Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friends Offline Friday (Briefly)

UPDATED FRI 4pm: Almost Done. Check out the new features! Will be a little longer for a few items... but mostly ready...

UPDATED FRI 1:30pm: We'll be revising some software today -- sometime in the next hour I'm told (around 2pm PST give or take) -- it will be for an hour or two at most. The Netflix site will be unaffected, but the Community features will be offline for this period. Watch this post for updates.


  1. Loving the new lists page so far! Hopefully they will keep being updated on a regular basis so they don't get stuck in the same rut as on the main community page. So far so good, keep up the great work!!!

  2. I find it odd that despite it saying it's showing me lists based on my queue and ratings, I'm seeing an overwhelming amount of lists which don't relate to my interests, for example, lists about stand-up comedy and gay themed movies. I have nothing against either topic, however I rarely watch, queue or rate movies from either of those genres. I'm a straight female who watches a lot of sci-fi, foreign and documentaries, so it's a odd that on my lists page I've got 5 different lists regarding "great films for gay guys" and no less than 6 different lists that mention "Standup Comedy" in their titles. I normally don't watch, rate or show interest in either of those.

  3. My lists seem to be pretty on target, based on what's in my queue. One thing I really like about the lists is that it says how many movies are in each. Not to be unappreciative of the time spent creating these lists, but I think the only reason the ones with hundreds of movies in them (I saw one with 505!) are showing up on my page is because of the sheer volume... out of 500 movies, a few are bound to match what I've got in my queue, but the majority I wouldn't really be interested in. I like the ones with 10-20 movies; I think those are more accurate and therefore more helpful to me.

  4. michael, from netflixDecember 14, 2007 at 7:17 PM

    btw: what i really want to hear is how this is working for you- what you like and what you don't - how the lists "feel" and what would improve the blocks... i'll write more about it in a bit, but i'm counting on y'all for some immediate feedback. we can begin to tune this based on your input.

  5. Never really warmed to the whole 'Faves' thing (all a bit Cult-Personality for me, and T-Mobile's annoying ad campaign sure ain't helping), but these new lists are a definite high-yield seam, the scatter-shot randomness of some of the lists being as interesting and illuminating as the more targeted ones - which in my case are pretty spot-on.

    But I'm with Ang (and Michael, I should add, with his dogged insistence on 'Top 10' making ever more sense!) : the longer lists are just too much info to absorb, and the bracketing too thinned-out and undisciplined to be really 'helpful'.

    So, Netflix gets an A+ for making so many great lists available to us, and the list makers themselves get an A. With great thanks to both.

  6. Working great for me. Lists well tailored to me, and are different enough every time to make checking up on them worthwhile. I love the look of the page; it has an ease of use and a clean design. The only suggestion I would make is to perhaps pull the suggestion data from more sources. For instance, I watch more dicumentaries than the average person. Perhaps a quarter of my queue consists of docs (however, my queue is always at 500, so there are alot of non-doc discs in there); yet about 75% of the lists suggested to me are lists of documentaries, which doesn't seem a fair representation. I don't really mind; I like doc lists. Still, I have indicated to Netflix that one of my favorite genres is 'Thrillers', and even though I don't queue a whole lot of them, I do wish the list suggestion algo might communicate a bit with those 'preferred genre' designations, as I'd like to see just one or two Thrillers lists occasionally. Or how about pulling some info from my reviews (not every film I review is something I've queued through netflix)...anyway, just a small thought, I'm really loving the lists! (now if only I could actually add movies from them...can I have a 1000 disc queue?) ;)

  7. Seth said : I'm really loving the lists! (now if only I could actually add movies from them...can I have a 1000 disc queue?) ;)

    Like most people, I suspect, I'm still way under my 500 movie limit, but it does seem a bit unfair, illogical, or what have you, to devise all these great new ways to find movies without allowing the very 'Power Users/Heavy Hitters' that are helping to drive the engine to add movies to their own queues. And, as with those that have 20, 30+ friends, I bet we're only talking about a relatively small number of members. Fair's fair, no?

  8. Looks fine to me. Though as ang mentioned, it does seem to favor long lists. Saw one in there with 1300 movies.

    I hope it doesn't put too much weight on movies in the queue. Many of the movies in my queue I will end up giving 1-3 stars. I would rather it gave most the weight to movies I've already given 4/5 stars. Though, I'm not saying it should ignore the queue.

  9. Sure glad you put the number of movies on these so called lists. Helps me avoid any list with over 20, cause hey, a list with hundreds of titles is a directory...

