May Hathaway, a rising sophomore studying English, Linguistics, and Computer Science, spent this summer as a Mellon Undergraduate Fellow at the Price Lab. As a research assistant on Dr. Jim English and Dr. J. D. Porter’s Literary Eclecticism project, May developed her own project to study film ratings and user behavior on the popular Letterboxd social movie-review site. By applying the web-scraping skills she learned on the Eclecticism project, May wrote Python scripts to harvest user data from the Letterboxd website, and then created data visualizations with Tableau.
“My project has focused particularly on the distinction between ‘influencers’ and regular users,” explains May. “I'm interested in how their user ratings may conform to a bell curve, a J-curve, or other common shape as visualized on their profile page. Additionally, my project has shed some light on the different ways users use Letterboxd's rating function; for example, some users may only rate their 5-star movies or may write many reviews but not rate any movies at all. Through my project, I've been able to identify common rating curve patterns and rating differences between influencers and regular users.”
May plans to continue working with Jim and J.D. this fall to refine her work and prepare to submit for publication in the spring.