Friday, June 22, 2007

New Features...

Well, we're back online (fingers crossed) and for your patience, we offer a few small surprises for everyone.

1. You can now add movies to any of your custom lists directly from the movie page. Look for the "+Add to custom list" link in the left column on every movie page. It's not perfect, but it's at least a start. We'll refine this flow as we go forward.

(I believe this screen grab was from "The Family Stone")

2. We added a link to this blog directly from the Netflix site -- it's in the top navigation bar on the Friends pages. Up until now, the only way to really know about this blog was from Hacking Netflix. But you guys helped us find our voice and now we feel ready to open the doors to everyone else. (And probably if you're reading this now, you already found that magical portal to here.)
3. We've improved (but not totally fixed) the re-ordering of movies in your custom list. If you swap numbers between items, and save the list, it will hold the new order. (But it is not as robust or smart as the Queue.)
4. We fixed some UI problems with the avatars; with the nicknames (you'll probably be able to see more of the characters in your nickname in more locations); with various page presentations in different browsers. This should make the visuals a little more clean.

A couple tips on your nicknames: Even with our improvements - short names look better than long ones, and you don't need to list your city or state in your nickname because in key locations, it's shown under your name, anyway. They really add a lot to your reviews. Some of you, i'll bet, are going to get quite popular from your reviews here at Netflix. Let us know how that feels.

Enjoy the fixes and features. More to come. Lots more.

POST SCRIPT: Thanks for the bug tracking notes! Most of y'all do this already, but if you hadn't --If you want to be truly helpful (as opposed to, say, grumpy...), when you mention some bug or oddity you're facing, also add your OS info and version (e.g. Mac 10.4.2, Windows Vista), your Browser (e.g. Safari 2.0.4, Firefox), and any odd circumstances that might be helpful (" sliders were empty, which was immediatley after I left this really long note...") We appreciate your help tracking these problems down.


  1. I just looked under Friends and all 168 of my reviews are gone???

  2. michael, from netflixJune 23, 2007 at 2:51 PM

    it's fine to use this post to alert us to this kind of glitch. Don't fear - nothing is "gone." But it is possible something is keeping them from getting displayed properly. Hang tough. We'll get to the bottom of this. Anything else get messed up in the new release?

  3. Reviews and Lists are gone. 6 PM Eastern time, Saturday.

  4. Reviews and List work for me. 4pm Pacific Time, Saturday.

  5. Quick question for anyone using the "Netflix Queue" RSS feed. Isn't your queue supposed to be "rss-ed" in numerical order? My queue feed is showing random DVD's from my queue, instead of #1-5.

    Anyone know how it works?

    The one on "HAcking NEtflix" is working alright...

  6. the friends sliders are broken in Safari on Mac. slider boxes load, but the content within is blank.

  7. Since the new update, I've uploaded a new ID picture, and it keeps switching back to my old picture--not right away, but within 8 hours or so, I think, it has switched back a few times; the new one just doesn't 'take'.

  8. Seconding the blank content in Safari on a Mac. I can't see anything either. I have version 2.0.4.

  9. Just a follow up - as the little girl said over the burial ground -- they're back.


  10. Very curious as to why you don't list the full cast & crew for all of your movies, whereas Blockbuster Online always lists the full cast & crew? People like myself are VERY interested in knowing who wrote the movie (and finding other movies that they wrote), and finding out who the supporting cast members are! And, at the VERY LEAST, If you're not going to have the full cast & crew, why not link to the IMDB listing for the movie? You're now linking to external sites with the link to the Netflix Community blog, so why not simply link to the IMDB page for the movie/person?

  11. the safari blank sliders bug is on mac osx 10.4.10, safari beta 3.02 and also safari 2.04. no user activity preceded this, it happens immediately on page load. FYI, it works fine in firefox on Mac.

  12. I can confirm the blank sliders bar bug on Safari 3.0.2 on Mac OS X 10.4.10.

  13. The new changes are great so far.

    Next feature should be a privacy filter in the Friends area, where individual movies can be hidden. I don't want people I actually know to see EVERYTHING I watch

  14. Tangent: Your bit about people being unproductively grumpy with bug reports reminds me of an incident I had with Netflix support last year. This incident transformed me from a Netflix evangelist to seeing the company as an adequate utility that currently meets me needs, but with minimal brand loyalty. I even sold off a chunk of my stock and started actively encouraging friends at IMDB/Amazon to start a competing service (since they're obviously perfectly positioned to do just that).

    At the time, you had a bug where reordering your queue would temporarily truncate the queue. If you had a queue of 412 items it might say 350 on postback - and it would be impossible to interact with items in the queue beyond that point until you cleared your session. This also prevented moving newly added movies to the top of your queue. This happened in IE, FF and Safari and appeared to be a server issue.

