To achieve high quality initial personalization, recommender systems must provide an efficient and effective process for new users to express their preferences. We propose that this goal is best served not by the classical method where users begin by expressing preferences for individual items - this process is an inefficient way to convert a user's effort into improved personalization. Rather, we propose that new users can begin by expressing their preferences for groups of items. We test this idea by designing and evaluating an interactive process where users express preferences across groups of items that are automatically generated by clustering algorithms. We contribute a strategy for recommending items based on these preferences that is generalizable to any collaborative filtering-based system. We evaluate our process with both offline simulation methods and an online user experiment. We find that, as compared with a baseline rate-15-items interface, (a) users are able to complete the preference elicitation process in less than half the time, and (b) users are more satisfied with the resulting recommended items. Our evaluation reveals several advantages and other trade-offs involved in moving from item-based preference elicitation to group-based preference elicitation.
Chang, S., Harper, F. M., & Terveen, L. (2015). Using Groups of Items to Bootstrap New Users in Recommender Systems. CSCW 2015: Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, 1258–1269. https://doi.org/10.1145/2675133.2675210