Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hiding Movies

I'm with y'all. I watch a lot of movies, and I love the Friends features, but I'll admit that there are titles i watch that i'm -- how you say -- less than thrilled to announce are in my Queue. At Netflix we try to have this deep honesty policy: we generally say whatever we're thinking to whoever needs to hear it. And this pervasive attitude has crept into Friends, such that the thinking was "if you're REALLY friends, then you should be okay showing them what you're really watching." But you (and I) know this is lousy. I'm happy to reveal pretty much anything about myself, but there is a level of scrutiny that makes even an open guy like me pretty uncomfortable. Once in awhile you just need to hide a movie from your friends, or parents...

Savvy insiders will know that there is a workaround: you can always create a sub-account (a second Queue) that has your embarrassing, raunchy, edgy, private titles. You wouldn't make this profile public, it wouldn't write reviews (not under your name, at least), and it wouldn't have Friends. Honestly, this isn't a bad solution. But it takes more work on your part than is ideal.

We're considering the best way to allow certain titles to be hidden. You guys are pretty sharp, and probably would be happy with a checkbox somewhere that says "hide this movie from my Friends" or the like. But we must think of the others, the folks who find every additional option on screen a distraction, or worse, confusing. So where would you say is the best place to put such a checkbox option. The Queue is out. It's not worth the complexity of another column for the one title you want to hide once every few months. It could be in the Friends area, but where? I'm afraid if we put in in a column along with Movies You've Rated, no one will ever find it. So if you want to help get this feature implemented, i'd like some good thinking about the best way to implement. Ideas?


  1. How about an account option like "Do not display queue items above this rating to friends"?

    Or even better, "below this rating" so my friends don't find out about my fraggle rock obsession.

  2. I'd say under the "Friends" tab on a movie's browse page.

  3. When you add a movie to you your Queue you get the "movie added" splash page where you have an option to bring the movie to the top of your queue and check out some similar movies. There could be a button there that says "Keep private" or "Hide from friends" or something similar.

  4. I'd say add a button to dvd added to your queue confirmation box. You add the movie to your queue, the confirmation shows added, button to remove from friends view.

  5. michael, from netflixJune 26, 2007 at 12:22 PM

    dujoducom -- Nice effort! (what about movies already in our queues? do we have to take them out and replace them?!) Seriously, this is a good line of thinking.

  6. Well, its kind of convoluted but if you are at a movie page of a movie already in your queue, instead of saying "Add" under the cover image it says "In Queue." If you click on the "In Queue" button it brings up a splash page similar to the "Movie Added" page that says the movie is in your Queue. You could have a "remove from queue" button and "make hidden" button there. Or maybe when you rollover "In Queue" a little side menu comes up with "remove" and "hide" so you can quickly remove it or keep it hidden.

  7. I'm just curious -- is this really that important? Since we can already create another queue, it seems like this problem is already mostly solved, isn't it? I would much rather see Netflix focus resources on adding FULL CAST AND CREW INFO than worry about this tiny bit of minutiae.

  8. The individual movie page needs to have some queue related controls in it. For example, when viewing a single movie, you can see that it's in your queue, but not where it is in the queue. There's no way to remove that movie from your queue (you have to go to the queue, search for it, check it, and hit the update your queue.)

    I would recommend a control panel below the cover screen shot on the left bar of the individual movie page that lets you:
    * See the location in the queue
    * Promote to the top of the queue
    * Control visibility to friends
    * See other discs in this series/queue/visibility status, etc.

  9. Yeah, the more I think about it the more Daves idea seems to make sense. It would only happen to movies already in your Queue so it wouldn't clutter every movie page with extra controls.

  10. Scott,

    My instinct is with you: This really doesn't seem important. However, I imagine that there are some who have personal friends as friends who (for a variety of reasons) wouldn't want people to know that they're renting a religious, gay, liberal/conservative, NC-17, Belgian, Teletubbies or other film. This might make those who are less imaginitive more willing to explore ideas they'd be embarrassed to to have others know about. As a liberal arts college alum, I'm always for making it easier for someone to broaden their horizons.

