Friday, September 28, 2007

Today's Release

As mentioned, the outward facing Reviews & Lists page has been subdivided into two pages: Reviews (for all of a member's reviews, most recent on top), and Top 10 Lists (with the attractive poster view).

The other changes are more subtle, I suppose. The multiple helpful votes has been turned off -- so each member can only vote once, same as with flags. We added an underline to the names of pages in the sidebar, to make it clearer to the folks who didn't recognize those things as clickable buttons. In the Friends/Faves Activity block, when it shows someone has written a review, the movie name still links to the movie display page, but the person's name links to their Reviews page, and thus you'll see their review prominently at the top. This will save you trying to find their new review from the pages of reviews on the movie page. Let's see... what else? I believe the fans and faves stuff will be more solid, and work better... please let me know. Oh yea - FANS now show up mixed into your outward facing Friends & Faves page. That's a little more fun. Anyway, enjoy these things. And the new Search. Lots of stuff to play with today. Keep in touch.


  1. And Fans now show up on the outward Friends & Faves page.

  2. "And Fans now show up on the outward Friends & Faves page".

    Excellent move. And, given all of todays' other fantabulous goodies, not a bad day's work guys! Bravi!!!

  3. Is it just me - or are there no images on the netflix website? It looks to me like an akamai caching issue (from my experience at expedia/ - but perhaps it's a stupid DNS issue as well.

    Anyway, just a heads up. For me, anything on the cdn-? domain is unreachable, except for www.

  4. Images loading ok for me.

    Something that would make Faves much more useful to me would be to have my Faves' ratings show up on the movie pages under "What Your Friends Thought". Not sure if anyone else has suggested that yet.

  5. Well, seems to be DNS then...

    traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
    6 ( 37.261 ms 52.298 ms 32.347 ms
    7 ( 57.566 ms 40.277 ms 44.223 ms
    8 ( 37.153 ms 44.775 ms 87.080 ms
    9 ( 47.375 ms 36.968 ms 42.193 ms
    10 ( 32.245 ms 34.577 ms 49.496 ms
    11 ( 184.959 ms 41.208 ms 127.449 ms
    12 ( 44.769 ms 56.892 ms 47.157 ms
    13 ( 67.323 ms 98.991 ms 57.160 ms
    14 * *^C

    And here's to
    traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
    6 ( 44.882 ms 89.828 ms 54.721 ms
    7 ( 54.871 ms 99.859 ms 67.182 ms
    8 ( 272.369 ms 212.192 ms 214.830 ms
    9 ( 150.002 ms 114.828 ms 102.391 ms
    10 ( 94.812 ms 84.763 ms 122.304 ms
    11 ( 118.311 ms 96.297 ms 119.780 ms
    12 ( 77.362 ms 92.785 ms 76.780 ms
    13 ( 137.305 ms 74.611 ms 67.388 ms
    14 ( 125.000 ms 122.161 ms 112.241 ms
    15 ( 247.372 ms 122.478 ms 177.193 ms
    16 ( 279.858 ms 283.510 ms 217.402 ms
    17 ( 112.271 ms 136.132 ms 154.775 ms

    It could be that routes aren't propagating to my upstream provider... as is peered on qwest, and is off

    I can't reach at all - which is the reverse lookup domain name.

    Thanks again - I'll keep looking into it.

  6. I see someone's off their medication.

    Michael, maybe.........

  7. Heya. I'm really loving all the new things today. Small changes that just make the UI better - good stuff.

    One thing I just realized while looking through some member lists in the snazzy new poster-layout is that it would be REALLY neat to have the star ratings under them the way they appear everywhere else on the site under the "add" button (i.e. Red stars for predicted rating or yellow stars for the rating you already gave it). This would both be consistent with the rest of the site, and it would give you all the information you need (except the movie description itself) at a glance without having to roll over the title and read the pop-up.

  8. Perhaps your acerbic comment is best saved for your mother.

    Regardless - thanks for everyone's help - I'll check upstream.

  9. Here's a copy of a post I wrote earlier (before Michael's latest) to the old post:

    For the first time I have all my Faves on the page and the numbers match on the tab. Very cool.

    Did you change the Friends ID to the nickname? If so I like that.

    I just noticed that the Lists are now in poster format. That is great and should be much more fun to look through and easier to know what the movie is about. Great job!!!


    (1) I'd like to see a tally of the ratings for me and be able to see it for Faves. I'm curious to know what % of movies I (and others) rate at the different levels.

    Something like:
    NetflixID - rated 2000 movies
    10% 5 star, 20% 4 star, 40% 3 star, 20% 2 star, 10% 1 star, o% not interested

    Or if not a % then the actual number of each. It would tell me how tough a rater my Faves are and be interesting to see how I rate movies but without a tally on the ratings counting is too hard.

    As Baff said, "Something that would make Faves much more useful to me would be to have my Faves' ratings show up on the movie pages under "What Your Friends Thought". This is a great idea and would be so helpful.

