Musical Soulmates (the new Neighbours)

 
  • Musical Soulmates (the new Neighbours)

    Here are my thoughts on this new playground project...

    First off I must say I'm really pleased that the Neighbours calculations are being looked at because they used to be one of my favourite features of Last.fm. But like many, as I have increased my scrobbles and my music tastes have evolved (thanks Last.fm!) they have become rather outdated, much less dynamic and therefore less useful. In short the existing (main site) Neighbours clearly in my opinion concentrate too much on 'overall' charts and not enough on recent music tastes.

    So what about the new (playground) Neighbours. Well my fist reaction was of complete surprise, my top neighbour was one of my mates (Jmz81). Now I know our music tastes are a little similar, but over the last 6 months or so, our tastes have become very different. Not only that but he hardly scrobbles/uses Last.fm these days. All in all I can't believe given all the Last.fm users that he is my closest musical/Last.fm soul mate.

    As a little experiment I though I'd compare our Top 30, 6 monthly charts (a fair representation of musical tastes, not too 'knee jerky', or too long term either). There are only 4 artists that feature in both our top 30's, which are Radiohead, Coldplay, Portishead and R.E.M. Artists that would hardly be classed as unusual, all the other 52 artists are different.

    I know being someone's friend was a factor in the old calculations, and it most definitely looks like it is in the new ones too. But in my opinion I don't think it should be a factor (or at least a very minute one). After all neighbours is about discovering other users, not finding people you already know.

    As for the rest of the Neighbours I haven't had time to have a more in depth look at them, but they almost seem to be sectioned. Like here are some people who like what you used to listen to, here are some who like what you've been listening to over the last week or two. There are a lot of users in my top 10 neighbours, who only have one or two artists in their top 15 charts that I listen to. It all seems a little strange.

    The way I perceive neighbours to work would be to compare the artists you listen to with others, but with a waiting for more recent listens. So scrobbles in the past few weeks would be worth twice as much as scrobbles in the last few months which would in turn be worth twice as much as the scrobble from 6 months ago etc etc.

    I don't want to sound overly critical, these are just my observations, which may or may not be helpful to the staff working on this. I imagine it is a nightmare to formulate these things, and I am really pleased to see recent music tastes being taken into account a lot more than previously.

    I look forward to seeing how this project develops in the playground.

    How have other people found this feature so far? Similar experiences or different?

  • Advertising them to me as "soul mates" is a little patronizing.

    Functionality is spotty; I get no neighbors at all if I type in more than one artist I like. That said, this seems like a step in the right direction.

    Agreed that being friends should not be a factor. Actually, I didn't know that it was, and I'm surprised to hear that the deck's stacked that way.

    I don't think older scrobbles should be given less weight. Well, maybe after a year but certainly not if they're only a couple weeks old. Speaking for myself, my taste has never changed that drastically, or fast. I suppose I'm an essentialist, and I believe that you have an inherent taste that determines what you listen to, instead of that what you listen to determines your taste.

    The scrobbles I'd really like to see discounted are the ones for artists you've only listened to twenty or so times. It takes that many to decide that you don't like the artist, sometimes.

  • My top neighbour is my best friend. ^.^ Though, that could be partially because we co-lead a 16 user group.

  • Friends as Neighbours

    Many thanks for the comments, we really appreciate your feedback on this one because one of the big challenges for this service is to keep everyone happy - the more different views we have the better chance we have of doing this.

    It's interesting to hear that you have friends popping up as your new neighbours, because friends are'nt taken into account in the calculation. This could be a sign that we are actually doing something right - so it's also interesting to hear that (so far) you don't like it :)

    ps it's a public holiday here this weekend, and for once it's not raining, so you probably won't see any more replies from us until Tuesday, but please keep the feedback coming!

    • snyde1 sa...
    • Abonnent
    • 24 aug 2008, 04:49
    Interesting. None of my "soulmates" so far have me on their lists. One of them has a user who has me a "soulmate". (And has my "soulmate" as one as well.) Oops - scratch that - I do have a match. Now two. That is better than the old system.

    I like that you have the groups listed - that can help in determining matches.

    What is the time period being considered (or total artists under consideration)? For some of the people I've looked at, I have more common artists than are creditted. The ones that appear in the listings are intriguing.

    I have to agree with BigFatLibido in that I dislike the term soulmate. Your story is cute about the love birds meeting online here, but (1) I don't believe in the concept, and (2) I ain't in the market.

    Improve your view of Last.fm - add some User Scripts.
    Did I hear that right? Mondegreens - for the misheard word. Like Odds? Can't get better than Even Odds!

    Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
  • BigFatLibido said:
    The scrobbles I'd really like to see discounted are the ones for artists you've only listened to twenty or so times. It takes that many to decide that you don't like the artist, sometimes.


    That's my main gripe. Too often I see someone labelled as a neighbour/soulmate because we have artist X in common, when I don't really like artist X, but just listened to an album or two once or twice to check said artist out.

