your goods.

And to give you a hint. We favor number of times a product is bought or viewed higher than the sum of all ratings. Is it perfect? No not yet! But we will be working actively to improve the algorithm to provide better and more useful galleries.You can the new system in action here.