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I asked three people to list the items that they think are most important for something.

PERSON A             PERSON B             PERSON C
Item "aaa111"        Item "bbb222"        Item "bbb222"
Item "bbb222"        Item "eee555"        Item "ccc333"
Item "ccc333"        Item "fff666"        Item "ggg777"
Item "ddd444"

Since some items appear on more than one person's list, those items are obviously the most important ones, so I have compiled this list, which puts the item most frequently named on top, the next-most-frequently named second, and so forth:

Item "bbb222"
Item "ccc333"
Item "aaa111"
Item "ddd444"
Item "eee555"
Item "fff666"
Item "ggg777"

I want to head this list with a caption of the form Combined list in the order of __.

My question: Is there a single word I can use in that blank to name my ordering principle?

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closed as not a real question by Rory Alsop, tchrist, JLG, MετάEd, Kris Jan 27 '13 at 8:30

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Hi, there is a lot of information here, but I can't see a question. What are you wanting? – Rory Alsop Jan 27 '13 at 2:14
I agree with Rory. Is there a question in our immediate future here? – Robusto Jan 27 '13 at 2:16
@Rory, Robusto: What's unclear about this question? It doesn't really make any difference exactly how the final list is calculated (we're not professional statisticians here). He just wants a reasonably accessible term to describe the sequence of that list, given it was formed by a bit of math combining several individual lists. – FumbleFingers Jan 27 '13 at 2:33
What FumbleFingers said. Question was just a one-word request. I agree, I could've phrased it better. – laggingreflex Jan 27 '13 at 5:09
The question as it stands is hard to makes sense of. Please rewrite. – MετάEd Jan 27 '13 at 5:37

In the order of popularity.

Other words might be

  • acceptability
  • approval
  • rank ("In rank order")

Popularity suggests that the choices were made subjectively. The other words allow for there to have been some sort of objective recommendation process.


I'll add "ranking" just to generalize and address the ambiguously stated method for performing the ranking. Thus:

In the order of ranking.


In ranked order.

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But supposing OP has lists from 10 people, with 3 items in each list. Further suppose that in 5 lists, itemA appears at the top and itemB at the bottom, but in the other 5, those positions are reversed. Then suppose that itemC appears second in every list. Which item is "most popular"? By how much would the situation change if one more list was added? – FumbleFingers Jan 27 '13 at 2:40
That's where "acceptability" comes in. I.e., the rules for acceptability don't have to be obvious. (They aren't even fully stated, obviously, or there would be no what-ifs.) Now I shall return to my cigar. – Canis Lupus Jan 27 '13 at 2:48

I don't know the exact mathematical procedure whereby OP arrived at his final list, but I don't think that matters. It looks like a weighted preference voting scheme.

Note that the simplest algorithm for such a scheme would imply each list being the same length. Say everyone produces a list of three items. Then you can award 3 points for each item each time it comes first in someones's list, 2 if it's second, and 1 if it's third.

Sum all the points for each item, and that gives you the final list. But note you might get a different "final combined" list if you award 2, 1, 0 points instead of 3, 2, 1, depending on the actual lists.

So I'd say that final list is in the order of weighted preference.

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Incidentally, if any kick-ass statisticians happen by this one, I'd be interested in knowing more about the issue. I've been planning for months (but never got around to actually starting) a movie recommendations app based on such a principle, because I don't think much of the "some other movies you might like" list on IMDB that I always end up checking forlornly every time I've just watched a movie I like. Their algorithm doesn't seem to work very well for me! – FumbleFingers Jan 27 '13 at 2:46
You may want to read about the Netflix Prize. It is for serious-minded mathematicians and programmers interested in doing just that. It ended in 2009, but there is plenty of available technical documentation for you to peruse at your leisure. The algorithms there (and the Google algorithm, by the way) likely address the concerns you raised in your comment below. It has been awhile since I was involved in it, so I'm a little forgetful of the details. – Canis Lupus Jan 27 '13 at 3:02
@Jim: I'd never heard of that "prize" until I read your comment, but I know what Netflix is, so my heart sank before I even looked up the details of their prize challenge. Basically, what it means is there's no established algorithm for what I wanted to do. Whatever - the challenge has ended, and Netflix no longer make the ratings from 0.5M users available as a test dataset, so I don't think I'll get much from that. Ah well - back to the drawing board! – FumbleFingers Jan 27 '13 at 15:37

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