Methodology

Awesome! So, you are probably considering adding new data or new pages—thus making this website more and more a tool that book-lovers, students and even academics can refer to! Please read this section, as it will suggest some ways to find data and propose a couple of conventions used throughout this website.

How you can gather the data

You can collect information through a wide variety of sources. You can use books (monographs and series), newspapers, magazines, academic journals, encyclopedias, documentaries and radio broadcasts. You may use combinations and overlaps of different, sometimes contradicting, sources. Sources may also include direct feedbacks from specific famous persons, in which case a note stating that such feedback actually took place appears on the relevant pages. This last case, however, is not expected to be the norm, as publicly-available external sources will be used in the overwhelming majority of cases.

How you and us can complete and re-edit data on influence pages

Sources might mention some of the most influential or favourite works of a famous person and narratively comment on the impact of each of these works. But they typically never provide a ranking or indication as to the relative importance upon that famous person.

As our website tries to quantify, rank, process and aggregate all our data (so as to produce as many rankings and as many interesting conclusions as possible), we have the need to editorially complete whatever information we extract from our sources and, as the case may be, from our visitors. Therefore, we enter the small tidbits of information we extract from each of our sources into our database by editorially completing each information with about 20 hidden mathematical parameters. One by one, we try to ponder each numerical value we give to each parameter — for each person, author and book we enter. These parameters allow the computer (through formulas and algorithms) to make several “intelligent” conclusions, in response to visitors' queries. In particular, they make possible the determination of the weight of influence that specific works and authors exerted on a particular person. They are also helpful in guiding the calculation of collective infloox lists.

Consequently, all rankings and parameters of relative strengths originate from editorial decisions made both by our visitors and by infloox — not from the sources themselves. This means that any quantitative underestimation (or overestimation) of the power of a books on a famous person should, therefore, not be attributed to a source, but rather to visitors or Infloox.

How data coming from sources are processed by our algorithm

When sources are multiple (either in agreement or in contradiction among themselves), the presence of about 20 hidden mathematical parameters allows the computer to weigh the relative importance of each work — hence to make “educated” choices as to how best to produce a ranking.

As already mentioned, the computer also produces collective rankings of works (that is, by countries as a whole, by entire activity and professional categories, or by other criteria) using similar algorithms.

How you can enter data on works: translations of titles

Our goal is constantly to strive for rigour, while providing an enjoyable and user-friendly experience for everyone.

You can enter titles in their original language of publication, whenever possible.

You can provide a translation of each title in each of the five languages we cover in this website. In some cases, however, a specific work (although perhaps popular in one country) does not yet possess an official translated title in one or more other languages. Or perhaps such translated title exists, but you are not able to find it after reasonable efforts. In all these cases, you should take the liberty to provide a translation for the benefit of visitors. When this happens, you should make note of it.

How you should enter data on works: use year of completion of writing instead of year of publication

We prefer that you enter the year of completion of the writing of the book (or the completion of the piece of music or of the film), as many very important works in history present major discrepancy between the moment of writing and the moment of first publication. Think of The Bible (published centuries later, as printing wasn''t invented yet); think of many of Shakespeare's plays (published in special editions 10 or 20 years later); think of hidden manuscripts re-discovered decades or centuries later and then published; think of Bach's St Matthew Passion.

That being said, however, for works released in the last few decades, feel free to enter the year of publication or of release, as this usually coincides closely with the moment when the creator completes his work.

About ad hoc influences

Sometimes, as you extract data from sources, you might not be able to identify precisely specific work titles or authors. Sources may be vague: often because the scholars or biographers were not themselves able to identify a title or an author. For example, a source might say that some medieval king loved reading books about hunting, without mentioning any in particular.

Once again, the goal here is to offer as much of a consistent and user-friendly environment as possible for all of us. Therefore, we came up with the concept of ad hoc influences. Here is what we mean.

Let's take the above example: a source telling us that some medieval king loved reading books about hunting, without specifying which ones. If we are able to infer with great confidence this particular book's identity, then we enter its title directly into the infloox list (stating of course that that is Infloox's educated guess — and not part of what the source says). In this case, we do not need to rely on the concept of ad hoc influences.

If however none of our guesses seems acceptable to you (or, alternatively, if the number of works potentially fitting this categorization is too high — in our example, within the category of “books about hunting”), then you should include in the infloox list not the title of a work or the name of an author, but rather the description of a generic category. This generic category is what we call an ad hoc influence. Thus, in our example, the infloox list would simply mention “books on hunting”.