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

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

RSS Feeds and Your Reviews

Like y'all, we've noticed a few strange things in the RSS feeds. As far as we can tell (so far), these are problems on the receiving end, as all looks fine on the sending end. Different browsers, websites and blogs handle these feeds in different ways, and clearly some do a better job than others. Still, we're exploring some of these issues and hope to get them handled quickly. Looking ahead, we're adding two key RSS functions in the next few weeks.

RSS REVIEWS. You'll soon be able to feed all your reviews to your own sites, which maybe easier than copy/pasting your reviews between sites.

RSS CUSTOM LISTS. You'll also be able to feed any individual custom list you've created out to your own site. At first glance this might seem lame, but i think there are some cool applications possible, particularly if you combine the feeds of Reviews and some lists.

Let's say you're an organization. Maybe USC Film School. Maybe a Pilates Club. Maybe a Neighborhood Association. Or a magazine. You've got a website and your own members and everything. Some of your members may be Netflix members too, but some may not. Regardless, you can use your Netflix profile (or create a special sub-account with its own queue) to some special advantage. From this sub-account, add your iconic avatar (a logo or something clear at this small size), and a nickname that works for you (organization name, most likely). Then review movies that are relevant to your members. Make Custom Lists that are relevant. (Think: Best Computer Generated Movies, Films We're Watching This Month, Movies Shot in Baltimore...) and feed these reviews and specific lists to your site.

This way, when Netflix members are looking at a movie, they can see the review from your org. And the members of your org can see all your reviews at your orgs website. It's a nice dynamic. I'd like to hear about anyone using the reviews and lists this way. Any particularly inspiring examples might get showcased here. Anyway, I'll let you know as the release of these features gets closer. In the meantime, just know we have a little work to do still on cleaning up the RSS feeds. Happy Fourth.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Drag and drop Queue

Hi - I'm Meghan and I've noticed some posts on here about drag and drop Queue. It was great to see that so many of you like the feature. Thanks for pointing out the bug with the announcement. We're working on a fix for that so that you won't have to keep seeing it.

One thing you could help with in particular - do you find that you still use the numbers to reorder, or just the drag/drop? [If you could include the # of movies in your Queue with your comment, that would be great. Thx]

Killing Movie Notes' Email

You and I have been discussing this for some time, and here we go: Many people don't visit the site so often that they know to look for new Movie Notes, and enjoy getting an email alert that a new note has been sent to them. It's only on a new note and not for every reply or back-and-forth conversation. But some of you don't like the feeling that you're "spamming" your Friends. Absolutely. So here's what can be done: Disable the preference setting that sends you these notes. People who don't want to receive them have full control now, and you shouldn't worry that you're giving them anything they don't want to get.

1) Select Your Account link (at the very top of the screen).
It will take you to a page full of setting for your account. Look near the bottom for a block called "Account Preferences". Look for the link to your Email Subscriptions:

2) Select Email Subscriptions.
This opens a page of all kinds of emails you may (or may not) want to receive as part of your service. Look for the Friends Movie Note email:

Make sure it's not selected, and then you won't receive emails you don't want. Trust your Friends to manage this (but feel free to explain it to them if you're worried). I hope this helps. At worst, it's a start. (At best, we can move onto bigger tasks!) Enjoy.

Friday, June 22, 2007

New Features...

Well, we're back online (fingers crossed) and for your patience, we offer a few small surprises for everyone.

1. You can now add movies to any of your custom lists directly from the movie page. Look for the "+Add to custom list" link in the left column on every movie page. It's not perfect, but it's at least a start. We'll refine this flow as we go forward.

(I believe this screen grab was from "The Family Stone")

2. We added a link to this blog directly from the Netflix site -- it's in the top navigation bar on the Friends pages. Up until now, the only way to really know about this blog was from Hacking Netflix. But you guys helped us find our voice and now we feel ready to open the doors to everyone else. (And probably if you're reading this now, you already found that magical portal to here.)
3. We've improved (but not totally fixed) the re-ordering of movies in your custom list. If you swap numbers between items, and save the list, it will hold the new order. (But it is not as robust or smart as the Queue.)
4. We fixed some UI problems with the avatars; with the nicknames (you'll probably be able to see more of the characters in your nickname in more locations); with various page presentations in different browsers. This should make the visuals a little more clean.

