Friday, July 20, 2007

Discussion Thread: Friends - and Connecting to "Strangers"

Should we make it easy to find people you don't know -- but who might have high similarity to you or just share your movie taste in some small way -- and let y'all communicate with each other? In a perfect world it seems nice and easy enough. In the real world, this can be threatening, may pose some risks, and at best, makes the entire realm of community a little more complicated in that everyone has to set various privacy levels. Power users generally want more features and more openness, but we also want to be useful and to appeal to a more casual user. Can we make it simple for everyone, but still safe for kids/newbies, and fun for the rest?

46 comments:

  1. This is a tough one, I really don't want Netflix to become Myspace where you go about gaining all the friends you can, but it would be nice to drop a quick message to someone who you do share similar tastes with. In my opinion if you read someones review and you really dig it and agree with it you should be able to leave a comment for them saying great review I totaly agree. But then you run into the issue of people being mean about other people's opinions. Just cause I like Jesus Franco doesn't mean there are a huge percentage of other viewers that do and boy could they spout off some evil words about my opinions of his films. So yeah, it's kind of a double edged sword, unless you set it that all comments must be approved by the individual user first. As far as connecting to a stranger, a comments section would be great for that too. The both of you could have a dialog and once you've kind of chatted back and forth enough you could them drop them an email and say, "hey how about joining my community so we can instantly leave notes on movies we both like". Get my drift? I hope this helps and isn't too long winded.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have no interest in the Netflix habits of complete strangers, no matter how similar their tastes may be to mine.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It might be interesting to see how people with similar taste to your own rated other movies. However, I agree don't make this like myspace where you add people to your friends you don't really know.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm not adverse to some communication with other Netflix users, however, obviously it would have to be optional to participate.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think the similarity feature that Netflix unveiled recently is awesome as it allows me to judge user's reviews better but I personally have no interest to make "friends" with random people on the internet, whether on Netflix or anywhere else. Please keep Netflix a place to find and rent DVDs and keep social networking out of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It seems to me you've already addressed this issue under Member Profile "privacy settings". Members not the least bit interested in being social can click private and be done with it. Otherwise...members can be open to the Netflix networking experience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I also think social networking with strangers would be a mistake (and not just on Netflix ;-). There are other sites out there let you do this kind of thing like Flixster. Netflix is a great place to rent movies, so please focus on improving that core experience (especially the Watch Now feature). I do occasionally enjoy looking at strangers' custom movie lists, however.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not terribly interested in befriending random people either, but it would be nice to be able to find out some additional information about other users from time to time. I would welcome the ability to find users with high percentage similarities to me (as has been mentioned on this blog many times before), but I don't really want to add them to my group of friends. More than anything, I'd just like to be able to see their ratings and get a complete listing of their reviews (and mini-reviews, for whenever you bring that feature back :) ). My aim here isn't to communicate with anyone or spawn any sort of social interaction; rather, I'm just looking for another way to potentially discover movies I'm going to like.

    And who knows? Maybe the whole point I just made is moot. I realized as I was typing this that what I'm effectively asking for is the ability to manually do what your recommendation engine already does. I guess the curiosity in me just wants to see if I can do any better :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like seeing my similarity when reading reviews of films, but I'm not really interested in befriending strangers who share my tastes.

    Most of the reasons I would add them as a friend are already available - seeing reviewers' similarities, being able to view their five star movies and custom lists. But I don't feel the need to be friends just because we're 90%-ers together.

    ReplyDelete
  10. If you make it simple it won't be so bad. And then, you can make improvements off of that to see what users feel is needed. For example, only begin with the ability to look at similar people. The other people shouldn't even know that you're looking at them. At least, until people feel they should.

    ReplyDelete
  11. If I share a high-percentage similarity to someone, I'd like to be able to see how they rated all movies (not just their 5-star reviews). I'd even like to mark them as someone I can "keep track of" so that I can see when they add new ratings or reviews. That being said, I don't think I'd want to add them to my friends or communicate directly with them. I just want to "stalk" their movie-watchin habits :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would like to be able to send a note or something to some of the reviewers. Other websites have ways to do this that protect your information. Bookcrossing and Fanfiction.net both have a way to send a "personal message" that is sent to the person's e-mail box, without the sender knowing the address.

    I have wanted this very thing. There are times I'd love to talk to someone who I think is similar to me by their comments (not necessarily someone that Netflix thinks is similar to me).

