Showing posts with label Friends Features. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Friends Features. Show all posts

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Recent Site Change

We've recently made a slight change to the Netflix Web site to highlight movies and TV episodes you can watch instantly on your TV or computer. When you visit the first tab you’ll see is “Watch Instantly” followed by the “Browse DVDs” tab. As always, you use these tabs to browse movies and TV episodes you’d like to watch instantly or receive on DVD in the mail.

Using the “Watch Instantly” tab, just find something you want to watch, click Play and the movie will start on your computer, often in as little as 30 seconds. Or, you can click “Add to Instant Queue,” which immediately puts the title in your instant Queue for you to watch any time on your TV via a Netflix ready device like the Xbox 360, PS3, Blu-ray disc players by LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony, and Insignia, the Roku, or TiVo, or on internet connected TVs by LG Electronics and Sony. DVDs and Blu-ray discs continue to be easily found and added to your Queue using the “Browse DVDs” tab. We’ve also moved the “Friends” link from the top of the home page to the bottom.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friends Problems, Take 2

This weekend we will release some fixes that will solve this problem for many of you. Unfortunately it will not solve it for all of you. Here's the deal: When you go the the Friends page, the website loads up those sliders with the movies your friends have rated. It pulls in your notes. It calculates your sim% to each friend. And it does a few other things. To calculate the sim% it is doing an analysis and comparison of your ratings to each of your friends. We give the page a time period to get all this done. If it doesn't complete its tasks in this period, it "times out" and you get some kind of error message.

The problem appears to be that there are cases where a member has a lot of friends. Not one, not 3. Not 15. But lots. Say, 30. (Only a tiny % of members have this many friends, btw). But lots of friends isn't enough alone to be an issue. We test this with lots of friends. But if a significant number of those friends ALSO are heavy raters -- say with many thousands of movie ratings (say, 5K or 7K!) -- it is taking too long to pull in their movie rating data and do the sim% calculation, and a few other things, such that it runs out of time. And thus the error message.

It's not that Friends is down. Friends is NOT down. >99% of you are not having a problem. But ironically, the few that have this problem are people we like a lot - you have lots of friends, you write notes, you rate lots of movies; you usually write reviews too, and make lists--you're all round good Netflix Samaritans. So we are taking this seriously. (For the record, this problem only affects a few hundred of you.)

The problem starts and stops for some people because there are other factors - for instance, the time of day you try it (because of changes in server loads), or which server you get when you log in; it might matter which pages you view in which order. We're still looking at these components.

The quick fix is to widen the window of the time period, which will hopefully allow more time for these events to transpire before triggering a timeout. this will go into effect this weekend, and will improve things but not eliminate the problem for some. It is a somewhat inelegant solution and there are clearly smarter ways to handle this. We could change the way we calculate and store sim%, for instance, or change the way we deal with notes. There are many possible ways to address this, but all are long-term, and none can happen immediately. We are looking at a range of solutions, and will keep you posted on our progress.

For those affected, sorry for the trouble.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Some "Friends" Problems?

UPDATE 7/12/07 12:30pm
Okay, here's the bottom line. We've got some fixes that we'll implement in the next couple days. The good news is that this will improve things for many of you; the bad news is that it won't improve things for some of you - alas, probably the heaviest users. The reality is that you've uncovered a serious issue, and that the real solution is not quick. We're working on it now, and i'll have more information as it comes in, but there will not be a fix possible that cures this for those of you with many friends and many ratings. (It doesn't seem to affect Faves or Fans use.) Through your input and alerts, this has been caught - but i have no happy words for those affected (check early next week to see if it has improved for you; it could take that long for the fixes to ripple through the system and membership). More news as it becomes available. (And if anyone comes up with some work arounds that improve experience - PLEASE let me know here.) Sorry, and thank you.

UPDATE: 7/11/07 1:03pm
Thanks for the info and the alert. I think you've uncovered a flaw in the design of notes -- When we first implemented it, we hadn't fully fleshed out what happens in the cases where someone has lots of friends and lots of notes and lots of ratings and rentals. There are a number of ways we are exploring to address the problem, but i'd like to ask members who only have 1 or a couple friends and use the notes features to let us know if you are having problems. It is unfortunate that this is starting to affect our most active users. I'll let you know as the situation improves. Until then, consider some of these features unstable. My apologies (I might have been writing this blog when i should have been anticipating that problem...)