  10. Though it might seem unrelated to a topic about lists, as someone else mentioned, the queue limit is what really throws a wrench in the works here. Many of us have resorted to creating queue overflow lists, so, many of the movies we want to see are in our lists but not in a our queues. We won't be shown lists which are as relevant as they should be since our lists are not used to calculate our interests. Please please please give us longer queues! Also please please please make the lists easier to re-order and organize. Have you any idea what a pain in the butt and process is involved with trying to get a 20 movie or so list in the order you want it to show up in? Since you guys are obviously putting more focus on the lists, please make them easier to use. Make them drag and drop or at the least have the whole list renumber itself when a few of the numbers are changed in the order (as it is now if you change one number the whole lists gets messed up and out of order), and please give us longer lists so we don't have to waster our time creating queue overflow lists.

  11. I totally understand why many don't like long lists; however, I do think there is a place for them. For instance, I might be obsessed with films about Paris, and I might have seen 50 of them. Having access to a long list of Paris films would give me ideas for films I might have overlooked. Also, some people have made lists of the "Criterion Collection" or of "the 1001 movies to watch before you die" (based on the book of the same title). I've bookmarked people who make lists like this. Finally, these longer lists (if they were searchable and sortable) could one day play a role simliar to the "browse" pages (where there are lists of films from a given sub-genre or country). Just because Netflix doesn't have a category for "movies that make anti-war statements" or "films where cats feature prominently," it doesn't mean some people wouldn't enjoy browsing through these. Then again, if lists were searchable, then one of the search criteria could be max/min list length. Would be cool.
    Just some thoughts. Keep up the good work!

  12. @ Anon (12.25 am). Great point, thinking of lists more as quirky genres/subgenres rather than a handful of must-see movies (as I think most of us do). But we definitely need a search mechanism for those, which I think Michael said Meghan is working on. And, ideally, an upper limit to the number of movies in any given lists that we're shown for those of us that prefer the pithier ones.

  13. To be clear : "....And, ideally, a way to set an upper limit to the number of movies....."

  14. I LIKE the lists page. nicely done.
    I thought the "most popular" box would randomly change upon refreshment, due to the large number of cool popular lists out there, but after about 400 refreshments, this list of lists remains unchanged.
    The other boxes change regularly.
    The featured members with tastes like mine, however, change randomly, but I gotta beleive that there are more than 100 listmakers that taste like I do. And , hey, droidmaker, you're one of the most fresh-tasting listmakers in my series of refreshments. Guess I'll have to fan you, eh? You seem to come up in my 1 or 2 slot at least a quarter of the time.
    Or maybee it's just that unforgettable crazy avatar you got that makes me think so.... nahhh.

    Wonder what's in them refreshments?

  15. Nice job on the lists. And I have not seen the "Friends" section unavailable at all for the past couple days.

    OFF TOPIC(a bit):

    I have recently started to add more friends, and have been reading their reviews.

    The issue I have is with friends who have many reviews (over 100). When I go to their review page, I cannot easily find new reviews.

    I suggest that netflix orders these reviews in order of date just like the movie notes are ordered.

    It would also be nice if there were an extra tab on the movie information page for reviews from friends, so we could easily see them there as well. It would work much like the Critics tab. This would give me a much smaller sample to read from before reading the broader user base reviews.

    Just one other thing for now. It would be great if I was able to see if I voted on a review previously.

    Would love to hear what others think of these ideas as well.

  16. Cool a blog! I can't seem to find a spot where I can ask about certain DVD's and why you don't carry them. you guys have every season of "Andromeda" except the first one...I want to check it out...just thought I'd ask. I'll have to keep coming back.

  17. @Netflixjunkie: I know that on my Reviews page, my reviews are always in the order I wrote them. The most recent one is always the first that you see, and they stay in chronological order all the way back (I've currently written 484). I've always assumed everyone else's were in order, as well.

  18. @Seth

    I just looked again, and I think you are correct. My most recent reviews show at the top.

    I was actually referring to looking at friend's reviews, but they also appear to be in that same order.

    Not sure what I was smoking. Perhaps, dates beside the entries would be helpful -- I guess I could get a better idea of how active my friends and I are in the reviewing of movies.

    Does someone know if there is a way to tell what reviews you have already rated? While on the page, the text goes to red, but when going back another day, there is no indication that I am aware of that signals that a certain review has already been voted on by me.

  19. "there is no indication that I am aware of that signals that a certain review has already been voted on by me."

    If you're not sure just go ahead and vote - as of a few weeks ago only the first one is tallied. In an ideal world there'd be a 'thank you for your vote' like with the polls, but why waste valuable crunch bytes?