A couple tips on your nicknames: Even with our improvements - short names look better than long ones, and you don't need to list your city or state in your nickname because in key locations, it's shown under your name, anyway. They really add a lot to your reviews. Some of you, i'll bet, are going to get quite popular from your reviews here at Netflix. Let us know how that feels.

Enjoy the fixes and features. More to come. Lots more.

POST SCRIPT: Thanks for the bug tracking notes! Most of y'all do this already, but if you hadn't --If you want to be truly helpful (as opposed to, say, grumpy...), when you mention some bug or oddity you're facing, also add your OS info and version (e.g. Mac 10.4.2, Windows Vista), your Browser (e.g. Safari 2.0.4, Firefox), and any odd circumstances that might be helpful (" sliders were empty, which was immediatley after I left this really long note...") We appreciate your help tracking these problems down.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Connecting to People Who Are "Similar"

That's a great idea, folks. You're browsing around and you come across someone who is really really similiar... you know, something amazing like 90% or more. You read their reviews and you clearly have similar tastes and even share some pretty obscure favorite movies. You don't want to lose this person. They don't really have to be your Friend, I mean, you don't want to bug them. They may or may not be interested in you. You just want to hear when they find a new movie that's great, or read their latest review... you want to "subscribe" to a feed of their ratings and reviews.

Let's say there is a big button by their avatar image, and if you clicked it, you'd be able to keep an eye on them (but not in a creepy way). What's the button say on it?

Are you Subscribing to this person? If you saw that would you understand what that meant? What about Bookmarking them? That's often understood to mean 'holding' onto this page, although that misses the passive nature of this. You could be Adding them to your Favorites list. Like being a Friend, there could be another class -- a Favorite. Is Adding a Favorite better than Subscribing? And then there is a simple Save this Reviewer.

Can any of you propose a label for this button that is immediately understandable, clearly describes what this activity is, and doesn't require a paragraph explanation.

A Guide to Similarity %

We're seeing more and more avatars on movie pages -- and that's fun: the reviews have somehow changed for us, from something like "content" into something more human, more interesting. You put a photo on your reviews and they become as much about you as they do the movie. And people now seem a lot more interested in clicking on those photos to see what else the reviewer likes and has reviewed.

But for me, the key is that Similarity %. But there is no scale, it's just a relative value. Is 50% similar good? What does it mean? So here are some comments on Sim%.

How is it calculated? Netflix uses algorithms comparable to those employed in the "Cinematch" engine which recommends movies -- but turns it around. Now computers take all the movies you've connected with -- rented is the most weighted, but also rated or even just put in your queue -- to get a signal about your taste. Then we compare those movies to the same set from each reviewer and generate a number. But its not an absolute value. Sometimes there is little direct overlap of titles, but there is overlap in "similar" titles, or more importantly, an overlap of genres. You might not have seen (or rated) the same set of movies I did, but we are interested in the same kind of movies, and this would make us similar. We do this very quickly to get a general sense of similarity.

What is a "good" match? Like I said, it's all relative -- if you and I are 60% similar, I may not know precisely what that means, but it suggests we're more similar than someone that i'm 55% similar to. The wisdom around here is that if you are 70% similar to someone, that's pretty darn similar. 80% is dead on. My very best friends -- with whom i would see ANYTHING they liked most of the time -- i'm in the high 80s with. And I'm not 90% similar to anyone I know. (Although I sometimes find reviewers who share that much taste with me). Below 50% and i tend to check carefully if i agree with their Favorite movies...