    That said, almighty Netflix Gods, you might want to enable people to do a one time genre and rating block in their profile.

  11. I would prefer to see a checkbox on my queue page.

  12. oh god yes , you guys need to implement this . My friends list has my girl friend , my sister and a few other people that i don't want to see a few of the movies that I rent . Just put a checkbox under the movie name in the friends>watched or rated page .

  13. My friends are gone :( What's going on?

  14. i work in the industry, and i just wanted to quickly mention that i'm flabbergasted and not in the least unpleased that you actually inquired of your users regarding a functionality you're thinking about implementing; because, after all, it is us who use the interface.
    kudos netflix!!

  15. I see my queue as my control panel into netflix and prefer actions there.
    I recommend another column that is an action column that could be used to implement other actions yet to be deployed or thought up.
    The action coloumn would popup a nice dropdown menu for each title or open a collapsable menu diretly under the title.
    Furthermore, if a movie is hidden, I recommend changing the background color.

  16. I like Dave's idea about adding controls to the movie page once it's added. A "This movie is in your queue" area could be added with the info and options mentioned.

    Aside from that, why not have some sort of an "advanced" Queue mode? At the top of the page or maybe in the account options the user could decide whether they want to see the basic queue or the advanced features. Then you could throw in more features for power users without overwhelming the average user.

    Another thought is to place a column on the end with a "more actions" link/button. When you hover over this a list of other actions would appear and you could put any further actions and other information on there.

    Lastly, you could always throw in all the information you need and give the user the ability to show/hide it. You'd need to have a default set of information. Then you could have a "Customize this list" link where the user could specify what they want to see.

    The plus side to all of those is that they don't really add much complexity to the page for most users. Yet they enable a power user, or even a casual user, to perform these actions conveniently. I still think that Dave's suggestions should be considered, though. Those should show up for everyone so that it is always possible to do these things regardless of what shows or doesn't on your queue.

  17. How about just a checkbox, like the "remove" one, with a column title of "hide" and a little hoverable or pop-upable "?" icon next to it to explain what it does.

  18. Adding "hiding" before a movie is in the queue is important because ideally you NEVER want it visible to friends, even for a few seconds, but here's my suggestion for changing your mind or adding "hiding" after a movie is in the queue without adding much overhead. The trick is to NOT integrate it into the Queue.

    1) Use a CSS class to mark a "row" in the queue private to lower overhead. You can make the background grey or use a repeating image with a "private/hidden" watermark. In the HTML, I can see each TR has a class associated with it ("bd") so you're halfway there.

    2) If the user has any (Netflix) friends, add a link to the left of the page, on the same row as "Report Shipping Problem". Text could be "Hide movies from Friends".

    3) This link would take you to a page that is simply a list of movies currently in your queue and checkboxes that update "show/hide" status. An update button will store your privacy settings. Returning to the queue should be easy to do from this page with or without an update.

  19. Another potential area for various movie specific options of movies in your Queue would be a box like the "This movie is at home" box that appears above the movie description when you have a movie at home. It could say "This movie is in your Queue" and then you give special options for movies in your Queue, like remove from Queue, move to top, hide from friends, etc...

  20. Wow! I've never even thought about any of this. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of any movie I watch. What is everyone so concerned with? Is it porn? Is that why you'd need privacy? Even so, you shouldn't be embarrassed. I say live and let live!

  21. I wouldn't use this feature at all, but regardless, one thing that should be considered is that this feature shouldn't just apply to the Queue. Many of us use Netflix as a ratings database, which means we rate many movies that either are no longer in our Queue, or never were in our Queue. For this reason, I think this feature needs to be separated from the Queue functionality and instead apply to an individual movie itself.

    For this reason I agree with those suggestions regarding adding new functionality to the movie details page. I particularly like the idea of a mouseover queue control panel that dave suggested. It might be a hassle to individually make movies private, but if it matters enough to you, then it should be worth the effort.

