The NEW BFB Members Rankings List

Derk of Derkholm

Journeyed there and back again
#21
Rather than descriptions of the books, what do you think about additional columns for scoring specific criteria? For example, 5 extra columns: World-building, Magic System, Characterization, Novelty, Action. For First Law, scores might look like 5, 2, 10, 6, 10 or something like that. I'd give Bas-Lag higher marks for world-building and novelty but lower scores for action and characterization.
Hi Darwin, while that sounds certainly interesting and appeals to the nerd in me, I am not sure how that is practical for the average reader.

When I updated the list and provided my own ratings, I found it challenging enough to remember how I would exactly rate a book I read maybe 10 years ago on a simple 1.0 to 10.0 linear scale, let alone provide such detail ratings for each of the dimensions for up to 50 books.
 

Derk of Derkholm

Journeyed there and back again
#22
@Laughing Mime
You are supposed to rate the books/series from 1-10.
Hi Alucard, I am afraid this is due to my (being a non-native-English Speaker) using of the word "ranking" in earlier versions of this thread and file, instead of the more precise word "rating".

I have tried to make the corresponding parts of the rating sheet more clear and upload an improved version.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#23
Hi Alucard, I am afraid this is due to my (being a non-native-English Speaker) using of the word "ranking" in earlier versions of this thread and file, instead of the more precise word "rating".

I have tried to make the corresponding parts of the rating sheet more clear and upload an improved version.
I haven't even noticed that to be honest. I kinda hold both words as similar enough in my head.
Being a non native speaker as you, I just hope I'm not confusing you, Laughing Mime or anyone else.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#24
I haven't even noticed that to be honest. I kinda hold both words as similar enough in my head.
Being a non native speaker as you, I just hope I'm not confusing you, Laughing Mime or anyone else.
I'm terribly confused now to be honest.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#25
I'm terribly confused now to be honest.
In case you are serious and not pulling my leg, Derk thinks his use of 'ranked' over 'rated' is what caused Laughing Mime to just rank the titles, and not actually rate them in his post.
I haven't even noticed he used ranked over rated. And as non native speaker I always have these concerns about nuances in my communication too.

All clear now?
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#26
In case you are serious and not pulling my leg, Derk thinks his use of 'ranked' over 'rated' is what caused Laughing Mime to just rank the titles, and not actually rate them in his post.
I haven't even noticed he used ranked over rated. And as non native speaker I always have these concerns about nuances in my communication too.

All clear now?
I was pulling your leg, but thanks anyways. Just to set your mind at ease: before you mentioned it in a post I didn't realize you were not in fact from an Anglo-Saxon country. Your English (as well as Andy's) is immaculate.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#27
I was pulling your leg, but thanks anyways. Just to set your mind at ease: before you mentioned it in a post I didn't realize you were not in fact from an Anglo-Saxon country. Your English (as well as Andy's) is immaculate.
Thank you. Nice of you to say so.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#28
But not all fantasy novels have their own magic system at all and I think that's something that would just fit under world building. By novelty I'm guessing you mean invention and originality. As for action the term is way too ambiguous. For example I hear people say the Long Price Quartet doesn't have much action and honestly I don't know what their smoking because to me it seemed to have plenty of action. So I'd just say plot because plot and action are pretty much the same thing. If a novel has good plot then well it has good action and vice versa.

I also think this is too much work that you're asking of Derk.
Thanks for evaluating the idea. It's meant to provide a resource for data-driven responses to questions like "Which books have the best magic systems/combat/other frequently asked questions?" or "I like this, so what else would I like?" I think book descriptions are a poorer way to enhance the BFB members list. A description is going to be highly biased by a single writer. The whole point of a BFB Members list is to provide a crowd-sourced, averaged alternative to Ben's phenomenal work.

As far as the burden on Derk goes, it might be too much work or it might not be. That'd be for him to decide and let us know. As I understand it, he's doing all of this in Excel, so it should be a simple matter of duplicating the sheet he has into new sheets and just renaming some stuff. Data entry would be 5 or 6 copy/pastes instead of 1. I'm not at all trying to trivialize what he's done, but the painful part seems like it would be keeping up with irregularly incoming data sets, not the amount of data per person. I may be very wrong about all of this, but I trust Derk to let us know (although the idea doesn't seem to be gaining any traction, so I doubt it'd come to that). Additionally, book descriptions might even be more work.

A person sorting the "Magic System" column isn't looking for books without a magic system. The way I imagined it, a zero in a particular category wouldn't be indicative of poor quality (the way a 0 in overall rating would be), just a relative weakness or lack compared to other novels in the genre. Plot is another good category. I guess I assumed poor plot would correlate to a poor overall score well enough that it wouldn't need its own category. By action I specifically meant action sequences. Some books do them better than others. I'd rate The Heroes much higher on action than plot. The fight scenes are incredible, but the plot goes nowhere (and that's sort of the point). The sections might be ambiguous, but I think that'd be handled through proper instructions.