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think community features are interesting, have great potential, and should be developed slowly, one at a time, in order of importance. Number one in my priorities is for your computer to help us find those people who are most similar to us. We don't need to know who they are, nor communicate in any way with them. But checking on their favorite movies and reviews, can be a wonderful tool to help us find many movies we might like as well. These people may not even write reviews, so if Netflix doesn't help us find them, we will never know of their existence, and their favorite movies. When Netflix introduced the viewer percentage similarity, I was so thrilled I spent hours looking for people similar to me, and checking for their favorite movies. But this is a daunting task, as you basically have to find a movie, and then go page by page, trying to find your movie taste partner. I've already watched some movies favorited by this anonymous "friends", and have enjoyed them greatly. So please, help us find and save people similar to us. And then, work from there. If some people are interested in connecting with each other, they might be ways to do that too. One step at a time. Thank you for listening!

    ReplyDelete
  14. For people with a 73% to 82% match (I've never seen higher than 82% match) I find their recommendations are just as good as Netflix's own. Looking at their lists of movies is boring because it's almost the exact same as mine. I do not wish to connect with these people. But I would like to stalk them with maybe an RSS to see the last 5 movies they watched and how high they rated.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I agree with the previous comment. I've rated more than 11,000 films. I just spent the last hour checking out the ratings of someone with a 73% match.

    I found some really interesting films I hadn't seen in their ratings.

    I'd like to find other people like me, but not necessarily communicate with them.

    Such communication doesn't scare me, but I don't necessarily need it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I want more community features. I am desperate for them. I want to be able to subscribe to user reviews from users whose thoughts I find interesting. I want to be able to send and receive messages. It doesn't need to be as extensive as MySpace, but *some* social networking would be nice. I use the Netflix Friends feature quite extensively, and I find the limitations to be quite constraining at times (as do a few of my friends who use it, too).

    However, one thing that needs noting is that not everyone wants new features, and they shouldn't have them if they don't want them. Netflix should absultely develop better community features to appeal to the broadest audience possible, but any feature-set that goes beyond the current Friends feature should, I think, be something optional that you can choose not to participate in. A completely separate tab, perhaps

    I good model for the sort of features I'd like to see is Spout.com. The movie-blog is a great thing. I want to be able to communicate with friends within Netflix more extensively than through a mere 200 characters per note.

    ReplyDelete
  17. well before you know it this place will be myspace if we start that and then everyone will move on to blockbuster.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The only way I would ever be willing to participate in any of these community features would be if I could remain completely anonymous. This has been mentioned by myself and others a few times on this blog but it doesn't seem to be something Netflix wants to work on.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I can see the difficulty in it for you guys, but not for the user. We have to have some level of responsibilty.

    There could be a series of questions or levels of contact/security, i.e. let others (non friends) see your queue only (notes en- or disabled); let others add you as a friend with the options to be notified by email (or not) and to enable/disable notes; leave me alone I don't want anyone seeing my queue unless I invite them; etc. Let the memebers be responsible from that point on. It's not like anyone can see our email addresses. However, since security for users under 18 is an issue, dont make anything available to them. I can only assume children have sub-queues under their parents. Only give the options to main queues.

    You can test drive whatever you come up with on a few us I'm sure.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'd have no interest in this, but others might, so maybe it can be an optional feature that a person could turn off if it didn't work out well for them.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think some kind of "group" addition to the friends feature would be great. I'd definitely form a group on netflix. For example, many many times the closed captioning information has been incorrect (netflix says it's closed captioned but isn't or vice versa) I'd love to have a leave notes for an entire group so that I can warn others, and hopefully I don't waste another spot in my queue for a disk I can't enjoy.

    other uses for such a feature would allow people with common interests to find each other and share comments on movies.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'll weigh in with the majority on this one. There's no need to turn Netflix into a movie-centric connections tool. That said, it would be handy to find the reviews of those posters with similar tastes. I've unearthed some treasures that way.

    ReplyDelete
  23. How 'bout a compromise--

    I wouldn't mind people being able to see my queue/ratings based on %age of 'like me'. But why do they need to see my name or communicate with me?

    What about saying show me queus/reviews of the top x% of people like me, but then don't give their names (Wouldn't work with reviews, but it would with queues...).

    That way, I don't have to receive comments from people abut I can still scan anonymous queus of films that I will probably like.

    Thus, no to social networking, but yes to discovering new films.

    Questions, comments, rebuttals?

    ReplyDelete
  24. I'm also in favor of letting people see my queue/ratings based on %age of 'like me' and viewing theirs anonymously as a way to find things I might like to watch.