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  23. i think the sub-account workaround is just fine: for renting movies so bad that you don't want anybody to know you're watching them, like "Freddy Got Fingered" (which in 2002 managed to sweep the "Razzie" Awards for being the worst movie in all categories), or "Mommie Dearest" (which Apollo Guide's Scott Weinberg notes "is a fine film," "except for the script, the directing, the acting, and the editing,"), setting up a sub-account for the bad movies (under "Your Account," "Account Profiles," "Add Profile," then "Reassign DVDs") takes less than a minute and works just fine.

  24. I'd like to second the "Basic Queue / Advanced Queue" option. Let the default be "Basic", but let power users go to the Account screen and chose Advanced.

    Also, Advanced users could change a setting to "Hide All By Default" and then using the advanced queue, change only the movies they want to be "seen" by friends.

  25. the people who are on my friends list have pretty random tastes in film, like myself, so I don't worry about them seeing something I wouldn't want them to. I watch ANYTHING and EVERYTHING so my friends already know I'm weird as hell LOL

  26. Create a new queue called 'hide these movies' and if any of them appear on your main queue they will not be visible to anyone else. Simple.

  27. What about a second splash page when you rate a movie? Follow dujoducom's recommendation of adding a checkbox for any movie you add to your Queue, and have something similar when you rate a movie for users like Shaun who tend to use Netflix to rate a lot. It could contain other things as well, such as more recommendations (I rarely use the "Rate to Reveal More Recommendations" on the home page--I go straight to the movie's page to rate), leaving Notes to Friends or writing a review right on the splash page. Maybe that seems like one more thing to deal with, but at least everything post-renting or -rating could be on one page.

  28. I'd go with something like dujoducom's suggestion, but also modify that movie's page so if you went to it, right under (In Queue) you'd get a button that says (Make Private). This way you wouldn't need to remove/re-add to your queue. You might want to take it a step further and have it not show up in history, if someone wants to completely forget that they ever watched Gerry, for example.

  29. I think the 2nd queue option is fine, but if you're going to go ahead and implement something, I like the idea of placing it both in the "added to queue" pop up so you can hide it right then, but you also need it somewhere else in case you miss that pop-up or change your mind. A control in the Friends section of an individual movie page seems to make the most sense.

  30. It does impede my desire to add Friends when they can see anything Ive seen through Netflix in my "Watched/Rated" slider on the Friends page.
    There should be a check box near the 5 star rating and "Not Interested" area. You can rate a movie, and toggle it between public and private all in one swoop

  31. I think a "private" check box just like for example your outlook calendar would be just find. I also agree that this is not a feature I have ever looked for, I guess my movies are just that boring.

    Could there then be a top 10 "private" movies section? I would like that...

  32. Besides privacy, what else would people expect to do/see/mashup in an "advanced" queue versus the traditional one?

    I'm in agreement that hiding something might need to happen before you add it to your queue, so maybe a checkbox/toggle next to the Add to Queue/In Queue/At Home button that indicates if it's private or not.

    I'm not big on hiding movies either, but I'm all for power user options for queue and movie info management.

  33. To those asking "why bother"? If it's not an issue for you, don't use whatever new feature is created. Some people, however, would like to have Friends lists, but with the option of a little privacy. What's it to you?

    That said, a second queue sounds like a hassle. I'd much rather have an integrated feature.

    The idea of basic and advanced queue features sounds great, as do the ideas of an option when adding a movie (the very cool mock-up dujoducom made) and the options on the "In Queue" labels Dave mentioned. I do think there need to be a few access points to cover both adding new, and already-existing movies.

  34. As I said before this isn't a feature I'd likely use, but if I did, I would hate having to setup another Queue, and I'll tell you why. I hate hate hate how queues are intrinsically tied to accounts. For example, I am single, but I like having 2 queues - one for movies, one for TV, to guarantee I always have some of both at home. However, in order to do this, I have to have a separate account for my TV queue. Many things about this bother me - one being that when I switch from one to the other I have to re-login (I am only one person!), and that I have to duplicate my ratings between accounts. This is possibly my biggest gripe with the Netflix service right now.

