Excellent write up. Very clear to understand, and us coders appreciate the code samples. I really enjoyed the visual tool. I am curious if this could be a feature? For instance, if I could tweak it to my actual reading speed, and then set it to push me just beyond that average, then it may be an effective means to help improve my reading speed. I’d expect the UX to be toned down so it wouldn’t distract from the reading experience. It’s also reassuring to see that what I am reading it being recorded.
Glad you enjoyed it! Using the tracker as a kind of visual aid when reading is a super interesting idea. I'd love to see what kind of user interface ideas a designer could come up with for that. Given the feedback here and on /r/programming it seems like we'll definitely need to implement personalized tracking speeds at some point so we'll keep this in mind as well!
My first blog post! Happy to answer any questions anyone might have.
Is the threshold to comment variable by poster? When I had debug mode visible, I noticed I was reading so fast I had multiple lines "unread" as I scrolled faster than the highlight progressed. All in all, by the time I got to the end, Readup undershot so far it said I had only read 65% of the page! If it wasn't for the debug view, I would have had no idea where the "unread" 35% of the content was in order to even write this reply. I look forward to seeing this implemented on other sites, but I hope registered users can tune their reading speed a bit more than the one-size-fits all speed you have now.
Wow, that's quite a big margin of error there! The threshold to comment (90%) and the tracker speed (~600 WPM) are both currently fixed but it would certainly be possible to make them per-user variables as you suggested. That feature isn't currently in our backlog but it's definitely something to consider. I'm curious though, are you a very fast reader or do you think there was maybe a bug that could have resulted in the tracker not moving fast enough? The reading study referenced in the Slate article I linked to seemed to suggest that most people cannot read much faster than 600 WPM which is why we picked that number.
I am a bit of a speed reader, yes. After doing a few tests, I tend to do 700-800 WPM or so. I was reading this in firefox at an odd resolution without the addon just from the reddit link, so it's entirely possible there's a bug impacting the "fill speed" of the tracking. For reference, https://i.imgur.com/QoWKEva.png took me 30-35 seconds to read, but 42ish seconds for the debug view to fill every line with green. I'm not sure how long it should take, but with overshooting the code segments, unconsciously skipping a paragraph or two, and the like, I could see how I got to feeling like I finished while readup pegged me at 65% done (I likely did miss enough to only have read 80%-90% of the full article by the time I reached the bottom)
Thank you for all the detailed info! I also noticed an issue where if you use the page down key to read then the 1.5s average delay in updating the position of the text content could lower the effective tracking rate. I'm thinking you're right and that some kind of calibration test for new users might be the best way to dial it in properly.
Congratulations Jeff, great job! Loved the layout of the piece with the different headings such as Preface, The Problem Domain, Data Model etc...breaking things down helps with the pace and comprehension. Then it didn’t feel so overwhelming. I will be interested to see what the tech people have to say.
This was an enlightening read. I do sometimes try to "cheat", when I've read an article on my phone (which is not an iPhone, and thus no Readup app yet) and want to post it on Readup afterwards.
This speaks of community commitment! I’ve done the same at first. Then I got an iDevice through work and life became easier 🤷♂️ Readup can be a motivation to buy Apple products 😅
As a fellow dev (though one far, far less accomplished), I both admired and enjoyed this! Nice to see how the sausage is calculated. :)
Haha, "sausage" 😂 Do you mean the initially red background of the X% read icon?
I read it as a funny take on the American idiom for looking at the hidden inner workings of something. Interesting discussion on the English Stack Exchange! https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/120739/a-peek-into-the-sausage-factory It's a perfect use of the phrase since the actual inner workings of Readup are more complicated than the article lets on. The more you zoom in the messier everything gets!
Read the article, tracker showed 86%
I appreciate the clarity here and am pleased that we need to read articles before commenting on them!
Thanks so much for sharing this, Jeff! I admire the level of transparency and honesty in the way you two run ReadUp. It’s such an important foundation for long term success. Keep them blog posts coming 💪
Okay, first I am biased, as I know this author very well! However, putting that aside, I found the conversational tone of this complicated subject matter very engaging and non-threatening. I did look up some words and I will reread this but feel I have come away with such an appreciation of all the hard work and creativity that went into this algorithm. It’s truly fascinating. Definitely like being in a foreign country not knowing the language but still really enjoying the people. The last 2 paragraphs definitely echo my experiences with Readup - learning to see other people’s points of view and taking the time to understand their perspective. Thank you Jeff and Bill for giving us this expansive platform and very interesting community. Truly grateful.