Tuesday, August 21, 2007

This Weeks' Release

It's that time again... the time when we've fixed a few things, added a few things, cleaned up a little bit of the mess we create during construction ... sometime around this weekend you'll see the next few Community improvements. They include a bunch of small Friends and Reviewers items:

1) We're pretty much done moving items from the Friends home page to the Community Home page -- the quiz is here, the activity block, and finally, the notices that appear at the top of your Friends page when you get a note or a new friend invitation -- these will be here now. Consequently, we're cropping off these old elements from the top of the Friends page - simplifying it some - and moving those elements up a click level (back to where they were). (As a bit of a tease, i will tell you that clearing them off the Friends page leaves us room for the next stuff we're about to add...)

2) We've added one kind of notice: when a friend writes a movie review, it will also get a card at the top of the Community Home page, much like notes have been.

3) We fixed a couple of little bugs in the Friends activity box (like most of this weeks' changes, this will mean nothing to non-Friends users), but the ratings are now in there, and soon we'll clean up the way the TV series are presented.

4) The "read more" link on movie reviews in the Latest Reviews slider now takes you to the full review on the reviewers own page - and not leave you hunting around the movie display page wondering where it is.

5) We cleaned the creation dates off of the Top 10 Lists - they weren't really useful, and now there is more room for longer titles.

6) Oh, and we slid your "helpful/unhelpful" count back into your own Reviews & Lists page so it's easier to see which of your reviews are well-received...

7) IF YOU HATE, AND I MEAN HATE THE MEMBERS LATEST REVIEWS feed - here is a super top secret back door work-around for you: add the words "NOSCROLL" after the ? in the URL, such that it looks like this:
http://www.netflix.com/Community?NOSCROLL

And the Community Home page will display without it. It's not easy, perhaps, but it may suit the technically savvy folks among you.

These are the bits improved this week (the parts you can see), all slowly moving us toward where we are heading-- a place that will be much much clearer not this Friday, but in a few more weeks. Until then, i hope some of these little things help. Sure they're entirely apple polish, but there is method in the madness. I'll lay out what the big picture is sometime in early September. Until then, enjoy...

44 comments:

  1. That's great you added the friends rating, that was really missing. So thanks! Here's a question that I don't know where else to ask (especially now that Netflix does not offer email support)... is there anywhere to report site errors? For example I want to report that the movie length time is wrong on the movie I rented. The site and envelope say it's 117 minutes when it's actually closer to two hours. It would be great to have a simple on each movie page to report errors like this. Also, for some reason I can no longer post reviews. Each time I submit my review I get the error message "Review Submission Error". Don't know what the problem is as my review is not too long or too short. Any I idea what could be causing this? Anyhow, keep up the great work! (and please make movies notes available to all new friends we add, this has been my own constant gripe! thx!)

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  2. Did you lose data recently. Three new reviews of mine showed up last night, but are gone as of today.

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  3. michael, from netflixAugust 21, 2007 at 4:26 PM

    I may make this a formal posting, but for now, here are the only reasons for a "review submission error" such that it won't show up on the site:

    1 Review length less than 80 chars;
    2 Review length more than 2000 chars;
    3 One or more words larger than 25 chars;
    4 Bad words* in the review;
    5) Movie not rated.

    The "bad words" are somewhat obvious, but also include the word "netflix" and a few other less obvious things. When the new FLAG threshholds are tuned (in the next few weeks) we may relax some of these since we trust the community to handle bad reviews and not try so hard to force good reviews with these rules. But i'll keep you posted on that front as it develops. Does this help? If not, please just contact Customer Service. They are fully capable of looking into specific issues.

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  4. Thanks Michael, that does help. My review had the bad word "Netflix" in it! Wow, that's pretty silly to have the review not go through because of the name of the site... how weird. I will rewrite it. The only reason I even mentioned Netflix in the review was to let people know that the info on the Netflix site was wrong regarding the length of the movie. Thanks for the quick response, and I'm glad to hear some of those rigid rules are about to be lifted.

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  5. I would love to be able to quickly sort through movie titles in a genre or format by title, date, rating, length, etc. instead of having to scroll through pages. I don't want to lose the cover art, but I'd love to have more functionality. I was wishing for this today as I was browsing the TV shows in the Watch Instantly section.

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  6. To first post:

    unless I'm mistaken, isn't
    2 hours x 60 minutes == 117 minutes.

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  7. Michael, I'm curious. How many Members Top 10 Lists have been created? I would think there are 1000's but I constantly see the same ones on the community page.

    Are these lists randomly selected and do the same 12 show on everyone's Community page? Now that the date will be leaving, rather than longer names, I'd much prefer knowing the % similar to me of the member who created the list. Would that be possible?

    I used to see my lists showing up under "Featured in the following Top 10 lists:". I rarely see them anymore and I've never seen one of mine on the Community page. Has Netflix changed it so we don't get our own lists?

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  8. "noscroll" isn't working for me. But now that it's been slowed down and the size doesn't change every time it refreshes it doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I find myself sort of getting sucked into watching it scroll. It's hypnotic.

    I haven't seen any new or revamped features that would be helpful to me, but I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes in the future.

