Monday, October 29, 2007

I'm enjoying Favorites...

...but the unexpected cool part for me right now is the addition of the "New Reviews From" block when a Friend or Favorite pens a new review. I've got about 14 Favorites and consequently, i've not only got a new review here every single time I come to the website (which, as you can imagine, is fairly frequent), but i click on the "close" button to get rid of one after reading it, and then refresh the page, and generally have a steady stream of new reviews from people i've selected. I far prefer reviews from my Friends, but even with a dozen (and most folks have 2) they don't write much and this is a nice personalized filler. And once in awhile there are is something pretty cool unearthed here. Are any of you discovering interesting ways of using these features that may not be apparent to the rest of us? or are there parts you find unusually compelling?


  1. Michael, That's good to know about closing the review and reloading to get another. I didn't realize that and since the "New Review" on the page when I first opened it was always from a friend, I would just close the review. I think there should be a note under the review (i.e. "close review and reload page to see another")to let people know how to get the next one, or like me, they won't know unless they read this blog. I'd actually prefer that my faves' reviews scroll for me so I wouldn't need to close and reload. I've gotten to really enjoy reading the scrolling ones. I'd like my faves lists to rotate on the page also so I don't have to search for those.

    I really like the suggestion at the end of the last thread about having a way to search for lists.

  2. I have to admit, my friends and I have stopped using community features other than stars, because it all seems to spawn mail, and no one wants to be the jerk that causes other's mailbox to fill up. It may not actually cause mail to be sent out, but at this point, better safe than sorry.

  3. because it all seems to spawn mail

    What makes you think it spawns mail? No one can e-mail you just because you use Community features. The only feature that will generate an e-mail is the "notes" function.

  4. I have found one bug which I think I reported in the bug section awhile back, that still remains.

    It happens on all the new pages, community, ratings, R&L and F&F.

    Problem, if you click on the add button a new window opens confirming your addition and offering similar movies etc.

    This window is opening with the left edge of the window centering on the current page and displaying to the right of center.

    Causes the page to scroll.

    I captured a screen image to show what I mean. My screen resolution is 1024x768, so that shouldn't be a problem.

    Cannot use the image tag the link is…

  5. I enjoy keeping track of my friends and faves' activity too.

    I have scoured every rating from those on my list (including you) to add about 50 films to my queue.

    It's nice to keep an eye on what my friends and faves are up to.

    Thanks ...

  6. Michael,

    Can we see examples of how users use this across the web? It would be great if you could display a few examples.


  7. @jjz - The only community feature that I know about that generates e-mail is Notes, and that can be easily disabled if you edit your account and go to the E-mail preferences page. My friends and I got rid of that nuisance a long time ago, so now the only e-mails I get are then ones telling me that a movie was received or shipped.

    @2macbre - I don't have that problem, even when running in a browser window that's smaller than 1024x768. I would think it's probably a browser/platform problem. I can't speak for Netflix on this, but I would assume that if you post your full browser version (from Help -> About) and OS version and patch level (e.g. I'm using Mozilla Firefox on WinXP SP2), Michael could probably pass that useful info along to the correct person.

  8. jjz: anon is right - many have complained about the email notices that accompany new notes, but that's the only email associated with the use of the Community features. And if your friends don't want to receive email notices that they've got a new note, it is easy to turn that off in their account prefs; many folks like to have notice that a new note has arrived.

    2mcabre: that's a known display bug and it's related to the sidebar presentation... not that you care. It's on our list of bugs to fix but it isn't on the slate in the short term, unfortunately. i'll let you know when it will be fixed as soon as i have a date.

    anon: i'm not sure what you're talking about - what would you like to see examples of?

  9. Hope this isn't supposed to be just tips relating to Favorites. These are some tips I have given in other posts on this blog over the last couple months that people seemed to find useful. Bringing them together here and refined some of them.

