Thursday, July 26, 2007

New Features...(PREVIEW)

I love it when I get to show y'all the new features. Remember what I said: i am building to something here. Every few weeks you get another piece of the puzzle until it starts to look like what it is.

Early next week we will retire the Friends tab. It will henceforth be called "Community" (well, at least until we think of something better). NOTE: This does not mean the Friends feature will be gone - on the contrary, Friends is an important element for people in our community. The name on the tab is what is changing, and the Friends page itself is getting (sort of) demoted, so you access it from that sidebar. It will be clear when you get there.

There are four main components to this Community "Home" Page: the first is the column on the left labeled "Latest Reviews" -- It is a feed of the latest reviews as they are posted to Netflix, from anyone, on any movie. On each one you'll see the little avatar and Sim% and you can decide as they flow on by whether or not any of the flicks (uh, perhaps i should write "flix") interest you. It will run all the way through thousands of reviews, if you let it...

Tip #1: Moving your cursor into the column will stop the flow; move your cursor out and it starts again.


Next to this zone is another new element: a presentation of custom lists--which are now going to be called "Top 10 Lists" in spite of some of your protests. If you want to call it a custom list, go ahead. But we're writing "Top 10 Lists" on the website. These are not the most recently created lists. These are selected for you individually to have movies in them that we think might interest you based on some guesses about what you like. It's a crude sort of approximation, but custom lists are sort of fuzzy like that, and idiosyncratic, and personal. Check some out that interest you. Each time you refresh the page, the set of lists update. This can be fun. This can also drive you crazy. You'll see. It's not totally on purpose, but i kinda like it. Sometimes an unusual Top 10 List is a neat jumping off point to check out a new reviewer, which leads to their reviews and other Top 10 Lists.... and so on.

We've got a block here showing movies popular in your town. We've had this on the site home page for a long time, but I think its nice here. It's more for curiosity than anything else. What's fun is checking out other areas and seeing what's different there. Your home town. Some place where your friends live.

And finally, down toward the bottom, are a set of four reviewers from netflix, all strangers to you, with some of the highest Sim% we could find. They aren't the "most" similar, I suppose--but they are among the most similar.

I'd like to ask ya'll to explore the possibilities here. What interests you? Do you drill into the Top 10 Lists? Do you add movies to your Queue after discovering them here? How do you feel about those Similar Reviewers? All I'll say about the next few pieces is this: in short order, Friends users will have a few more elements here to approximate a new version of the old Friends Home page. And finally, yes, you'll be able to hang onto the people you find and like here. They won't be your friends and you won't be getting messages from people you don't know. But you will be able to keep an eye on them. And a few other things. But that will have to wait for a little bit. For now, start experiencing this new Community home. And I trust I will get your candid feedback. It's what y'all do best. Next week. Enjoy.

59 comments:

  1. A community feature I would really like is the ability to directly send a friend a message. Kinda like how myspace has it's own mail system.

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  2. This sounds great! A fun combination of serendipity and statistics to get to more movies and reviewers we'd otherwise never have discovered (but will we be able to sample other 80%'s as well in case we don't like any of the 4 you picked for us?). Much looking forward to it, and many thanks to the whole team. Although I understand your "...until we think of something better..." since 'Community' is now sounding a bit clunky. And I voted for it!

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  3. Wow, this stuff looks great. I don't use the friends' page a whole lot, but I like the river-of-reviews thing. On the "local favorites" box, could there possibly be a way to see some other city than your own? I don't really live in an area known for great movie taste (or any other kind of artistic taste), and I'd rather set my local favorites to NYC or Austin or somewhere more artsy. It'd be neat to be able to switch it, too, and see how different cities compare to each other.

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  4. I'll still be able to check that page and get my friends' latest star ratings in one click..

    ... right?

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  5. AVATAR QUESTION:
    Where in the H@!! do I upload my avatar!? It needs to be easier to find.
    1. I typed "avatar" into the help search and got: ".... Access your Profile page to change (or see) your avatar.Avatars must comply with our image guidelines policy."
    But there was no link to the profile page. Hrm..

