Algorithm Algorithm

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Important Note: As of March 2016, some of the things described below are currently NOT relevant, as there has been a major overhaul of the ranking algorithm.

Many of the tips and tricks that have to do with best times and days of the week, and update schedules are currently not as relevant as they used to be.

Dedicated with the utmost respect to Allen Lau and anyone who has been part of Wattpad's Ranking Algorithm.

Algorithm, algorithm, seems everyone  is preoccupied with the algorithm these days.

If you're new to Wattpad, you'll hear it uttered a lot. Mostly by writers, because readers are more concerned with finding that next good book. But for us writers looking to prove ourselves on Wattpad, the algorithm can be our best friend, or our greatest enemy.

But what exactly is it?

To put it simply, the "Algorithm" refers to Wattpad's ranking algorithm. That is to say, it is the engine that determines which books land on the Hot List.

If you've ever Googled anything or searched for something on Facebook, you've come across an algorithm. A good algorithm has the following qualities:

1)      It is fair

2)      It is logical to a certain point

3)      It is not easily understood

4)      It is difficult to game.

5)      It adapts constantly in reaction to attempts to game it

Wattpad's ranking algorithm is exactly the same way. And for what people say of it, it is mostly a fair algorithm. I have noticed times when the algorithm has been less than fair and I have always been vocal about it.

People speculate all the time about the algorithm. Everyone asks these questions.

·         How come a book with only 100 reads is ranking higher than a book with 1 million reads?

·         I voted like crazy for my favorite book and it never ranks. And it's got 700K reads!

·         No one ever reads my book.

And each and every one of these folks inevitably reaches the same conclusion. Wattpad is rigging the Hot List! It's got to be doing that, else none of this would make sense, right?

Well, the answer to that is unfortunately a little complicated.

In my experience, I have found that *some* human intervention comes into play on the Hot List. It isn't all engine. Some of that "human intervention" leads to results that are mind boggling to say the least. Favorite Authors, favorite books, the list goes on and on.

For the record, I will say this: the current Wattpad algorithm, especially the one that's been in place for about six to eight months now, is the fairest it has ever been. But its fairness and its predictability are going to be its downfall.

In fact, as I write this, I imagine Wattpad, if they're reading this are going to react and make some changes. And they SHOULD. Any good algorithm should not be susceptible to trickery or manipulation.

But for now, here's a no-holds barred expose on what I know about the current algorithm.

So without further ado, I give you, the Big Four.

Here's what the Hot List is currently counting the most in their algorithm IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE. Note that they probably account for thousands of these variables in the algorithm, but these four count the most in ranking right now.

1) How recently you updated your story. If you haven't updated your story in a month, it's tough to make it into the top 10. Only way I've found around this, is if you're a Featured Story. Or have a really steady stream of readers and have 5K fans. NEW Stories, get top priority on the Algorithm.

UPDATE 2/20/14: Wattpad has changed it's YuenRank algorithm to adapt to the above weakness. I've had enough data to observe it now so I'll post the update. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, "The Wattpad Fakie". Updating your story now penalizes you for a day or so. Your rank will plummet in response to your updates. But make no mistake - #1 is still very much true. You just have to wait a few more days for it to work, hence the term "fakie". Don't get faked out! :)

2) Number of Library Adds PER Day, not total. This is based on observation. Library Adds and Reading List adds are a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more people add you, the more other people see you. It's a visibility thing. While this may not factor into the algorithm in a technical sense, it definitely affects the final outcome, which is what we care about the most: the rankings.

3) Number of reads PER day, not total reads. As crazy as this sounds, total reads don't count in the Hot List. At all. You can have 5K reads and make the hot list if you get 1K per day. And it is important to note that the reads are RELATIVE. For instance, if you got 1K reads and that is 20% of your total reads, but another person got 1K and that was 2% of their total reads, you will rank higher than that person with the larger amount of reads. I love that about the algorithm because it shows that Wattpad has a desire to level the playing field.

Can you imagine if the top story was the story with the most reads? Why would anyone even try to move up the ladder? This one tweak alone guarantees everyone gets an opportunity to rank on the Hot List.

4) Number of Votes and Comments. PER Day.

5) This is a bonus: As a matter of fact, I must state that NEW stories have the greatest advantage on Wattpad. If you have a new story with 50 reads, you have a greater edge in the current algorithm, of ranking well, than a story with 50 million reads! It's crazy, but it's true!

ALSO IMPORTANT: Friday is a GAME CHANGER, because a LOT of authors post updates on Friday so the algorithm gets hit with a ton of data it has to process. If you don't want your rank to slip, Friday is the day to update. Saturday Morning, is THE WORST because the algorithm has gone through its paces Friday evening and the activity level on Wattpad is very low on a Saturday morning. I say this for people residing in North America. If you write in another language or reside in another part of the world, adjust your expectations accordingly.

Ok, that is the BASICs. The next few posts I make will delve deeper into the algorithm and how it ticks.

And now for the legal stuff: everything I say here is speculation on my part based on personal observations over time on how stories rank and do well. I have a lot of data and have experience with algorithms and how they behave. This does not, in any way make me an expert on the algorithm nor should my words here be misconstrued (that is to say taken), as FACT. These are speculations on my part that, based on hard evidence that has practical value when applied. However, Wattpad will neither confirm nor deny any allegations I make in this post or in any future posts.

Ok, that aside. I hope you have derived value from this post. I wish everyone luck on their stories!

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