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PointingAtThings.com Launched!

I recently launched PointingAtThings.com, a pretty simple website that allows people to upload pictures of themselves or their friends pointing at things in pictures. Website viewers are presented with two images of people pointing at things and may choose which one they like more. They are then presented with new pairings until they get bored.

There are currently 27 live images of people pointing at things to vote between, depicting 15 distinct people in the act of pointing. We’ve had a total of 2474 votes from 105 unique IP addresses.

For me, the fun part of this project is coming up with interesting ways of ranking the images. Currently, after you vote between two images, you are presented with two sets of statistics. One set is based on the votes that were cast for that exact matchup. If you’re voting between image 5 and image 8, then these statistics will show you how many times 5 beat 8 (and vice versa) in direct, head to head competition.

I worry that if many images are added, we’d quickly get to the point where most matchups encountered by voters are new or have very few existing votes (the number of votes would have to grow quadratically versus the number of images available to vote on to prevent this), so I want a way to get a sense of which picture is more liked in a pair without having direct matchup votes.

A simple way of doing this is looking at the win/loss record for each image individually (against all opponents), and comparing their win percentages. This is a decent measurement, but it doesn’t take # of votes cast for that image into account (this would prefer an image with 2 votes and a 100% win percent over an image with 1000 votes and a 95% win percent).

Hence, one of my main goals will be to implement various other ranking algorithms, such as Elo and TrueSkill. Elo seems a lot more straightforward than TrueSkill, but I have a particular interest in TrueSkill from my addiction to the Rock Band 2 leaderboards, which are implemented on top of TrueSkill.

There are a number of planned improvements to the site. Since the original launch, we’ve added the creation of correctly sized thumbnail images to decrease page load times, as well as a full administrator console to provide moderators the ability to approve / remove submitted images. Future improvements include S3 image hosting, individual image pages, upload acceptance email notification, and an attribution field so we can use Creative Commons – Attribution licensed images. If you’re a graphic artist and you have an interest in helping us lay out the homepage awesomely, please let me know!

I’ll post here when we have major releases, or with occasional interesting statistical tidbits.

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