    2. I searched for "profile" but that wasn't helpful either.

    3. Finally I saw a profile link in the "Your Account" section, but there's nothing in there about changing your avatar.

    AH! A friend just told me it's in the friends side bar and I FOUND it, finally. It might be a good idea to change the wording of your help section to say "Access your Profile page from the Friend's sidebar" or something like that (since there IS Accounts Profile under the your Account Section) Linkage is ALWAYS nice. OR since you ARE making a change to your account, there should be a link to it under "my account."

    I believe I should be able to intuit where to go to change something and this was a pain. Perhaps I'm just being obtuse this morning, I dunno.

    As far as the community tab, I love all these ideas, it's looking good. I'll reserve judgment until I start using it, though.

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  6. i am quite excited for all the new changes

    if memory serves, there was some concern about privacy issues with being contacted by other members? seems to me if you give people the option to be... incommunicado... that would solve that problem.

    check here if you don't want other members to contact you... kinda thing.

    just a thought. lovin' the work so far!

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  7. I have no interest at all in what random "locals" are watching, wouldn't bother me in the least if that was removed from the system.

    I am far more interested in seeing what people with a high Sim% are watching. Reviews on movie pages should be sorted by Sim%. Its very annoying having to go through pages and pages of 17%'s just to find a few 70%'s.

    I'm also very interested to see the "what makes you similar" info. I have rated over 18,000 movies. There must be a lot of people that have only rated 10 movies, but rated them similar. They would have a high Sim%, but could easily have little in common with my movie tastes.

    What would be really cool is to see a list of people that have rated over 1000 (or maybe 500) movies and still have a high Sim%.

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  8. Reviews on movie pages should be sorted by Sim%.

    I agree, and I left a comment to this effect earlier. I really hope this is implemented.

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  9. Jurassic Mac OwnerJuly 26, 2007 at 11:41 AM

    My computer is, by current standards, an antique and upgrading is just not an option at the moment.

    I am concerned that the scrolling fiesta of reviews will bog it down to the point of rendering the Community page more of a pain than a pleasure. I am hoping that I will be wrong about this, but an option to turn of the scrolling/animation/whatever you want to call it would be much appreciated. I can't be the only one in this boat.

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  10. The post mentions that the Friends page is going away, to be replaced by a "Community" page. The four main components of this page all seem designed to put you in touch with other (non-friend) site users. There is no mention of retaining Friends' info. Is this still going to be visible/accessible? That's one of my favorite parts of the site, and I'd hate to see it disappear entirely.

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  11. I agree about local tastes - not interested. And why only 4 Sim%? Why not the top 25, say, or even 50? The rest looks exciting. Will check back re functionality after test drive.

    Off topic alert! The reviews should be sortable in as many different ways as possible - helpful[HA!], Sim%, # of stars, date posted (many pre-date DVD release), etc...

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  12. I really hope that my friends will be highlighted over the strangers. I value the differing opinions of my friends and I like that I have an idea of who they are. It adds a lot of context to the opinions they give with ratings and reviews.

    While it's interesting to see what other people who have similar taste in movies like that doesn't always help you discover anything new. I don't just want more of the same.

    I like the local favorites feature. Unfortunately, it makes me want to move quite badly.

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  13. @Jandy:

    On the "local favorites" box, could there possibly be a way to see some other city than your own?

    Yes, look to the right of the list and you'll see a tab saying: See What's Popular Somewhere Else . You can enter a zip or State and city.

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  14. Thanks Shaun! I wonder how many other people never clicked "see more local favorites"? Which should of course read : "see what the rest of the country is watching". Now THAT's a bit more interesting.

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  15. @Shawn - Thanks! I didn't know you could do that... And I was totally right, New York and Austin have taste much more like mine than my actual town. ;)

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  16. I am primarily concerned with the ratings or reviews of my Friends added on my Friends pages. But am very interested in being able to keep track of reviewers or list-makers that I like their movie tastes.

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  17. @baff - there was a post a month or so ago that explained in pretty good detail how the sim% works. Not only is it an interesting read, but it should allay some of your fears as well. In short, your sim% for me and my sim% for you can be quite different. If someone has only rated 10 movies, but those 10 ratings are similar to yours, then you'll show up with a high sim% for them. However, since you've rated so many movies that they haven't, the sim% you see for them will be quite a bit lower.

    Case in point, I've rated well over 1,000 movies, but my wife has only rated about 50 (most of which I've also rated). She sees me as 80% similar to her, but I only see her as about 50% similar to me.