I"ve noticed a couple people reporting problems with Friends only working partially, or the Notes features not working at all... those postings were the first we had heard of it -- with no unusual outages on this end, lest you believe we just weren't reporting it.

When something goes wrong its almost always widespread (meaning: everyone has a problem at the same time -- which didn't happen in this case), or it is connected to a new software release on our side (which didn't happen either, we haven't changed this code in some time, so if it is now broken, it's not obvious what caused it). Regardless, the postings on Hacking Netflix got us to look around and see if we could deduce if there was a bona fide problem, and if so, what was going on. I certainly believe some people are having occasional issues, but at least at this early stage, they don't seem to be widespread bugs and they do seem to (magically?) self-correct. Anyway, we're still looking into it. Leave comments here if you've got these problems too, and any specifics you can relay about how they manifest and if/when they seem to self-correct. It will help us get to the bottom of it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What do y'all think?

I've read your initial comments on today's release, and i tend to agree that the TV folks are gumming up the works. I'll see what we can do about that (don't go deleting ratings on shows just yet... give us a chance to refine this). Have you guys updated your "personal statements"? Did anyone notice that we got the movie information (the "BOB") to pop up on those Most Loved/Hated box shots on the Community Home page. Finally. And your Friends' names are back in the activity block.

As for the genre similarity: any one movie might be in a number of genres and subgenres; we don't only look at how many movies in a given genre you've seen, but consider these in proportion to how many movies are in that particular genre, and how you tended to rate the movies in that genre.

Anyway, i thought this posting would be a better locale for your release feedback. I'm also glad we're done discussing the grammar of "my bad," it was one of the more radical thread departures i can remember...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My Bad.

The good news is that the new release should be in your hands by monday. The bad news is, well, we just noticed that it's not all that simple to see your own profile page. There is supposed to be a little link that lets you see yourself how others see you. It's not there. So, i'm not happy to report this, but the only way to see the external view of yourself is to go to your Friends & Faves page, visit one of your Friends (or Faves), go to their Friends & Faves page, find yourself, and come back to yourself.


We'll get this fixed for the next release. In the meantime... sorry.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Your Profile Page

By the weekend we'll be releasing the outward-facing version of your Profile page. We'll refine this page, but its basic elements are here: a personal statement, some explanation/exposition for how other people and you are similar, and eventually, more headlines from your movie watching (reviews, top 10 lists, activity). I had wanted to provide a place for you to post a link to your outside blog, website, myspace page, etc - but it may not make it by our deadline -- if not, you will at least be able to post the link in the text of your personal statement. See if that works for you.

I'll post some release notes here later this week. We've mostly been working on this profile page and lots of little bug fixes that we've introduced over the past month.

ONE MORE THING: Yes, i've been quiet these past few weeks. It was bound to happen: I couldn't easily juggle a post a day as well as building new features. As I ramp back into a very heavy period of new feature creation, I expect my postings to be more disparate (at least for awhile). I do, however, read everything posted here (they come to me as emails - so i don't miss any). My lack of immediate or complete response should be perceived as "more building, less talking". I have enjoyed all of your discussions with each other. I certainly encourage this. And as it is appropriate, i commit to very candid discussions about how the community will be evolving. As I've said all along here, what we now finally have on the Netflix site is the foundation for our community features. It is not completed. Frankly, it's just getting starting.

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.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Today's Release is Live

Well, after the intense posts of the past week, everything else just feels mundane. I've not seen 300+ comments before on a blogpost - is that normal? (And not just little snipes, but often well-considered essays!)

Alright. I'm VERY interested in your first and continued impressions of the FAVES functions and what is working/not working here. Today's release is a complex set of new elements and as much as i hate to say it, there are likely to be some edge cases that are buggy. Any help you can provide as to what might not be smooth yet would help us out (remember for bugs: OS and browser info).

