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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 19 2017, @01:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the live-or-die dept.

At Netflix, the stars are out.

Not movie stars, per se, but rather the streaming service's system for rating the programs they watched with one to five stars. Instead, users will soon be able to express their level of enjoyment with a thumbs up for favorable or a thumbs down for unfavorable.

"Five stars feels very yesterday now," Todd Yellin, Netflix's vice president of product innovation, told a group of journalists at the company's Los Gatos headquarters on Thursday. That system "really projects what you think you want to tell the world. But we want to move to a system where it's really clear, when members rate, that it's for them, and to keep on making the Netflix experience better and better."

The company had beta tested the Facebook-like system with hundreds of thousands of new users around the world last year, finding that more than 200 percent more ratings were logged with the thumb system than the star system.

They should make it fun. Use the 5 💩 rating system instead. Or perhaps a whole suite of symbols for a more fine-grained response. Any suggestions?


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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by hemocyanin on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:19PM

    by hemocyanin (186) on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:19PM (#481138)

    Rating a video is non-obvious in the Apple TV, Roku, and Android apps. Perhaps they'd get more stars if it was easy to do in the first place.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by driven on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:30PM (5 children)

    by driven (6295) on Sunday March 19 2017, @02:30PM (#481141)

    * make it a user preference whether to auto-preview a movie when I hover over it. I just want to read the description in peace, not be constantly shown movie clips while browsing.
    * let me eliminate entire genres from what is suggested to me. I don't like horror movies.
    * give better parental controls. last time i tried parental controls, the selection seemed to go down to the equivalent of Barney and Friends for toddlers. I just don't want crazy stuff coming up in the browse for a pre-teen/young teen account.
    * make UI's more consistent across device platforms. for example, "what's related" is missing on some platforms, so I have to use my web browser for that feature.
    * broaden support for the offline downloading feature. I discovered my Android tablet doesn't let me download because it's not on their HCL (hardware compatibility list) even though it meets the Android version and is powerful enough (based on the fact I can play downloaded Google Play movies on it).
    * bring back "not interested" which seems to have gone away.

    • (Score: 2) by Marand on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:04PM (1 child)

      by Marand (1081) on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:04PM (#481150) Journal

      broaden support for the offline downloading feature.

      Broaden the selection of downloadable titles, too. It's especially puzzling that Netflix's own content isn't consistently downloadable; it's like they don't have faith in their own platform.

      • (Score: 2) by fishybell on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:20PM

        by fishybell (3156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:20PM (#481157)

        I'm guessing it's the variety of licenses each different movie studio requires.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by AthanasiusKircher on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:42PM

      by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:42PM (#481172) Journal

      * let me eliminate entire genres from what is suggested to me. I don't like horror movies.

      Is this not an option? I know the system has changed a lot over the years, but when I first started rating movies on Netflix (about 15 years ago), I feel like you could explicitly say which genres you wanted to see and which you never wanted recommended. At some point, the categories became more nuanced (rather than just "horror" and "action" etc., you could specify whether you'd like more "action horror rom-coms that take place in a courtroom and based on literature" or whatever). I'm frankly too lazy to even log in to Netflix now, but if they got rid of genre restrictions, that just seems dumb. Even if you might like the occasional horror film, why not give you control to say, "I just don't want them showing up in my recommendations"?

      * give better parental controls. last time i tried parental controls, the selection seemed to go down to the equivalent of Barney and Friends for toddlers. I just don't want crazy stuff coming up in the browse for a pre-teen/young teen account.

      As I recall, there (at least used to be) categories that would come up with stuff like "movies for 8-10 year olds" or "movies for 6-8" or something like that. Wouldn't it be trivial to implement those subcategories as selectable for parental controls?

      * make UI's more consistent across device platforms. for example, "what's related" is missing on some platforms, so I have to use my web browser for that feature.

      Yeah, I really dislike the apps on some platforms. I've hated the Netflix "wall of movies" format in many apps ever since it first appeared quite a few years ago. For some reason, a Roku app (for example) is set to display thousands of random films with a seemingly infinite scroll, but they can't display 10 movies that are related/similar to something you just watched or are searching for... which you actually might be interested in viewing? Makes no sense. And why can't they implement a reasonable search that would look for actors, directors, etc. too (as available on their website), rather than just a poor, incredibly basic title search?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:26PM (#481190)

      Only a very small subset of the genres that Netflix uses show up like that. They're ones that most people are likely to consider watching. I'm guessing the code for that would be rather problematic as some platforms like the set top boxes and Android don't give you a way of directly selecting one of those secret genres.

      http://instantwatcher.com/genres/all [instantwatcher.com]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @07:37PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @07:37PM (#481237)

      This is just going to be a disaster. Parents will not agree.

