I've set up a personal recommendations page. This time I resisted the temptation for implementing my own algorithm and just used R's recommenderlab library as is, with default UBCF settings. As far as I see the results look pretty reasonable, though not particularly striking. It won't necessarily offer xkcd to you in the hundred results it shows which I consider a success but it's unlikely to suggest anything outside of the top 500 of comics either. I'm not going to win any Netflix prices with this one but it's good to have some baseline.
The only input data the algorithm uses is plain user subscriptions, with no consideration for anything like the date of addition. As such, it's unlikely to suggest anything particularly new. Currently, there are 33 comics with over 200 readers on Piperka and the last one to reach that threshold was Stand Still, Stay Silent which was added five years ago. There's only a handful of comics from the past three years that have even reached the top 500. Inactive users are dropped from the counts after half a year of inactivity so it's not just that disused accounts with old subscriptions on old comics are inflating the measures. It would do well to give a bias to comics a user doesn't necessarily know yet.
I think my per comic recommendations (with the totally custom implementation I wrote for it) does a better job at picking more specific results when it doesn't get suffocated by the strong nucleus of most popular comics. But I have no clear idea how to turn that into giving per user results and as much as I like having Piperka as my personal playground I'm not sure it's worth it at this point.
With respect to comic discovery, I would like to add overlays to Piperka Map. To color the comics listed on it according to some variables. Like from PCA. I would like to come up with some application for ANNs also. I'm going to need an embedding. I'm not a data scientist by any measure but they do have some cool toys.
In other news, I'm hosting an ad for December. Piperka's been adless since Project Wonderful's demise but I'm still considering what to replace it with. I'd rather have ads that target my site over more bids, with no user tracking or personalisation and there's no obvious choice for that after PW. Web comic authors are always welcome to advertise on Piperka as far as I'm concerned. I do get some pretty imaginative offers for ads from time to time, just by the virtue of running a web site but I don't think you'd care to read about gambling and what else. This is an one off thing at this time and I'm setting the ad up manually but I would like to eventually have something just as convenient as PW.
If anyone else would like to run an ad then just drop me a message. I'm afraid I'm still a bit rubbish at replying to queries, especially if I'm in the middle of something.
It's been a fun month but I think I'll content myself with leaving Piperka to maintenance mode for a while. I guess I'll play Half-Life: Opposing Force next, I've had it waiting for the right moment for a while. I'm glad they still make good games.