Blog - Veboli


Stay up to date on the newest developments on Veboli and get insights into the workings behind the screen.

2017.09.18 14.22

Towards the end of august I started to play with some small changes to the site: trying out new fonts, removing the space between movie images, and changing the colors. When I started on the recommendations page I really saw what needed to happen and I realized there was a new design in the making. This is how the recommendations looked like:

A large image from one of the movies isn't really needed on this page. Ditto the space between movies. Add a new font, increasing the compactness, and a few other small changes and you've got a much better looking page:

2017.08.31 06.48

We've added another 11 English-speaking movie critics to connect you to the movie critics with the most similar taste in movies. They can help you find the best movie to go see in the cinema or at home. Here they are:

View who your personal movie advisors are! Here you can see all the movie critics and how similar they are to you.

2017.08.24 14.47

A lot of individual ratings! And those can vary a lot by movie. Take for example Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (lefttop) and Warcraft: The Beginning, they've both got an average rating of 5.8, but rather different distributions. Revenge of the Sith has a decent amount of people who loved the movie and a decent amount of people who hated the movie, with the most people giving it a 7. Warcraft has less people who loved the movie and none that hated it, with the most people giving it a 5. Check 'em out:

And here we've got the much loved Arrival (lefttop) compared to Fist Fight, a movie mostly disliked to various degrees:

Also, I changed the eleven colors for the ratings slightly so that they would be more evenly distributed. Previously, the bars for the 9 and the 10 looked identical.

A decommendation? An uncommendation?

In any case, you can now get them on Veboli. That way you know which movies you should definitely skip. Check out your decommendations..

Here are some movies that I'm for sure going to avoid!

2017.08.05 11.26

You can now see the most recent ratings of your friends on the homepage. You can easily see what your friends have watched and specifically what they enjoyed watching.

Here are the recent ratings of my friends:

2017.07.30 12.29

It's Friendship Day! In celebrating friendship, we've expanded Recommendations with friends to help you watch good movies with your friends. No more hassle in finding movies you think everyone will enjoy, Veboli does all the dirty work for you.

And of course you can filter your recommendations by genre, year, and country.

Veboli looks at movies you and your friends will all enjoy by calculating an averaging recommendation from your individual recommendations. We only recommend movies that we think everyone will enjoy :)

You can calculate them for groups of up to six movie lovers.

Veboli now connects you to likeminded English-speaking movie critics! You can now get advice from more than 50 English critics and discover exactly what you've gotta watch and what you've gotta skip.

Check out who your personal movie advisors are! Here you can see all the movie critics and how similar they are to you.

We've teamed up with the following 56 critics:

2017.06.15 13.37

I wasn't sure if this was blog-worthy, but Veboli now has advertisements on the site. There's one up top and one on the bottom. It doesn't help you discover amazing movies directly, but it will keep the site up and running, which to me is pretty damn exciting!

2017.06.08 14.30

Veboli is now collaborating with 9 new Dutch and Flemish movie critics to connect you to the movie critics with the most similar taste in movies. Here they are:

View who your personal movie advisors are! Here you can see all the movie critics and how similar they are to you.

Soon we will be collaborating with English-speaking movie critics. Stay tuned!

You can now also import your Letterboxd ratings. With your taste profile filled in, you can jump right to your magnificent personal movie recommendations. Go and import your Letterboxd ratings now.

Go to "Settings" and click on "Export" to get the csv file with your ratings.

2017.05.11 04.20

The Netherlands and Flanders have hundreds of movie critics. How do you know which to listen to? While the one critic proclaims a new movie as the best movie of the year the other critic completely berates the movie.

Good examples of this are Beauty and the Beast and Suicide Squad. Both movies have received a wide range of ratings from movie critics (3-9 and 3-10). To know if you'd enjoy these movies you've gotta know if these critics like and dislike the same movies. And that's exactly what Veboli does!

Similar movie critics connects you to the critics that share your taste in movies and gives you the insight you need in making your movie choice. 35 Dutch and Flemish movie critics are ready to help you discover great new movies:

Check out who your personal movie advisors are! Here you can see all the movie critics and how similar they are to you.

