Ask LH: How Can I Reset The Crazy Recommendations Websites Give Me?

Ask LH: How Can I Reset The Crazy Recommendations Websites Give Me?

Dear Lifehacker, I’ve been browsing Google News for a long time now, but my recommendations seem to have strayed over time to things that I’m not really interested in (not to mention a few things I don’t want others to see when Google News pops up on my screen). The same thing is also happening with sites like Amazon. Is there any way to “reset” my recommendations for a site and start from scratch? Sincerely, Ridiculous Recommendations

Dear Ridiculous,

We’ve all been there before. Whether Yahoo has decided you like stories about child murder or you just read one too many stories about a naked man who bit off someone’s face, sometimes your recommendations just get a little out of hand. There’s no universal “reset” button for the internet, and while you could always create a new account for all of those sites, that isn’t exactly an ideal solution. We’ve found that though every site is different, there are three broad categories of sites in terms of how they handle recommendations. Here’s how they work.

Type One: Sites That Let You Clear Recommendations And History’s help article on the topic

Type Two: Sites That Let You Manually “Improve” Your Recommendations

clear your viewing historyAmazon’s Improve Your Recommendations page

Again, every site is different, but if a site doesn’t have a straightforward way of resetting everything, you can often use a rating system to manually improve your recommendations to fit your actual tastes and not just what you’ve browsed for.

Type Three: Sites That Don’t Have Any Options Built-In

Sadly, there is a third type of site that just plain leaves you out in the cold. The New York Times‘ web site is a great example — if you want to change your recommended articles, you merely have to “read more or fewer articles on a particular topic, or by spending more or less time in a particular section of”. Unfortunately, the best you can do for these sites is click on more rainbows and ponies to keep it from recommending child murder articles, or create a new account entirely to start from scratch.

Don’t Forget To Use Private Browsing


PS Got any of your own tricks or solutions to getting better recommendations on the web? Let us know in the comments.

Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send it using our contact tab on the right.


Log in to comment on this story!