  20. Anonymous is right. There is no harm in voting again, your vote only counts once.

  21. @Spacekicker - They used to have season 1, I got it from them a few years back. I'd guess they ran out of copies due to breakage, lost in mail, etc.

    You can try requesting that they get more on the Request Title page:

  22. I haven't checked out the Lists page yet, but I thought I'd report a potential bug. I have 12 friends and 7 faves and as of this morning (12/16) the sim % for my faves all plummetted. All 7 of my faves were added because they had >80% similarity to me and they are currently showing in the 20-30% range.

    Thanks for all the upgrades; the site is looking better by the day!

  23. I don't care about the preceding post. I'm just hoping that someone at Netflix is reading this because there are many many many links to "report a problem" through the "Help" link, but there is no way to place a complaint.
    I live in a dorm and know many other individuals who subscribe to Netflix. I sent my movie back LAST Monday, and so did a few of my friends. It has taken a full week for my movie to be received and processed, and as of the last few days my friends hadn't received their movies either.
    I'll admit that the mail service could be to blame, but that seems very unlikely if the shipping facility is in the same city.
    I hope this doesn't happen again.

  24. @Anonymous "I find it odd that despite it saying it's showing me lists based on my queue and ratings" I would suggest rating more movies. Usually the more movies you have rated the more accurate Netflix calculations become.

    @ Ang,
    Various lists serve various purposes so I see the case for both short and long. There gets to be a point though. I trying to open a list over 1200 today and crashed my browser.

    @ Michael,
    Loving the Lists. Here is my SUGGESTION since you asked. 3 parts.

    1) I would love to be able to cursor over the list and get a pop up (like we do with the movies in our queue or wherever, when you "Enable extra movie information"). If I could scroll over and see the list creators username the comments they wrote describing the list and maybe even the first three movies in the list, I would be ELATED!! It would save needing to click on the list and then realizing something like-- the Initials they used in the title don't mean what I thought,-- or Whatever the case may be.

    2) I would also like to see the lists rotate much more often or an option to scroll through them. It would be nice to be able to hit refresh and have a new set of Recent Lists pop up. Or have a scroll down option to look at more of them.

    3) Finally I would love to be able to see from the movie at a glance page if I have that movie in one, or multiple lists already. I know I can click ad to lists and find out but I am looking to be more-lazy and ask you make life easier on me. LOL well, you asked for suggestions.

    While I have your ear I’ll put in another nudge for List Search, User Search and List Editing features. If we keep nagging ... =) ha.

    @ NetflixJunkie :) smokin the waky again bro? No I like the idea of dates. I agree, It would be nice to see if you already marked a review helpful but I just click it again if unsure. Like I said before though, I am all for Netflix making my life easy and more enjoyable in every way possible =) Maybe the link could stay red permanently, or a checkmark beside it or something to that extent.

    Cheers all!
    And Happy Holidays Friends!

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Phatz said... @Anonymous "I find it odd that despite it saying it's showing me lists based on my queue and ratings" I would suggest rating more movies. Usually the more movies you have rated the more accurate Netflix calculations become.

    Doesn't seem to be the case for me. I've rated well over 5000 movies and as mentioned in the first post, most of what I watch and give high ratings to are scifi, horror, docs or foreign films. I have nothing against gay movies, but I don't watch many (if any) of them, yet I keep being shown an overwhelming amount of gay related lists, as well as stand-up comedy (another genre I don't watch much of or rate highly). For example, right now, out of the 20 lists shown in the "based on your queue and ratings block" I'm being shown 5 gay lists, 4 stand up comedy list, 2 tv related lists (another genre I don't watch, rent or rate high), and only 1 sci-fi list (nothing with foreign films or docs which are probably what I rent the most of). When I refresh I just got more of the same sorts of lists. Another example, I've never rented anything even remotely to do with sports and if I ever rated such films, it would have been to signal that I'm not interested. Yet right now I've got 2 sports lists coming up, and different ones show up after I refresh.

    It would be nice if there was a way to maybe opt out of being shown lists about stuff we're not interested in, but I realize that's asking a lot. Overall I like this whole list page idea so I'm not complaining, but since they're asking for feedback, that's mine. I'm not interested in nor do I rent gay themed or stand-up comedy films, so it would be cool to let the system know somehow that it should be showing me something else closer to my interests, rating and rental history.

  27. Why does it take the friends' sliders so long to update? I rated my return this morning, and ten hours later it's still showing up as "At Home" on my slider. It seems like these things only update once a day; wouldn't it be better to give people a reason to log on maybe a couple times a day?