Continuing with the suggestions from the Veboli survey, I made it easier to get an overview of the movies that are recommended to you. Hover over the movie to see the title, year, genres, and recommendation. Click further for the average rating, the length, the country, a short summary, and the trailer.

Here you can see what that looks like for Loving:

2017.03.10 13.54

I recently held a survey of Veboli users. One of the things that came to the fore was that there is some room for improvement regarding the design and usability. Time to play with the design again!

This is how the page for Arrival looked like before I got started:

And this is how the page looks now:

I made the bar above more compact and easy to navigate to the various parts of the site. And it probably didn't escape you, I inversed the color palette :)

You can now also import your MovieMeter ratings. With your taste profile filled in, you can jump right to your amazing personal movie recommendations. Go and import your MovieMeter ratings now.

Go to "Gegevens exporteren", select "Stemmen" and "CSV", and submit your request. It takes a day for them to create the file.

Happy New Year! Because it's a new year, there's a complete old year of movies to look at!

The best movies of 2016 (currently) are Arrival, La La Land, Stranger Things, and Hell or High Water. Arrival and Hell or High Water are definitely two of my favorite movies from 2016. La La Land is also a good movie, but not particularly my cup of tea. What do you think of these and the rest of the list?

The worst movies of 2016 (currently) are I Am Wrath, Mechanic: Ressurection, Get a Job, and 31. I've unfortunately seen the worst two movies. For me, this is a pretty good list of movies to avoid!

2016.12.07 16.45

This week, it's time for the most popular movies based on the number of users that have rated a movie.

Just like the best movies and the worst movies you can limit these by genre, year, and country. Here you can see the most popular horror movies:

And here you can see the most popular Dutch movies:

2016.11.30 16.30

After looking at all the best movies, I got curious about all the worst movies according to all of you. So I tweaked the code a bit to look for the lowest rated movies.

You can also limit these by genre, year, and country. Here you can see the lowest rated movies from the 00s:

2016.11.23 18.32

I was really curious about the favorite movies on Veboli. So I wrote some code and viola, Veboli now has a page for the highest rated movies!

You can also limit these by genre, year, and country. Here you can see the highest rated romantic comedies:

I'm working on some more fun stuff for this page, stay tuned!

2016.10.25 13.50

I've added some power to your recommendations and ratings. You can now search your recommendations based on country and your ratings based on rating and country.

Looking for Dutch movie recommendations? Here's what I got:

Wondering which German movies you've watched? Here's what I've seen:

2016.09.14 09.32

I simplified the way all the ratings and recommendations are displayed. There are now two basic principles. Principle 1: red is bad, green is good. Principle 2: rectangular is a rating, circular is a recommendations.

Let's take a look at this in action.

Below is how the ratings are displayed on a movie's page. First we've got what I thought of the movie, followed by what Veboli predicts I would think of the movie, what all Veboli users think of the movie, and what all Veboli critics think of the movie.

Below we've got a selection of Andy Samberg movies. First is one I haven't seen and Veboli doesn't have a recommendation for me yet. Then we've got a movie I somewhat liked, a movie I'm somewhat recommended, and a series I liked.

By the way, Veboli critics? What are those? Stay tuned :)

2016.08.29 14.10

I've been thinking a lot about movies this summer. And I always come back to how can I add this or that to my recommendation formula to make it more accurate. Last week, I had collected enough improvements and decided it was time to implement them!

The first big change that I thought of was how similar movies are used to generate recommendations. I kept thinking, it's not just how similar a movie is, there's also generally a quality difference. Take for example the Matrix and the Matrix Revolutions. Obviously very similar movies, but users who have rated both movies rated the first movie an average of 1.3 higher than the third movie in the franchise. So if I give the Matrix an 8, I'll probably enjoy the Matrix Revolutions more around a 6 or 7 than an 8 as well. Of course this is not always the case, but when you do this for many movies the prediction on average becomes more accurate.