With your Friends list, we add a few more passes through the algorithm, to get an even subtler taste similarity, where we push up the emphasis on how you and I rate movies, and how common that kind of rating for a movie is (if you and I love a movie that the whole world loves, that doesn't really make us all that similar, but if you and I love a movie that everyone hates, well then, that's worth noting. So we do.)

One note: With Friends, the Sim% is asymmetric--that is, I can be more similar to you than you are to me. This is because if you have seen 10 movies and I have seen 100, including all 10 of yours, due to some intricacies in the formula, it shows a (small) difference between us--you with 10 movies will be MORE similar to me than I am to you (since I've seen so many you haven't, because there is such disproportion between our viewing histories). The presumption is that if you've only seen 10 and I've seen 100, i may have a far wider interest range than you. If you watch (or rate) 90 more, and there is still good overlap in interest, that eliminates the difference pretty much, but there is a lot of uncertainty with your smaller dataset. (We actually don't like this asymmetry very much, and are exploring that part of the equation even as we speak.) I know I was disappointed to learn that my very best (most similar) friend--who was 89% similar to me--didn't hold me in a comparable position, and I was only 80% similar to him. That was a bit of a let down. (I'm rating more movies and the difference is shrinking.)

Like the recommendation engine at Netflix, we continually improve these mathematical formulas (see the Netflix Prize). The only (somewhat cryptic) thing i'd add is that we're only scratching the surface for how many cool things we can do once we have calculated this Sim%, and you will be seeing more use of the tool throughout the year. Here's my question of the week: besides being able to find and save other people who are very similar to you, and sorting reviews based on (among other things) how similar the reviewer is to you, what ways can you imagine applying the Sim%?

Do you find it useful? Interesting?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Your Suggestions

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.) 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? Why 13 characters?
11) Miss the personal description (bio) part of Profiles
12) Changing the order of movies in Custom Lists (*isn't working)
13) Custom Lists problems adding some titles (ie. need a "MORE" button if the title you want doesn't come up first)
14) Message boards on various movie topics so folks w/o Friends can still chat 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

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) on actor/director pages

You may notice i'm not listing "non-community" oriented features, but trust that the appropriate people are seeing your ideas, even if they don't get addressed here directly.

We here at Netflix think about these things every day, all day. I can see that some of you do too. I'm somewhat reminded of the adage "many hands make light work" which does seem to apply to online communities. (I wish I could invite everyone over to help me with my yardwork.)You guys are great help. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Your First Impressions...

Blogs are great. We should have done this ages ago. What a fantastic way to hear directly from y'all (and I don't often get a chance to use the word y'all). So, i'm going to repeat back some of your first impressions. This is by no means everything you've sent us, and many of you won't think these are all good, but we like to hear a range of ideas. We can look at the priorities of these later. For now, some of you are...

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) Some confusion about the edit/delete reviews functions, timing

Friends repairs (or, perhaps, the return of sorely missed features) including
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

How's that? Are these the most important things? What are we missing?

Great feedback for one day. Thanks gang.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Features...

Sometime just after Memorial Day you will see an important step towards the community of movie fans we are building at Netflix. And this is at the core:

Every person at Netflix is going to have a profile -- automatically created. We will automatically generate an anonymous nickname, and give you a nifty-but-generic avatar image. If you want to ignore it, that's fine. But if you are a reviewer, or want to create a "Custom List" or want to participate in Friends... you might want to upload your own avatar or change the nickname to something pithy.

Anyway, the really cool thing about all this is that "Similar to You" percentage. Friends users know it because we developed it for checking movie tastes between you and any of your Friends. Now we've extended it to compare you and anyone at Netflix.

This way, when you see reviews on movies, you can see at a glance if the reviewer has similar movie taste to you. Click on the avatar and you can look at the reviewers other reviews, their favorite movies, and other custom lists they've created. We think this will make movie discovery more interesting. Anyway, this is the central component to a series of changes we are making this summer. You'll notice similar (gradual) changes in the Friends area as well. It's one of our first steps here, but we're deeply interested in how it looks and feels for you.