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Similarity Network on Lunch

6 Ratings: 3.7
A group of people who most closely share your likes, dislikes, and interests in the Lunch community.

The Lunch Similarity Network points you to the best information through the right people. Your Similarity Network is a group of people who most closely share your likes, dislikes, and interests in the Lunch community. It's the basic idea behind Lunch … see full wiki

1 review about Similarity Network on Lunch

It's About Finding Common Ground

  • Feb 9, 2010
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When it comes to Lunch.com there are some pretty awesome things about it that make it a unique site.  It's far more interesting because the site is very much geared to bringing people together.  One of the best innovations the site has incorporated is the similarity network.  Through this network you can see how similar you are to other Lunch.com members.  It's great in terms of discovering what two people may like or dislike and what they can't agree on.  There's something quite unique about it.  It's one of those things that just about every other website doesn't have.  It's also what really makes it unique for Lunch.

The first thing of note with the similarity ratings is that it's based on what you and whoever you're comparing your similarity to have rated.  The more you rate, the more accurate the system is.  If you both happen to rate several of the same things, then the similarity network actually works out just fine.  If your accuracy is "High" within the similarity network then your similarity rating (which is represented by a percentage) is formulated.  It will be formulated whether or not you have a "High" "Medium" or "Low" accuracy.  The only way to improve your accuracy and your similarity rating is to rate more things.  Particularly within the areas where you know you can rate more.

The interesting thing about Lunch is that you are allowed to rate topics without actually reviewing them.  Whether micro or full blown.  So even if you can't think of what to say, you can still at least rate a particular datapoint.  This is where the similarity network comes in.  The ratings, and it's also where things with the similarity network can get just a little wonky, and we'll talk about that shortly.  First, let's talk about the strengths of the similarity network. 

Within each profile photo on someone's review or page you see a number in the corner.  A percentage number.  This is how similar you are to that particular person.  You can then click on that number where it will take you to a page filled with tags.  These tags are used to define the datapoints.  You can click on any of these tags and view the ratings that you and whoever you are comparing to have rated.  This also allows you to see just what they rated and how.  The best part about this is you may say to yourself, "Oh, wow, I haven't rated that yet!"  Let's face it... rating stuff is just as fun as writing a review itself.  So it isn't just about seeing how "similar" you are to someone else, it's also about discovering what you just might have an interest in and what you may not.  For example, I can easily go into any friends similarity, look at a tag where we agree and see what I haven't rated, but what they have and perhaps I might find curoisity and decide to explore it.

Finding similar interest does help to broaden your own in many ways.  It's hard to admit, but when you see someone who shares say... a 92% similarity with you... it's hard not to go digging in and see what he or she has rated but you haven't.  It's hard not to explore then and see where his interest lie that aren't your own.  You might see and think that perhaps if he likes something you've NEVER even heard of... you just might like it too.  And that's awesome and brilliant.

It doesn't work so well if the two of you haven't rated things which share a similar tag.  For example, if I rated more food items I might improve my similarity with @devora.  If I rated more foreign films I might improve my similarity with @woopak_the_thrill.  In turn, if some of you rated more video games you might improve your similarity with me.  If you rated more movies you might also improve your similarity with me.  It's an interesting system.  And your accuracy will be tracked for specific tags.

The only real detraction from the similarity network is how each person as an individual operates.  @Scotman's idea of a +4 may be very different from my idea of a +4.  Unfortunately the similarity network can't really compensate for that.  The other thing that the similarity rating system can't really compensate for regarding this is that some people rate harsher than others.  When I first came to Lunch.com I was not afraid to go negative and now it takes a lot for me to go negative.  In short my +1 might actually mean the same as someone else's -5.  In your similarity network this setup will come up as: "Areas where you don't agree."  But... you actually might agree, just one person didn't go as harsh as another.  So it's probably something where you agree, but it won't come up in your similarity network that way.  It's not exactly something a computer can compensate for.  It doesn't make as big of a difference in your accuracy as you might think, but it can be interesting to find that while you "don't agree," on something you'll talk to the person and find out you actually do agree, just one person decided they'd be harsher while you might not have.  The similarity network can't compensate for how one person looks at one particular rating.  As I said a +4 to me might be someone else's +5 or even someone else's +3.  A +2 for me might be somsone's -2.  Such as the case when given a point scale in any fashion.  Even in the comments of one of my reviews I got a comment that said something along the lines of, "Your review reads more like a +4 than a +3." 

It's really the only thing about the similarity network that might be a little wonky.  I have a couple of friends where apparently we agree on certain things but the similarity network tags show otherwise.  So it's interesting, but you still get some fairly high percentage ratings where you are similar.  It's just that you can't compensate for what ones definition of "Very Good," versus "Great" means.  You can't compensate for what someone's rating means.

On the other hand, you can make sure that the difference between a +2 and a +3 isn't astronomical.  And that's where the Similarity Network does work to a good degree.  If you give something a +3 and someone else gives it a +4... you go down as being similar.  Although a +2 versus a +4 may not go down as such. 