The second big change came from thinking about horror movies. I felt that my recommendations were overestimating how much I would enjoy horror movies. A large part of the reason was because one of the users with a similar taste in movies really likes horror movies. Whereas I generally don't. We match so well on comedy, drama, and romance that it compensated for the mismatch in horror. Which left me inflated horror movie recomendation. So I decided to also calculate similarity based on genre for each user and only use the genres with a high similarity. Now this user is helping me with comedy, drama, and romance recommendations but not horror movies.

The third small change I made was making who counts as a user with a similar taste in movies slightly stricter. Specifically, a big difference in rating for a movie (for example, I rate a movie as a 9 and another users rates it as a 4) reduces the similarity to a greater extent. This will reduce the amount of big mistakes that occur in the recommendations.

Here are some of my new recommendations. Looking forward to watching them :)

Curious about your new and improved recommendations? Go check them out!

2016.07.28 11.40

Toy Story and Back to the Future. Not particularly similar movies. Yet somehow the similar movie algorithm was saying they were. What was going on?

Both movies are 'Family' movies. Which seems to be a black and white way of saying if a movie is appropriate for younger viewers. Also, the algorithm heavily favored movies with a lot of ratings.

I decided it was time to give the algorithm an overhaul. First, I replaced the 'Family' genre with the average certification (age restrictions) of a movie. Instead of a binary yes/no, the algorithm now had a precise scale. Second, the algorithm looks at the keywords associated with movies to get at the difference and similarity in the content of movies. Third, I gave less weight to extra ratings beyond a minimum threshold of about ten ratings (yay logarithmic functions!).

Toy Story and Back to the Future are no longer similar movies. I've done a lot of checking, and I'm very satisfied with the new similarities. Check out the similar movies of Inception, Ruby Sparks, and Stranger Than Fiction.

Movies similar to Back to the Future.

Movies similar to Toy Story.

Similar movies is a good way to find a great movie that's just like one of your favorite movies.

2016.06.19 11.29

Tired of having to keep logging in again? I certainly was. So I implemented persistent login. Now you can stay logged in at your home computer or on your smartphone.

I was wondering how much time I've spent logging in to Veboli. I first logged in just over four years ago. Let's say I log in two times a day and that takes me about two or three seconds.. Two hours! I've spent two hours of my life logging in to Veboli :p

2016.06.14 18.30

At the time of writing, I've rated 789 movies. Which got me thinking about the interesting patterns that might be found in all these ratings.

Completely as expected, my lowest rated genre is horror. If anything, I'm surprised it's that high. But I think that anytime there is a vampire, werewolf, or zombie in a movie, it counts as horror, even if the movie is distinctively not scary. My highest rated horror movies What We Do in the Shadows, Funny Games, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, and Warm Bodies aren't all that frightening.

2014 was a good year for movies. Led by Cowspiracy, The Theory of Everything, Interstellar, Nightcrawler, The Skeleton Twins, and What We Do in the Shadows and a complete lack of awful movies my average rating for 2014 was 7.3. The next best year was 2010 at 6.5. Also, there is a huge spike in movies in 2015 because I started going to two sneak previews per week.

You can see that the effect of some of the bad Dutch movies and shows I've watched recently (Rundfunk, Mannenharten, and Bon Bini Holland) have had on my average for the Netherlands.

Back in february I updated the order in which recommendations are displayed. It had been purely based on the strength of the recommendation: 10.0, 9.6, 9.1, 8.5, 7.9, etc.

Then I decided to create a formula that also accounts for the certainty of the recommendation. So a movie that I'm really certain you like at around a 7-9 would be displayed about a movie that I don't know much about much seems like it would be an 8-10.

Now I'm letting you choose. You want to know exactly what you're getting yourself into? Move it all the way to the left towards certainty. Want to go on a big adventure? Move it all the way to the right towards recommendation.

Here you can see me choosing for certainty. The recommendations are lower, but the certainty is greater that that's how I'll experience the movie.

Here you can see me choosing for the middle ground. This takes into account both the certainty as well as the strength of the recommendation.

