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New Bicycle Advocacy Project: 5


Screenshot of – James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

Yesterday I officially launched my latest bicycling advocacy project – Rate My Vélo – a website that allows people to upload photos of people on bicycles, and vote on other people’s photos.

The website mixes Mikael’s Cycle Chic™ style of advocacy with user-contributed content and provides an interactive user experience.

The premise behind the website is that it will show bicycling not as a sport, but as a pragmatic tool for transportation. Regular people in regular clothes on bicycles.

Now that is sexy.

The photos that get the most votes will surface at the top on the “photo of the day” and the “most popular photos” pages, and can be shared on other websites using simple gadgets like the one you can see on the right sidebar on this site.

The purpose of the site isn’t different than the mission of The Urban Country. The difference is that Rate My Vélo has the potential to reach beyond the “bicycle advocacy” world.

Like most bicycle advocacy websites, I’m often “preaching to the choir” here on The Urban Country – which is great, but to have a bigger impact, we need to reach beyond the choir and promote bicycling to regular people who wouldn’t spend time on a bicycle advocacy blog.

That’s where Rate My Vélo comes in – it’s a fun site to use whether you are an advocate or not, and it promotes bicycling with a degree of normalcy.

For a while now I have been trying to find a way to use my software development experience with my bicycle advocacy passion, so Rate My Vélo has allowed me to do just that.

Try out the site and let me know what you like/don’t like about it. I have my own list of things I’d like to improve, so it would be great to hear suggestions from a broader audience.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at

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5 thoughts on “New Bicycle Advocacy Project:

  1. joe Feb 22,2011 2:05 pm

    Great job James. Just posted about it to help start driving you traffic. 🙂

  2. Ryan Feb 23,2011 7:32 pm

    Great idea James!

    Hopefully I can get some images of cycle chic to represent St. Catharines :p

  3. Henry Feb 23,2011 9:01 pm

    Hey James, Do you have an algorithm to sort out which one is most popular with a ranking system? Like people selected this 100% over this, but only 50% over this, etc… so you can keep track of stats? I think this is what thefacebook had.

  4. James D. Schwartz Feb 23,2011 11:17 pm

    Henry, yes I did create an algorithm that ranks the photos similar to how it was done on FaceMesh(?). Each photo has an overall rating, a weekly rating, and a daily rating. The rating will go up or down by a certain amount depending on its current score and the score of the photos it was voted against.

    After a couple weeks I will update the query to ignore photos that have a low rating, but until there are enough photos in the database, I will let it return all photos.

    Currently the overall photo rankings range from 411 on the low side to 1647 on the high side. While testing I played with the sensitivity of the algorithm to make sure it would take a significant number of votes to manipulate the rating – and thus the position in the “most popular photos” section. This helps prevent people from manipulating their own ranking scores too.

    I also prevent hackers from writing scripts to manipulate the voting patterns as well. You can manipulate the ratings, but you have to do it manually, and it would take a while to make a significant impact.

    The reason I keep track of the overall rating + weekly rating + daily rating is so I can see which photos were popular on a given week, or a given day, or overall. The photo of the day is based on the daily ratings from the previous day.

    It’s also neat to look at reports which tell me how many votes happened per day (although I haven’t yet built these reports) 🙂

    Another interesting discovery I made today was someone uploading a nasty photo of a naked guy doing things to himself. I thought it was funny, and I completely expected this to happen. It’s all part of the game 🙂

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