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  18. Now all we need to know is how we get to read you guys' reviews and favorite movies! Good crowd!!

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  19. Everything sounds great! I will anxiously wait for the new features release. More than anything I wanted to be able to check members with the most similarity. Will this feature include non-reviewers as well, and will we get a different set of four when we refresh the page?--Will we be able to check more than their five star movies? Also, I hope the friends sliders don't change at all, I not only love to check what they are watching but I love to see my own movies displayed in this manner.
    The flow of reviews is a great idea too. Sometimes when a movie has too many reviews, writing a new one is a waste of time, as it goes into 10th page oblivion, without other members even having the chance to read it. It is good also that members can get into someone's review page and rate/add movies from there.
    I will definitely queue up movies found through members similar to me, or simply whose reviews I like. In fact, I have already found some treasures that way. Thak you so much!

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  20. I do NOT want to show up on anyone else's sim page; I don't people knowing what I watch, or being able to click on my avatar and find out anything about me. I'm assuming there will be some sort of opt out option, right? RIGHT?!?

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  21. To the previous comment: I don't work for Netflix, but you can currently have privacy in your reviews and ratings by clicking on reviews and lists in your home page to your right, or by clicking the "friends" tab, and then going to profile and in privacy settings click "private." Everything about you then will be hidden from everyone else. For those asking how to upload a personal avatar, this is the way to do it too.

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  22. @eric
    Thanks for the sim% info!

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  23. michael, from netflixJuly 26, 2007 at 9:13 PM

    wow. eric, shawn, maria... and the rest of you -- THANKS for really helping each other here. I know it's all a little complicated (and this is with us working on simplifying!) Yes, people who wish to be private have a few options. 1) If you're a friends user, you can hide movies; 2) If you absolutely don't want to be seen by anyone, anytime, don't write any reviews or make any custom lists. While everyone does have a profile, you're invisible for all practical purposes if you don't write reviews since there is no way to be found and no links to you; and 3) If you do write reviews, but want to be as private as you can be, there is a Privacy switch on the Profile page, that makes it so your avatar and sim% aren't clickable and thus don't lead to you. With luck, this is comforting.

    As I said, FRIENDS will not be changing at this time, just how you access the Friends page is slightly more hidden I suppose -- but Friends stuff will be changing a bit next, hopefully another step better from where it is. Nothing lost, just a few things gained...

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  24. I see no "local favorites" on the home page; where is it?!

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  25. Friends has been unavailable since Thursday night but the blog still says "code green". Anyone else having trouble or is it just me?

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  26. Mine seems OK (6.04 Pacific).

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  27. it's been unavailable for me since Thursday afternoon.

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  28. Netflix customer service can be reached at:



    24 hours a day

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  29. Numbers got erased!

    One eight eight eight - six three eight - three five four nine.

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  30. My Friends' info is way more important to me than that of strangers, though the latter can be interesting. So while moving the Friends link deeper into the site is not the end of world, it's not convenient either. I look at Friends info daily - I only rarely wonder what I can glean from random strangers' reviews - so I'd hope for new features that still allow Friends a prominent place.

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  31. i dont know if it has been addressed yet, but i'm not able to rearrange my custom lists (alphabetical would be nice!)

    is there something in the words to fix this?

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  32. I have no interest at all in what random "locals" are watching, wouldn't bother me in the least if that was removed from the system.

    iawtc. Everytime I've looked at that list I begin to think about moving. The movies are horrible. Whoever said changing it to 'what's the country watching' is on the right track. it's annoying entering zip or city nfo.
    *****

    I certainly hope my current friends won't be lost on this new Community tab. While I'd like to ck out other people, I prefer my people. To be honest from the description, I'm not feeling it. It sounds cluttered and/or messy.

    Can you clarify what's happening to our custom lists? Are the lists going to be our pre-existing ones (or the movies we've rated)? Or are they going to be recommendations? Does this mean there will be another place where recs will be located. I HATE Netflix recs. If I could turn them off, I would.

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  33. Whoever said changing it to 'what's the country watching' is on the right track. it's annoying entering zip or city nfo.

