New Feature: Recommended Articles
SmartNews already built a sophisticated duplicate content filter so that when the latest press release from a presidential candidate, disaster, crime, or culinary sensation hits the proverbial viral loop that breaking news from multiple outlets does not overwhelm the app and crowd out other stories. SmartNews strives to promote only the best unique stories to our readers.
But there are times when you want to dig deeper on an issue or read an alternative take. Introducing the Recommended widget.
You can find the Recommended widget at the bottom of the SmartView of any article in the SmartNews app. Swipe left on any article to get to the simplified SmartView of that article. Scroll down to the bottom to get to the Recommended widget.
Take, for example, the recent Rolling Stone story about Ringo Starr auctioning off his personal copy of The Beatles’ White Album.
The first three headlines (in purple) are from the publisher of the original piece (Rolling Stone). If the publisher has continued coverage of the story, you’ll see past stories about the topic giving you deeper context around what you just read. In this example there is a link to an earlier story about the auction followed by an interview with Ringo Starr and then a piece about The Beatles and their album Rubber Soul.
The bottom two headlines (in green) are culled from our daily crawl of 10 million+ headlines and matched entirely based on a custom SmartNews algorithm. Here we see two other stories about the Ringo Starr auction, one from The Guardian and the second from NME.
Better Algorithms, Better Recommendations
How do we do it? That sophisticated de-dupe filter we built to reduce articles that are too much alike? Turn it around and it makes a fantastic related articles algorithm!
Each article is automatically “read” and key terms, companies, people, and other entities are extracted along with data around the author, publisher, length of the piece and many other factors are used to make a data representation of the article. When two representations overlap significantly we give them a similarity score. The higher the score, the more similar the two articles are for the purposes of filtering or recommending.
I like to think of the Recommended widget as a jumping off point for further exploration. Headlines 1-3 go deeper into the past with a specific source while headlines 4 & 5 go broader along the same topic but across different publications. Choose your adventure.
The similar articles feature is not new. I use a WordPress plugin on this blog to power the Related box you see below each post. Most news sites have something similar, usually driven by keyword or tag matching, against a limited content set. SmartNews has a more sophisticated matching algorithm across a much broader universe of articles and I think you’ll notice the difference right away.
Download SmartNews, have fun exploring and let us know what you think!