LibraryThing annouces uClassify competition

On LibraryThing you can add your own books to a personal library. By doing this you start to get recommendations from either other users who has read the same book or automatically by the system. There are also several forums where users can discuss books – just like a really really big book club. At the time I signed up there were over 34 million books added. I added a couple of books I have recently read and to my surprise all of them already existed in the system, even the Swedish ones. After adding them I was immediately getting lots of recommendations, such as “The Satanic Verses” and “Robot : mere machine to transcendent mind”. Really cool!

Now with all these books some kind of categorization could help.


LibraryThing are encouraging their users to create something cool with uClassify. The prize is $100 Amazon gift certificate and Toby Segaran’s “Programming Collective Intelligence”. LibraryThing also presents a couple of cool ideas which you can use such as fictional vs non-fiction. The competition ends on February 1 2009 so what are you waiting for?

2 thoughts on “LibraryThing annouces uClassify competition”

  1. uClassify is a great service, but unfortunately LibraryThing appears to be not such a great partner…

    I entered the contest and won (according to Tim, the founder of LibraryThing, who managed to e-mail me once). You can see details of my entry at:

    Basically, I created a multi-class classifier using uClassify. I did it by creating single classifier with multiple classes (as opposed to multiple boolean classifiers). I chose that way because it was easy for the user to see the results ranked. There are some machine learning reasons why this is not necessarily the best way, but hey it was just an idea for a small contest.

    Unfortunately, the odd folks at LibraryThing decided to get all silent on me and I have not heard a peep from anyone since. In the meantime, they have found plenty of time to blog about other things. I spent 4-6 hours of my weekend time (which I could have spent with family) participating in the contest, assuming they were decent Internet citizens. And I won (as I mentioned, Tim e-mailed me so) — but then they never got back to me, not after repeated pings, and as a result, I was never awarded the prize they promised. Not even that, I don’t even get a sentence of follow-up (let alone an apology) from them. It’s now 21 days after the contest ended and I assume I’ll never hear anything. I’m very disappointed.

    I encourage you and your readers to be very wary of LibraryThing. From where I sit, they don’t seem to be decent Internet citizens. And I definitely suggest you do not participate in anything they host; you’ll most likely get the silent treatment if they decide to abandon what they start.

    On the other hand, I applaud the uClassify service and wish you luck as you continue to grow it (suggest that you avoid further integration with LibraryThing). It was fun integrating and leveraging the APIs you have, I just wish it would have happened under better circumstances.

    — kv (

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