    If you want to know what the country is watching, I think that is covered by the "Netflix Top 100". There is a link to the list on the top of the Netflix front page.

    http://www.netflix.com/Top100

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  34. I would like to have easier contact with sims 80% and up. I get a lot of ideas from them.
    Please get another copy of "Bobby". I've been waiting months, since before the DVD was released!

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  35. michael, from netflixJuly 27, 2007 at 9:55 PM

    To answer some questions (and for those who just didn't read all the way to the bottom of the post): This Community Home Page is only just the foundation. In a few more weeks (I'm guessing) -- IF YOU USE FRIENDS -- this page will have a handful of additional elements which will take precedence over the more general community blocks shown here. I suppose it is pointless to keep repeating this fact, and i'm sure once the new page is visible, we're going to see lots of comments here wondering why more Friends info isn't present on this page... please help me to remind others who haven't read as much as you -- it's going to roll out over a month or so before you'll see the full flavor of the community. Prior to that, just enjoy what you can, and give feedback about what works and what doesn't. thanks

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  36. I may be way off base here, but I get the impression that, having already lost a few very popular 'Friends' features, people are a bit spooked that new stuff that they don't necessarily want is being introduced at the expense of stuff that they do. So maybe your soothing "Nothing lost, just a few things gained..." should be added as a sub-heading to this post, emphasizing that it's going to be phased-in over a period of weeks, rather than days. Please forgive our impatience; but consider the alternative : ho-hum!

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  37. I like the old Friends tab much more than this Community tab. I want to be able to access my Friends' movies and tastes quickly (this should still be the main page when you click on Friends/Community), not a bunch of random people's reviews and lists.

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  38. Hi Michael,
    Honest truth: I like to define my own Netflix community through my Friends list, and am not interested in the reviews and comments of strangers to me.

    That being said, I also recongize that other people do enjoy that, and I don't mind if those reviews are there on the page. I will continue to ignore them.

    But what I like about the Friends area is seeing "what's new" among my friends -- I like the quick hit of a new movie note, or seeing the recent additions of those top of my list (most like me).

    I would want to be able to access my own community first with the Netflix world-at-large secondary, not the other way around.

    thanks, as always, for asking.
    ~Sit10
    Clinton, MA

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  39. Come back. Mort! We miss your measured voice of reason. What's a 'community' without the occasional 'glitch'?

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  40. Do me a favor and make it so I can search for movies and exclude a rating. For example, if I don't want to see R rated movies, I would like to be able to search for movies, without having to look at any R movies.

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  41. Friend of NetflixJuly 29, 2007 at 9:23 PM

    Would be sorry to see the "Friends" feature go. Here's my recommendation. Still let people invite others via email but only allow the emails to go through to the entered email address if the member with that email has opted in to receiving "Friends" invitations.

    More importantly, though, I'd rather send invites to people I ALREADY KNOW are Netflix users, so you need to add a feature like Facebook and Plaxo have that let's you cross-reference your contacts from Google, Yahoo, Outlook or other address book with the Netflix Community. Then you'd be able to just check off which friends to send Netflix Friends invites to without annoying your friends who are not Netflix users and think you're weird to send them invites to a movie renting site. Facebook handles this functionality neatly -- suggest you build something similar.

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  42. Hey, remember when we used to meet real, 3-D, flesh 'n' blood 'Friends' and discuss movies face to face over drinks or dinner??? Oh, PU-LEAZE, enough already with all these e-mails that Netflix is supposed to send out, or not send out (I'm so confused). Net-FLIX should be allowed to concentrate on helping us get to see great flicks that we might not otherwise have gotten to see, and we - with the help of sites specifically devoted to helping us socialize, if that's your thing - should take care of own social lives.

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  43. I like the changes and I like the flowing reviews but I would love to be able to respond to the reviews in some way whenever it strikes my fancy. If the user is not already added as a friend then there is no way currently to leave them a movie note or response is there? That could be fun.

    What would also be fun is streaming movies from the "watch now" section on a Mac, but I suppose that's another topic altogether.

    Sigh...

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  44. I'd like to be able to find the people on netflix who agree with me the most...I have one friend with 80% agreement-- but the "similar" people in the window are not as similar to me as he is. I'd love to have a similar window with all 80%+ people...is there a reason why this is not possible? do the numbers never get that high?