I'm always a fan of more data. My suggestion was a consequence of how impressed I am with how the BFB member's list is progressing, not a criticism of it.

A second suggestion that might add helpful info without much extra work would be to show the standard deviations or relative standard deviations (standard deviation divided by mean). That would be a useful measurement of community agreement that would supplement average score.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#29
This idea is not really practical for several reasons.

- there are people who were active members when this list first started who gave their ratings. They might come back. They might not. But right now these people aren't active anymore. What would you do with their ratings? Delete them? Ignore them? How would you get detailed ratings from them?
- there isn't a single person who rates the same as another person. I for example couldn't care less about rating of magic, that thought doesn't enter my mind when I think in terms of 1-10. Same goes for novelty. I could probably come up with a few criteria to rate the book on that you don't even think about. The same goes for everybody else. Which is why having people rate overall from 1.0-10. is the only way to get everybody on the same page. Even though that might not be too detailed.
- so far I have rated anywhere between 30-40 books, probably more. It's a lot of work that you are asking not only from Derk to compile everything, but from everyone else who rated books to do it once again.
- this list isn't supposed to be an alternative to Ben's lists. It can never be that detailed and comprehensive. Ben's list is one man's work and as such can be quite detailed. BFB Members ranking list is exactly what it says. A
summa summarum of all the member's ratings. There is no space to be detailed and well-argued as Ben's lists are. Even if you added all the additional ratings they wouldn't hold a candle to a list that has huge paragraph of explanation under each and every choice.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#30
I don't understand! Old data would not be affected. None of the existing data would need to be changed or ignored. New submissions could add data to one column or many. Old submissions could be updated, or not. Neither data set would interact with the other in any way. The overall rating list would not change in any way at all.

As I understand it, the point of this list is to help people choose good fantasy books to read. That's also the point of Ben's lists. This one is crowd-sourced and data driven, while Ben's list is more the gut feeling and explanation of a guy who's read a ton of books and has some pretty great recommendations. That the member's list so closely resembles Ben's lists is likely a consequence of the impact of his lists on our reading choices.

I also picked the extra categories off the top of my head based on what I thought were some of the more frequently asked for traits. You could just as easily have a column for which books have cool cats (Master and Margarita!).
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#31
Hi Darwin, while that sounds certainly interesting and appeals to the nerd in me, I am not sure how that is practical for the average reader.

When I updated the list and provided my own ratings, I found it challenging enough to remember how I would exactly rate a book I read maybe 10 years ago on a simple 1.0 to 10.0 linear scale, let alone provide such detail ratings for each of the dimensions for up to 50 books.
Hi Derk, sorry I missed this post somehow. I sort of responded to this indirectly in the last post: a reviewer could easily skip 1 or all categorical ratings for a book (or rate a category without giving it an overall rating)

I'm getting a surprising amount of backlash against a suggestion that I thought would benefit a lot of us and only really inconvenience you :p. As an alternative, how do you feel about adding a standard deviation or relative standard deviation column (standard deviation/mean) to the overall ranking so that we can get a feel for how divided peoples' opinions are on a book? I'd be interested in seeing which books have the most varied rankings. It's hard to take into account the different sample size, but what can you do? 9 +/- 1 means everybody loves it. 7 +/- 4 means opinions vary wildly. Pretty cool imo.
 

Alucard

In the name of the Pizza Lord. Charge!
Staff member
#32
I don't understand! Old data would not be affected. None of the existing data would need to be changed or ignored. New submissions could add data to one column or many. Old submissions could be updated, or not. Neither data set would interact with the other in any way. The overall rating list would not change in any way at all.
I also picked the extra categories off the top of my head based on what I thought were some of the more frequently asked for traits. You could just as easily have a column for which books have cool cats (Master and Margarita!).
So a few provisional categories, which mean something or nothing to people, that members can choose to rate or not? That are completely irrelevant in relation to the main rating?
What's the point of that?
If you want to be able to choose books by sub genre or some characteristic, tags would actually work better. I don't know if the main page enables tags or not. But at some final point the list will be there. Tag cloud would be nice, so if you click for example High Fantasy, it would give you a list of all the books that people actually tagged that way.
But even that is a faulty system, because people tag with all kinds of shit, or just with wrong tags.

As I understand it, the point of this list is to help people choose good fantasy books to read. That's also the point of Ben's lists. This one is crowd-sourced and data driven, while Ben's list is more the gut feeling and explanation of a guy who's read a ton of books and has some pretty great recommendations. That the member's list so closely resembles Ben's lists is likely a consequence of the impact of his lists on our reading choices.
I don't disagree with you there. But the reasoning behind the choices is different as you say. I really don't see what adding a couple of provisional categories for people to rate or not rate would do except complicate things. Say I rate Malazan with 8 in provisional category of magic. You rate it 5. What does that say to anybody outside of forum or even inside the forum?
On the other hand top 25 choices of are there because most people think of them as good. Most people can relate to 1-10 rating. And most people when looking for something to read actually read the synopsis on GR or Amazon or wherever. Synopsis can tell them more than any of these categories would.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#33
Just having simple yes/no options for various additional categories would be really useful (i.e. is there a magical element. Is there a political backdrop. Are there dragons. Etc.)