Here you can see me choosing for adventure. The recommendations are high, but my experience could differ a lot. Choose this if you want to discover new and unusual movies.

I haven't just been making all sorts of improvements to the site, I've also been telling everyone about Veboli. Because I really think that it's helpful for movie lovers. So what do they have to say about Veboli?

A little language note, these are all Dutch articles. I've included a link in parenthesis which links to an English translation. No guarantees that it's readable. But the less you can understand, the more you can laugh :p

It all started on march 30 when de Filmkrant wrote Makkelijker films kiezen met persoonlijk advies (Choose films more easily with personal advice). There you can read about the origins of the name and the idea as well as some insights into how Veboli works and where the site is going.

In may, more articles were written. In Hoe Veboli jou de beste filmaanbevelingen geeft (How Veboli gives you the best movie recommendations), Wilco Born writes about how Veboli changes the way people discover new movies and some of the features we've got in the pipeline. De Protagonisten wrote Veboli: filmtips op basis van jouw voorkeuren (Veboli: movie tips based on your preferences), where I told about how picking a movie isn't always easy and how Veboli can help. De Protagonisten also call on everyone to make an account and become friends so that everyone can easily watch a fun movie together :) In Veboli: Dé site voor filmsuggesties? (Veboli: the site for movie suggestions?) on De Filmkijker I was able to tell about why I made Veboli and what I want to do with it in the future. Subsequently, Nostra tells about his own experience with Veboli: what he liked, what he disliked, and what he hopes to see in the future.

My press release was also published on In de boekenkast (translation).

I think it's super cool to read what others think of Veboli, especially when they are able to discover new movies they really like!

2016.05.20 18.05

I've been messing around with the design again :) I think this one is really something.

Here you can see the new design in action as I search for a recent comedie to watch:

Check out how the recommendations page looked in design 7.0.

2016.05.11 08.26

Curious why a movie is being recommended to you? Veboli now provides the answer. You can see the average rating of all the like-minded movie watchers and three similar movies that you've already seen.

For example, here you can see why Moonrise Kingdom is recommended to me:

Check it out with your own recommendations.

2016.05.03 09.05

Veboli now has 100 users who together have given 10,301 movie ratings.

2016.04.25 14.41

You can now import your IMDb ratings. With your taste profile filled in, you can jump right to your amazing personal movie recommendations. Go and import your IMDb ratings now.

On your ratings page there is the option to export your ratings ("export this list"), which will give you a csv file of all your ratings. That's the file you need.

I went to the Chamber of Commerce today and had the pleasure of telling about all the little details of the company and writing my signature everywhere. Even though it was partially a formality, it still felt really special and I was super excited. Luckily the random man on the street didn't mind taking a picture of me :)

I was even congratulated by a woman who was walking past, awesome!

2016.04.07 07.54

Curious about all the movies you've rated so far? Use the filter to see exactly which movies you've rated. From the non-action drama movies to the most recent movie from the sixties..

Here I am searching for my highest rated fantasy movies from the beginning of this century:

Want to rate some more fantasy movies? You can! Use the list of well-known fantasy movies. There are many more movie lists if you want to fill out your taste profile further.

2016.02.22 10.51

A while ago I made the home page sexy. I've now done that for the rest of the website as well!

Here I am looking for a drama movie without action:

2016.02.16 14.26

Veboli provides all sorts of help with finding the right movie for you to watch. To make that as quick as possible to get, I made the signing up process short and to the point.

Which great movies are waiting for you? Get started!

I added two new features to the recommendations :)

First, you can filter your recommendations based on year. Like in the image below, where I'm apperently really in the mood for an action movie from the turn of the millenium.

Second, you can now ignore recommendations. If you've done you own research and decided Pearl Harbor isn't gonna be your cup of tea, just click on the X to the left to ignore it.

2015.11.01 21.22

By comparing movie watchers with each other Veboli can calculate really accurate recommendations. But to be able to compare movie watchers with each other users have to spend some time telling Veboli everything they like and dislike. I thought that that was just how it was, a time investment to get really good recommendations.