    Visualize me holding a bowl and looking pitiful:
    Please Sir, May I Have More?
    Now that Faves are going to actually stick around when we add them are we still limited to 16 or will there be more? We really need more. There are so many great lists and reviewers out there.

    The pages look great. I think you and your team have improved our chances of locating great movies. Great job!

  10. Just an update - I traced the issue to limelight networks... sent an email over there. It's affecting the dallas, tx cache servers since this afternoon.

  11. Limelight can hit their server... but I can't. Helpful people there.

    Looks like att is the culprit - And I'm not wasting my time there... so anyway have fun.

  12. I visited the Community home page after this latest release and in the "Your Friends' and Faves' Activity" section my friends' names show up in the anonymized version, rather than the familiar nicknames I have given them, which do display correctly when I click on "Friends and Faves" on the right.

    I love the auto-complete search capability. This is a wonderful enhancement to the site. I haven't decided yet how useful much of the new community stuff is to me yet, but I'm glad to see that other people are finding them very useful. Thanks for all the hard work from Michael and colleagues.

  13. I just found two very useful new features on the Queue page:

    * See all rental activity
    * See all instant watching activity

    Thanks for these!

  14. I visited the Community home page after this latest release and in the "Your Friends' and Faves' Activity" section my friends' names show up in the anonymized version, rather than the familiar nicknames I have given them, which do display correctly when I click on "Friends and Faves" on the right.

    Yeah, that's kind of confusing.

    Also, will ever be able to edit our friends' names again, like we used to?

  15. "friends and faves" section lists my friends' username not the nickname. For example my friend Chris is listed as CC234231

  16. For friends, I think it's the right thing to show their nickname instead of real name - this allows them to control their name better - which is perfect with the loss of my ability to change their name to something else.

    But go all the way: let even friends be totally anonymous (their real name still pops in on those slider bars on the Friends & Faves page), and maybe a few other places (notes?). Good start. A little confusing here in the transition. Maybe users could select (a preference setting?!) whether they want to be seen by Friends using their real name or nickname?

  17. Great! This is exactly what many people were asking for during that whole privacy debate - that our Flixfriends see EACH OTHER other in the anonymous way that everyone else on the site does (to prevent ex-wives/lovers/estranged friends/etc. from being able to see each other). Although, anon @7.25am, it's surely OK for us to see OUR OWN friends by their real name, isn't it? Or am I misunderstanding you?

    And Michael, I really don't understand why you won't let us change our netfriends names any more. Fact is, people DO sometimes change their names, for whatever reasons - yes, even from John to Jane (and vice versa) - so why insist that in Netflixland they remain forever 'John'. Makes no sense.

  18. I agree that now showing their username instead of nickname (or name we gave them) in the Friends and Faves activity block is very confusing. Especially since now I've added a bunch of Faves who are strangers, I don't always know who is who with names like "CC1149", etc... At least with the nicknames I'd given my friends previously I was able to pick them out instantly from the list. Now I'm wasting time trying to figure out who my actual friends are and what they've been up to on Netflix. It's much easier for me to recognize "Tammy" than it is for me to figure out who the heck TT109456316 is.

  19. Ask your friends to select nicknames that they like and that you can recognize.

  20. "Ask your friends to select nicknames that they like and that you can recognize."

    That's an impractical suggestion and not very helpful.

  21. Maybe you should have a search function on the Reviews of Faves page. I wanted to look up something and my Fave had 800 reviews! I couldn't find the review of "Black Book" on his page.

  22. The new posters/DVD covers make the eternal search for buried truffles SO much more entertaining. And neat trick asking us "lists or posters?" on Wednesday and "TA-DA"ing them on Friday. Well, virtually ;)

  23. Great idea, Greenridge. I usually run out of steam somewhere between 150 and 400 reviews! An alphabet search (as per our ratings pages) would be very helpful.

  24. On the Top 10 lists, I think the "favorites" are supposed to be my 5-star rated movies. There seems to be a minor glitch in that some movies that I rated 3 and 4 stars are on my favorites list (e.g., "Six Feet Under season 3" which I rated 3 stars and several volumes from "Ghost in the Shell SAC" which I rated 4 stars appear on my favorites list.

  25. @Anon - When you mouse over them on the list, do they show with 5 stars in the pop-up? There are more than 1 version of some dvds. Its possible that you rated 1 version with 3/4 stars, and another with 5.

  26. Or if you recently changed your rating from 5-stars, then they will stay on the list until probably tonight when the servers recalculate stuff.

  27. On the Top 10 lists, I think the "favorites" are supposed to be my 5-star rated movies. There seems to be a minor glitch in that some movies that I rated 3 and 4 stars are on my favorites list.

    I'm confused. I thought you create your own top 10 lists. So if a movie is in a top 10 list, it's because you put it there, right? Or is there a part of the community page that I'm missing that tells us what our faves are?

  28. To: baff, they show 3 or 4 stars in the pop up, and I've never changed my ratings on these.

    To: ang, you can see your favorite list on the outward facing page. To see that page, you have to click yourself as your friend's friend.

