Thursday, August 16, 2007

About This Blog

There may be some confusion among new blog readers about this blog - and so i've added a little explanation to the blog sidebar that I hope will shed some light on things.

There are a few additional points i'd like to make:

(a) This blog is about the development of community features; this is not customer service. While other readers can sometimes help you solve a problem (and i encourage this), i can't really address issues like shipping oddities, broken discs, account things, and so on. I can, however, fix website bugs (or send them to people who can) - and to the degree you think something is a weird bug that is persistent and probably affects many people, I do like hearing that. (and no - lack of Mac-based instant watching is not technically a bug...) Already, you guys have identified a number of bugs that I missed, and we've been able to fix them quickly. In the cases where you are seeing a debilitating issue, information about your OS and browser really help.

(b) Our web development isn't really a democracy (i think it's more of a republic... ) i value your input and feedback and i combine it with many other sources of information to determine what I build and when. Y'all are an asset and a great resource, but please understand that I don't just build what the blogging majority (or the vocal minority) suggest. We have methods to discover if features are needed by large segments of our users, but this blog isn't that. You guys are a self-selected, usually advanced, relatively technical, pretty dern smart, movie-loving group. (this is what I like about you). But you must realize you are special and not necessarily representative of all our members. But I really do hear you and your insightful/compelling arguments are fantastic.

(c) I have limited ability to get my partners to contribute here - i'm on the team building the website, and my associates bring you things like Instant Watching, the Queue, Recommendations, Ratings, and so on. They all read this blog and your comments, and will post occasionally, but not to the extent that I do. I only write about what I know and what I am doing. When I don't respond to comments about other things, it's only because i have little value to add. Which leads me to...

(d) Netflix doesn't "hate you" when we either don't respond directly to your comment or don't implement the feature you want most. Netflix in general (and me, in particular) value you highly. I respond directly to comments once in awhile, but somewhat randomly I think. If I do comment to you, it's because something you said has nicely sparked a conversation. And finally...

(e) I'm doing this blog to help me in my efforts to develop these features that explore the value of community in movie discovery. To the degree it's helpful, fun and relatively civil, i'll keep doing it. if it descends into name calling, poor behavior, and a general lack of decorum, i'll probably give up. So far i have been deeply impressed with all of you and the quantity of good thinking and helpful input.

So thank you, and i hope this helps give context to what is going on here.

30 comments:

  1. Michael and team. You guys are doing a great job and thank you for giving us a place to post our concerns and wants and wishs. To me as a very loyal Netflix subscriber and a film freak it means a ton to get this kind of feedback from the company. You may be just one part of it, but even one part of it means that someone in our oversized corprate owned world is paying attention to the little guy.

    Thank you from the bottom of my little movie loving heart!

    Until Netflix came along I would have never have gotten to see so many great films and great directors that I never had the opportunity to see in my isolated little piece of grass in the heartland.

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  2. I second Microwaved, minus the grass, alas. Re-reading some of our posts the next day (i.e. out of the heat of battle) can be a bit embarrassing, with a certain rather entitled brat-factor coming through, so I welcome this slight re-racking of focus as to what role we do and don't play in the overall process, and will try to lower expectations and eliminate 'tone'. Much appreciate your kind words and continued accessibility.

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  3. I think the community page should be the homepage -- maybe combine "Browse DVDs" and "Community" into one page? I want the friends updates to be the first thing I see. My friends NEVER check on it because they have no idea what community is and won't bother finding out. If it's on the front page then they'll remember that this cool feature exists. OR you guys can send out an e-mail telling users about the new features.

    Keep up the good work.

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  4. michael, from netflixAugust 16, 2007 at 1:13 PM

    thanks all. we will send out email updates about community(and also post key elements on the netflix home page) once we are comfortable that all the features are rolled out and working nicely and we all feel pretty good about them. for now, it's okay that people just discover them.

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  5. Hey one feature I'd REALLY like to see is being able to look at my queue, and there being some kind of watch-it-now icon next to the ones for which that feature is available.

    I know, I know, you can just go to the Watch Instantly tab and see which ones in your queue you can do that for, but it would be nice to see that from the queue side as well, since I look at that so often.

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  6. Anonymous above me, what I do is separate the Instant Watch that I've added to my queue, by putting them on the bottom and newly added non-instant-watch movies right to the top and then going to the queue and putting the new one down to where I'd like it to be for the future etc.