    Got a Full Queue?
    Make a "Top 10" list and add every season of the TV shows you want to watch. Any time you want to add more episodes to your queue, just go to your list and add a season (and remove it from your list). This can clear a huge number of discs out of your queue and have them in a much shorter and easier to manage list.

    Problem Adding a Movie to a List?
    As a work around, you can go to the movie's page and click "Add to Top 10 List" on the left.

    Want to Hide Some of Your Movies?
    Click on the Community tab up top, then click the Friends & Faves tab on the right, then go back up top and click Movie Privacy. Then you can select to keep any movie you have rated, watched or in your queue invisible to others.

    Netflix Doesn't have the Movie you Want?
    Request it ( If a movie coming to DVD soon isn't in the Netflix database, let them know you want it and when it is to be released. VideoETA ( has an extensive list of DVDs coming soon. I always include a link to the VideoETA page for the movie I request.

    To Find People with High Sim%
    Look on the bottom left of the Community page to find 4 random people from the 50 (or whatever) most similar to you. You can reload the page every 10 minutes or so to see 4 more random high Sim% people.

    Why did Netflix Recommend That Movie?
    Go to the movie page and you will see a section right under the description, "Why is this Recommended".

  10. I like seeing that fave review up there. It’s a nice addition to the page, its’ a good reminder to glance at the recent activity box. I have pretty much explained already how I’ve been using all the new features in previous comments so I don’t have anything new to add that as yet. I’ll try to let you know when I do.

    Concerning additional features associate with the new fave review box…

    Instead of closing and reloading, or refreshing or scrolling, I’d love to just go straight to a page with all my friends and faves most recent reviews collected together. (last 7 – 14 days maybe?) I’d love to be able to read and vote on all the new faves stuff all in one place instead of hunting the new reviews down one fave at a time. That would make the activity more efficient and much more relaxing to go along with my morning tea. If the ‘page’ were smart and could give me a reminder somewhere that new reviews were written since I last visited it, that would be amazingly cool.

    I could see a problem with more scrolling reviews though, mainly because I suspect a problem with the current ones. I’m usually on the ME/IE 6.0.something-or-other machine when looking at Netflix… whenever I forget and leave the main community page up in the background IE crashes, and sooner than later. If I remember to close that page while working in other IE windows, (multiple Netflix pages as well as other scattered web pages) I stay up for hours with no problems. I’m sorry I can’t give better information, which is why I haven’t bothered anyone with it and just try to close the community page when not using it. There are no error messages, or anything else helpful to report about it. Anyway, more scroll might mean more of a problem for me, and maybe others with unusual or dangerously outmoded systems.


    As far as I know the only mail caused by any community feature now is associated with friends notes. I too don’t use them in part because of that. However, you and your friends can opt-out of receiving mail from that feature. Go to ‘your account’ top right of each page, go down to ‘account preferences’ at the bottom of your main account page, click ‘email subscriptions,’ under ‘Updates and Special Offers’ deselect ‘Netflix Friends - Movie Notes’ then hit that ‘update subscriptions’ button. That should keep you from getting those movie notes e-mails, though it won’t keep you from sending them unfortunately. But the more important thing to note is that so far that is the only community feature that I know of where members generate e-mail spam.

    Regarding using ‘top-10’ lists as back-up queues,

    I find this practice kinda troubling. The lists are supposed to be related and organized so they help people find similar or somehow related movies. I don’t know how many people hit a movie list from a movie page but if they keep hitting unhelpful back up queues instead of the helpful list they expected, it will make lists useless for anything else.

    Becky Glass

  11. Again i would like to express my belief that it would be increadibly helpful if we could search for different lists. Or at least include a few lists which are completely unrelated to the stuff i have been watching recently. I am currently stuck in some what of a list rut on my community page, but i know there are good lists out there i am just unable to access. Some one else suggested the ability to tag lists w/ categories, at least by genere, which seems like a good idea, but i am uncertain if that would overcomplicate thigns. But a search function would be immensely helpful.