  29. anon at 5:51... thanks! Got a little confused there; I thought we were talking about those user-created lists.

    Quick off topic question. I had a NF friend who was 72% similar to me. I defriended him and made him a fave and now he's just 45%. Does that make sense? Does being friends automatically increase your sim%?

  30. michael, from netflixSeptember 29, 2007 at 7:33 PM

    Fair question. We're actually working on this, but for the moment, there are two formulas we use for these calculations. The Friends one is the more accurate (and slower) of the two - -using lots of analysis of not only both people's ratings, but what movies they were. Unfortunately, it didn't scale well when we wanted to compare you to lots of people very quickly, so for non-Friends, we streamlined the calculation to look primarily at genre/subgenre depth of interest. Meaning, to oversimplify, that for friends, we see that you feel the same way about movies, but for strangers, we see that you enjoy watching the same KINDS of movies. When i'm not writing in the blog (snicker) one of my tasks is to make one calculation and make it super fast. But yes, for the moment, sometimes they produce very different results. (To be fair, sometimes they produce very similiar results too). Hope that helps.

  31. Michael said we streamlined the calculation to look primarily at genre/subgenre depth of interest.

    Does the way we rated the genre come into place or does the calculation compare actual films rated?

    I like so many different things I just rated all genre a 3 so nothing would be excluded.

  32. michael, from netflixSeptember 29, 2007 at 8:06 PM

    Actual films watched. Rental history is more weighted than rating history, but that too is in flux. The genre "ratings" you have explictly given are used for many things, but not the Sim%.

  33. Actual films watched. Rental history is more weighted than rating history, but that too is in flux. The genre "ratings" you have explictly given are used for many things, but not the Sim%.

    Ahhhhh. This explains a question I had regarding the "accuracy" of the Sim%. Explains much. Thanks Michael.

  34. Thanks SO MUCH for turning off multi-voting....someone had really taken a dislike to me recently and I was getting absolutely slammed with Not Helpfuls...

  35. Rental history is more weighted than rating history, but that too is in flux.

    Problem with that is that it gives less weight to some of our favorites (Movies we went to the theatre to see, and favorite TV shows). Maybe give a little extra weight to recent movies and tv shows ratings?

  36. Meaning, to oversimplify, that for friends, we see that you feel the same way about movies, but for strangers, we see that you enjoy watching the same KINDS of movies.

    Oh, that makes sense. Thanks for the response!

    I always wondered why I would have a high sim rating with someone when I could plainly see that that person liked a lot of movies I hated. So my next question is more of a request, I suppose (getting tired of us asking for more, yet?) Is there any chance in the future of being able to sort other members' 5-star ratings by genre?

  37. Would love to be able to vote some people's lists 'helpful', as one does their reviews. Sometimes I've seen all the movies on it so won't actually queue any, but find the category, movie selection and length of the list (5 to 20, say) all very good - yet, if they're already a Fave, there seems be no way to recommend the list to other members or give the astute compiler an influence brownie point.

  38. I agree with the tygger/ang/mazin thread of thought on the Friends Names on the Community Home Page. I find it very disorienting to have my Friends listed as numbers and letters. Perhaps I'm a Faves snob, but I won't add someone as a Fave if they haven't changed their randomly assigned handle. To have my friends reduced to that is very disappointing.

  39. Quick point: the switching of your Friends names to their nicknames in the Activity block is, well... a bug. Well, not really a bug, but it was introduced inadvertantly. Since its not an "emergency" we won't do an "emergency fix" but we'll clean that up in the next release. In the meantime, i'm staring at it and wondering about the right way to address this part of your identity. It's part of a larger issue, with elements like this: it really would be nice to be "Friends" with strangers, as long as you can use your nickname (in spite of arguement here, i think it would provide enough anonymity to make the connection fun, if you wanted it); but adding features like this are used by very few people and add some degree of complexity. To wit: we offered the Friends Preferences page for years, and have millions of folks who have added friends over the years, but almost none changed their friend's names -- as good a feature as that is for the people who use it. It was starting to get in the way of other things we wanted to do and is a casualty of the new work. Anyway, i think we'll tackle a number of these naming issues in the future, but this particular problem (the Activity Block thing) is not part of that initiative. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  40. Well, certainly better than the reverse bug. To wit (yeah!) : using everyone's real name throughout the site!!

  41. The (yeah!) being for 'to wit', btw, a long time favorite. The mass blowing of anonymity gets a (gulp!) and/or (shudder!) .

  42. I can't create any lists at all. I've tried both FireFox and IE 7.

    I type a movie name and nothing happens. Every now and then I'll see a little "please wait" -- but no matter how long I wait, nothing happens.

    I'm on a high-speed connection. Thanks for your help.

