Monday, November 26, 2007

Back from Thanksgiving

Hey gang. This is just a personal note to say that -- like many of you -- I was out last week for the holidays. I'm back now, catching up on the stuff that accumulates while one is out of town, including reading everyone's comments that have been coming in for the time while I was getting ready to head out and while I was away. From first glance, lots of interesting feedback from you. Back in the groove soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Facebook thing...

Facebook now allows companies and products to have "profiles" just like people. I'm not sure of the merits of this, but I tossed a Facebook page for Netflix up there, and if anyone would like to partake in this experiment, become a fan.

While I imagine the Facebook page will not replace the postings and discussions that go on here, on this blog, let's see if something organic happens there. (And don't worry - this took all of a minute to create, so it's got nothing to do with our development efforts here.)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Flagging Reviews

I just saw this comment on Hacking Netflix:
What I REALLY want to know (And don't think anyone at Netflix would answer me on) is what "Flagging a Review" actually does. When I flag reviews, I do it because they are either not a review, they posted a url in the review, etc. Am I wasting my time by flagging them, or does Netflix really go through and look at flagged reviews to find the junk?

Does anyone know, or is it a big company secret? Now that I've got that email address, I might use it, but I wonder if flagging does the same thing.
First of all, why don't you think anyone at Netflix would answer this? Have I made it appear this is a big company secret? I thought i had explained this in the past, but i'll take a new stab at it here:

The flags are methods for you, the Netflix members, to self-police the reviews on the site. They are automated. We spot check them, but we have tuned (and continue to refine) the automated process triggered by flagging a review.

The short answer is that if a review gets a quantity of flags from different members, we move the review off the movie display page. It is not removed from the site, and will remain among the reviewers other reviews on their Profile pages. The algorithm that does this removing is the thing we keep refining. It would be too simple to say it takes X flags to get something pulled. It depends on a few factors, but particularly the helpful/unhelpful votes. If a movie has a quantity of helpful votes, for instance, it takes more flags to remove it. (We don't want the flags being used to remove reviews that are simply controversial, or irksome to a small group.) We also want to give new reviews a little bit of time to get seen, so on popular titles that period might be less than for smaller titles... but either way, it is automated, and really is working. Over the past few months we've changed the thresholds and we continue to find cases where folks are misusing the system and thus we revise the algorithm to account for this. The thresholds and algos are also different for "this is not a review" and "objectionable content" (etc) and we know some people who don't like a review just click on everything hoping this will accelerate the removal (it doesn't). I presume we will continue with internal tweaks to improve it over time.

There. Secret is out of the bag.

Monday, November 5, 2007

This Weekend's Release and Other Things

Hey everyone. A few little fixes release this coming monday, mostly internal (non-visible stuff) like improving the ranking algorithm (btw: we probably should change the label- as it's not technically "reviewer rank" and more precisely "influencer rank" since some highly ranked folks are creating great Top 10 Lists, but not reviews...), and stuff like that. Noteworthy is this:

There are presently two ways to invite other Netflix members to be your Friend. One involves posting an HTML link that anyone can click on which will facilitate the connection. This is nice if you want to post it on your blog or MySpace page -- but the problem is that sometimes you want to be anonymous with people you still want to "Friend" -- so we're going to try something. If you invite people the "normal" way, they will be Friends the way they are today -- with their real name. But if you invite people using this HTML link, they will remain anonymous, and the connection will only feature their nickname. This way, you can exchange notes and see Queues with folks, maybe people who were mutual Faves, but they will remain nameless. I'd be interested to hear about your experiences using this link -- posted maybe to your profile statement, or your Facebook/MySpace/blogs, etc. Try it on Monday...

Has anyone used RSS to feed any Top 10 Lists or Reviews out to external sites? I'd also like to hear about that.

Been very busy with the next wave of community features, most of which won't be visible for awhile. I have appreciated your tips on improving the features we have (and they are duly noted), but hopefully the features presently available will hold your interests for the time being.