    I'm not really trying to hijack this thread; it is a related point, but I felt the need to express my frustration with the queue/account issue. If I wanted to hide certain movies, and had to do so by setting up a private queue, that means another account - bring my total to 3. 3 usernames, even though they are all just me. Multiple queues for one person makes sense, but multiple accounts for one person seems downright wrong.

  35. This is very important, and my biggest problem with netflix. I don't like the idea of having 2 queues, I don't mind netflix knowing about movies I rent (obviously) and I want a single coherent ratings profile, but having to think about what my mom, sister in law, and (gay) friends will all think each time I put a movie in my queue is a little more mental work than I like.

  36. I looked around and couldn't find "sexy" DVD here, maybe I haven't looked hard enough? But because I like animation, and have talked to underage kids about it, there may be a time that I don't want people to know all that I watch. Odd because I've yet to see anything that under 18 couldn't watch, but I'd like to see it.

  37. My friends on Blockbuster's tell me that their friends feature already allows the user to select privacy at the title level (for ratings and queue). Why is it so difficult for Netflix to do the same thing? Every title in my ratings and queue should have a simple checkbox with the word hide under it that would hide any rating or queuing of that title from the public. Simple, done, do it.

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  39. maybe the solution could involve defining friends into groups -- family, friends, acquaintences, etc. i am basing this on how flickr uses this distinction.

    this would solve & add a couple things: 1. when adding a movie to your queue, you decide which group to show it to. all movies go into the same queue, but are labeled (with color) as public, selective, or private (default public). on the queue page, there could be tabs that allow you to view just public movies, just selective, or just private movies, where you could change their designation, move them around, etc.

    2. there could also be a control feature where you tell the queue to always send you movies from each category (if available), or instead to always send according to queue sequence regardless of category.

    3. splitting your friends into groups also allows an easier way to leave recommendations--instead of the current method of clicking on individual names, there'd be an option to send a note to everyone, or just friends, or just family, etc., with the option of showing all names so that you can still select individuals.

    part B.

    while talking about notes, Netflix needs to keep working on its social networking features if it wants to stay in the game here because someone else will come along and do this if they don't. the whole "Notebook" idea is good, but i think it could be better. Right now, everything on there is 1-on-1, a conversation between 2 people. but if it were refocused into more of a community forum, where anyone on your list(s) could see your note, reply to it, and reply to other people's replies, then you could start having discussions about movies--this would also work with the feature (in the works?) of finding people who have similar interests-- i mean what's the point of linking people together if they can't all talk to each other? Right now it seems like the Netflix formula is wishy-washy on the whole social network thing, but if it's because of privacy issues, it can easily be accommodated with friend group designations. i think flickr solved this issue well and, no offense, but netflix would do well to take some notes.

    So, the notebook could be reformatted so that you leave notes on movie pages (publicly, or for selective groups) that only those you designate as friends can reply to. If those notes were public, the restriction on commenting would deter flame wars with strangers, but also give potential friends some insight on your personality. These notes could also be accessed from individual friends' pages in a "see all joeschmoe's notes", just as the reviews and lists are, so you can easily see what's the hot topic amongst your pals.

  40. I think it should be apart of the Queue but only shown if you enable it through your 'Account Preferences'

    That way the queue won't be so overwhelming for the novice users.

  41. There are plenty of other things that they could show, Dave. Perhaps there isn't a lot of functionality to add, but a power user could certainly make use of more information.

    One of the requests I've seen before is the ability to sort and group the queue. I'm assuming that, beyond any technical reasons, this isn't there because it would create confusion to some not to have the queue ordered by preference.

    I miss the little avatar that indicated that a movie was in a friend's queue or they'd seen it. I'd love to have that information back, and perhaps to be able to see who has seen it or is planning to. That would especially help because every now and then my wife or I manage to mistakenly add the same movie to both our queues. We've avoided having the same movie delivered twice thus far but having that info available would help.

  42. I've only read a few comments so forgive me if this has already been suggested.

    How about adding a privacy option under the friends submenu that is basically just a simple list of the titles in your queue. A checkbox would control visibility to those listed in your friends list. Heck, at this point you could even have a way to hide it from specific friends but that might be a bit overboard.

