Showing posts with label Requests for Feedback. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Requests for Feedback. Show all posts

Friday, July 20, 2007

Discussion Thread: Instant Watching

Got ideas? Yes, we've heard about your overwhelming desire for a Mac-based availablity. We know it gets better the more movie titles that are available. Here's a place you can tell Steve about your hopes and dreams...

Discussion Thread: 1/2 STARS

Here's a sort of placeholder for ongoing conversation about the pros and cons of 1/2 star ratings (or 10 stars, or any other ideas about how you feel about the stars themselves).

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:

COMMUNITY-
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.

FRIENDS-
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...)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hiding Movies

I'm with y'all. I watch a lot of movies, and I love the Friends features, but I'll admit that there are titles i watch that i'm -- how you say -- less than thrilled to announce are in my Queue. At Netflix we try to have this deep honesty policy: we generally say whatever we're thinking to whoever needs to hear it. And this pervasive attitude has crept into Friends, such that the thinking was "if you're REALLY friends, then you should be okay showing them what you're really watching." But you (and I) know this is lousy. I'm happy to reveal pretty much anything about myself, but there is a level of scrutiny that makes even an open guy like me pretty uncomfortable. Once in awhile you just need to hide a movie from your friends, or parents...

Savvy insiders will know that there is a workaround: you can always create a sub-account (a second Queue) that has your embarrassing, raunchy, edgy, private titles. You wouldn't make this profile public, it wouldn't write reviews (not under your name, at least), and it wouldn't have Friends. Honestly, this isn't a bad solution. But it takes more work on your part than is ideal.

We're considering the best way to allow certain titles to be hidden. You guys are pretty sharp, and probably would be happy with a checkbox somewhere that says "hide this movie from my Friends" or the like. But we must think of the others, the folks who find every additional option on screen a distraction, or worse, confusing. So where would you say is the best place to put such a checkbox option. The Queue is out. It's not worth the complexity of another column for the one title you want to hide once every few months. It could be in the Friends area, but where? I'm afraid if we put in in a column along with Movies You've Rated, no one will ever find it. So if you want to help get this feature implemented, i'd like some good thinking about the best way to implement. Ideas?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Couples Using Netflix

Okay, this is odd but i'm just going to put it out there. The question was asked today at work whether we knew of any folks who had experienced the following: a couple gets a DVD that they really want to watch together, but for one reason or another, one of the pair breaks the commitment and watches alone, perhaps with some lame excuse as to why.
Has anyone done this or had it done to them? What was the lamest excuse?

This, by the way, happens to me all the time. My wife regularly falls asleep 5 minutes into our movies and i tend to watch the rest of the movie and send it back. (She doesn't really like movies anyway). Anyone else got a story?

POST SCRIPT JULY 1:
Turns out this question was floating around the office because the Washington Post had called and asked someone here. And today an article appeared in the Washington Post that addresses the question. I think the stories they found were better than my own. Read it here.

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?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Avatars

A few of you asked to select your avatar instead of having us automatically give you one. Tell you what: here are all 12 of our pre-built generic images:




Now I can't imagine why you'd want to use one of these when literally millions of other people have them too -- isn't the point to be unique and personalized? However, if you were to Photoshop one, mess around with it perhaps, make it your own, well sure! (Each image here is riffed off of some classic cinematic image, some more obvious than others. Can you identify them all?)

On a somewhat more personal note, everyone around here is really excited by all the avatar personalization going on. It hasn't been a week and already you can hardly go to a movie page of reviews without seeing one of your little icons. That's really quite remarkable considering there are more than a million reviews. Enjoy.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Nickname update

A few of you have suggested you're having problems with your nickname updating. Can more of you chime in here? (And if you're in the mood to be really helpful, let us know what OS and browser you're using.)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Notes, continued...

I'm game.

Shaun, you said "Reviews show up differently than notes; if I write a note, I guarantee my friends will see it. If I write a review, there is no such assurance." What if reviews from your Friends were treated differently. What if it was presented at the top of a page, or column, or highlighted in some way such that it wouldn't be buried in a pile of reviews. In other words, it was presented as a note. For other people who don't know you, who aren't Friends with you, yes it would still be visible but far less likely to be seen (who drills in multiple pages on customer reviews? And if I did drill that far, maybe i am interested in the rather idiosyncratic back-and-forth between another group of people on this topic. i'm just asking.) The other benefit of this is that reviews are both persistent (meaning, new Friends would be able to see them too), and edit/delete-able. How many problems would be solved if this worked for y'all? (AND there is no email that goes out when a review is posted, even...)