  43. Try again? Working fine for me right now.

  44. I'm really loving the friends and favs changes.

    What would be really cool now is if users could chose one of their movie reviews to highlight on their information page when people come to check them out. So when we've written a really great movie review that has gotten buried back a few pages, we'll have a little way to push it. :)

  45. I don't understand why you guys are making all these cosmetic changes to the friends section, but you guys still haven't fixed one of the most annoying bugs with the friends site that has been around for at least a year, if not longer... a bug that completely diminishes the complete value of having any friends on Netflix to begin with:

    You will NEVER receive an email notification when a friend left a note about a movie, if you yourself have already left a note about that movie in the past.

    The ONLY time you receive email notifications about a friend leaving a note for a movie is when YOU PERSONALLY have NEVER left a note about that movie.

    This is ridiculous, because often times the most important notes you're waiting to receive from friends are the VERY NOTES that they are leaving IN RESPONSE to your notes!

    It does us no good to ONLY receive email notification of notes if it's a movie that we have never left a note about in the past. Sure, this is definitely important, but we need to receive email notifications of ALL notes, not just SOME of the notes.

    The whole point of the friends area is so we can communicate easier with our friends about movies, but if we don't even know that they've tried to communicate with us, then we can't communicate back to them.

  46. "till haven't fixed one of the most annoying bugs with the friends site that has been around for at least a year, if not longer"

    Interesting bug, but very minor IMHO. I really don't want e-mail notifications from my friends and certainly don't want one to go to them every time I leave a note.

  47. I ditto what Anonymous just said above. I get enough Netflix emails as is.

  48. You can turn off the notes emails any time you want.

    Click on "Your Account", then click on "Email Subscriptions". That is the one part of Netflix that we have a lot of control over.

  49. Michael, you said to check in so here goes.

    It's been about a week since my Faves have consistently stuck around and I think the most useful features for me are:

    1. The YOUR FRIENDS' AND FAVES' ACTIVITY list. I've found several movies from that feature in the past week. I'd love this to be expanded to more than we have now.

    2. Love the poster display on lists except the first "favorites" takes way too long to load if someone has a long list. If it looks like it's taking awhile I don't wait. I'd rather have a list, rather than the posters, if there are more than 50 entries (maybe less) in the list.

    3. I've looked at a lot of others' 5 star lists and found many movies I've seen but never came upon on any Netflix list. So, I've been able to rate more movies and I've found more movies to watch. As others have mentioned having a full list of all movies available at Netflix would be fun.

    I'm having a great time with these new features.

  50. Got an email today suggesting I put a different version of a movie in my queue since it might get shipped sooner. Is this a new feature?

  51. Actually, I'd rather like it if anytime I added a movie, Netflix let me know there is another version of the same movie (director's cut, etc.)

  52. Ditto Baff. Guess I'm not the only horror movie junkie/John Cusack fan who didn't go see 1408 in the theater :)

  53. I'm more a mystery junkie/Cusack fan, but yeah. Of course, both versions are now at "very long wait." Luckily, I'm not in a big rush.

  54. As someone that prefers to remain 'private' for now, there are several reviewers whose opinions I've come to trust implicitly, but it seems awfully hypocritical, and even a bit creepy, to 'fave' them when cloaked, and sup invisibly at their table . Would there be any way to alert them that they have one or more secret admirers - 'phantom fans', if you will?

  55. Last week it told me that I had more fans than it was showing me, so I knew that I had 2 private fans. Either they changed that in this last update, or the fans un-faved me or un-pritaved themselves, not sure which

  56. I have two questions that may be off-topic.

    1. Would it be possible to eliminate Faves from the activity highlights? I'd like to see what my Friends are doing, but they are constantly gettin bumped by my Faves.

    2. What happened to the little gold star on my recommended movies? It seems to have disappeared.

  57. B, re the activity page, I believe that 50% of the slots are reserved for Friends, but many of us would agree with you that that's not enough, and that this pivotal component of the community feature needs a full page to itself.

  58. Seems like something's wrong with the community section. Earlier today I was ranked 4,032, then just a few hours later I'm ranked 15,324

  59. Guess they didn't like your taste in movies, friend! I'd always thought of Netflix as a brief respite from the cruel realities of the outside world, but that cold-blooded thumbs-up / thumbs down judgementalism seems to have followed us in. Why not make people's rank a totally private matter, on our accounts page, rather than this rather barbaric Roman circus? Because for all the people you please you're going to have an equal number that are crestfallen. Case in point........

  60. I’ll add my own follow-up report too… been spending way too much time playing with everything. I’ve added movies from the recent activity list, from faves pages, and even from faves of their faves. Found new faves from both the four-high-sim-to-you box… and the scrolling recent reviews. But most come from jumping from fave to fave to fave.

    I still love the friends and faves activity list… I love seeing the new reviews coming in, and that’s where the best of the movie tips come in, but the ratings always push them off the page way to fast. I really anticipate that extended history page that was mentioned before very much. Also, every review I’ve been notified about so far hasn’t been posted to the person’s review pages yet, even though they are posted to the movie page. (If you can find them, they aren’t buried under 500 other reviews.) Could we get notification after it is posted in both places so both links take us to where we can find the review?

