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by Jacob O'Bryant

Moar Discovery

Last week in Yakread:

  • I improved ebook handling so that the chapters are (sometimes) broken up into smaller sections. Also we get the correct chapter titles now. I'm interested in doing more break-up-long-stuff-into-shorter-things more generally in the future, but for now I've decided to leave it at this.
  • I looked into handling PDF uploads, but it turns out that converting PDFs to HTML is not easy, at least not if you want good formatting. So another thing for the I'll-probably-do-it-later-wink list.
  • Articles now have a "Comment" button right next to the "Like" and "Dislike" buttons:It takes the article's URL and sticks it in Twitter's search bar for you. For example (that's for the article in the screenshot). As a hidden feature, it also copies the URL to your clipboard, so if you want to make your own tweet instead of replying/retweeting someone else's, it's ready to be pasted.
  • Speaking of tweets, I also spent like a whole day improving Yakread's tweet page things. It's still not 100% perfect but it's pretty close if you ask me!
  • You can add articles manually to your reading history now, in case you read something on not-Yakread but want to use Yakread to keep track of interesting stuff you read.

Adding to that last point, another motivator is that—as the undertext says—articles you submit may also be recommended to other Yakread users. This is a feature from Findka Essays, a service I worked on from October 2020 to February 2021, right before launching The Sample. Findka Essays has been chugging along mostly untouched by me since then, with a faithful group of 50-100 active users. Yakread and Findka Essays are structurally similar, and Yakread's scope is a superset of Findka Essays' scope, so the latter will be assimilated into the former.

I wrote an announcement post about it, Merging Findka Essays, which I've put into all the Findka Essays emails, and you can read it too if you're curious. But the bottom line from Yakread's perspective is that I'm going to do more work on the discovery part of it.

I added "discovery recommendations" to Yakread a few weeks ago so that new users can start getting reading recommendations right away, even before they add any newsletter or RSS subscriptions or what-have-you. The discovery algorithm is distinct from Yakread's main ranking algorithm: the main algorithm takes the content sources you've connected to and mixes them into a single feed. The discovery algorithm is basically treated like just another content source. Right now it mainly shows you stuff from my own Pocket bookmarks. (If you got several recommendations for LDS blogs and were wondering why, that's why!)

So, before I merge Findka Essays into Yakread, I'm going to make the discovery algorithm a bit more sophisticated. I've already imported Findka Essays' recommendation data, so there's a nice pool of 1,700 more articles to recommend besides just my own bookmarks. This week I should be able to wrap that all up and stop paying the extra server fees for Findka Essays. *Twirls mustache*

Improving Yakread's discovery is also part of my current Main Strategy. I want to update Yakread's landing page so it's more like a typical "yo sign up for this newsletter that sends you five interesting links every day", but then also have it be like "oh and also we'll manage all your newsletter subscriptions and stuff." I'll add a "subscribe" button to articles in Yakread, kind of like The Sample's 1-click subscribe button, so people can get a feel for the entire Yakread experience without needing to actually connect any external sources. Hopefully that makes people "get it"—for any application, you want people to experience the core value prop as soon and as easily as possible. Then after people are like "woah, I can subscribe to stuff with this app and it also helps me find good stuff to subscribe to," then they can be like "I shall now add all my other subscriptions and my Twitter account etc. to this fine application and recommend it to all my friends."

And once that's all in place, it will be time to burn some cash on advertisements 😎.

Published 26 Sep 2022

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