  • gamboviol said:It's interesting to hear that you have friends popping up as your new neighbours, because friends are'nt taken into account in the calculation.
    Well I am surprised, and glad to hear it. I'm still a little perplexed to how my friend has become my top neighbour though, given the lack of same artists we have both listened to in the last 6 months (as described in my original post). Not knowing the 'secret formula' it is hard to make a guess. Maybe some indication of the strongest factors in the relationship might be a useful visual for users.

    I also totally agree with BigFatLibido and wmterhaar above, about artists you have only listened to a handful of times, being taking into account. I usually give an album a couple of listens to at least before deciding whether I like it. In the new neighbours lots of my 'your shared artists' have only been scrobbled by myself a handful of times. For my 8th Neighbour the top 'your shared artist' is an artist I have tagged, but have yet to listen to at all! Surely that shouldn't be considered an artist we share.

    snyde1 said:
    Interesting. None of my "soulmates" so far have me on their lists. One of them has a user who has me a "soulmate". (And has my "soulmate" as one as well.) Oops - scratch that - I do have a match. Now two. That is better than the old system.

    How are you seeing your soulmates, soulmates? When I log in I can only see mine. This does bring up a valid point. A small selection of 'Reverse Neighbours', would go down very well with a lot of users. It has been requested so many times in the feedback forum, and I know I would find it very interesting.

    As a final point, I am liking the direction of the new Neighbours, I have already investigated and subsequently purchased an album by an artist I found via my new 'soulmates', I'm just finding it difficult to see how some of my 'musical soulmates' have become so.

    • snyde1 sa...
    • Abonnent
    • 24 aug 2008, 16:04
    stuartsjm said:
    How are you seeing your soulmates, soulmates?
    Use the url:
    http://playground.last.fm/neighbours?user=RJ&good=&bad=&page=1

    Substitute the user of interest for "RJ". (Unless he's the one you're interested in.)

    Improve your view of Last.fm - add some User Scripts.
    Did I hear that right? Mondegreens - for the misheard word. Like Odds? Can't get better than Even Odds!

    Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
    • snyde1 sa...
    • Abonnent
    • 24 aug 2008, 16:14
    BigFatLibido said:
    The scrobbles I'd really like to see discounted are the ones for artists you've only listened to twenty or so times. It takes that many to decide that you don't like the artist, sometimes.
    Some of my "new neighbours" have less than 1000 plays, from less than 100 artists. I don't think you can specify a number like 20 (or even less) or the new users would not have neighbours. (I think that from Last.fm's perspective, the new users have to get feedback like that fairly quickly to retain them.)

    Perhaps "in my top 50 (100, 250) artists" might work better? That was part of my question as to the time period and number of artists considered.

    Improve your view of Last.fm - add some User Scripts.
    Did I hear that right? Mondegreens - for the misheard word. Like Odds? Can't get better than Even Odds!

    Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
  • I too am happy the neighbors feature is getting a complete overhaul. I would like to request or suggest that we are given the option to allow or disallow groups or tags to be factored into the equation with advanced options, or if possible, to choose which are factored in.

    don't believe the hype
    • Bloopy sa...
    • Forum Moderator
    • 25 aug 2008, 04:02

    Re: Musical Soulmates (the new Neighbours)

    stuartsjm said:
    How have other people found this feature so far? Similar experiences or different?
    Similar. While I find the results interesting, they are not what I would call "soul mates". I think the existing neighbours algorithm does a great job, as it places a lot more emphasis on top artists. My definition of a potential soul mate would be someone who has exactly the same top 3 artists as me, or if not that then many top 10 or top 50 artists in common. If there's a lot of matches in the top 50, then I know that the other artists in their chart which aren't matches might very well be worth checking out.

    Redigerad av Bloopy den 25 aug 2008, 21:13
  • One more thing! This would be another suggestion for "advanced options". Could you possibly allow us to choose time frames to use when calculating neighbors? Like "last 12 months", "last 6 months", etc. I like how we can display certain charts, it would be cool to be able to choose a time frame to get a set of neighbors out of.

    don't believe the hype
  • I know tags are subjective and everything, but could you implement the user tags from 'Musical Soulmates' on user profiles under the user name (or even, as a cloud in the about me - ala my own profile), as an option?

  • Alright last.fm, drop the black magic :p If you're not using the "friends" feature to find my soulmates, I'm amazed to see one of my actual long time real life soulmates pop up in that list!

    As I understand it, you weight in some of the more underground bands that we both enjoy and it seems to work pretty well!

    Good job guys!

    • Bloopy sa...
    • Forum Moderator
    • 28 aug 2008, 21:33
    Obviously friends tend to share and recommend music between each other, so they're likely to have more specific artists in common.

    • egordin sa...
    • Användare
    • 29 aug 2008, 05:58

    Minimum Scrobble Threshold for Advanced Options

    Thank you for overhauling this feature! I'm glad that friends aren't taken into account, even though some of my friends do pop up.

    The one feature I would love is to be able to filter the soulmates by amount of scrobbles, meaning that I can exclude those members who have scrobbled less than 1000 tracks. That would be wonderful!

