Showing posts with label Release Notes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Release Notes. Show all posts

Monday, February 11, 2008

Search Updates

Hi! It's me, Meghan.

Perhaps you've noticed some changes in the search results page. I'd like to hear what you think of them.

I'll point out a couple of elements:

We added bigger box shots and better genre matches, as well as a column on the right with movies that you can watch instantly. We also show all formats - so you can tell at a glance, for any movie, if it's available on DVD (and if it's Blu-ray), to watch instantly, or to buy.

We took out the tabs to simplify the page. There's more to come, but I'm interested in hearing what you think of this set of changes. There are still some specific things that you'd like to see happen (like searching synopses, for example), and many of those items are still in progress. I hope you find it easier and more useful.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This Weekend's Release

I'm only going to address some of the smaller items that the Community team has opportunistically tweaked on the site.

The first is simply a very prominently presented link to the blog (the link is on the far right):

The second is a simple re-ordering of the movies in actors/director's filmographies. It may not seem like much, but this has been somewhat irksome to many of us here for some time. On the left/top is the presentation today (movies sorted alphabetically), on the right/bottom is the new presentation (sorted by release date).

We've cleaned up some of the logic on the Movie Lists page, which should make this more useful -- although the improvements may not be so obvious. Most of the work in Community these days is behind-the-scenes: a larger effort that will take some time to roll out. I promise to alert you to what is coming as it approaches release later this quarter. In the meantime, my team will only be releasing smaller tweaks (some might not even be noticable) to the site you use.

These changes were live on the site beginning at 6pm Friday evening, Jan 11. Check 'em out.

(I will let some others around here blog post news about the New Release pages, which i believe will be shortly.)
UPDATE 1/11/08 - I've just been told that the more official update won't be posted to the blog until mid-next week, I'm sorry to report.
UPDATE 1/17/08 3pm - All the teams here continue to read your comments and work on this issue, but there is nothing new to report.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Members' Top 10 Lists

In the next release we're adding a page to the Community - a more general Top 10 List page - that might be interesting to you all. In this first iteration, it's not all that pretty i suppose, but it has four zones, each containing a different set of movie lists:

1) Most Popular - looking only at the quantity of movies added to member's queues (and shipped), we come up with this set of lists. Clearly, being in this set will further make the lists popular - so we only look at popularity over the past week, and also (since the list is really longer than the 20 shown) we randomize which ones we present and the order.

2) Most Recent - we get thousands of new lists each week, and we will pull randomly from that set each time this block is refreshed. Gives new lists a chance to shine.

3) Lists Selected for you based on the movies in your Queue and that you've rated - This is a slightly different version of the personalization we do in the block you see on the Community Home page; but the effect is similar: we look at highly rated movies and movies you've just moved high in your queue, and find member's lists that include those titles.

4) Featured Members - here we look at members who have created at least a few lists (but not necessarily a lot), find those generating a good quantity of additions to queues, and then sort by similarity % to you -- and then present a sampling of the top ones. It's really just another way to find interesting similar members.

NOTE: in this first release, the lists update every time this page refreshes. WE know this is a problem. It will be fixed in the subsequent release. With the exception of the Featured Members section, the lists will persist through the session you're in, but will refresh on your next login. Based on your comments once this releases, we may adjust other elements as well. So try it out and let me know what works and what doesn't.

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.

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...

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.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Today's Release is Live

The new features are now online for everyone. Here's what my Community Home page looks like:
If you don't have anyone connect to you with Friends, you don't get these top couple blocks: On the top left is a review just posted by a Friend, and the Friends activity is next to it on the right (now with RATINGS!). The Top 10 Lists block is cleaned up a bit, but just cosmetically, and there is the familiar Latest Member Reviews. Should be pretty self-explanatory, but Tuesday's post about this release sums up the new features. Slowly getting better?

I'll post next week about where all this is starting to lead. Tonight, i'm going to the theater to watch the new Bourne flick. Later.

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...

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, 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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Friends Unavailable

Have you noticed that I've been inserting the "Site Status" over there on the top right side of this blog (see it?). We usually know about upcoming maintenance issues and stuff like that so we can sometimes provide some heads-up about site issues. Then again, there was yesterday.

