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Topic: Is there a way to calculate an average ranking from uneven lists?
Replies: 12   Last Post: Nov 2, 2013 12:55 PM

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David Bernier

Posts: 3,369
Registered: 12/13/04
Re: Is there a way to calculate an average ranking from uneven lists?
Posted: Oct 29, 2013 4:27 AM
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On 10/28/2013 05:36 PM, David Bernier wrote:
> On 10/27/2013 03:20 PM, Jennifer Murphy wrote:
>> There are many lists containing rankings of great books. Some are
>> limited to a particular genre (historical novels, biographies, science
>> fiction). Others are more general. Some are fairly short (50-100 books).
>> Others are much longer (1,001 books).
>>
>> Is there a way to "average" the data from as many of these lists as
>> possible to get some sort of composite ranking of all of the books that
>> appear in any of the lists?
>>
>> I took a crack at it with a spreadsheet, but ran into problems. I will
>> explain it briefly here.
>>
>> If the lists are all the same length and include exactly the the same
>> books, the solution is relatively simple (I think). I can just average
>> the ranks. I can even add a weighting factor to each list to adjust the
>> influence on the composite ranking up or down.
>>
>> I ran into problems when the lists are of different lengths and contain
>> different books. I could not think of a way to calculate a composite
>> ranking (or rating) when the lists do not all contain the same books.
>>
>> Another complicationb is that at least one of the lists is unranked (The
>> Time 100). Is there any way to make use of that list?
>>
>> I created a PDF document with some tables illustrating what I have
>> tried. Here's the link to the DropBox folder:
>>
>> https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yrckul6tsrbp23p/zNHXxSdeOH
>>

>
> I have a couple of ideas...
>
> (1) The different lists have different criteria for
> inclusion or exclusion. They may not be explicit,
> but let's assume they are made explicit.
> An exclusion criterion "not poetry" can in principle
> be turned into a combination of "ors" and "inclusion factors", as
>
> "not poetry" = "is novel" or "is non-fiction" or "is historical
> novel".
>
> these selectors matter because Tolstoy's "War and Peace"
> would not appear in a list "English literature" works ...
> yet, it's Russian literature, has been translated in English,
> and has received wide acclaim.
>
> The idea would be to find all lists which, according to
> their explicit selection criteria, may include say
> "War and Peace" if all books in said category were ranked.
> But different lists which may include "War and Peace" will
> probably sometimes have different criteria.
>
> (2) To consider calibrating between lists, say if
> 10 out of 20 lists all included the novel
> "Moby Dick", then to sort of use "Moby Dick" as
> a benchmark.
>
> (3) My own observation with movies and books is
> that some books and movies seem designed to
> maximize sales, or to "target" a specific segment
> of readers & tastes, e.g. Harlequin series, which
> while "good reading for entertaiment", can be
> more easily read than "Remembrance of Things Past",
> a multi-volume novel by French author Marcel Proust,
> < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Search_of_Lost_Time > .


[..]

Upon further thinking, with the Top 50 in 10 Lists, I'd prefer
to just "merge" the 20 Lists, with one book per line,
with each line having annotations such as:
"#2:Ti" for Time's #2 novel
"#10:BOMC" for Book of the Month Club's #10 novel,
"#42:EBrit." for Encyclopaedia Britannica's #42 novel,
etc.

It remains to give some rough ordering of the merged and
annotated lists, which contains all the data about the
rankings of the Top 50 novels from the 10 un-merged lists,
given the annotations to each book title on the merged&annotated
list ...

dave



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