    Thanks again!

    • amatala sa...
    • Abonnent
    • 31 aug 2008, 11:22
    As a suggestion, I think that the each user should be able to customize the list of artists in his/hers library which should matter most for neighbor calculations.
    For example, if I absolutely love certain artists, I should be able to say that I do not want any neighbors which do not share ALL of these artists!
    The problem today is that I get spammed with lots of neighbors which share many of my artists – but none of them shares ALL of the artists I like most…

  • amatala said:
    For example, if I absolutely love certain artists, I should be able to say that I do not want any neighbors which do not share ALL of these artists!


    Maybe an option to include only artists where you "loved" at least one of their tracks would be a simple way of implementing this. Maybe three options could be used, something like this:

    Include artists:
    • with loved tracks
    • in the top 50 of my 7 days / 3 month / 6 month / 12 month / overall top artists chart
    • last played in the last week / month / 3 months / 12 months

    It would also be good to be able to choose multiple options, so for example I could have neighbours based on artists with loved tracks, who are in my 3 month chart, and who I have played in the last week.

    • amatala sa...
    • Abonnent
    • 31 aug 2008, 13:34
    Indeed, using the loved tracks can be an easy way to implement this.

    Another way would be to allow the 'Advanced Options' to be saved into your profile as permanent preferences and then take this into account when determining the neighbors.

    In this way you could specify list of artists to always consider, list of artists to never consider, plus all other criteria available in the 'Advanced Options' (genre, age, country...).

    Basically the 'Advanced Options' should be taking into account by the algorithm BEFORE proposing the list of neighbors and not AFTER (like it is the case now).

  • I quite like it, The previous neighbours had a lot of friends in it and people who's music taste I didn't always like. The soulmates seem to fit my musical taste better, judging after playing a few of their radio stations :). As others have said though: drop the name :)

    • Fick6969 sa...
    • Användare
    • 5 sep 2008, 01:56
    I've been examining this for a few days now. If the intent is for this to replace the old Weekly neighbors while still keeping Overall neighbors (with a new algorithm) then it will probably make a lot of people happier. If, however, the plan is to replace the current Overall neighbors with this system then I think it's a huge step backwards.

    Realtime updating and not using inactive profiles for comparison are good ideas. Replacing the current Overall neighbors with ones that appear to be based on a small percentage of one's listening habits over a fairly short period of time isn't.

    For people that listen to a lot of different artists, computations that only look at recent scrobbling don't yield neighbors that are very useful in terms of one's overall taste. We need both Overall and Weekly/Recent neighbors.

    Seven Deadly Sins? I thought it was a to-do list!
  • I'm curious how recent and old play counts are being weighed. My old neighbors were definitely reflecting my overall tastes which is great but I do want to choose more recent tastes too.

    The new one is schizophrenic I'm getting two very different groups of neighbors, one based off my overall tastes and others based off more recent (but not the last 2 weeks) charts. It's nice getting both, especially since I can use the advanced options to eliminate one group or the other. However neither are schizophrenic soulmates like me that bridge the two extremes.

    Plus my listening history in the last 2 weeks is different from both groups but doesn't reflect in any of my new neighbors, possibly because alot of the recent music I haven't ever listened to so their play counts are low.

    I think the solution would be if I could choose to focus the neighbors based off the same criteria my charts have: 7 days, 3 months, 1 year, overall. Right now the last 6 months are well represented but I'd like to find some neighbors based off some of the recent stuff so I can explore more in the new found music I've been listening to.

    Definitely a big improvement, but neighbors still tend to gravitate towards people who have very standard tastes for their genre, rather than more complex and dynamic users.

    All comments reflect the views of the poster and not of last.fm or it's management.

    • [Raderad användare] sa...
    • Användare
    • 9 sep 2008, 10:58
    Hi,

    I love the Musical Soulmates feature, is it ever going to be available on the official last.fm, rather than just on the playground?

    What I really also love about it is that it tells you exactly the number of artists that person has in common with you. That said, wouldn't it be better if instead of just saying, for example "(and 55 others)", that could be a link and when you clicked "(and 5 others)" you could see a list of all the actual 55 artists you have in common with that person? I tihnk that would be awesome.

    Also, this is going to sound kind of a stupid question, but where is the Neighbours feature in the new last.fm? It used to be on the profile page in the old last.fm, but now I can't seem to find it anywhere.

    Thanks

  • Nobody's answered you yet? Let's see, where are the damn neighbors....you see, I go through the same search myself every time I want to find them, it's not very intuitive. Oh there they are. Go to your profile page, and then look at the tabs on the far left.

  • Glad to see that this is being worked on. Like others here I do feel that my neighbours aren't really representative and I would definitely favour it if they would be calculated based on my recent charts. Having been here for so long (4 years) means that my tastes changed drastically since I started listening and I hardly listen to any of the stuff that is in my top 10 overall charts.

    Quote me, it makes me feel special | But Nicole's lips bothered me the most
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