    I also hope that a top-list (ranking) is still on the table. I’m hitting a lot of people at random here that really don’t have much up yet, 1 or 2 reviews or lists, etc…

    I love the poster view on our lists too, but really want to dump that “favorites” list completely. Get it out of the way… It would be nice to keep the load time reasonable in some way for all those long lists that are out there. I also have stopped pages from loading and moved on to something else rather than be bothered with it. Some lists are so bad they hang my system and I can’t do anything until the load is finished. It’s very annoying.

    I’m curious whether those little text messages we could leave with our list movies before will come back again in some form. I think I’d like them back. I’d like to leave short notes about why I have a particular movie in a list. Also, it might be nice, if I have also written a review on a particular movie in my list, that a link “Read Becky’s Review Here” or some such, were added under the matching move. Of course that would only work I guess if I could then jump right to that review when I click on it. Or maybe the ‘link’ could show a pop-up of my review instead of opening a new page. Not to replace the pop-up info for the movie, but something separate and new. I’d like the mouse-over movie-pop-up to remain the same, with the official movie information and the regular two star ratings. (customer average and viewer’s rating) I’d also like it to show what I rated the movies on my lists. (Purple stars under each movie poster?)

    Sorry if that turned into a wish-list there, just having fun with everything and real excited about what might be next.

    Becky Glass

  61. "Guess they didn't like your taste in movies, friend!"

    Well, that's find if that's indeed the case, and don't mind it being public either. Actually who cares. But it smells of something else. Had been sitting at 4,000 for weeks and then in a matter of a couple hours dropped to 15,000. Does that seem normal?

  62. @anon - I believe the ranks only update about once per week, so while your change was still drastic, it probably took place over several days rather than a couple of hours.

  63. "Does that seem normal?

    Yes. I dropped from the 4,000's to the 11,000's. If you didn't write any reviews or make any lists this week (as I didn't), people who did and scored points for them obviously shot right past us. And since I find the whole thing totally ridiculous and will continue to be inactive in protest, I fully expect to drop further every week. And I find that far more entertaining than wasting my time trying to claw my way UP the hill. And guess what, by ignoring the whole thing I'm now ploughing through my ridiculously long queue again, instead of just adding to it!

  64. Anon 8:38 am,

    I’m not sure exactly what you are ignoring and what your definition of inactive is… Having time to actually watch movies is one thing, but I hope you aren’t holding off on making lists and reviews just because you don’t like how ranks are jumping up and down. The fave and fan thing is leading me to find some interesting new material through the efforts of very interesting people. It may take awhile for your potential fans to find you, but the fact that they can find you now, and will probably be able to find you much easier in the future, that means you now have a much better way to share your interests, expertise and experience with the other people. Far more important that whether your review is first on the movie page or your rank is ‘1’ or ‘100,000,000.’

    I’ve found several faves who wrote interesting reviews for my favorite movies. When other people connect to them as well I’ll have a nice web of connections to follow and a lot of a particular expertise to tap. In the end I don’t think rank, or even sim-to-me will be nearly as important as finding the people who really know their stuff when it comes to, classics, horror, thrillers, dramas, romance, anime, or whatever…

    Becky Glass

  65. Nicely put, and it's great that it's working so well for so many people. I just happen to find the whole avatar, sim%, faves, fans, rank thing distracting and annoying - particularly since I've never had the slightest trouble finding great movies, whether on Netflix or elsewhere. If anything, too many to ever get to. But it's a truly ingenious system, no question about it.

  66. On the community page, its telling me on the sidebar that I have "1 new note", but when I go to the Notebook there is nothing remotely new there.

  67. Poor Baff. We can't even begin imagine what you must be going through.

  68. @baff: I could be wrong, but I believe Michael mentioned that, erhm, 'feature' some time ago (I also believe he said it was low priority). I've had 1 new note for weeks, too, so you're not alone.

  69. @shocked - Thank you, your sympathies will help me through this terrible time. Whatever shall I do?

    @knald - Ok, as long as its a known issue. I agree its a low priority.

  70. @Baff. Aha! A sense of humor AND gracious forgiveness for poor proof-reading on my part. So, all is forgiven in both directions, I pray?

  71. Can you please add a widget that I can post my queue to my blog and the last few movies I've watched? Blockbuster is doing this already.

  72. when will instant viewing be avail to Mac users? for christ's sake, we're the early ADOPTERS. Fatal error.

  73. No exact date, as yet, but I believe that the availability of Instant Viewing to Mac and Linux users should more or less coincide with the acquisition of the power of flight by pigs, and/or a sudden catastrophic drop in temperature in Hell. I hope that helps. And if not, maybe Todd could update us with slightly more specificity at some point?

  74. Having been 'private' for a couple of weeks and erased all my reviews and lists to disappear off the radar screen, how come I suddenly have a fan, charmed as I am? Aren't we now invisible on the site??