    I don't really feel the need to communicate though.

    ReplyDelete
  25. There's obviously a lot of people who would rather be left alone to their queues, and a minority who wouldn't mind communicating. Maybe allowing groups to form is the best way to resolve that--it allows people to network or chat if they want, while the rest and happily use the service as they have been.

    ReplyDelete
  26. How do you get request a new friend without knowing their email? I know i was able to do it before but not now. Was this feature disabled? If so, I would like it back. Maybe I just forgot how to do it. Can anyone help me. Would love to add some more friends with similar taste is movies. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'd rather see the time spent building an API so that third party sites like Flixster.com that focus on community can get access to Netflix data.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I have often wished for the ability to get suggestions by looking at the queues and watched/rated of people who have similar tastes to mine. As long as it is an opt-in feature, I think it's a great idea.

    Alternately, if there were "rings" that people could join because they like a certain genre (or whatever) to exchange thoughts on certain movies within that category, it would be another excellent way to find new movies that you may not have previously heard of.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I have been wanting this feature for a long while now! This is my number one request for netflix.

    Currently I don't use the friend feature at all simply because I do not know anyone else who has netflix. Also, what are the odds that they'd have similar tastes in movies as myself?

    A feature that allows members to send a friend request to others with similar tastes in movies would help finding new and interesting movies.

    The feature can be opt-in. And everyone's friends can be private to that person. So the MySpace comments are unfounded I think.

    I think that sort of feature would make it less likely for users to go to other rental services. As it shouldn't impact those who don't use it but enhance the social experience of those who do.

    ReplyDelete
  30. anonymous July 23, 2007 4:45 PM:
    I don't have any interest in communicating either, but I'd like to see queues of people who are 'similar to me'.

    If I can see other queues (or if other's can see mine) without my name being attached to it, I don't see where the harm is. It's just a list of movies that could be managed by anybody, so I don't see a privacy issue arrising either.

    I'm not interested in social networking with people who like the same movies as me. I'm interested in methods seeing the queues of people that like the same types of movies-- and I don't care who they are or what their screen name is.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Great input on the friends/community debate, but on another topic: Does anyone actually use the "friend's quiz" on their page? Or respond to that "Both you and blank certainly enjoyed blankety-blank film, you're both certainly far from average" message?

    I know the Netflix team is just trying to promote sharing messages, but those are two ways that are actually a little grating. When I have a message to leave, believe me , I'll send it.

    They don't really detract from the experience, but they don't add anything either.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I'm not against any kind of social networking, but I probably won't use it that much, if it's made available. Like others, I'm interested in getting ideas for movies to queue up from like-minded people, but apart from that, I'd rather not be forced into dealing with people commenting on my ratings or sending me IM's and such.
    A site that I absolutely love is last.fm. This is a very social site based around keeping charts based on the music that users listen to. I'm not very social there (I'm more interested in my own personal charts), though the options are there to do that, if I wanted.
    They have a "shoutbox" on most of the pages on their site, from individual users pages, to groups created by users pages, to pages that are simply devoted to one song or artist. A user can post a quick comment in a panel on the side of any one of these pages. (I've turned the shoutbox off on my personal page.)
    Last.fm also uses a logarithm to create a "neighbors" list that is displayed in a panel beneath the shoutbox. These are icons of users that have similar musical tastes to you --- a great way to discover new music.
    There's also the option for users to create their own groups, which they have complete control over. I've found most groups to be bland at best, but there are diamonds in the rough.
    Last.fm has done a lot of things right. The amount of social networking is left completely up to the individual user. Netflix would do well to take their approach into consideration.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am a big fan of horror movies and I would love to connect with users in my area who are into the same kind of movies I am. I think like previous people have said before-you can either be searchable or private.

    ReplyDelete
  34. This is a video rental site, not a dating site. I do not want my viewing tastes to be viewed by others just as easily as they would browse through movies. If it is implemented here, it should be off by default.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I think Netflix should have a feature called "Plan a Movie Night" under the Friends tab. You could invite one or more friends to watch a movie at a specified time through Watch Now, and you could offer a special Community Review feature that would allow each friend invited to comment on the movie before rating it with stars. This might lead to more reliable star ratings. Perhaps throw in automated email reminder before the show starts, a coupon for organic popcorn at a local Whole Foods, and a real-time chat feature for all friends that are watching -- and we're good to go. Who needs the movie theater?