  12. "The lists are supposed to be related and organized so they help people find similar or somehow related movies."

    A possible solution would be to add a toggle button to make a list public/private. I've seen a lot of lists that seem to have been made for a variety of personal reasons.

  13. "Or at least include a few lists which are completely unrelated to the stuff i have been watching recently."

    I sometimes go to the pages for some of my more obscure favorites and on the left is a random set of 5 lists that the movie appears in. Can reload the page to get 5 more lists. Its not a great way to search, but I have found a few interesting lists that way.

    It doesn't work very well on popular movies that appear on tons of lists though.

  14. UNRELATED COMMENT: I was hoping that you could make movie genre lists sorted by year of release in addition to alphabetical listing, MPAA rating and star ratings. It would be nice to view the most recent movies without having to run through entire lists.
    -Sylvia (member since 2/06 and still recommending folks)

  15. I'm sure I've requested this before, but I want to be able to make mini-reviews (Notes) viewable to my Fans... and they would ideally show up in the same block on the community page that the reviews do.

    As I've mentioned before, I've only written 5 reviews, but have written hundreds of mini-reviews that I'd love the opportunity to share with those interested.

  16. when is netflix going to make instant viewing available to mac users? ? ? ?

  17. Not sure where to make a suggestion for the site, so I'm putting it here. What about a feature like Itunes where you can hear 30sec of the music before you desided to rent/buy it, but with a movie Video.

  18. I sent the link to a friend and he has to sign up for a plan to see my content. Why not let the whole world see my content?

    Netflix is spending $40 to get a new customer in the door. Let the users bring customers in the door but don't hold them hostage right from the start.

  19. "What about a feature like Itunes where you can hear 30sec of the music before you desided to rent/buy"

    On the movie page right below the description, a lot of movies have a link to a preview.

  20. Re using lists as a queue overflow, I seem to remember Michael saying that no lists with the word 'queue' in the title get posted for general viewing.

  21. You are correct, I had forgotten about that, great tip. It was in the Ask Mike thread. I dug up the quote for those interested.

    Michael: I filter out any Top 10 List with the word Queue or Q or stuff that i think might be a "queue overflow" list - so that it doesn't get presented on the Community Home page or other public presentations. It will still show up on your Reviews and List page, but we try not to present these lists as typical "Top 10 Lists"."

  22. Hello again, Mike.

    I have a suggestion: Allowing the <br> tags in reviews (two of them allow you to separate paragraphs). It really annoys me that when you write a lengthy review and use spaces to separate paragraphs that your system gets rid of all the paragraphs, leaving your lengthy review hard to read.

    Ideally we could use <br> tags. Or better yet, give us a phpBB/vBulletin type system so we could add italic, bold, underline as well. Ideally we shouldn't have to use html but the system should preserve any spaces, carriage breaks and so on. For instance, this message is two paragraphs. Blogger is smart enough to maintain it, why doesn't Netflix reviews?

  23. Michael, from netflix:

    I had actually suspected it was related to the sidebar… I used to design websites but haven't kept up with the new stuff, preferring old school "keep it simple" coding.

    Its not a real problem (just mildly annoying), so I understand why its low on the totem pole, just wanted to mention it.

  24. What about a feature to let you leave a message to one person or a group. Not review or notebook. Just a message.

  25. Michael,

    The Netflix site was down a few minuets ago and had a nice note on it that, although the site was down, DVDs were still being sent etc. It was nice to see that note instead of just an unavailable site however there was a glaring grammatical error - the message said were trying to get the site back up instead of we're .

    We all make mistakes but if that is a programmed default message will you please ask someone to correct it so next time it is correct.

  26. Hey, chawk, nice work, and good goin', on nabbin' that typo, but, don'tcha think, mebbie, that you should've, sort've, put a comma, after the word "mistakes", or, am I jus bein' too picky?
    e. (;P)

  27. Four e. said...

    U mai b write. Im bad two sew, if eye c a miss take it mus b bad.


    did eye git the comma write hear?