I pretty much agree with you about being able to turn off the notes emails. That's not as refined as it should be, and it probably should have a preference setting for it. [Meaning, you can select whether or not you want to send emails.] I had prioritized fixing that, however, after some other of these larger new features, like the avatars and changes to custom lists. Do y'all think turning off emails is more important than completing new features which all of us think will be more interesting? (I'm sort of being rhetorical--of course you'd rather it just work right; how much work could it take?) There are a lot more nifty ways to look for movies and share movie experiences than what we have now, and i personally believe you'll be pleased we prioritized this way, but i certainly don't know for sure. that's kinda why I think it's good to get everyone's feedback.)

one of you said: "i never feel like investing more than 5 minutes "reviewing" a movie. i bet most folks feel the same. a "review" feels more formal, and longer, and thought out. a "note" just feels better between friends. plus, nobody would get most of the inside jokes laced in my notes other than my friends. plus, who cares what i think (other than mom)?"

Why do reviews have to be formal? Some will, of course, be rather serious and educated in their critique. But others are no doubt going to be like talking to my brother, who has a lot of enthusiasm. Why is one better than the other? If I'm looking to get some sense of whether or not i should see a given movie, i like a range of voices. i don't need to "get" your private jokes, and i'll skip it if i don't get it. I suggest it might be okay to make your notes (to all your Friends) into reviews. If it isn't helpful to other folks, the natural process of sorting will pretty quickly drop it from much view -- and if it turns out to be helpful, and really crystallized something about a movie that appeals to other folks, well then, you've inadvertently helped other people.

I'm not suggesting there isn't a place for private correspondence -- that's pretty much what notes were designed for. The private kind of review, or query, or something that kinda demands response. But those notes don't really need to be persistent for all my Friends or future Friends. (Today's Friends may not get last years' private joke between me and the three Friends I had then.)

I miss the mini-reviews, i really do. But i more enjoy not having 3 distinct ways to communicate-- it's redundant, it makes things more complicated for everyone, harder to learn, more junk on the screen. I liked the subtle differences between each, but i think i can pretty much get what i need from just reviews and notes -- as long as new reviews from Friends are presented pretty clearly, and not more buried (as they are today).

Eric, you said you wanted the "ability to leave a note for all friends (including future friends that I might add). As it stands right now, I have no idea if new friends can see notes I've already left or not. I don't leave "notes" to people, I leave general comments about specific movies, so I'd like anyone who is associated with me to be able to read them." It sounds like the above solution might address this. Does it? And your second point, "Ability to leave a note on a movie that is independent of other notes my friends may have already left. I don't want my note to be considered a reply just because someone else left a note first. I just want to leave a comment, not start a conversation." Again, wouldn't sending the "note" as a "review" address this?

Finally: if you could edit/delete notes, how does that work? If I delete a note i sent you, does that mean it is removed from your Notebook? But edits i make on my notes ripple to every person who has that note? Is this correct? If i edit my review today, whenever someone reads that, they get the corrected version. And if i delete it it's gone from everywhere instantly. But if I write a note, and you reply, and I delete my note, what happens to your reply?

I'm not trying to be difficult; this is precisely the kind of questions that have to be answered, and alternatives that have to be debated.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Notes

It's clear that many (many!) of you have problems with the way we changed Friends last year. While I can tell you that in general the features are easier and more used now than before, that doesn't mean that really good elements were lost in the process. (I sure miss the "Suggest" button, for instance.) The Purple Dude, as we liked to call him (her?) was another cool element (for those newbies, he showed up on movies that your Friends had watched). His problem, however, was that he slowed down the page loads dramatically: every time we drew a page, we had to check every movie on the page against every movie seen by each of your Friends. When you had one Friend it wasn't so bad, but if you had more, the load times got bad. And as our membership was growing rapidly, the problem was rapidly getting worse. We had to make a hard call: try to fix that loading issue or retire the DUDE. Now I liked the dude, but at the end of the day, he laid down his life so that the site performance improved. I'd like to bring him back some day, but not before we solve that loading problem. Anyway, that's what happened to the dude.

On a sidenote, we did have a funeral for him in our offices. And in the great Netflix tradition of sending off our loved ones with a limerick, many of us contributed. This was mine:

It's goodbye to our friend, Purple Dude
He was smart, but exceptionally lewd;
He'd be doing his job
On the box and the bob*,
Displaying himself in the nude.


(*the "bob" is the "back of box" ajax pop-up when you hover on a movie title)

Now, this issue about the notes is a little different. It was my assumption that rather than have mini-reviews (that only went to your Friends, including Friends you didn't yet have), and reviews, and notes (which were more one-on-one or one-to-a-few in nature), we would reduce the complexity by reducing the options. Notes, I felt, were for individual correspondence -- and didn't need to persist for future-Friends. If you wanted to write something general, about movies, to a bunch of people, and if you wanted it to persist, then just make it a review. That way your Friends see it, and new Friends still see it. Does it matter that other people would see it? I didn't think it did. For all but personal notes between you and someone ("Did you like that?") or to you and a bunch of folks ("hey, does anyone think this movie is any good?"), a review seemed better.

At least that was my thought.

So my question is: For those of you who miss having "notes" that remain for future Friends, why won't a Review suffice? You're helping out more people with your thoughts, and it is our hope that people in the community will be interested in giving their feedback on movies to more than just a couple people. Why not just Review?

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:

COMMUNITY-
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.

FRIENDS-
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


GENERAL -
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.