    Try that, this way, if you know how many approximately instant watch movies you have, you'll know about where the dividing line is. And you can always open a movie link in another tab to see if it is an Istant Watch or not.

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  7. Michael, I was directed here by someone on the customer service line, because I wanted to register my request for Mac support (yeah, I'm one of those ;-) — and custsrv told it's coming...eventually ;-)). I'm not one who usually joins in on blogs, but I read your introduction and it struck a chord. Thanks for doiing this, I hope you keep it up!

    best,

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  8. Michael, what has really been ignored through the course of this blog is how fantastic of a writer you are. Really. For a guy whose job is not writing, you're always very well-ordered, well-said and--yes--captivating. If the Netflix thing doesn't work out, maybe try The Slate?

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  9. Seth, I'm certain Michael Rubin is a writer. (Google him. He wrote a book about George Lucas.) Unless I'm mistaken.

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  10. @anon above me: Huh. Interesting.

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  11. @anon
    Good find! (Clearly not the Iranian scholar!!!) Found it- http://www.droidmaker.com/author.html

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  12. Hey Michael, as I have said before, I simply wish that more web companies started doing what you are doing with this Community Blog. It is phenomenal that you and your peers are taking time out of your busy schedule to listen and get feedback from the people who really matter - your customers. Thanks..

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  13. Michael, I have to say that you guys are doing a great job. I admit that I am one of the earlier posters who didn't want the new community features and requested an opt out option for those content with the old friends system. The new friend additions to the community page are great!

    While I haven't changed my mind that I personally find strangers ratings useless. My concern was that friend data was getting pushed to a second page and was more difficult to access. The new friend boxes on the community page are great! I get more information in a faster presentation. I like the layout of the boxes and their content. I no longer have to scroll friend by friend to see what people have been rating or adding.

    Keep up the great work!

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  14. michael, from netflixAugust 16, 2007 at 5:19 PM

    Thanks, all, for the kind notes. I'd be lying if i said it didn't make the work more satisfying when we hear nice stuff from you.

    Regarding the writing, also thanks. I like writing. Can't blog if you can't write, yes? And yes, i've written a lot of books. (And lest anyone really think we hate Mac users, notice that among the books i've written are the popular Apple Certified Training books on iLife '04, '05 and '06 - as well as books on Final Cut Pro, etc.) Honestly, we've got nothing against Mac users (I say as I type on my Macbook Pro in Parallels)... so thanks again, and we all appreciate your interest in Netflix and our work.

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  15. Michael,
    I think the community blog feature is great. People do need to realize that it is a great place to rant, rave and discuss many topics regarding Netflix and not use it as a personal technical support feature.

    I am also glad to know that you are such a Mac supporter - it gives me hope as my Mac G5 is itching to play the instant view movies.

    Keep up the great job as you and what you do is appreciated by many.

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  16. Humbling evidence that we vocal bloggers aren't necessarily representative of the majority opinion (explaining why Michael doesn't feel the need to hop-to the moment we announce our requirements) is the fact that 'notes' is beating out 'mini reviews' (my preference) 35% to 23% on the poll, whereas from the vehemence of the blogs I'd assumed that Minis would sweep in with 95%. Valuable lesson, not least that more people should post instead of just reading to give us a better picture of the majority opinion. As I've said before, we squeaky wheels shouldn't drown out the quieter voices. So, it's all yours, President of our Republic - and if we end up not not being happy living here, we all have passports; but I very much doubt that most of us will feel a need to use them once everything has been 'rolled out'. Thank you, Michael. Now, about that 'instant watching' outrage - (I jest. Got the message. You obviously wouldn't be pissing so many of us off if there were an easy solution).

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  17. I don't read blogs unless I'm trying to find a solution to an actual question - so this is the first time I've bothered to check this Netflix feature. But I'm puzzled: Who is this Michael? Does he represent Netflix? And if so, do they not hold him to some sort of standard in his entries? Are the pseudo-folksy "y'all" and poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation supposed to endear me to this person? Or are our expectations of proper communication techniques so corroded we'll accept anything?

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  18. Herr Professor, if you blogged more you'd know that this is an informal medium than allows for these conventions to connote a certain non-authoritarian on-your-side-ness (whoops, so sorry 'bout that). For more punctilious attention to spelling and grammar perhaps check out a few of the books Michael Rubin has written. It's really rude to just jump in like this and pompously apply yardsticks that aren't applicable.