    ReplyDelete
  36. I kind of like the Facebook feature that let's you search your address books for email addresses that match those on file. With a feature like this on Netflix, I could build my Friends list much faster on Netflix. I don't want to network with strangers -- but bring some of my more trusted offline relationships online.

    ReplyDelete
  37. do not want to connect with strangers or even to know their sim percent. do not want random messages from people. I have Friends on my NetFlix to be able to more easily tell my family/friends in real life about movies I think they would like and vice versa. Not into online social networking.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I am new to Netflix. I really like the Friends feature. My husband and I are big movie buffs and we watch several movies a week. My family and friends are always asking me for movie recommendations. The Friends feature offers a great way of doing this. However, I have absolutely no interest in talking with strangers and I especially don't want my kids' profile public. However, I would like to share notes and reviews with our friends without worrying about what being careful not to reveal personal information, etc.

    Please, don't combine the Friends and Community tab. I don't want to have to wade through a cluttered page of lists of who likes movies I like, etc.

    I agree with everyone who says that it should be a single setting in Options: Public or Private.--Or maybe even three settings. Public for those who want to connect with people they don't know, Friends for people who just want to connect with people they do know, and Private for people who just want to rent movies and be left alone.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Not sure where to put this suggestion but it sort of has to do with friends and strangers, I guess. So here it is... on the similarity page, I would like to be able to change the name that displays for each of my friends. Some of them I know only online and don't know their real name and others I know by their informal nick name, not the legal name they used to sign up with Netflix. I'm getting them all mixed up! :)

    ReplyDelete
  40. @anon
    PREFERENCES subnav dude. That's what it is for.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have found others that have rated films very much like me... and would love to send them a note of movies I love that they have not seen but there is no way to communicate with other Netflix users unless you know their email address. This is unfortunate... being unable to connect with similar users.

    ReplyDelete
  42. ...there is no way to communicate with other Netflix users unless you know their email address. This is unfortunate...

    I disagree. I would absolutely not want to receive e-mails from people I do not know just because we are both Netflix members and some ratings matrix decided that we are similar.

    Also, how would you even know that someone had seen a particular movie? They may have seen it and not reviewed or rated it so Netflix would have no record of it.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I don't see what the problem is. I agree with Chris I - this issue has already been addressed under Member Profile "privacy settings". Members not interested in being social can click private and be done with it.
    For those of us who do want to communicate with other members, I think these features are important. Netflix is not like other web sites. More people come here to rent and watch DVDs than anywhere else. That means that you are more likely to find people with similar interests here than anywhere else.
    I think the idea of having three or more privacy settings makes sense, so members can select the level of privacy they want.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I agree with neecie…

    And I’ve said it before. All high-end community features, private messaging, networking, forums, etc… should be opt-in and something you have to seek out and ‘join.’ Basically the “community” should be set-apart… a world apart if you will, from the main sight where the casual netflixers don’t have to be bothered with it, probably won’t even know it’s there. All additional privacy settings can be set in the ‘join’ process, which need not be complicated, and you can use the ‘join’ process as well to make sure the kids don’t get in without Mom & Dad giving their ok.

    This makes the casual subscriber happy because he remains unhassled and the main site remains simple and functional… It makes the wonks happy because they will be able to find and network with other interested and highly flix-involved members.

    If it’s done in this way, I see no reason why Netflix couldn’t open a “Reviewers Forum” or some such, with all the features that the best forums have, including a private messaging or ‘mail’ system, ‘friends,’ ‘groups,’ ‘clubs,’ what have you. Do not adopt anything that generates e-mail however… keep it on the web site or it will end up the same kind of fiasco as ‘friends notes.’

    And I like the reviews as is, you write them, they are out there and people can take them or leave them, but you don’t get any hassle from them. I don’t want people to send me messages about my review. Positive or negative, it doesn’t matter, because I just don’t want the bother and I don’t have the time.

    It’s ironic to say this, but in response to yet another comment, no one should be able to participate in community features anonymously. That would just tempt abuse and introduce dysfunction for absolutly no good reason. If you really want to participate in a community what good reason could you have for being anon? No one should be able to hide their user name. The only reason I’m anon here is that I can and it’s easier than thinking of yet another user name and signing in.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I personally think it would be cool for there to be a mobile viewer for instant watching for phones, for some of us who are on the go, but aren't exactly able to do anything, like traveling where there is no computer internet connection availible but a data connection for smartphones and pocketpcs, for example, I have a Moto Q with WIndows mobile.

    ReplyDelete