When some friends asked me if I could speed up the process I did some thinking. Annnddd (do you feel it coming) of course I could! Veboli already has a smart algorithm for comparing movies to each other, so I just had to incorporate this algorithm into the recommendation algorithm.

Now you just have to give me one of your favorite movies and you'll get a bunch of recommendations. And you can get more and more accurate recommendations any time by rating more movies.

Signing up is also super easy!

2015.09.15 15.45

The other day, Lenneke van Rossum told me I should make the home page sexy. Good advice, but I thought that it would be way too much work. Still, I went home and played around with the idea.

After two days, it was almost done! Just some small adjustments and the home page was sexy:

Only the necessary information, and with nice images from well known movies. I'm really happy with it :)

2015.08.19 08.42

So I finished transferring everyone's song ratings to the new Musicbrainz database. Great news, but one little caveat. Only 20% of the songs had equivalents between the old Freebase data and the new Musicbrainz data!

With Freebase I used a nice and complicated system to figure out what was a unique song (all the different live versions of a song aren't really different songs, but a cover by a different band definitely is). With Musicbrainz I simplified it by looking at works instead of recordings, but works is a rather incomplete dataset compared to recordings, hence only some of the songs have equivalents.

To get the rest of the song ratings transferred I'll make use of the recordings as well. Time to look at the old complicated system again :)

I'm now keeping track of how well the recommendations match the actual rating that users end op giving for movies, songs, etc. Exciting stuff :)

2015.07.30 14.51

Design 6.0 is finished! 5.0 definitely wasn't a bad design, but I didn't completely like the light gray background and orange boxes. So I decided to play with all the style rules. By changing the background to white I was all of a sudden in a fit of inspiration and quickly made all sorts of improvements.

You can see everything I've changed the best on the film page. Here is how the page used to look for The Matrix:

Light gray background, orange boxes with icons, and the old design for displaying your rating.

And this is how the page for The Matrix now looks:

White background, a simple design for the boxes, and a clearer display of your rating. The degree of recommendation for the movies you haven't seen is now displayed (in yellow) everywhere, not just on the recommendations page.

I've simplified the wat in which the recommendations with friends are calculated. Not only is the code nicer on the eyes, the recommendations match better with what you want to watch, listen to, etc. with friends.

I also modified the entire system so that your similars and recommendations load faster.

On the agenda: the new design is almost done and after that I'll transfer the music ratings :)

Oof! One sec..

Moving from Freebase to Wikidata was a real adventure! So, I searched all the far reaches of the internet to see how I could use the data from Wikidata for Veboli. Short summary, I couldn't!

That wasn't fun news, but I just kept going and found Musicbrainz. A gigantic music database with a powerful API. Perfect!

All I had to do was tweak all the actions and processes so they'd be adapted to the new system. That took a lot of time. But luckily it wasn't just adjusting, I also improved an important process! Freebase and Musicbrainz both lack a song entity. They instead have 'release group', 'release', 'recording', and 'work'. I both simplified and improved the algorithm that determines what a song is. I would go so far as to say it's more or less perfect :D

In the coming weeks, I'm gonna work on transferring your ratings to the new system and carry out a new calculation of the similarity between bands.

Finally, I have unfortunately had to (temporarily!) remove books and games. I hope to add these two fun parts back before the end of the year. And of course your ratings for books and games will be saved until then!

Veboli currently uses Freebase for all the data on music, books, and games. Because this service is stopping at the end of june, Veboli is moving to Wikidata. Today I start this fun job :p

Over the past year I have completed my linguistics bachelor and developed an improved way of calculating the strength of each football country, which I am currently writing about in my blog, Wisano.

But I've also been busy with Veboli this year. Today that comes to fruition as a new design. I have, as good as I can alone, given Veboli a responsive and interactive design. Responsive design is a fancy term for a design that adjusts to the size of your screen; interactive design is a fancy term for a design that reacts to what you do.