  28. I'm sure this has already been answered but does anyone know if the genres that you rate (or don't rate) effect what lists you see? I'm wondering if it would help anonymous at 2:48 PM to rate those genres as "not interested".

    PS: I second phatz's second suggestion.

    PPS: One more random thought. If the ability to rate lists is ever given to us, I wonder if it would be possible (or even if it's a good idea) for users to mark some lists as "private". Not for fear of embarrassing themselves, but because they know some of their own personal lists might not be helpful to anyone, especially if it's just a queue overflow list.

  29. To Anonymous' (2:48 PM) point, it would be great to have some way to request a review of one's rental or rating profile if the resultant data are way off, as they seem to be in her case.

  30. "anyone know if the genres that you rate (or don't rate) effect what lists you see?"

    I think Michael said that only effects the "favorite genres" you see on the front page.

    If you put the word "queue" in a list title, then other people won't see the list. Though, your Friends will still be able to see the list. There doesn't seem to be any way to hide a list from friends.

  31. 50 movies is about my limit also. I've clicked on longer lists intentionally and usually get bored after scanning 50. When I click on monster lists by accident (because the tally doesn't show) I just get annoyed and click off fast. However it is obvious that the rest of Netflix prefers big lists. I'm surprised that only 3 of the most popular lists are less than 50 and 2 of them are over 1000 movies long. (Dramas to see and Comedies to see) When I see long lists like those I think that they contain mainstream shows that I can locate through other NF searches and I actually wonder if the list maker has watched all those movies and rated them 4 or 5 stars.

    I don't want general movie info. I can do searches for comedies and dramas. I prefer finding the unusual lists put together by someone that has taste similar to mine. I want movies that someone has seen and thinks are "Top Movies" since that's what the lists are called. Or if they think they are Top Movies to stay away from I'd like to know that too. The easiest way for me to find lists like that is to go to an odd movie I love and see who's put it on a list.

    The first couple of days the new list page was open I looked at most of the lists (not those monster "directories") and they looked to be too mainstream for my tastes. So, I think my old way of finding movies works better for me but my tastes probably don't match the majority.

    BTW - Are you guys pushing stand up comedy? hehe

    Like others have said the lists based on my ratings seem to not be hitting the mark. I too get a lot of stand up comedy lists. I think there is only one standup comedian I've rated on here - Eddie Izzard - maybe 4 dvds and he isn't listed in any of the lists I'm getting and the list makers don't have a high sim to me so I don't know why the program thinks I'd be interested so much in those other DVDs.

    <> Anyway, I have questions <>

    (1) What happened to the easy way for us to view our own lists and reviews? Has it been installed and if so where is it or do we still need to view it from someone else's profile?

    (2) How can I tell how long my own lists are (other than counting them)? If I look at them from a faves profile I just see lists but no tally. If I look at my lists from my edit mode I need to click on edit to see how many are in the list. (Very Nice job NOT throwing us into the monster favorites BTW but I'd still like to have the option to delete that list or move it to the bottom.)

    Being able to tell how long a list is from the list makers list page (not the new list page) would be so convenient, then those of us who don't want the jumbo directory or the annoying 1 movie list, will be forewarned.

    I think you will find some bug that is shoving stand up comedy down our throats and tweak the lists and in a few weeks and the list page will be awesome.

    <> Thanks to you and your team! <>

  32. I haven't noticed any lapses in the Community features since you made the changes last week. Good job!

  33. I was the first Anon to post, just following up to continue to try and clarify how skewed in weird directions the lists I'm being shown are. Here's the latest batch I just got:

    Best of the Genre
    Rough Guide:50 Horror Classics
    l g b t f i l m s
    Greatest Horror (old stuff)
    Three Star Gay Cinema
    Gay Drama
    Stand-Up Comedy
    Robowriter's TV to See
    Country Musics Best
    TV Too Good For TV
    Movies I Own
    The BBC and Me
    Gay Boy Crush Movies
    Movies We Own 401
    Stand-Up Comedy
    My Favorite TV
    Funny Funny Funny

    That's 4 gay lists (4 is not much, it often shows 5 or more), 3 comedy list (there's usually more stand-up than this even), and 6 TV related lists.

    I don't rent or rate specifically gay themed movies, TV shows, or comedy... certainly not to the extent that these lists would have you think! If anything I've rated most in those categories as "not interested". Where are the lists about foreign films, science-fiction or documentaries. You know, like the stuff I actually watch, rent,rate and would expect to have show up based on my queue and ratings?

  34. Software updates should include entryway for those of us using a Mac to be able to use all the features of the Netflix site -- what's the problem with that?