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  9. Anon #1 - Try 'Contact us' at the bottom of the page. You'll see :

    Movie Correction - Suggest a correction to movie information on our website.

    Although isn't 117mins pretty darn close to 2 hrs (120 mins)??!!

    The new improvements sound great. And I'm still enjoying the much criticized 'stranger's reviews', and finding stuff that would never have done otherwise. Very cool!

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  10. Will there be something on the Friends Home page to let us know when a freind has written a new Review, or will that just be on the Community page?

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  11. Anonymous: I don't think the noscroll flag will work until the new version is pushed out later this week.

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  12. Anonymous #1, pardon the snideness, but not sure why you would need to include in your review that a movie's length is misquoted by Netflix. You should comment on the movie itself. Also, 117 minutes is close enough to 2 hours that it shouldn't be worried over. Plus, a film's runtime is usually measured from opening credits, till the last credit has rolled at the end.

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  13. The no scroll doesn't work for me either, but, as anonymous numero whateva stated, it does slow down considerable. I don't know if it's because I'm not using iex or what. I still don't like them, but they're much less irritating.

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  14. Also, seriously, thank you SO MUCH for moving my "Helpful" ratings to my own page. This will honestly simplify my Netflix experience ALOT. I'd previously had to go to my backup queue's friend page (I friended my backup queue cause it makes transferring movies from one queue to the other quite easier) and look at my Helpful ratings from that profile. So really, thanks!

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  15. One suggestions:
    Under "your friends' activity," please tell me the star rating if my friend rated a movie. Thanks.

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  16. Really hope that the huge amount of real estate being wasted by 'Unique in....' will eventually be put to better use? How about 'Hot new movies currently available at your local distribution center'! You know, something that would actually get us to check it with some degree of interest and anticipation, and catapult it to #1 in our queue. Everything else beginning to cook nicely.

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  17. Love the new friends features, a couple of suggestions:

    The movies that your friends 'loved' or 'hated' on the main Community page - those are very small. Could we mouse-over them like in our queue and have the title, description, etc, come up?

    Also, in our queue, could the movies that are available on 'Watch Now' have some kind of special mark next to them or be a different color or just something to show that they're different than the rest of the other movies?

    Great job guys, thanks!

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  18. Thanks for these!

    I saw a couple of posts back the mention of a drop-and-drop queue. Is this already in action and I'm just not realizing it, or has it yet to launch?

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  19. What I'd prefer is a way to remove the "member's latest reviews" section entirely.

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  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  21. The new release is this weekend sometime. Get with the program!

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  22. When will "Watch Instantly" work on the Mac? I pay the same subscription fee as Windows users.

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  23. No-one knows when. Read (and weep over) Steve's 'Instant Watching' post of Aug 9th.

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  24. Am loving the side by side comparisons with our sim%-mates' favorites! Very helpful in re-focusing the mind on certain movies, and adjusting stars accordingly. Two request - that we can, as discussed, 'remember' the ones we particularly like (have lost a few that rotated out of the foursome before I'd finished mining their rich seams), and that we can clear ratings right there on the side-by-side page instead of having to click on the movie each time. Thanx guys.

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  25. Michelle said...
    When will "Watch Instantly" work on the Mac? I pay the same subscription fee as Windows users.

    To be honest its not Netflix fault, nor any on-line businesses fault.

    Its more likely a fault at Apple. Try calling your Mac customer service folks and demand they expedite getting the required license formatted and installed so that the embedded mac players can decipher the video.

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  26. On the Community page, I love the "Your Friends' Activity" section, but it could be better. First, it would be much more helpful to see how many stars my friends rated a movie, rather than just the fact that they rated it. This might require more horizontal space; I would suggest rearranging the "Latest Reviews" section to drastically reduce the size of the member name/avatar/sim% block (do we really need to see the giant avatar here? or even the generally meaningless member names?) - maybe you could move just the name and the sim% to the smaller space under the Add button on the left.

    Second, it's not really interesting that one of my friends has shipped a DVD back, or even that they have received one. I'm much more interested in what they've rated, what they've newly queued, and what they've left notes or reviews about.

    Third, sometimes you get a friend who does maybe 10 or 20 things all at once - queues a bunch of movies, or rates a bunch, or whatever. This then pushes all your other friends' activities off the list. Could there either be a link to the full (maybe one week's worth) list of friends' activities? Or if someone does maybe five or more of one particular activity in a day, it could just say "[Friend] queued 5 DVDs]" and you could click to find out which 5 if you wanted to.


    Also, the Friends Loved/Friends Hated section could be cool, but it hardly ever changes, and I can hardly see what movies they are (we need to at least be able to mouse over the covers and see what they are, like in other areas of the site). I know my friends all loved Fargo, but I don't need to be reminded of it every single time, and the fact that they all loved it is never going to change. So unless some new movie comes along that they all suddenly rate 5 stars, there doesn't seem like there will be any new content in that area for me.

    Thanks!

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  27. I love the idea of a little icon of sorts appearing on your que list for movies which are also available with the watch it now feature. I might actually utalize the watch it now service then.