The core Netflix website is unusually solid, but some of our new features operate independently, like the Sim%, like Friends. I guess i'm being less than candid to say we were down (actually, ARE down -- since we probably won't be back online until Wednesday) for maintenance. As you probably noticed, we turned on many of these new features (the new reviews structure, the avatars, etc.) with little fanfare. We wanted to slowly build up stress on the servers to make sure all was smooth before making a big deal about it. And it turns out that we slightly underestimated how many of y'all would jump on these features--which is good, but it creates a pretty significant load. So we rejigger once a week or so, improve code. Then we build new features on top of the foundation (for instance, the kinds of tools you -- and we-- really want to provide our community), and then check some more about how the servers are doing. Anyway, that's why we haven't yet made big announcements about our evolving set of new features. (We could put a big "Public Beta" up there on the top of the page, but isn't everything online a sort of public beta?) Anyway, this is why we've had some Friends Unavailable notices or you've had problems uploading avatars periodically over the past few weeks. We'll have this under control shortly. Until then, thanks for bearing with us. (Sleeplessly yours, The Friends Team)

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Still working on it, and Friends will likely be unavailable through Thursday, coming online probably on Friday or thereabouts. Watch this space for latest news. (the good news, should we chose to see the silver lining, is that we're using this opportunity to deploy a few new features, which we'll release once all this comes up again.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Today's Release

We've started chipping away at some of your suggestions (and our bugs) and the first easy few are now online. Notice the "Similar To You" is spelled out (okay, not technically a bug... but it's progress). At your request, you can now also edit or delete even your older reviews. And I'm happy to say the image upload is working again after we broke it a few days ago. Watch this space for more updates as they occur.

Yikes, Eric caught us trying to surprise y'all - yes, yes... we're working on a return of the "mini-review" which is really just a review, but only for your Friends. It would be persistent (that is, new Friends would get to see them) and you caught a glimpse of some of the UI. Unfortunately it's NOT ENABLED. We just starting working on this and i'm not entirely sure how it got released. I think we'll absorb it back so it doesn't confuse anyone. My bad. (And yes, if you're a conspiracy theorist, i suppose you would rather believe we put this out there on purpose, to make you think we care about you when that must not be the case. Unfortunately, the truth is more prosaic -- we screw up sometimes, but hopefully not in a bad way. Believe what you want.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We're Live!

Around 4pm yesterday we released the first bunch of features. It's all very exciting, I must say, but it didn't feel "real" until we showed up on Hacking Netflix this morning(snicker).

There does seem to be some confusion about the default avatars, so here's the deal: they're random. There are a dozen. They are not assigned based on anything about your movie taste, your gender, your age, nor your similar appearance to Nosferatu or any other cinematic character. The idea was only to have a nice array of images in there so the rest of the world wasn't looking at you as a blank face with a question mark. We wanted them interesting and movie-oriented, but not so great that you preferred it to your own creative iconography. The idea is to personalize your profile if you'd like, but not punish the rest of the Netflix community if you don't.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Features in the upcoming release:

While there is a moment to breathe, I wanted to point out a couple little elements on the site -- both of which are predominatly for those of you who REVIEW movies. Both are part of our first steps toward improving our "Reviews & Lists" page. For instance, here's how you can see your old reviews:

Notice that you can now delete old reviews, or edit them (on the spot). This is nice if you are like me and type fast and spell poorly.

Perhaps more fun is the improved CUSTOM LISTS feature. This is where you can compile a list of movies that may be useful to other (less movie-savvy) members: Your lists can be simple ("Greatest Date Movies") or complex ("Movies I loved in college and hate now"), but now they are much easier to create and manage.

We've had this feature on the site for years, but it was almost impossible to use. Now it's better. In short order, you'll be able to find the most current or most popular lists, as well as export lists to your own website or blog.

Time to run.

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.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Strange Things at Friends?

For a small group of our subscribers, you may have noticed some odd (and exciting?) new elements to the website tonight. Starting this afternoon, and ending tomorrow, we are doing some data server testing (i.e. website engineering technical-type stuff). Over the coming months we have some entirely new features to release, and this is the first step on that path -- we need to make sure it can handle the immense load all of you put on a website.
Anyway, check back here for some images from the new features, and some under-the-hood explanations of how they'll work and how to really maximize their use. Until then, if you happened to see the interesting new site features, consider yourself lucky: they were only visible to 4 out of 100 of you.