This way anyone could filter the master list to their particular requirements, and then see a list of books that fit their requirements and are ranked in order of our preferences.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#34
I don't disagree with you there. But the reasoning behind the choices is different as you say. I really don't see what adding a couple of provisional categories for people to rate or not rate would do except complicate things. Say I rate Malazan with 8 in provisional category of magic. You rate it 5. What does that say to anybody outside of forum or even inside the forum?
On the other hand top 25 choices of are there because most people think of them as good. Most people can relate to 1-10 rating. And most people when looking for something to read actually read the synopsis on GR or Amazon or wherever. Synopsis can tell them more than any of these categories would.
I agree with Alucard here, @Darwin. I don't think the ratings on sub-topics (like magic, world-building or whatever arbitrary topic you may choose) would really mean anything.Any sub-topics you may select are open to interpretation (what does "magic" mean. The amount of magic? The quality of the magic system? The novelty of the magic system? How strong the magic in the book is?) It's difficult enough to rate books with a single qualification, that being how "good" the book is. I therefore do like your idea of a column that shows the standard deviation. This is also more manageable. Nothing has to be changed really, the info is already there in the raw data (cq the individual member ratings).
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#35
I'm just going to drop it. Endlessly refuting the points I disagree with is getting tiresome for me, and I imagine even more so for you.

@TomTB a good compromise, but how would you search for multiple criteria at once? If I wanted books with at least four of five tags, how would I create such a list? The only thing coming to mind would involve an annoying amount of duplicated effort.
 
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TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#37
So you're looking for classic fantasy (filter 'yes') without dragons (filter 'no') with a male protagonist (filter 'yes') without 'court intrigue' (filter 'no') and you end up with a list of books that meet those criteria, ranked in order. It would be pretty awesome the more I think about it .. You could have as many categories as you like, but only would need to filter the ones that are relevant to the criteria you're interested in.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#38
So you're looking for classic fantasy (filter 'yes') without dragons (filter 'no') with a male protagonist (filter 'yes') without 'court intrigue' (filter 'no') and you end up with a list of books that meet those criteria, ranked in order. It would be pretty awesome the more I think about it .. You could have as many categories as you like, but only would need to filter the ones that are relevant to the criteria you're interested in.
I do kinda like this idea. However, who should apply the tags to the books? Take for example court intrigue. I'm currently reading the Wise Man's Fear, and wouldn't tag it with the label 'court intrigue'=yes. However, a more critical reader might label it so, because tucked away int he book there's some minor power machinations at the court of a major noble. Another example: does WoT have dragons?
No, not really dragons. However, Lews Therin and Rand are the Dragon.
Hope you see what I'm getting at here. It could lead to ambiguity.

I guess I'm trying to say that although it's a good idea, it would probably call for 1 person to do the tagging, and the result might not always align with reality. Also, letting 1 person do the tagging is detrimental to the whole 'BFB member ratings' idea.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#39
I do kinda like this idea. However, who should apply the tags to the books? Take for example court intrigue. I'm currently reading the Wise Man's Fear, and wouldn't tag it with the label 'court intrigue'=yes. However, a more critical reader might label it so, because tucked away int he book there's some minor power machinations at the court of a major noble. Another example: does WoT have dragons?
No, not really dragons. However, Lews Therin and Rand are the Dragon.
Hope you see what I'm getting at here. It could lead to ambiguity.

I guess I'm trying to say that although it's a good idea, it would probably call for 1 person to do the tagging, and the result might not always align with reality. Also, letting 1 person do the tagging is detrimental to the whole 'BFB member ratings' idea.
I get you .. perhaps it could all be decided in new discussion threads. So the first one would be .. 'which tags should we have?' Then a new thread for each tag we decide on where the various books can be discussed, and an ultimate decision made on which ones are 'yes' and which ones are 'no'... (I'd happily be the judge and jury should things get heated :)) Then it truly would still be a 'BFB member ratings' thing.

At the end of it we'd have an amazing spreadsheet which we all contributed to and which would be a pretty awesome resource.
 

Darwin

Journeyed there and back again
#40
Thanks for the explanation, Tom.

@Silvion Night I think if someone wanted a book with dragons, they'd be pretty pissed off after finishing 3.3 million words of WoT! If someone pointed out weird categorization like that, I think we could fix it pretty quickly. There might be a problem with some of the books that aren't widely read.

How many categories could we add before it just became annoying to scroll across so many columns? Even if you condense stuff like Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, etc. into "Tolkien Races", it's not hard to imagine a very large number of categories. Detective, steampunk, future, grimdark, guns, con artists, female lead, multiple PoV, coming of age, politics, school, barbarian, gay, military, prophecy, etc.