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  45. michael, from netflixJuly 31, 2007 at 9:50 PM

    This is a very good question, michael, and one that might merit a full-on posting sometime soon. the brief answer is this: the calculation to determine similarity is extremely complex -- and takes into consideration all the movies you've seen and rated, and how other people rate those movies to find weight, and then looks at the various kinds of overlaps with another person. to take you and compare you to every other subscriber would be CPU prohibitive. To compare you to every reviewer is slightly easier, but still takes minutes. We use this complex algorithm for you and your Friends since you only have a few Friends. But with the Community we had to simplify the calculation a little. Its simply not quite as refined as the variation we use on your Friends. The result is that, for the moment, a "very similar" stranger is in going to be in the 70-80% range (i've not seen a 90+ yet) and that's about 10 points below what I get with my most similar Friends. We will continue improving the speed and accuracy of the similarity calcuations, I promise you.

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  46. Latest Reviews shouldn't change while I'm trying to read one of them. It's very annoying.

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  47. I agree with the other posters who don't like your making the "friends" list harder to get to. I couldn't care less about "local" interest and while "similar" users might be interesting to browse, I can't imagine wanting to see anyone much less than 75 to 80 percent similar. A list of 25 most similar or something would be interesting, but friends should be first. The recommendation system certainly isn't coming up with anything interesting for me, despite the supposed upgrade.

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  48. @Anon (11:33am)

    If you place your cursor in the "latest review" box, they'll stop changing while you read.

    from Michael's post: "Tip #1: Moving your cursor into the column will stop the flow; move your cursor out and it starts again."

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  49. Not sure how self-evident this is, but if you leave your cursor somewhere in the review stream and scroll up or down with the 'page up/down' on your keyboard you might find it easier to control. Loving it!

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  50. it disturbs me that you would rollout the instant video selection through the computer and have no provision for the mac user. I just spoke with one of your customer reps who said i should take it up with Apple about copyright issues in delivering content, and now I'm thinking: iTunes has been streaming video for longer than you have and there doesn't seem to be any problem in getting that across to Mac AND PC users. Understand that we're seriously considering cancelling our netflix subscription. Saying on your website: "your system is not compatible" is not Customer Service.

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  51. Love the additions...and the blog from Micheal with insight.

    Feedback: Reviews and lists just fly by on the main page...you really can't read them or act on them. More over once the lists are of the screen I've found no way to search for other lists.

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  52. One feature which would be great is the ability to "tag" a movie when you put it on your queue. What happens to me is that I see a movie I'm interested in, put it on my (long) queue and by the time it rises to the top six months later I forgot why I added it. If I could add a couple of sentences when I queue a movie, and then in the email notification when it ships these sentences are included to jog my imperfect memory

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  53. I know a 'not a review' addition to the 'flag' is being considered for scratch (etc) complaints, but, given the number of non-reviews we're seeing flash before our eyes in the movie waterfall, maybe you could also post something under the 'write a review' box and just above the review stream - something along the lines on "Please use the link in the 'at home' section of your queue to report DVD problems. No action can be taken if they are posted in a review". And maybe a mass e-mailing as well, because it's not only annoying for us, but must piss them off when they get no response. I'm also posting this in 'fixing up reviews', so forgive the repetition.

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  54. I would like to be able to view movies in the genres according to ratings similar to my own. I would also like a more advanced search so that if I need to look for PG movies when I'm searching for movies for my kids I could just see the PG movies. It would be nice to view an all genres movie list that we could view by date of release, rating, or sim rating factor as we please. And lastly I'd like to be able to see a list of movies made from the year 2000 and up in the section that you view by decade.

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  55. I would like to be able to adjust the reviews I see by most recent.

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  56. I also think a tag feature would be nice, so I can remind myself that Greg recommended the movie so I can let him know how I felt about it. etc.

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  57. Community features should be opt-in… not opt-out.

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  58. I can see my friends' friends? And they can see mine? Maybe my friends have other friends they don't want me to see -- maybe *I* have friends I don't want them to see.

    And if I don't like this "improvement," my only option is to go completely underground? All or nothing?

    Thanks, Netflix -- you just took away my Friends.

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  59. to view profile, go COMMUNITY, scroll down , and enter into your profile. Its the big button that say "YOUR PROFILE".

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