Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Friends Unavailable

Have you noticed that I've been inserting the "Site Status" over there on the top right side of this blog (see it?). We usually know about upcoming maintenance issues and stuff like that so we can sometimes provide some heads-up about site issues. Then again, there was yesterday.

The core Netflix website is unusually solid, but some of our new features operate independently, like the Sim%, like Friends. I guess i'm being less than candid to say we were down (actually, ARE down -- since we probably won't be back online until Wednesday) for maintenance. As you probably noticed, we turned on many of these new features (the new reviews structure, the avatars, etc.) with little fanfare. We wanted to slowly build up stress on the servers to make sure all was smooth before making a big deal about it. And it turns out that we slightly underestimated how many of y'all would jump on these features--which is good, but it creates a pretty significant load. So we rejigger once a week or so, improve code. Then we build new features on top of the foundation (for instance, the kinds of tools you -- and we-- really want to provide our community), and then check some more about how the servers are doing. Anyway, that's why we haven't yet made big announcements about our evolving set of new features. (We could put a big "Public Beta" up there on the top of the page, but isn't everything online a sort of public beta?) Anyway, this is why we've had some Friends Unavailable notices or you've had problems uploading avatars periodically over the past few weeks. We'll have this under control shortly. Until then, thanks for bearing with us. (Sleeplessly yours, The Friends Team)

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Still working on it, and Friends will likely be unavailable through Thursday, coming online probably on Friday or thereabouts. Watch this space for latest news. (the good news, should we chose to see the silver lining, is that we're using this opportunity to deploy a few new features, which we'll release once all this comes up again.)

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for keeping us informed about down-times. That's very nice of you.

    I'm sure most of the people trying out the new features will understand that the service is new, or "in Beta" as most all websites are nowadays.

    We appreciate the features you have already implemented, and are happily awaiting anything else you have planned. Netflix just keeps getting better.

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  2. Here's a feature suggestion for you: how about something on the "FriendsUnavailable" page that gives some sort of estimate as to when the site will be back up? Sure it might take longer than originally expected, but it could always be updated later. For the 99% of the subscribers who don't visit this blog, I'm sure that some estimate, even if inaccurate, would be better than nothing...

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  3. Why isn't this post on Netflix, instead of the terribly uninformative "Friends Unavailable" message? This situation has been handled terribly by Netflix.

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  4. Michael, from NetflixJune 21, 2007 at 8:47 AM

    Those are interesting ideas. It does seem like this level of detail is better than the generic message posted to the site. But there are numerous reasons the Friends area might be down -- some on purpose and anticipated (like maintenance or updates of some kind), and some unanticipated (like... this time.) The message is automated and kicks in whenever you can't access the page, and I don't think it can tell why the site is unavailable nor how long it will remain that way. Personally, I get grumpy if site estimates of downtime are wrong, so i'd be careful just to guess. Anyway, all your concerns are appropriate. That's sort of why we made this blog -- for more info for those who deeply care. I suppose we could put the blog link on that page in case someone wants more info on the specifics. Do you think that would be sufficient and appropriate?

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  5. Yes, that would be a great idea.

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  6. I really miss that % rate of how you are similar to others. Can't wait for that to come back.

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  7. You're doing the best you can. Don't listen to these naysayers! And hey...is everybody still getting their movies? I thought so...

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  8. Just noticed the new "Drag and drop" Queue. Tell the guys who worked on it that it works like a charm.

    Thanks for doing that. Hopefully it doesn't "Go Down" (Whoops).

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