It's rolling out now, and should be everyone's experience in about an hour.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Netflix Privacy

Alright folks. Gather 'round. I've been thinking about this for the few days everyone has been discussing it; I've been reading your debate and really impressed with the depth of interest and considerate listening.

So first I will cut to the chase: Effective with the release of Faves (and everything else this weekend), if you select “Private” on the Profile page, it will not only hide your presence to outsiders, but if you are a Friends user, it will hide your Friends from view. It’s as if they are all invisible. This is a compromise of sorts, but it maintains the type of privacy you currently experience using Friends. I seriously hope y’all will not opt for this, but I don’t see anything wrong with providing it. I certainly hope this solves most of your issues. (And I understand it certainly cannot solve all of them – but you only convinced me at 3pm...) You guys made a very good case. If you’re interested in the logic behind this, read on.

The thing you said that struck me was about the nature of sharing Friends information. I believe there is a clearly established relationship between Friends: full disclosure. You're naked there -- queue, rental history, full name -- I honestly saw little difference between this current state and adding in the list of your Friends (particularly with them as anonymous as each of those individuals self-select to be); I simply didn't agree that there was any ethical reason to keep them more private, and having them public served the common good of movie discovery. But this openness is all about movies. And y’all made the interesting point that who my friends are, that I have friends at all, is not relevant; and while it might be fun for some people, it isn’t fun for everyone. I guess I could imagine that it could cause angst for a very small minority, and that it is something that each person should be allowed to control. For their own reasons.

One reason I was not implementing this degree of control over privacy was due to the complexity it could potentially insert for everyone to protect a small few who desire this. But in thinking through the current user interface, it was apparent that the existing “private” setting could be co-opted for this with little or no penalty. For reviewers, it hides your details; for Friends users, it hides your Friends. I wanted to have a very simple and clear option: you’re either here to play, or you’re not. But it’s okay if you’re not. Select Private. I hope that does the trick.

Now about your comments: as I’ve said, I’m very impressed with the depth of thinking on this issue, and the passion with which many of you presented your cases. It is very hard to change the direction of the ship this quickly, but it just so happened that your voices coalesced – not in quantity (this isn’t a vote), but in calm intelligence. And in the end I agreed that it was the right thing to do. If this blog serves no other purpose for the remainder of its existence, it was the right forum for this dialog and it worked for y’all and for me. Amazing. (Trust me: not everything will work out this way.) Anyway, check it all out this weekend. Save some Faves. Tell people about it. I'd like to see if Faves cannot be more impactful than Friends. It’s a work in progress. I know I can count on y’all to send me your mind. Cheers.

Monday, September 10, 2007

This Weekend's Release

Sometime around this weekend On Monday Sept 17 we're releasing these changes in Friends and the Community. We're not "promoting" it yet, but do want to see how you like it, how it works for you, and so on. We'll announce it widely once y'all have banged on it for a bit. The key elements have been described in detail in prior posts, but a brief reminder would be:

1) "Favorites" (aka "Save to Faves"). Find reviewers or raters you like, and save them. Their recent activity (ratings and reviews only - nothing else) will show up prominently on the Community Home page. Even if you don't use Friends, this is a simple, less invasive way to personalize your Netflix site experience.

2) Rank. Someone at Netflix is the #1 most influential reviewer. We'll see who that is soon enough. But all of us have some ranking. Easy to ignore. Interesting to ponder. Based on a complicated set of factors, including number of highly helpful reviews (movies with few reviews provide most value), number of fans (people who have added you as a "Favorite"), and movies added to queues from your personal pages.

3) Subnav changes. Alas, the blog and other important items have been moved to the bottom of the page; Friends-related items are on the Friends & Faves page. Preferences is gone (yes, gone). Although you can still type in the URL and get to the page. We're phasing it out entirely, starting now.

4) Review Flags. The thresholds have been tuned, and very quickly you should see bad reviews going away and objectionable content managed. It's a community effect, so your vote alone doesn't change things -- but if disparate folks feel the same way, the automation should handle it properly.