    The other option is to add it to the preferences page with the same functionality mentioned in my comments above.

    Then going forward you could add the button to the queue confirmation page after adding a movie (as previously suggested by someone else) and do it as you go instead of having to go back to the friends privacy / preference page and update.

  43. Another idea is to add an option to move a movie that is in your queue to the custom list / sub account on the queue page. This can be used in conjunction with any of the other suggested ideas.

  44. forget the idea of hiding. there are people in this world who chose a movie based solely on someone's opinion. being a former usher at a theater i had many times like that. your "batman & robin" might be someone else's "titanic". be free with the knowledge and your guilty pleasure could be a true winner.

  45. I would LOVE a "hide from friends" feature!!!!! (However "bulky" it may be on the page.)

    I've found, however, that not having it has forced me to stick with slightly more arty, highbrow options, so I'm probably having a better viewing experience overall. :-)

  46. I won't use friends until I can hide some movies. 99.9% of movies are fine. But some things shouldn't be shared with coworkers.

    I've avoided the friends feature even though I would LOVE to use it if I could just keep those 3 or 4 movies out of my public persona.

  47. I won't use friends until I can hide some movies. 99.9% of movies are fine. But some things shouldn't be shared with coworkers.

    I've avoided the friends feature even though I would LOVE to use it if I could just keep those 3 or 4 movies out of my public persona.

  48. I won't use friends until I can hide some movies. 99.9% of movies are fine. But some things shouldn't be shared with coworkers.

    I've avoided the friends feature even though I would LOVE to use it if I could just keep those 3 or 4 movies out of my public persona.

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  50. I like the suggestion by kavanutz to put it in the queue via an account preference.

  51. Here's my suggestion. Improve customer service. I've been a customer for over a year and feel the occasional problem isn't being resolved in a customer friendly manner. After waiting several days for two movies, I called your customer service and told them I'd like replacements sent. I was told they couldn't do that, but would give me 25% off my next months bill and was assured I'd probably get them "tomorrow" and to let them know. I wasn't happy with this, I wanted replacement movies. I let two more days go by, called them to tell them the movies weren't here after a full week, and said I wanted to cancel my account. "Sure, no problem, I can help you with that" was the response I got from some woman named Phyl. No problem in canceling a subscriber who has been with you for more than a year? Wow. All I wanted was someone to send replacement movies and I guess that's just too much to ask.

    It's pretty bad when the customer service reps fall over themselves to cancel your subscription as quickly as possible but can't do that when you have a problem.

  52. Twisted Sister: So sorry that this happened and I apologize. Customer Service should be able to send you replacement discs within a couple of days of the movie originally being shipped to you. I will look into this.

    You can also order replacements on the site (http://www.netflix.com/Help and then "Help with Movies at Home" in the bottom right.) I realize that the the website can make you wait as long as 6 days before ordering a replacement and this should be fixed in a few weeks.

  53. Thanks for your reply, but since nobody wanted to go ahead and get me replacement discs, I've already canceled our account with Netflix. Blame customer service...or lack thereof.

  54. How can you tell if the movies you selected to be private, are private. I love this private feature, but how can you tell.

  55. Is there a way to hide movies you've seen from the friends category? I've rented 'wire in the blood'..and it's not what the title makes out to be..but, I'd rather it now show..also, I've rented a heck of a lot more than they have..I'd prefer them not knowing I've rated 700 films and watched over 100..

  56. Just going on the record that I too would REALLY like to be able to hide certain movies that I rent or watch from my "friends". I hope this is actively being worked on and will be implememnted soon.

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  59. the weird thing about this is that they had the option a while ago and took it away. there was a "privacy" page in the friends profile where it had the list of every movie you've rated with a "set to private" button next to it.

  60. yeah, that would make since.

    there is already the ratings page in the friends section with a button for "clear rating" so maybe it could have the 2nd button for "privacy"

    this with the combination of the dropdown on the "in queue" option that was talked about earlier.

    thanks netflix guys!

  61. So, what happened to the "set to private" setting that used to be there? Are those still private?