    But the bug is irrelevant. It was a minor inconvenience and easy to work around. Still - less technical users might find it confusing, so I reported it as a bug via Netflix's well-hidden support form. The report contained all of the information necessary to reproduce the bug, a comprehensive list of client variables and even a speculative suggestion of what might be causing the bug. My expectation was that the report would be escalated to tier 2 support, forwarded to test and ultimately make it to dev - and that I may, at most, get a quick "Thanks, this has been logged" email.

    Instead, I received an email, in essence, telling me that I was wrong - that Netflix tests their site in all popular browsers and so if the site doesn't work for me then I need to upgrade my browser. (I have the email somewhere - it's really astonishing). I went around a couple of times and finally gave up: the bug didn't impact me directly and I didn't have the energy to fight with support over an issue that seemed squarely on their shoulders.

    Again, the bug is inconsequential. The response, however, is pretty crippling. They could have ignored the request and I would have been fine - but to deny it without even taking the two minutes to follow the repro steps tells me that Netflix doesn't care about the quality of their product.

    The incident reminded me of an article I had read around the same time talking about a new trend for "executive support" in companies like HP/Compaq, which allowed end-users with severe grievances to get in touch with a support team that reported directly to top company executives. The philosophy was that executives needed to understand what major issues were impacting customers so they could implement systemic process changes to address them, instead of simply handling them at a customer service level. This philosophy stemmed from Neiman Marcus installing telephones in their stores in the sixties (I think) with a direct line to the president's office - this level of support is impractical for most companies, but the concept wasn't lost.

    And my experience with Netflix demonstrated precisely why that was an important approach - by demonstrating the precise opposite interaction.

  15. bang -> good gripe, but don't spam netflix on this blog. They finally seem to be trying to get with the program. If you fill up comments with peeves from last year there won't be any room for our legitimate efforts to help now. And worse, they might stop reading our feedback. Your point is good, but this is a site about the Friends features. I think what you should be saying instead is: Hey Netflix, you need blogs on more than just the Friends features. And your customer service sucks.

  16. Sueyu, is this blog just for the "friends" feature or is it community news, features and discussion for the Netflix community?

  17. anon -> It is my impression that this has something to do with the friends features. I found the link on the top of my page of friends and I don't see a link here from anywhere else on at Netflix (although I haven't looked that carefully). It does seem to be mostly about Friends but I am not sure what "community" means in this context: the reviews seem to be included here. I read this as all the features that have to do with people connecting to other people (friends or reviewers, similarity between us and them).

    I'm not trying to pick a fight. I just thought that the epic tale of woe from Bang wasn't appropriate for this posting, and I rather enjoy having the Netflix people listen to us. I could complain about a broken disc from last year too, but it isn't really relevant, is it? I suppose I am of the belief that if we behave honorably, they will too. But that's just my opinion.

  18. Friends sliders are invisible to me as well, 11am Eastern Time Monday. Using Windows Vista and AOL. This is not to mention that briefly, about an hour ago, there were actually ten movies in my at-home portion of the queue. Which was just neat to see, even if it did go away...

  19. I have a feature request:
    A javascript applet that posts your upcoming 5 or so movies to your own blog. Kind of like what LastFM offers.

  20. This blog is also available on Livejournal at

  21. Two things:

    1. The blank Friend sliders bug also affects Opera 9.21 on Windows XP SP2.

    2. The Lists feature still doesn't let you add movie titles of less than three characters (for example, the movie M) or movie titles that have an apostrophe (for example, Singin' in the Rain.)

    I've tried on both Opera 9.21 on Windows XP SP2 and Safari 1 on OS X 10.3.

    I've submitted both of these via the Netflix form, but have't recevieved any word back except for the standard template auto reply.

  22. michael, from netflixJune 25, 2007 at 1:44 PM

    john r, you've been heard now. thanks for the data. we're working on it.

  23. Michael,

    Once on the first page of someone's review page, clicking on a movie or to go to the next page does nothing. I think that Friday was the last time I could do that using Firefox 2. Sorry I don't know the terminology. Using IE the connections to go to something else do work. This is on Windows XP Media Centre edition version 2002 service pack 2. Hope that's the information you need.

    Thank you for having this forum.


  24. Another bug: I can't edit or delete my own reviews that are more than one screen-length down a page. This happens in any browser using Mac OS 10.4.1.

  25. Thanks very much for changing the "add to custom lists" feature. I found that several movies wouldn't pop up if I typed them in manually (or a different version of the film, or a sequel would). Examples: Last of the Mohicans, Dune, Elephant.

    The new feature fixed the problem!

  26. Here are three ideas that would be easy to implement, and would make the "netflix fever" much higher. See, once people get into the Netflix friends thing and stuff like that, it makes sites like flixter and spout pale in comparisson.

    a) Public profiles/reviews for others to see - for blogs and facebook, and things like that
    b) More public RSS feeds. New movies I rated, new reviews by me, etc
    c) And most controversial on the list - allow people to join the website without being a netflix member. Let them review movies, and talk to friends. I guarantee at some point they WILL give you some money.