  28. When are you going to have the "watch instantly" available for macs?

  29. For Jen

    Mac (IE Apple) has to create a codec to decrypt the movies first. This is beyond Net Flix. The movies actually play on your MAC/PC media players. The netflix movie player is simply a plug-in for those players, and requires an appropriate codec in order to work.

    As suggested in previous posts you should call you Mac PC customer service and complain that they need to get this thing created

  30. For Jen Pt 2

    I should call it what it is, I believe its actually related to a DRM license.

    DRM stands for digital rights management, it is a technology used by content providers, such as on-line stores, to control how the digital media files you obtain from them are used and distributed.

    A file that is protected with DRM requires media usage rights to be delivered with the file. The media usage rights define how the protected file can be used.

    For example, a right may give you the permission to play the file on your computer (a play right), burn the file to an audio CD (a burn right), or sync the file to a portable device (a sync right).

  31. @Jen I suggest calling Netflix up and complaining. You will also need to let them know if you are using an Intel Mac or a PowerPC Mac. Some people try to lay all the blame at Apple's feet, but that is really just a copout (though they do deserve some blame).

    You can also call Microsoft and complain to them about their lack of Mac support in Silverlight. They are completely dropping support for PowerPC Macs. Silverlight is Netflix's future plan for expanding Watch Now support across platforms and browsers.

    You can also call the movie studios (Warner, Paramount, Universal, etc) and complain to them about their insistence on DRMs that have never worked to even slow down pirating. All DRMs have ever done is hinder actual paying customers from watching the movies they want to watch when they want to watch them.

    I think your best bet is to call Netflix. Writing them letters is probably even better. Companies usually take their customers much more seriously when they receive hand-written letters in stamped envelopes.

    You can also go request Mac support on the Netflix CEO's blog ( A few polite inquiries there may well get the ball rolling a bit faster.

  32. @Michael - In another blog someone mentioned that they always send 2 movies back in 1 envelope in order to save Netflix a few cents on postage. Does this actually save Netflix money or do you have to pay someone to deal with the double movies by hand? I haven't seen Netflix either encourage or discourage people from sending movies back in 1 envelope (other than when an envelope is lost). If it does save Netflix a few cents each time, I would stuff 2 in an envelope when convenient, and I'm sure others would too.

    Also, does Netflix care what direction we put the movie/sleeve back in the envelope? I know its mostly handled by machines, but is the machine faster when the sleeve is a certain direction? I tend to put the written side away from the window for vague privacy issues, but I would put the barcode in the window if it mattered to Netflix.

    Maybe I should have put this into Ask Mike, but a thread about tips seemed appropriate too.

  33. All the new community features are improvements and seem to be intuitive to use. And any bugs I've seen seem to get solved quickly. Good work. A feature I would like to see added would be something that could categorize a members reviews when visiting their reviews page. Looking at 500+ reviews can be a little overwhelming. Perhaps something for members who have written more than 50-100 reviews. Hmm? I don't know if this would be feasible, or something others would want. I just find it daunting to wade through hundreds of reviews that someone has written, (to find films I'd like) and I don't wish to see a limit on how many films a member may review.

  34. Hey Baff…

    I myself place the bottom side of the disk toward the label to protect the surface better. The majority of damaged disks (if not all of them) came from the robotic pickup grasping the disk to hard and cracking it, or scratching the very beginning of the readable data.

    I don't think it matters too much which direction you insert the disk in the return envelop, though it most likely speeds up the check-in process, as the bar-code can be scanned before the envelop is even opened.

    I return two at a time all the time and noticed that the first disk (with the bar-code in view) always records faster (sometimes hours) before the second one.

    P.S. I'll agree to disagree on the view now Mac issue. Netflixes movie viewer is just a plug-in to the applicable media player (Media player for Windows, Quicktime for Mac). The player itself must have the appropriate key/license/codec, otherwise nothing the actual plug-in does will allow the movie to play.