Nevertheless the similarity does work fairly well.  It's not designed so that you'll be 100% similar it's designed so that you are able to find common ground with other members on the site.  Common ground isn't "exact same ground."  In short, even if you see similarity as being rather low... say... 60% that's probably not as bad as you think.  It may mean you have little in common... but look at what you do.  You can always build off of those particular interest.  I've run into a few members where we disagree in one particular area, but happen to find a lot of common ground in others.  So rather than looking at say 65% with some kind of questioning grimace, instead I decided to look and see where exactly that similarity came from... not where the differences came from.  It's unrealistic to think people with low similarities will disagree on everything... and it's even more unrealistic to think that those with high similarity ratings will agree on everything. 

You're searching for common ground... not a date.  The similarity network really drives that home.  If you begin digging and searching for commong round instead of worrying about where you may differ you'll discover that you may have more in common with other members than you originally thought.  But even better?  If you want to find out what someone's other interest are, there is actually an invitation on your similarity comparisons page where you can invite them to rate more so that you can find out how you stack up otherwise.  You're allowed to stick in your own personal message too.  There are many ways to improve your similarity and the fact that you can go in and see specifically where you don't agree is actually pretty helpful. 

It's just that you need to get a personal touch on who it is you're also comparing to.  Like I said, ones definition of what a +4 means could be different from someone else's.  So it isn't about that percentage, it's also about putting that personal touch in there as well. 

The point of the similarity network isn't to be as similar as you can possibly be, but to be able to dig in and find out just where those similarities lie. It's great to improve it when you can, but being similar isn't as important as looking at where it is you do find common ground. 

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February 10, 2010
very very nice analysis of the similarity thingie. I just wish the ratings were more 1-10 rather than the negatives. I save the negatives for despots and stupid politicians.
February 10, 2010
Yeah, it's really the only thing about the similarity network that's a little odd.  Like I said, a +1 for say... you might be a -5 for me.  I seem to recall we both agreed quite strongly on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen... but I gave it a -5 while you gave it, I think a +2... but reading your review it was clear we actually shared heavily similar views.  But it comes up on our similarity page as something we "Don't Agree On."
February 09, 2010
Fabulous review Sean. Now I'm going to rate some more video games and movies to see how similar we are! ;) Love your reviews and helpful insight, keep up the great work!
February 09, 2010
Good point there Sean, we're looking for commmon interests, not a date! In one of my earliest reviews I laid out my criteria for rating films, I always try to ask  myself how well they did with the resources that were available to them, in particular low budget independent horror films which are of special interest to me. But the scale applies to the way I judge everything.  A film with a $260 million budget obviously shouldn't/can't be judged on the same scale that one to uses evaluate a film that cost $300,000 Canadian. It's not fair to either film because it penalizes the creativity of the low budget film while at the same time lets the obscenely over-budgeted flick off easy just because it could throw endless amounts of cash at all its problems. Was the big budget flick more creative? No. Was it more original? No. Was it seen by more people?  Yes! Will it be nominated for and probably win Oscars? Yes? Is that fair to anyone? No! Especially not to the audiencies who deserve more for their money than mere special effects!
February 09, 2010
I always found that to be interesting because... the past few years movies like Avatar were actually... well... ignored when it came to the Oscars. In fact, Slumdog Millionaire didn't even make most of its money until AFTER it actually won. So Avatar is actually something that doesn't actually happen quite as often as everyone thinks... especially because they were so obsessed with independent films that really didn't have a lot of special effects at all in the past couple of years. Avatar isn't refreshing, but it actually stands out as far more unusual than people think. I will say, however, that as much as I liked it, and as much credit as I give Cameron as a film maker (in spite of his inability to write a good screenplay) I'm actually not pulling for Avatar. Although the reason I actually watch the Oscars is something I think I'll keep to myself for the moment. Let's just say I have a bit of fun. Wait... why are we talking about this here?
February 10, 2010
I'm not necessarily just talking about genre flix here. I'm talking about all big budget flix, like say TITANIC, BEN HUR, GONE WITH THE WIND... but I did go off on the special effects in particular in this case because they annoy me. It's only within the past few years (relatively speaking) that small films have stood a chance at the Oscars. Before that it was almost a forgone conclusion that your big studio productions would be taking home the awards. There have been exceptions of course, but check out this list of Best Film winners:The Greatest Show On Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, Gigi, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Oliver, and Silence of the Lambs which beat out such films as, respectively: High Noon, (all the films nominated in 56 stunk so Gigi is on its own),Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Dr. Strangelove, A Thousand Clowns,The Lion in Winter, and JFK! And we all know that most of the time the best films don't even receive nominations. Most film DO make most of their money after they get their foreign release and/or go to DVD, and you know that with a film set in India that most Americans aren't going to see it until there's a big fuss made over it. Fear of potential subtitles I guess.
February 09, 2010
Interesting subject to tackle! You took into consideration highs and lows of the site. I enjoyed reading your comments and agree with many of the points you made. So far, I've only had one bad experience on this site, and since then, it's been ameliorated. I'm enjoying people's reviews regardless whether we agree or disagree. :)
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