5) Friends' Friends. Seeing who is connected to the people you are looking at is a core function of online communities, and will be fun and helpful for movie discovery. Only your real Friends are visible with a real name, and movie info like queue and rental history - this is unchanged. But now you can see their friends, or the friends of reviewers. This is new. They will only be identified by their anonymous nickname and avatar, but you'll see 'em.

RELATED TO THIS: we will be sending out an email to ALL Friends users tonight which will notify everyone of this change and give y'all time to tweak your nickname/avatar if you'd like. Because of your feedback on this blog, we're also making sure that you can select PRIVATE on your Profile page, and this will make you completely invisible outside of the Friends connections. This gives you an added level of comfort, I suppose (although being anonymous is pretty good comfort). Please read the terms of use if you have question. This is going to be a very safe network, but you convinced me that opting out is really important.

We're not done with Community just yet. Lots of improvement and new features still in the works. But i think with this release the shape of things is starting to take form.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Future of Friends

When Favorites push out in a few weeks a couple interesting things will happen to Friends - and i wanted to explore them with you. First is this Friends & Faves page. It's not just that I added the Faves part - it has an inward facing (what you see) and outward facing (what other people see) state. Right now, there is only an inward facing part of Friends -- that is -- only you can see your friends. But shortly, there will be an outward facing version, and it will have a more anonymized version of the Friends page. It won't have sliders, and you won't be able to see rental history or queue info or notes... but you will be able to see that I have 5 friends. You'll be able to see them the same way you see reviewers: similarity %, nickname, avatar, 5-star ratings. And their friends. And while you cannot send these people notes or bug em, you can save them as your favorites, if you wanted. Just like a reviewer. This way, you can surf around from reviewer, to reviewer, to their Friends, to their Faves, and so on, checking out what people are enjoying, and so on.

(Draft of outward Friends and Faves page; no % on people means they haven't rated enough. Ignore the typo in the header...)

Now if you add someone to your Favorites list, they see you too, but in a different pile -- of FANS. You can always see your fans, check 'em out if you want (or ignore them; you could have hundreds if you're a great reviewer or make cool Top 10 Lists). On the inward facing version, these categories are separate -- but to the outside world, Friends, Faves and Fans are what you see. The similarity % are the similarity of these people to YOU, not to the person to whom they are connected. (I believe this is harder to write than to demonstrate, but i hope you can sort of visualize this).

The outward facing Friends & Faves page makes no distinction between Friends, Favorites (and fans). Just one big pile of people through which you can explore.

This is a very different proposition than the old Friends - where you have these very finite 1:1 connections. Favorites changes this, and seeing your Friends' friends changes this. Because of the anonymous profiles no one is really exposed, so it's a safe place to play and explore and look for movies.

And finally, these are just steps along a path of functionality. But this mid-September update will do some radical new things to the entire system. I count on you to tell me what you think - pro and con: let's hear it.

Monday, August 27, 2007


The next important component to roll out, probably in mid-September, is the concept of "Favorites." When you see a reviewer you like - maybe they are similar to you, or maybe you just like the reviews they've written, or whatever - you can add them to your list of Favorites. These "Faves" will be placed on your Friends page (which - by the way-- will henceforth be called your Friends & Faves), and there you can hang onto them for future perusal.

When one of your favorites writes a review or rates a movie, it shows up on the Community Home Page sort of like a Friend does. Their new review is featured, their latest ratings show up in an Activity block. You can remove them any time you want. But most importantly, they are not notified, invited, or otherwise bothered to be part of this. If you review movies, someone can save you to their Favorites list. They become your fan, of sorts. They cannot see your Queue; they cannot see your Rental History; they cannot send you notes. It's just like now, but you don't have to stumble across them, you can hang onto them.

If you are a reviewer, and you're pretty good, you might start noticing you have these fans. You can't see much about them (nickname and sim%) unless they are reviewers, too. But you'll know that you have some. (Dare I say: your influence will go up!)

The Favorites concept provides a way to connect that is sort of less intense than Friends. It's more 'one-directional'. You might just use it with your lazy friends who don't really contribute much to you, but to whom you end up giving lots of ideas. They could just add you to their Favorites list, and keep up with your reviews or ratings, but you don't have to interact.

