Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Whining about Netflix

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First, I hate that Netflix abandoned their sortable lists of movies (which I always sorted on the red-star ratings) and went to an unsortable page of images. Images, unlike lists, do not lend themselves to a rapid scan: you have to look at each one. Moreover, to see the red-star rating, you have to hover your cursor over the image, which takes time.

Formerly there was an option to use the list, but that capability has been removed. (I’m desperately hoping now for a Netflix competitor who will do a better job.)

Second, about those red-star ratings. My understanding is that the red-star ratings are computed on the fly, based on my previous ratings. As eHow.com explains it:

Whether you’re logged into your Netflix account online, or streaming videos through a game console or Netflix-enabled device, you will have noticed there are red stars below each of the available titles. These red stars are Netflix’s way of recommending movies to you. The star rating is their best guess at how much you’ll like a given movie.

That account is consistent with this Wikipedia entry on the million-dollar prize Netflix offered for an improvement in the algorithm that predicts how a user will rate a film.

This is important because two different Netflix support people told me that the red stars simply reflected how other people liked the movie and had nothing to do witha  prediction of how I would like a movie. But note the text:

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 1.51.33 PM

Note: “Our best guess for Michael” is less than 2 stars. (2 stars = dislike)

Note also: This movie is suggested as one of the “top ten” for me.

What on earth are they thinking?

When I tried to contact support—and Netflix has only phone support, the better (I suppose) to ignore complaints and make sure there’s no record of complaints—I was told by two separate support staff that the red-star ratings are NOT influenced by how I’ve been rating movies. And the recommended movies (“Top 10 for Michael”) are based purely on the movie category (Action/adventure is a category I watch frequently), and ratings are ignored. If they are right, then it’s a bad way to run recommendations: suggesting a movie the customer is almost certain to dislike as one of the top 10 recommendations for him.

I fear Netflix is badly broken, and by carefully not keeping any records of complaints, and not allowing any written complaints (that can be forwarded and copied to appropriate people within Netflix), they are not going to know this.

It’s frustrating for me. Can you tell? 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

16 October 2013 at 2:01 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

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