  75. Perhaps when they fixed fans to be visible on people's outward friends/faves page, they accidentally made private people visible to their faves.

    Is your fan someone you had as a fave?

  76. About a week ago I flagged a review as "not a review" because the person was complaining about a broken disk and he included his phone number in the review. It's still there. Does there need to be a certain amount of "not a review" flags before it's removed or are they all being looked at by a live person and then he or she decides if it should be removed? Just wondering what the rules are.

  77. Thanks for the suggestion, Baff, but no, a complete stranger out of the blue, albeit with exceptionally good taste (j/k). It's certainly not a big deal for me, but it might be for some people if there's leakage through the cloaking device.

  78. @Ang. I believe there have to be a pre-set number of flags (one per account) to get a non-review automatically removed.

    And since this is such a common problem, maybe Netflix should add a "report DVD problems" link just above the review box. The non-reviewer would then get the problem resolved, Customer service wouldn't get an earful about it, and we wouldn't have to waste our time reading and flagging these things all the time.

  79. @anon Oct5, 11:50am

    I've never had the slightest trouble finding great movies, whether on Netflix or elsewhere.

    I was starting to think I was the only one! My queue was already full before all of these new things, but if others need/want/use them, then great!

  80. No, You guys aren’t the only ones, and I understand where you are coming from.

    And yes, it was easy enough to find all the movies we could squeeze into the queue before… Thing is… its not so easy to find things outside the norm. (our individual norms that is)

    For example: People who live in big cities or collage towns get a higher exposure to foreign films, art house stuff, independent and less commercial stuff. They have more access and exposure, more interesting theaters, book and video stores. There’s a higher chance then, that if you find one of them that’s similar to you, that they can clue you in on what is really good in these categories, maybe steer you away from the clinkers.

    Likewise people who have a lot of experience with the classics, or anime, or whatever category you may be interested in but don’t want to waste a lot of rentals on blind experimentation. How useful would lists of dvds for children organized by a child’s development or by lesson taught, be to other parents, new parents for example?

    Or if you find someone who is a very good match to you, who watches and enjoys much the same stuff… There might be a good chance they could alert you to something that might otherwise stay off-the-radar, or warn you off that oh-so-hyped-blockbuster that for you, would just be a bust.

    Netflix may get pretty good at guessing what you might like, but only if it follows patterns you’ve already established. My hope is that as the community features are refined, they will help us to more easily break patterns… and to more enjoyably broaden our horizons.

    I never had a problem finding great movies either, unfortunately I also never had a problem finding great stinkers as well… More of the former and less of the latter would be a welcome trend.

    I just hope one of you aren’t the guy who could clue me in on the best in Anime for example. Seems that category is over-populated with people who are only capable of mindless gushing over absolutely anything… totally expected, but totally useless.

    That’s where I’m coming from…

    Becky Glass

  81. Becky, (and apologies to others for hogging space) to answer an earlier question first ("I hope you aren’t holding off on making lists and reviews just because you don’t like how ranks are jumping up and down."), the answer is no, since the only jumping my own rank had been doing was upwards; and anyway, if our egos are so fragile as to be be upset by such a trifle, then the real problem obviously lies considerably deeper and is considerably more serious than our mere 'review rank'!

    As to the excellent points you make here, I repeat that I'm happy that it's working so well for you and for so many other people, but my own investment in time has always been to read deep into the reviews, which gave me a remarkably good sense of a movie, since people tend to say as much about themselves as they do about what they're reviewing, so you soon get to know who to listen to and who not to - end result : very few 'clunkers'.

    And that same slightly obsessional streak (which I sense you might share?!) was causing me to spend way too much time checking out 'faves' and deciding who to save and who not to; and it was frankly driving me a little nuts. As well as the idea of people sizing me up in the same way, even if they ended up 'faving' me, as several did. So, seeing as how it was spoiling my enjoyment of surfing the site and had caused it to become a source of tension rather than relaxation, I decided that I had to opt out completely. Which is a shame, because I used to really enjoying writing reviews (generally too long, as you'll have guessed), but had come to feel that there was now an implied imperative for me to do so, which stopped it being fun any more.

    But not to worry, there are 6 million other humming minds out there to tap into, and you'd never have got any anime suggestions from me anyway; no, not even one ever!.

  82. Since its been pretty slow in here the last week, I thought I would take this time to pass on a bit of what I learned about HDTVs when I decided to buy one about 5 months ago. I'm sure things have changed a little, but probably not too much since I did my 100+ hours of research.

    Plasma vs. LCD
    LCD: Cheaper, does better in bright rooms due to a less reflective screen, and whites look better. Has issues with fast moving objects blurring, and blacks not so black.

    Plasma: Better blacks, can see details in dark areas, and no motion blur. Costs more, most (but not all) Plasmas have highly reflective screens which can be a problem in bright rooms or rooms with lots of windows, and has issues over 6,000 feet. Only available in 37+ inches (37" Plasmas are rare, 42" is the smallest that most stores carry). Burn-in was an issue with older Plasmas, but unless you intend to leave the same image on your TV for weeks at a time, I wouldn't worry about it on recent Plasmas.