There are more subtleties to this that I'll describe shortly, but i wanted to give ya'll a sneak peek at the concept. You disliked Influence so much i simply can't wait to hear how you feel about this. No, seriously, this will be a good way to personalize your Netflix experience -- where you select the people who you want to give you movie ideas and commentary... from Roger Ebert to your best friend to that guy from Ohio who really is similar to you to some magazine that is posting movie reviews on Netflix consistently and is always good to check out when they are available...

So I have one question for ya'll, and i've asked it before but i'm asking again (and adding a poll to the side to see some numbers). What is the best language for the button? In a sense you are "subscribing" to someone's reviews - but that sounds like you have to sign up, or pay, and neither are the case. It is kind of a "bookmark" but it isn't really, not in the classic web sense, and could be confusing (is it? this is a strong contender here). You are adding them to your Favorites list, so something involving that ("Save to Faves"? "+Favorites"? or -- as someone suggested on this blog a month or so ago, they are a "Reviewer You Love" -- I'd love your feedback on these (or other) options. In the end, i will actually test which has the best usability, but i wonder how y'all do against the data. Don't forget to vote in the poll (as well as comment). Thank you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

This Weeks' Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hey Friends Users:

Does anyone use and rely on the Friends Preferences page? You can change the name of your friend there, if for some reason their netflix account name doesn't suit you; you can delete Friends there, but you could delete them from anywhere if that was the best reason for keeping this (like in the slider, or on their profile page....) Clearly it would be better if all the Netflix prefs were together somewhere, and this probably isn't the ideal spot... Maybe we should retire it and move some of these functions somewhere smarter. So I wonder: Is this a useful page? Can someone defend it eloquently?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why There Is No Directory of Netflix Members:

Boy this would be great; either an alphabetical list (or some kind of search) of Netflix subscribers so you could find your friends... or maybe better -- the ability to import your Outlook or Address Book (et al) contacts to check to see who among them were already at Netflix so you could connect. But, alas -- it's against the law. That's right. It's not that we don't want to. We just can't.

Now I'm not a lawyer nor will I pretend to understand all the history and details here, but one of the outcomes from the Robert Bork Supreme Court stuff back around 1988 was the Video Protection Privacy Act that pretty much bars us (or any rental service) from disclosing your rental habits. The terms of use at Netflix allow you to permit us to reveal certain things about you when you use Friends and it is why you are anonymous when you write reviews (unless you make your nickname your real name), but a directory is out of the question. We've thought about making an opt IN directory, but it's hard to get everyone to participate and if you don't, it doesn't work all that well; and even using your own contacts and importing them reveals info about others without them opting in, so we can't do that either.

This isn't the case with other social networks that don't involve the rental or purchase of movies -- Facebook and MySpace (and the rest) can find members from your address books. (And I hear all of you with your requests for some interaction with those outside social networks. I can't speak to this right at the moment, but I agree its a very good idea.)

This is one reason the Friends invites work they way they do, and we tried to make it a little easier with the LINK you can copy and paste into your webpage or profile, or in an email you can send from your own mail account. It's not the same, but it can be a little better than coming up with an email address. We've got some interesting ideas on how to make it easier to connect with your Friends (or -- soon -- reviewers), but I wanted you to understand some of the constraints we have to work around when building communities within Netflix.

How many Friends do y'all have? And if you don't use the features, why not? (Is the loss of Minireviews the big reason???)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Next Weeks' Release

Here's a brief rundown on the new stuff coming out on the Community Home page early next week:

Latest Reviews feed. Slowed down, better looking. Hover over to pause is now explained and a review highlights when you hover, so it is clearer. This is not yet like the future sketch shown here recently, but you can see the way this is evolving.

Members Similar to you: if you click on someone you go to their Ratings page, where you can immediately compare their ratings to yours. Should be a faster way to judge for yourself your movie taste similarity. Then you can look at their reviews or lists if you are interested.

Local Favorites are now labeled “Unique in…”. This block does not just present what is popular in your town, but rather the movies that are uniquely popular in your town. It is a subtle distinction, perhaps, but it is more accurate. Not all that many of you love this, but it's a sort of guilty pleasure... (it's usually more interesting for me to click the link and visit other cities...)

