Friday, June 1, 2007


It's clear that many (many!) of you have problems with the way we changed Friends last year. While I can tell you that in general the features are easier and more used now than before, that doesn't mean that really good elements were lost in the process. (I sure miss the "Suggest" button, for instance.) The Purple Dude, as we liked to call him (her?) was another cool element (for those newbies, he showed up on movies that your Friends had watched). His problem, however, was that he slowed down the page loads dramatically: every time we drew a page, we had to check every movie on the page against every movie seen by each of your Friends. When you had one Friend it wasn't so bad, but if you had more, the load times got bad. And as our membership was growing rapidly, the problem was rapidly getting worse. We had to make a hard call: try to fix that loading issue or retire the DUDE. Now I liked the dude, but at the end of the day, he laid down his life so that the site performance improved. I'd like to bring him back some day, but not before we solve that loading problem. Anyway, that's what happened to the dude.

On a sidenote, we did have a funeral for him in our offices. And in the great Netflix tradition of sending off our loved ones with a limerick, many of us contributed. This was mine:

It's goodbye to our friend, Purple Dude
He was smart, but exceptionally lewd;
He'd be doing his job
On the box and the bob*,
Displaying himself in the nude.

(*the "bob" is the "back of box" ajax pop-up when you hover on a movie title)

Now, this issue about the notes is a little different. It was my assumption that rather than have mini-reviews (that only went to your Friends, including Friends you didn't yet have), and reviews, and notes (which were more one-on-one or one-to-a-few in nature), we would reduce the complexity by reducing the options. Notes, I felt, were for individual correspondence -- and didn't need to persist for future-Friends. If you wanted to write something general, about movies, to a bunch of people, and if you wanted it to persist, then just make it a review. That way your Friends see it, and new Friends still see it. Does it matter that other people would see it? I didn't think it did. For all but personal notes between you and someone ("Did you like that?") or to you and a bunch of folks ("hey, does anyone think this movie is any good?"), a review seemed better.

At least that was my thought.

So my question is: For those of you who miss having "notes" that remain for future Friends, why won't a Review suffice? You're helping out more people with your thoughts, and it is our hope that people in the community will be interested in giving their feedback on movies to more than just a couple people. Why not just Review?


  1. it's more that i know what my friends like (knowing them, as well as the handy-dandy similarity percentage provided). plus, there's not always more to say than "i like this movie, i think ya'll might, too," and that certainly doesn't make for a helpful review.

  2. Reviews are more for longer, more thorough, uh, reviews. I like having the option of leaving a short note about a movie for my friends (though I wish the character limit would be removed or at least allow for longer notes), more like a mini-review meant just for friends, not all of Netflix. It would be so much better if new friends added would automatically see all those notes as well (or at least add an option to let them see it) rather than having to redo old notes for new friends like we have to do now. Not everyone reads the reviews, but friends are more likely to notice a note that has been left right there specifically for them. In my opinion, leaving these notes is totally different than writing a more formal real review.

  3. i never feel like investing more than 5 minutes "reviewing" a movie. i bet most folks feel the same. a "review" feels more formal, and longer, and thought out. a "note" just feels better between friends. plus, nobody would get most of the inside jokes laced in my notes other than my friends. plus, who cares what i think (other than mom)?

  4. I really loved the little one-liner quick friend reviews. They were super quick to do, and never generated any email.

    I never read the reviews done by strangers, I'm content with the stars when it comes from strangers. I do wish we could at least put half stars.

  5. Here's the reason:

    Because I never read reviews by strangers, and I don't want them to read reviews by me. If Joe Schmoe in Idaho feels a certain way about a movie, that means absolutely NOTHING to me. I don't give 2 craps about what Joe Schmoe thinks about a movie -- I have no idea about his taste in movies, I have no idea who he is, and I have no idea how similar we are. I ONLY care about what my TRUSTED FRIENDS have to say about movies -- the ones that I KNOW I agree with and the ones that I KNOW will guide me in the right direction. It's sort of like when you read movie reviews from paid film critics -- you know which movie critics have similar taste to your own, so you listen to them & you ignore the others. Furthermore, reviews are... well, reviews. They're long, detailed, and need to have a sense of being a "review". When I leave notes for my friends, it's a quick sentence or two that THEY'LL UNDERSTAND because they KNOW ME and GET ME and UNDERSTAND ME. They know where I'm coming from. I don't want to recommend a movie to Joe Schmoe, and I don't want him to recommend movies to me either. But when I do leave a note for my friends, it absolutely MUST show up in the FUTURE for ALL friends. The old mini-reviews were PERFECT, but then you guys changed it all against our will! The mini-reviews worked just fine!

  6. I totally agree with everything that's already been said, and won't reiterate except to throw my support behind these comments, since the powers that be are obviously listening.

    However, I will add two things:
    - Reviews show up differently than notes; if I write a note, I guarantee my friends will see it. If I write a review, there is no such assurance.
    - Since I typically just want to leave a quick blurb about a movie, writing that up as a review is likely to get voted "Not Helpful" by lots of folks, which just seems like something negative I'd rather avoid.

  7. I agree with most of the comments so far. For me, the notes were a two-for-one. I left a quick mini review for all my friends to see, and it was also my way of remember why I rated a movie the way I did. I left those notes right after I watched and rated a movie, and if I ever came back to it later, I would "oh yeah, thats why I rated that only 2 stars". The only problem is that you can't delete or edit them.

    So in summary, I agree with others that reviews are different than notes and should show up for new and old friends alike, and I'd also like to be able to edit/delete old notes.

  8. My biggest peeve with the Notes feature is that an email gets sent out to each of my selected Friends every time I leave a Note. This has basically resulted in me not leaving any Notes at all, because I have no desire to spam my friends.

    There should be a way to disable the emails. My Friends can already see the Notes on their own schedule when they login to Netflix.

  9. Thanks for the explanation of why the purple dude went away! While I do miss him, at least now I know there's a good reason why he's gone.

    As for the questions about Notes, I'll put another post up later this afternoon.

  10. Just discovered this Blog: I don't think you're advertising new features very well; I come in and things are changed - that's it. No notification.

    But to the point: Notes were better before the changes, because I only wanted my friends to see the comments, and there were no e-mails generated. I didn't even know e-mails were being sent until someone finally commented about receiving one. I have no desire to inundate anyone with e-mails, so I stopped leaving notes.

    My only problem with the Notes was the low character limit. I don't want to leave a page-long review, but sometimes a sentence or two isn't quite enough, either. Mini-reviews visible to friends present and future without sending e-mail seems ideal to me.

  11. Pretty much dito for me. And I loved the limerick as well. :)