Can you help us fine-tune Pinterest?
September 16, 2016 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Mrs. Werkzeuger has a Pinterest account and it's driving her crazy. Specifically, how do you teach it to not bombard you with bible quotes and weight loss advice?

She made an account to follow a few friends. Some of her interests ("boards" in Pinterest parlance I guess) such as cooking and sewing seem to also invite a bunch of content she is adamantly not interested in. This takes the form of weight-loss and exercise advice, dieting, vitamins and supplements, and also a healthy dose of Christian inspirational quotes and bible verses. She has been diligently following the long-winded process of reporting these pins as spam, but it seems to make no difference as to what shows up in her feed. Is it possible to eliminate this kind of content, or should she give up on Pinterest? We welcome answers that help us better understand how Pinterest works, but we also would be open to hacky-er solutions like greasemonkey scripts. Thanks!!
posted by werkzeuger to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Is she comfortable getting bombarded by fat acceptance and/or anti bible stuff?

Because that's how I avoid rock hard abs and Jesus embroideries on Pinterest.
posted by bilabial at 9:51 AM on September 16, 2016

To clarify, I searched out and started following a few f/a and atheist boards.
posted by bilabial at 9:52 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Where is she seeing these pins? Because when I go to, the pins I see are from other pinners I follow. There is no spam. If she sees a diet pin, she needs to click on the account and unfollow.

Unless you're talking about the "related pins" feature, which is where she she pins something, a couple of other pins or boards pop up. As far as I know, there is no way to avoid that stuff other than what you're already doing.
posted by Brittanie at 9:53 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Is the offensive content coming from her friends, or is it labelled "Picked for You"?

If it's the former, she can go to her friends pages, and unfollow any boards where her friends post the offensive stuff. The default on Pinterest is that when you follow a person, you follow all of their boards. She may have friends who have "Body Inspo" or "God is Great" type boards that all of that content is going to. She can unfollow those no problem.

If she has friends who post the offensive stuff willy-nilly, she might have to unfollow those friends.

If the offensive stuff is coming from the algorithm ("Picked for You"), she needs to feed the algorithm more positive examples. She should do a bunch of searches and follow more boards that are specifically tailored to her interests.

Before "Picked for You" launched, I used to get the Thinspo stuff until I unfollowed the boards that my friends put that crap on. Now, I pretty much never see it, even in the auto recommendations, but my pinterest follows are mostly either metalwork or wargaming related.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:58 AM on September 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: If you go to the pinterest settings and click "Home Feed" you can now turn off the "Picked for you" feature so she will presumably only see pins from the boards she is following.

In my experience however, that setting doesn't really work, so there's greasemonkey script that you can use available here. I have used this bookmarklet and it's amazing to see exactly what percentage of my feed is promoted and picked pins.

Overall, I find that pinterest is very bad at predicting my interests. Last week I got an email from pinterest entitled "Spinach Pins picked just for you."
posted by donut_princess at 10:05 AM on September 16, 2016 [8 favorites]

Pinterest's algorithms are pretty terrible in my experience. I get a lot of house plans for some reason (sometimes 50% of my screen), despite never pinning anything like that. I think.
posted by quaking fajita at 10:13 AM on September 16, 2016

Response by poster: Most of the stuff she doesn't want is labeled "picked for you." She's started looking through the three people she follows and their boards don't seem to be the source of most of the yuck. She's turned off "picked for you" and is looking into following some F/A and athiest stuff too. And we'll check out that greasemonkey script, thanks for linking it.

You guys are making her day, thank you so much. Please keep the answers coming!
posted by werkzeuger at 10:13 AM on September 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconding donut_princess re Greasemonkey + Beth McMillan's awesome script, mentioned above. She hasn't updated it in about six months, and Pinterest has made some significant design changes since, so a few things are starting to slip through, but the volume of crap is still down from 11 to, like, 4.

If her *friends* are pinning diet BS and Christspirational quotes, she can go to each friend's boards page and unfollow the specific boards with that stuff, if she'd like to only see some things from specific friends. That will also help the Pinterest algorithm learn to show her less of the stuff she doesn't want to see. I still do the spam/crap reporting when I have time, because Pinterest should still know about it.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 10:26 AM on September 16, 2016

Best answer: Apologies for how judgey this is but:

Part of her problem may be the "cooking" interest. Even though people love to use Pinterest for recipes and such, it's really a terrible medium for it. Unless it's a cake decoration, you can't tell much about a recipe from a pretty picture.

But the pretty pictures do feed into the "mommy blogger" culture of taking perfectly staged pictures of one's domestic life and pimping that out for affiliate links and free review samples.

And the kinds of people who are into that also tend to be into body policing and glurgy quotes and performative Christianity.

So, if she's saving a bunch of of pioneer-womany cook-once-a-month meal plans and the like, she may be inadvertently telling Pinterest that she is a different kind of person than she actually is.

If she's only following 3 people though, that might also be part of the problem... The algorithm just doesn't know enough about what she does Like, so it's trying to feed her the popular stuff.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:27 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Spend a little time clicking on posts that she'd be okay with seeing more of. Pin to some boards. You'll get more of the same, and ads that are sort of targeted. I like industrial furnishings. The more I pin, the more I get. The only Jesus-y stuff I get is from people who have also pinned things I like. Pinterest is pretty huge, you can find way cool stuff - vintage astronomical posters, color palettes, etc. The more signal you introduce, the less noise you'll get.
posted by theora55 at 10:29 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I started marking the bible quotes as offensive and watched them drop off my Pinterest Feed right away.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 10:49 AM on September 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: "offensive" doesn't seem to be an option when she goes to report something, unfortunately.
posted by werkzeuger at 11:13 AM on September 16, 2016

Definitely nthing follow stuff she does like, that goes against that grain. I've been on Pinterest for years and I'm realizing now that in spite of my cooking, home deco, fashion inspiration, and mutiple sewing, knitting, crocheting, crafting, and gifting boards what... making stuff is fun..., and on top of all that, having Jesus-posting friends, I have never once seen a "Picked for you" pin the likes of which your wife describes.

Here's what I bet are the clinchers: I also have a "Goddesses" board (with pictures of Athena and the likes) and an Inspiring people board which if you click through to it you will immediately understand why I'm off the Christian algorithm heeheee.

I'm sure she has some specific interests that will help retrain the algorithms!
posted by fraula at 11:39 AM on September 16, 2016

Yes, definitely follow boards for stuff you like. I was getting a horrible mishmash of thinspo and recipes for bacon-wrapped everything until I started following a plus-sized sewing bloggers and vegan recipe boards.
posted by esoterrica at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2016

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