Friends Activity block – If you are a friends user, we are starting to move more Friends features to the community home page. The first two are this activity block (showing what your friends are renting, rating, returning, reviewing, etc.) and the quiz. Both of these blocks, I’m sorry to say, were released with a number of small irritating bugs in them. The activity block says your friend rated a movie, for instance, but it isn’t showing their rating (this, along with many other little nits, will be fixed in subsequent releases). I thought: better give y'all something working mostly, than nothing until it's perfect. Was i wrong?)

Your Friends Loved/Hated:
this isn’t updating properly, but should rotate through a selection of top rated movies from all of your friends. This will also be improved in subsequent releases. AS it is now, this is just slightly better than a placeholder.

Community link button in the sidenavigation. This should make moving around a little easier. NOTE: as we move forward, we will likely move more of the navigation within the community pages from the top to the side.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Today's Release

As discussed previously, the beginnings of the Community are online. Let's start with first things: FRIENDS IS NOT GONE. It is slightly less accessible, but i promise y'all Friends users, shortly, the overview content on your Friends will dominate this Community page. If you have no Friends it will be pretty much as you see it now. But if you do have Friends you'll have a few additional regions on this Community Home page that will be familiar to Friends users from ancient days -- including a Friends Activity area, Most Loved, Most Hated, that kind of stuff. The quizzes will be here too at that time.

(Almost Interesting Fact: when asked, most people say the quiz is dumb, yet a majority of Friends users do in fact play the quiz when it is presented. I chalk this up as a guilty pleasure.)

I will repeat this for the sake of our new readers (or old readers who skim): This is going to be a process of releasing elements here, that until they are all rolled out this area might feel... lacking. I like hearing your comments but please do know there is more to this than, uh, this.

Also: You are NOT going to be exchanging notes with strangers, nor are strangers going to be leaving you notes. I don't want that. You don't want that. There will be a way for mutually interested parties to connect, but no one who isn't interested will even notice it. More on this kind of feature when the time is right.

Okay, with that being said, have at it. Post your feedback (but mind you: i'm not going to respond to whoever posts something that says "What happened to Friends?") I hope this is fun. Here's my request: show this page to folks who are not blog readers - your friends and family, and see if the page is interesting to them. That's something i'd like to know. Cheers.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Discussion Thread: Friends - and Connecting to "Strangers"

Should we make it easy to find people you don't know -- but who might have high similarity to you or just share your movie taste in some small way -- and let y'all communicate with each other? In a perfect world it seems nice and easy enough. In the real world, this can be threatening, may pose some risks, and at best, makes the entire realm of community a little more complicated in that everyone has to set various privacy levels. Power users generally want more features and more openness, but we also want to be useful and to appeal to a more casual user. Can we make it simple for everyone, but still safe for kids/newbies, and fun for the rest?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Our Community

Right now the only way "in" to the community features is under that tab that says "Friends." But as you can see, the Netflix Community is far more than Friends.

But I think we need to change the label on that tab. Friends is not necessarily the right thing to call this part of Netflix. We could just put "Community" up on that tab. That's pretty good. But I also know folks who are sometimes turned off by the word community. I thought, perhaps, "Members." Not great, but maybe. There was a time around here when we graphically viewed the network of people using the Friends feature (a very cool diagram of people and lines connecting them) as a huge island. Our team sometimes referred to the island as "Netflixia" and I wondered if maybe that would work for our Community. On the other hand, some people think it sounds like a disease. I think it sounds somewhat provocative.

Any other ideas for the tab?

PS: While I'm asking about language, I have a problem with "Custom Lists". We're thinking of changing them to "Members Top 10 Lists" even though they are neither necessarily "top" nor "10" -- and yet most people understand in an instant what they will see if a headline says "Top 10 Lists". It's not perfect, but if you have some ideas here, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this as well as the tab. (And yes, I should be tanning on the beach, but frankly, this is what I do when I'm not working...)