    Secondly i would love to have an acquintances section, where i could keep track of members who are like me. I like to look at those members who are like me on the community page, and often times find a good one or two, that i would like to consistently keep track of so that i could look back to their reccomendations. You could call it acquantances or netflix buddies or what ever, but a way to identify some of those people so that i could return to their pages would be very appreciated.

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  28. Just a quick note to say that the least useful thing on the community page is the "unique to Missoula" section (unique to your city)... I don't give a crap what other Missoulians are renting.

    Does anybody else look at that?

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  29. I don't understand the "Members with Similar Tastes to You" box. It says "Click on the picture to see what makes you similar" but when I look at the movies for the person, I haven't seen or rated most of them. How does that make us similar?

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  30. to wade: Thanks -- I must have missed that part of Michael's post. :blushing:

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  31. Is there any way to put the content of my top 10 lists in alphabetical order? Some lists get rather long, and I want to check if a flick is on that list, but there's no discernable order.
    Also, could the lists be sorted in ways other than alphabetical? Like by original release date? Just a thought... Thanks.

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  32. Forest Gump, in my opinion is the greatest love story ever told. As you watch the film you see Jenny, Forest's one true love, live through the 60's, 70's, and 80's as everyone else did. The "Hippie" culture with all the music and acid. Then the 80's where she looses her self to cocaine and heroin, just like everyone else in that age. Now Forest, born mentally 'slower' than the kids he grew up with, lived his life not following what the rest of the world was doing through the eras. He became a football star, a ping-pong champion, and a shrimp boat captain. If you ask me, although he had a burden to bear with while doing all these things, he had a "better" life than anyone who had a full capasity 'noggin.' This movie shows what you can do with your life dispite the temptation to follow everyone else.

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  33. @anonymous If you ask me...

    Nobody asked you. Your review was unhelpful.

    Thank you, drive through.

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  34. Darkko, is that you, old friend? Don't forget that the doors to the clinic are always open to you, day or night. We've even kept your old room for you.

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  35. Netflix needs to change their top 100 list as it's been the same for along time now. Also, update the newest releases on dvd, because blockbuster is creeping up on you!

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  36. @Michael : I 'd be intrigued to know what % of people are actually making use of the 'no scroll' option. Because it seems like a great way to have titles fall into your lap (arf arf) even if you don't necessarily agree with what the person has to say about them.

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  37. Anon - I believe the Top 100 is automated. It's just what we happen to be renting in quantity. I don't think anyone can "change" anything.

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  38. i am really starting to despise netlflix. i've been writing reviews for over 2 months without a single one being posted. for now reason either, as i stayed within the netflix guidlines. not to mention, having to wait a week to get a common movie such as 'payback' from across the states in maryland. i'm just about to switch to blockfuster.

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  39. @Darkko - You forgot to hit Reed Hasting's blog!! We understand your frustration, but all these bratty posts on multiple threads certainly aren't going to endear you to anyone that might actually have been able to help you with this. And just wait till you find that it can take weeks, even months, to get certain movies at Blockbuster, and then discover that they've been edited for content that they deem objectionable! Just don't come complaining about it to us, please.

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  40. I hope this comment still gets read, even if it is in an older post (it seemed the appropriate place to put it).

    I tried making a list the other day, only to realize, that when it comes to certain movie titles, there's more than one movie (and I'm not just talking remakes). When you make the list, there's no way to make sure that it's the right movie that gets included. For example, the titles "Richard III", "Medea" or "The Inheritance" all cover more than one movie each. In the old days it wasn't a problem, since it was only the title that showed up, but now that the cover and the BOB show up, it's important that it's the right version of the movie that's selected for my list. So far I've had to exclude these titles from my list, because Netflix displayed the wrong movies. Couldn't you make a drop-down list of some sort, that included the different versions? Or perhaps create a button on the page of the movies (somewhere down there with format info) to include on a list?

    My second question is more diffuse. I've been writing a couple of reviews of rarely-reviewed movies (8 customer reviews or less). With the new rating system, reviews for non-blockbuster movies should have more of an impact than the 1500th review of Spiderman 3. However, the "helpful"/"not helpful" voting buttons also have an impact. I noticed that the buttons seem to have more of an impact on my rating than the existence of the review itself. I like the rating system's built-in bias towards smaller/rarer movies, but isn't it still contingent on someone else actually reading/voting the reviews of these obscure movies? In other words, isn't there a lower limit where it just becomes too obscure to write a review because noone will ever read it?

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  41. michael, from netflixOctober 4, 2007 at 3:47 PM

    quick reply:

    these are known issues in the adding of movies to the lists-- and the only (and best) workaround is to go to the movie page itself. From the movie you want to add, there is a link in the left column that will "+Add [the movie] to Top 10 list". Not ideal, but works well.

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  42. Thanks for the prompt reply, Michael! I don't understand how I missed that feature (it's probably to discreet). It's not perfect, but Good Enough&tm; for me.

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  43. Yes, you cannot use the word "Netflix" in the review for libel purposes. You also cannot write bad words. If you want to write a bad word, I suggest "starring" most of the letters with asterisks.

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