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  19. The most valuable technical development I can think of for Netflix is as follows:

    Please put a microscopic video camera/gps device in the DVDs you send me so I can catch the rat that keeps ripping my envelope ever so slightly so they can see what movie I'll be watching! (I will catch you...someday...)

    If you guys can't work on that right away, I understand. You're doing a great enough job as it is.

    ...but seriously though...think about it, ok?

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  20. Hallelujah! A sense of humor, praise the Lord!! Sounds like it's time for a stakeout, Juan - because of course now we all need to know who the filthy rat is too.

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  21. Regarding the comment that Notes are beating out mini-reviews in this week's poll. I believe that the mini-review supporters' votes are split between the old mini-reviews, and the new "modified" review selection where you can mark a full review for just friends. I hate notes, but had a REALLY hard time choosing between the two types of reviews. So really, it's more like 34% for Notes and 44% for some variation of persistent reviews that only friends can see. Still close, though. :)

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  22. Yes, question 4 is a bit confusing, but I think the only hope we have of getting mini-reviews back is to vote for them exclusively; if 'Friends' want to get more info they can either RSS the full review (if you've written one you can add 'R' to the end of the mini) or just check out other people's.

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  23. michael, from netflixAugust 17, 2007 at 11:33 PM

    Are the pseudo-folksy "y'all" and poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation supposed to endear me to this person?

    Poor spelling and grammar? You must be Mr. Welker, my sixth grade english teacher, yes? And as for my pseudo-folksy y'all... uhh, i'm from Gainesville, Florida. Find it on a map and tell me how pseudo it is. (Anyway, i like the word y'all -- it's like the french "Vous", a plural for "you" and i've always kinda liked it.)

    Bummed my blogging style is not endearing.

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  24. Wow, you're actually from Gainesville, huh? I thought the entire population of the town was housed on UF's campus. :)

    Well, I guess I'll vouch for your "folksy"ness then - only those of us from North/Central Florida seem to understand that the whole state isn't just a big retirement community for Northerners...

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  25. I have become so re-impressed with Netflix, I SAY:"good show, old boy"

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  26. why aren't my reviews being published? they completely follow guidlines. i have not had a review published after over a month of trying every other day.

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  27. OK, message received loud and clear, Mr D. Now how about erasing all but one of your 26 postings so that when your reviews do finally get published you don't flagged or unhelpfulled back into oblivion by everyone you've pissed off?

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  28. Wouldn't it make sense to move the 'Netflix link' to right under 'Code Green'? It's pretty hard to find it tucked away down there.

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  29. OK, NOW I'm impressed!!!!

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  30. Yes, thank you for undertaking this effort. And I really think that most of us completely understand the situation…not a democracy… can’t give absolutely everyone every thing they want exactly when they want it… and we got to keep everything simple and functional for everyone that still just wants to rent movies… That’s exactly how I expect it to work. Just because I’m here on the blog and write reviews doesn’t mean I don’t want ‘Mom’ kept happy. (You don’t want to know what she’s like when she’s not happy.) And after all, I still actually rent movies too.

    I hope you understand Michael, (and maybe it’s just my impression that you may be belaboring the point just a little over all the postings) that to some extent we are talking as much to each other as we are talking to you. It’s human nature… it’s actually a good thing. I’m sure most of us try to keep it under control, but we are never going to be perfect, and even here in this thread where it should be fresh in everyone’s minds that ‘tude might not be helpful… there is still plenty to be found. From moderator to clueless newbie poster, each and every one, human.

    No matter how many tangents we wander off on… no matter how many times we seem to echo each other ‘needlessly’ or slip-up and start sniping… I think we all want this to be a useful tool that can continue to clarify and broaden our perspective and of course lead to further improvement and innovation of our broader Netflix experience.

    It is a huge relief to be able to get a response to our feedback and have a sense that we are finally actually weocome to contribute something… Now… even if I’m still having some of the same problems I’ve always had… at least I have an opportunity to understand the whys and wherefores, and can see how responsive you have been, or tried to be, to all the people here. It’s only when I was isolated from what was going on at the company end, with no way to feel I was even truly welcome to give feedback, or deserving of any sort of explanation that I might have in any way felt that maybe Netflix “hates” me or more accurately that they might just not care. But that was then…

    Again, Thank You. :)

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