    720 vs. 1080 resolution, and viewing distance
    1080 is the best resolution you can currently get (and likely to stay that way for a long time to come), but
    most people will notice little difference between 720 and 1080 (standard definition (SD) is 480). 6 feet away is about the maximum distance you can tell the difference on a 32" TV. 7 feet for a 37" screen, 8 feet for 42", 10 feet for 50", 13 feet for 60". If you sit further away than these numbers for these screen sizes, you will be very hard pressed to notice any difference. My TV is a 42" 720 which I view from 7 feet (which is close enough to see the difference). For the first month I did notice the pixels when I was looking for them, but even then I didn't regret getting 720 instead of spending $500 more for 1080. The last few months I haven't noticed the pixels at all (when watching HD content).

    Anti-Glare Coating
    This addresses the main problem for plasma TVs. I only know of one Plasma TV (a Panasonic) that offers this option currently. Its adds about $100, but well worth it if you want a Plasma and have lots of windows or light sources. This option will likely become more common in the future.

    60Hz vs. 120Hz
    This addresses one of the main problems for LCDs, motion blurring. 120Hz significantly reduces blurring, and might stop it completely. The problem is that 120 Hz is only offered on some 1080 TVs, so you have to pay for both to get it. In general, a 120Hz LCD will cost more than a comparable Plasma.

    My Recommendations
    Which brand is the best can change a bit from year to year. Since each maker releases their new models at different times of the year, it can even change a little bit from month to month.

    LCD: If you are looking to get an HDTV smaller than 42", LCD is really the only option. If your main use for the TV is going to be for video games or watching TV shows (which tend to be fairly bright), then LCD might be a better choice even at larger sizes. LCD TVs are getting better at displaying shades of black every year so they may eventually get to Plasma levels. From reading tons of comments from actual owners: On the cheaper end, Toshiba is currently a good brand with fewer complaints. On the higher end (1080 & 120Hz), Sony seems to be the way to go (I've seen complaints about their cheaper models, but their top end models are some of the best LCDs).

    Plasma: If you want a 42"+ TV, then I would recommend plasma. In the end its what I chose to go with, and I have not regretted it. For heavy movie watching (or sci-fi TV shows), I consider plasma to be the way to go because of the superior blacks. Looking at gray splotches on an LCD is just not acceptable to me (if you are not sure what I am referring to, watch a movie on a computer LCD screen and observe the lack of detail in any dark scene( though current LCD TVs won't look quite that bad)). LCDs are supposed to be better for gaming, but I have no complaints about how games look on my Plasma. On the cheaper end, Panasonic is the way to go. I went with the TH-42PX75U 42" 720p, but if you are at all concerned about glare, I recommend the TH-42PX77U (my father got this TV and put it in a room that is almost solid windows and it looks great). On the higher end (personally I didn't consider it worth the money, but if you've got the cash and want the absolute best), I suggest going with Pioneer (IMO, 10-20% better for $1000 more).

    The AVS forums are a great place to read people's opinions on just about any TV, movie player, audio equipment, etc.

    HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray vs. upscaled DVD
    There are differences in what options HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies can potentially offer, but I won't bother getting into them, since what matters to most people is the video/audio quality. For all practical pursoses, they are equal in quality. As it stands, it is not clear which format will win the war (some believe both format will survive, but I am skeptical). Currently Blu-Ray is winning the war (twice as many Blu-Ray movies sell vs. HD-DVD), but the war certainly isn't over yet. This hasn't changed much in the last 9 months despite HD-DVD players being significantly cheaper than Blu-Ray players. The war will almost certainly go on for at least another year before one of the formats can safely be declared the winner.

    The good news for people who are nervous about choosing sides: Upscaled DVDs look pretty good. Those with decent DVD players that upscale to 720 or 1080 can hold off on upgrading to HD-DVD or Blu-Ray for a while without giving up too much video quality.

    Personally, I chose to get a Playstation 3 (which plays Blu-Ray movies) since I am also a gamer and it doesn't cost much more than a plain Blu-Ray player. I had also considered an XBox360 which has an add-on that plays HD-DVDs, but many say that the Xbox is too noisy and disrupts movie watching.

    Well, I hope someone will get some use out of my experience and research here. Happy movie watching!

    (That was longer than I thought it would be)

  83. Oh, something I forgot.

    HDMI: This is "best" method for connecting to your TV. Everything is handled in 1 cable and it supports the highest resolution.
    Component: This is the 2nd best. It supports the highest resolution too, but it does it with 5 cables (3 video, 2 audio) instead of 1.
    DVI: HD connection useful for connecting a computer to your TV.
    S Video: Not as good as the above, but better than what is below.
    Composite: Do not confuse this with component. This is not very good quality, though it is fine for connecting a VCR which isn't good quality anyway.
    Coaxial RF: This is pretty low quality, only good for connecting a VCR. Do NOT connect your cable box/HD receiver to your TV with Coax. The Coax coming out of the wall into your cable box is not the same (that coax can be connected directly into your TV if you don't have a box).