Underneath, I have three three screenshots of the landing page at different widths:

900 pixels: on a computer you'd mostly see Veboli like this.

650 pixels: on smallers screens such as tablets and horizontal smartphones you'd mostly see Veboli like this.

400 pixels: on smartphones and other small screens you'd mostly see Veboli like this.

Look to the links and buttons to see the interactivity. When you hover of them with the mouse the color changes a bit to let you know you're about to trigger an action.

In preparation for a bunch of new recommendation methodes I've modified the layout. On the start page you can now choose from a few ways to discover new movies, music, books, and games. The next few months I'll be continually expand this. A little sneak peak to what I'm working towards:

I've also opened up the personal recommendations to non-members. you don't have to give an email or anything, just rate some movies or songs and you get great recommendations! If you make an account later, your ratings and recommendations will automatically be linked.

2014.04.29 10.32

If you filled in your music taste profile, you can also get band recommendations in addition to song recommendations. That way you can also discover new bands and easily find bands you and a friend both like (for a concert for example).

You can also get band recommendations by providing a favorite band.

2014.04.03 20.01

I've been working on design 3.0 the last three weeks. My plan of attack: how do I want everything to look? The difference with 2.0 is clearly visible in the starting page for when you are not logged in. Instead of saying everything with words, I now also use the layout, colors, and images to focus the attention on the right place and to convey the necessary information.

Design 2.0: a chaotic greeting

Design 3.0: a (hopefully) simpler and clearer greeting

I thought it would we cool to look at how Veboli has changed over the years (by using my film ratings page as an example).

Design 0.0: on may 29th, 2012, Veboli went online with a sparse green design. I looked to Wikipedia to help help develop a sleek and simple design, but that wasn't such a good choice considering wikipedia has lots of large chunks of text and Veboli is composed of small groups of words.

Design 1.0: at the end of october 2013 I started to clean up many of the scripts for Veboli. On october 25th, I also had a new blue design, drawing inspiration from the Movie Database (where Veboli also gets its movie data from). The content is now displayed in the middle of the browser, instead of to the left, and I made more use of lines and sections to organize things.

Design 3.0: despite having improved many things with design 1.0, I quickly got started on a new purple design that went live on december 9th. The left navigation bar (with links to movie ratings, song recommendations, etc.) Moved to the top and I paid attention to smaller details, such as the radio buttons and the way in which ratings are provided.

Design 3.0: since march 29th, 2014, Veboli is up and running with a sleek white and blue design, with green accents to emphasize the important parts. To find a good balance between minimalism and a clear and logical layout I looked at Dropbox, Codecademy and OKCupid. I also received a lot of help from Anke Hans. The navigation bar is more compact and I looked at many of the smaller details, such as the alignment of text and the style of buttons. What I personally like most is that the width of pages is now dynamically calculated based on the browser size. Currently it can shrink down to 500 pixels, but with some tinkering I hope to push this back to 320 pixels.

2014.02.25 10.10

I'm running a little behind with this post, but I added books and games to Veboli (by using Freebase). Now you can also get recommendations for new books and games!

PS, I defined games rather broadly, everything from computer games to board and card games and even sports :)

2014.01.01 16.00

In the middle of december you could also come to Veboli for similar movies: for example, what are similar films of Fight Club or The Notebook. To calculate this I looked for the half at the genre of a movie and for other half at the quality. Since then I have improved three things in calculating similar movies.

First, I no longer look at 'foreign' as a genre by these calculations (the difference in a movie about godzilla does not lie in the fact that it comes from Japan or America).

Second, I no longer just look at the genre to determine what a movie is about, I also look at more specific themes and subjects (like: nihilism, artificial intelligence, garbage, monkey, etc.). This way the emphasis remains on wether or not a movie is a comedy, while also taking into account what type of comedy it is.

Finally, to determine the similarity in quality I no longer just look at the difference in rating between users for two movies, but also at the difference in the average rating for the two movies. That way I can calculate the similarity for more movies and a greater amount of ratings are used to determine the quality of a movie. Look at the new calculations >


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