    I do agree that NetFlix could take a more active role in working with Apple (and perhaps have), but ultimately Apple must get the required key/license/codec that is formatted for their player.

  35. I would like to see the date that a review was posted. It wouldn't take much. (posted:11/03/07)

  36. anyone have a problem actually seeing the notes they write to their friends? i responded to a note, but it doesn't show up in my notebook. instead, i see my friend's original note posted a 2nd time...instead of my response. kind of annoying. now i don't know if my friend ever received the response.

  37. I would like to be able to delete some of the recent activity of my one friend. It has been there for days cluttering up the page. I would like to be able to find reviews of my Favorites in some comprehensible manner -- especially those who have over 100 reviews. Get most of my movie ideas from them these days. In talking to friends we have noticed that if you mail back a movie Friday or Saturday things are slower. Maybe that's why some people still want to use Blockbuster.

  38. @most recent anon - Your reply to your friend's note should show up directly beneath your friend's note to you in your notebook, except that it's grayed out, not bolded, and in smaller font. Basically, it's really easy to overlook. If you'd prefer for your note to show up in your own notebook in more a prominent format, check the box that says "send a copy to yourself" when you send it. That's not a very elegant solution, but then again, nothing about the Notes feature is very elegant.

  39. Is it just me or do you sometimes get old Friend/Fav reviews on the community page? E.G., I've read and marked everyone of Horror Girl's reviews, but they still pop up now and then. They're not new reviews, they're ones I've already read.

  40. @deus ex - A month or two ago in another thread, someone complained about old notes that were considered "new," and Michael explained that they don't keep up with what you've read. Notes are considered new if they were written within the last X days (probably 60 or so). I'm guessing they treat reviews the same way. I believe Michael said they intend to make the "new" designation more intelligent at some point, but I have no idea what the timetable is. Probably not soon, since the priority seems to be on implementing new features rather than improving current ones (beyond bug fixes).

  41. She probably edited them. A lot of the more serious reviewers are going back and correcting for spelling, grammar, clarity and also cleaning up any out-dated references. (like suggesting people rush to the theater to see it when it’s been out of the theaters for 3 years)

  42. Thanks Eric and Becky. Both of those make sense.

  43. Excellent point, Becky, and probably far more likely than my theory.

    Michael, perhaps you could add the date posted/updated to reviews. That might help with confusion when old reviews show up as new ones. It would also help a situation I recently encountered. About a month ago I found an excellent movie review, and in turn, an excellent reviewer with tastes similar to mine, so I added my first fave. Since that time, my fave hasn't written any more reviews despite having written 210 of them previously. Maybe he's just taking some time off, but I think it's far more likely that he's simply stopped writing reviews altogether (since he is still rating a steady stream of movies). If there were dates on his reviews, I wouldn't have to wonder :)

  44. Or instead of showing an old review as ‘reviewed’ in recent activity, show it as ‘edited.’ (Or don’t show it at all? Is anyone interested in edits of old reviews?)

    Dates on reviews could give us useful information, but editing a review can’t be allowed to wipe out the original release date or it will give a false impression of recent activity. Is that why edits show up in recent activity as a new review? (The implication to the uninitiated is that it’s new, even though it isn’t labeled new.)

    Becky Glass

  45. thanks for the notes, folks.

    baff: it doesn't matter which way you place the disc sleeve into the mailer. The bar code and window are related to us shipping to you, not the other way.

    a few new fixes this week. i'll make a new post shortly...

  46. Thanks Michael, good to know.

    I can answer my other question. The postage is prepaid both ways on the envelopes so it doesn't save Netflix any postage money if we put 2 movies in an envelope.

  47. I second (third, fourth?) the request for some way to rationalize our faves' reviews - either by being able to alphabetize them, and/or having a search feature that pulls up all the reviews of a particular movie that our faves have written. Right now it's very much a case of not being the trees for the forest.

  48. (addendum!)....very much a case of not being able to see the trees for the forest.