  84. "Oh, something I forgot".

    Yea, we were about to ask : what about the connections? ;)

  85. Not quite sure what to make of "Netflix now playing".... But you guys sure can't be accused of getting stuck in a rut!

  86. What is "Netflix now playing"?

  87. Dana Carvey. See link next to Community Blog.

  88. Ahh, looks interesting, too bad I am on a Mac.

  89. re: New Notes

    Michael posted about this a while back, but I don't remember which post it was. Basically, a note is considered "new" if it was written within a certain time frame (and regardless of how many times you may have read it). I don't remember what the threshold is, but I think it's about 60 days.

  90. @baff - Nice breakdown of LCD vs. Plasma. I'm glad to see that others are as obsessive about researching technology purchases as I am :)

    One addition I'd like to make to your research is that if you don't mind your TV taking up some extra space, DLP is a great option for larger TVs (and still smaller than traditional rear-projection models), and old-fashioned CRT models, though bulky (and if you can find one), still offer better picture quality at lower prices than LCDs. I have a 30" Widescreen Toshiba that does 1080i (so 30 Hz instead of 60), and I love it.

  91. Since we're already wildly off topic, I thought I'd point out something that I noticed in the Watch Instantly section this weekend (with apologies to Linux/Mac users). It looks like at least a few TV shows from last season are already available for instant viewing, including 30 Rock and Heroes. In addition, the first two episodes of Heroes from this season are available as well.

    Michael, this seems to be a significant upgrade in the quality of material available for instant viewing, and I'm guessing it took some sort of special agreement with NBC to get this season's episodes of Heroes available already. Will there be some sort of announcement about what that agreement is, and what its scope will be? My friends and I are all extremely excited about these new offerings, and I can assure you that those of us who weren't previously maxing out our instant watching time probably will be now.

    Disclaimer: before non-Windows users start a flame war about not being able to use this feature, please go read the August post entitled "Instant watching on Mac, Firefox, and more" to learn why Netflix is currently unable to support other platforms.

  92. @Eric. Thanks for acknowledging us, and I think we're all equally sick of hearing the complaints when the problem is currently beyond Netfix' control. A tiny crumb of compensation would have been nice to cover the rather large (in my case 30 hrs) disparity between your bang for-the-buck and ours, but since it's really a Mexican stand-off between Apple and the studios I can certainly understand that Netflix doesn't feel that it's they that should be doing the compensating. It's lousy, but whatyagonnado besides stamp off in a huff and lose all the great stuff Netflix actually does offer us at a very fair price.

    A small but, I hope, fair and balanced vent is allowed, right? Apart from getting us yet further off topic........

  93. Baff, finally got round to reading your excellent TV info, which made my 'good-natured'/'smart-alec' ribbing seem most discourteous (but you surely know that whoever's always the first to stick their hand up in class has to get clobbered for it occasionally!). Really nice job, and thanks. Was planning to get a high end LCD Sony, and this was just the encouragement I needed.

  94. ugh, just read this thread. you know, sometimes it's the small things that count. please add back the feature that lets us change our Friends' names as they appear to us. I want my mom to appear as "Mom," not by her first name. you know what I mean? might seem a small thing, but I used that feature regularly. some of us are more interested in keeping things orderly than in all the work you're doing to turn the site into a sort of social networking site (no offense - I just want my Friend info!) thanks.

  95. Sorry that people are annoyed by the mac crowd whining. To be honest though, I would gladly give up the entire Community section (as cool as I think some of the features are), in trade for Watch Now on Mac.

    Sure, Apple and the movie companies are partly to blame. I started having a lot less pity for Netflix though once they started using this feature as a main part of their ad campaign.

    I fully intend to continue pestering Netflix about it until they fix the problem, one way or another.

  96. @Baff (and other Mac/Linux users) - I certainly didn't mean to belittle your plight. I know I wouldn't be too happy if I were on your side of the fence, and I don't blame you for wanting to continue bringing up the issue from time to time. I've been known to do that myself occasionally (bring back mini-reviews!). I was simply trying to head off the inevitable barrage of newbies berating Michael about something that: a) Netflix doesn't have a lot of control over, and b) isn't under his purview anyway.

  97. I am getting frustrated with the lists. I have had over a dozen movies that I cannot add because they have the same name. A couple of times I got lucky and it added the right one. But I figure the first couple of times "well it's just this one I can't get". Now that it has been happening very frequently it has become a bigger issue for me; I would like to ask that you program a way that it will show both movies by the same name. Even if I have to add them both then delete one to get the one I want, this is becoming very frustrating. Thanks for addressing the issue. Thanks again! Matt

  98. This list problem has been raised in this blog a number of times: the best way around it is to go to the page for the movie itself and add it to your lists from there. Look in the left column for a link to add the movie.