POST SCRIPT 7/19: These are great suggestions (well, most of them) but i think you guys are working without some key information. The reason I feel the need to change the tab away from "Friends" is that we are about to change this part of the site pretty dramatically and Friends doesn't quite do it. Right now, if you don't have any Friends, or don't want any Friends, you just don't need to go here. But we are slowly building more and more elements that will be interesting for everyone, in particular, people without friends. Similiarly for the custom lists -- these work for some of you, but most people at Netflix (statistically speaking) neither use them nor have heard of them. You guys will figure out how to use the lists no matter what we call them, but my mom (sorry to keep bringing her up) needs it a lot more obvious, thus the Top 10 List kind of name. Give me a few days and i'll give y'all a sneak peek at some of the elements you'll be seeing on this new page. It will take a few weeks to roll out all the new elements, but i think i can give you a taste. That might help your efforts to name it. S'cool?

Your Suggestions

[REVISED; Originally posted 5/31/07]
Let's create a list of features -- your "wish" list -- and we will keep re-editing this list as new ideas surface. Some of this info repeats the earlier listing, but this entry will be the edited and re-edited as the definitive input from your comments. (And soon -- but not yet -- we're all going to work together to put these in some kind of priority order.)(Italics in the list now represents wishes that have been all or mostly addressed at this point) Hang on:

1) Confused by the random avatar.
2) Wish you could select from a set of prebuilt avatars instead of uploading.
3) Prevent gaming the system by multiple self-voting (i.e. Helpful) in Reviewer pages;
4) Worried these new features will slow down the site experience
5) Sort Movie Reviews by Similarity % (or by date, or by pretty much anything)
6) Be able to find people with high similarity (e.g. the top 5 people similar to me), and hang onto people you've found.
7) Need to edit/delete reviews beyond first page;
8) Email notifications of major changes at the website
9) Able to add movies to Custom Lists directly from the movie page
10) Why truncate nicknames?
11) Miss the personal description (bio) part of Profiles
12) Changing the order of movies in Custom Lists;
13) Custom Lists problems adding some titles (ie. need a "MORE" button if the title you want doesn't come up first). (Workaround is #9)
14) Message boards on various movie topics so folks w/o Friends can still chat etc.
15) Allow option for non-Friends to leave you notes
16) APIs available for external development
17) Flag Reviews as "Not a Review" to get rid of bogus content, spam, or gripes...
18) "View Myself" ability to see your entire profile as others see you -- to verify Privacy, to see what they are seeing, etc.

1) Average ratings for you and each of your Friends;
2) Loved by your Friends and Recommended for you suggestions;
3) An Overview page for each Friend, not just ratings or queue;
4) Edit/Delete Movie Notes with your Friends
5) Disable/control email notices about Movie Notes being created
6) Film level privacy control -- to hide certain movies from Friends or others
7) Persistent notes (a la the old MiniReviews) such that new Friends can see old notes.
8) Notebook organization a bit wonky, and should include more info from the Friends Activity (ie ratings, etc that are mentioned in F.A.) and ability to sort or view only received notes.
9) Options for faster loading of Friends detail pages (ie Queue, Ratings)
10) Hide real name (and location) from Friends. In other words, allow "anonymous" Friends.
11) Bring back the "Purple Dude" icon
12) Import Gmail (et al) address book for Friends and Tell-A-friend invites
13) Clean up Privacy page and/or interaction -- with alphabetical access and/or access from Queue

GENERAL (non-Community) -
1) Confusing UI with the tabs, subtabs, side nav
2) Visual (spacing) confusion with the wider pages and the new sidebar
3) Better info/filmography (more complete--like Screenwriter) on actor/director pages and movie display pages
4) 1/2 Star Ratings
5) Bring back the "Shooting Star" icon
6) Polls on blog for new features
7) Move "language and sound" and "subtitle" info higher on movie pages
8) Sort rated movies by rating date, by genre, stars, release date, alpha, etc.

Hopefully y'all are starting to feel the steady forward progress here. Not everything is going to get addressed, but of course there will be other new interesting features not listed here--which in turn will give you more ideas for improvements. In the few months expect more significant changes to this part of the site. (But not this week. I'm on vacation this week...)