      Me: ban La La Land, Moonlight, Brokeback Mountain, Apocalypse Now, Cars 2, The China Syndrome, JFK, Midnight in Paris, Milk, SiCKO, Truth, V for Vendetta, Avatar, 2017 Beauty and the Beast, Elysium, Good Will Hunting, Lethal Weapon 4, Lethal Weapon 3, An Inconvenient Truth, Arctic Tale, Bowling for Columbine...

      On the other hand, I'm fine with: Human Centipede, Human Centipede 2, Blackhawk Down, The Killing Fields, Psycho, Predator, Terminator, and most straight porn.

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:08PM (3 children)

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:08PM (#481152)

    The funniest meme which may or may not be true is Amy Schumer was getting made fun of, so they had to change the ratings system.

    It doesn't even matter if you think the meme is true or not, its just as funny either way.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:14PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:14PM (#481155)

      It is indeed true and it is indeed funny. Fat, unfunny gurl gets bad reviews so they have to alter the rating system to appease her, I mean it's not like she could just go on a diet and work on her material.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by jmorris on Sunday March 19 2017, @06:42PM (1 child)

      by jmorris (4844) Subscriber Badge <{jmorris} {at} {beau.org}> on Sunday March 19 2017, @06:42PM (#481223)

      Entertainment Weekly [ew.com] isn't exactly a bastion of the alt-right and they mention it in their reporting too. The spergs from [48]chan and /pol/ made fun of a special princess who happens to be a close relative of the Senate Minority Leader so "Something Must Be Done!"

      I suspect Netflix, like every tech company was testing many alternatives and had actually been testing the thumbs up/down as they claim. But the decision to switch and the timing was almost certainly driven by this story and the knowledge that after a successful (as in media attention grabbing) run there would be more. So now the feature that is barely mentioned is the story. Read the accounts carefully and you will see it the up/down is not the important part, the addition of a social graph is. Since Netflix itself lacks a full enough graph to make that happen, watch for the word to slowly filter out of a partnership with someone who does, Google or Facebook being the obvious choices. Now snowflakes won't be aware of what the "wrong people" think. And slowly but surely, as their confidence in identifying "wrong people" grows, the ratings of those people just won't count at all.

      • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Monday March 20 2017, @12:44AM

        by Magic Oddball (3847) on Monday March 20 2017, @12:44AM (#481305) Homepage Journal

        It doesn't mention that the two events are related (e.g. a "something must be done" situation), just that she happened to gripe about alt-right trolls sabotaging the ratings.

        I don't care either way about Schumer, but there's so many unfounded assumptions of this type on both sides of the political spectrum screwing the signal-to-noise ratio that I feel like those of us who are (theoretically?) smart enough to know better really should avoid adding to the clusterfuck.

        --
        Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. —Twain
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by AthanasiusKircher on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:27PM (3 children)

    by AthanasiusKircher (5291) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2017, @03:27PM (#481164) Journal

    I'll fully admit that I'm an outlier in my tastes, for whom a mass-market rating system is probably never going to be a good fit.

    My first reaction to this headline is: "Isn't that removing some granularity in ratings which will make the recommendations worse?"

    But on second thought, it's probably for the best. Back when I first got Netflix (ca. 2002?), I must have spent at a couple hours going through and searching for films I had seen and rating them. I had faith that the system would at least be somewhat helpful in providing me good recommendations for my tastes. But over the years, it has been such a mixed bag that I really don't pay much attention to the "ratings" anymore.

    I think one problem with Netflix is that they don't make it as clear that the supposed "ratings" you see aren't a summary of ratings from ALL Netflix users, but rather an estimation of what they think "people like you" will rate the film. Even after repeatedly trying to explain this to my parents, for example, my father still frequently will say, "I watched this movie last night, and it was terrible. But it had five stars!" And I yet again try to explain that isn't some sort of rating by educated critics or even a summary of all Netflix users, but some sort of algorithm trying to match films to him... and failing. A lot of people just don't get it.

    Another issue is the "grade inflation" effect. A lot of the public these days has been trained to think "What I give people a five-star rating, I need to give them five stars as long as things are basically acceptable." How many times have you been told -- directly or indirectly -- by service folks that anything below 5 stars will get them fired or demoted or whatever? Part of my problem (I'm sure) is that I refused the grade inflation effect. I viewed the stars sort of as standard deviations, and a 5-star rating is incredibly rare for me (as is a 1-star rating, for that matter). I naively thought that doing so would guarantee that I'd only get recommended stuff that was really close to stuff I LOVED, but I'm sure my rating behavior isn't common. I imagine, just like Amazon reviews or whatever, you get a huge number of 5s, a lot of 1s, a few 4s, and that's pretty much it except for the "weird people" like me who actually like to leave balanced reviews of 2s or 3s.

    Given the kind of rating behavior I expect most people engage in, a "thumbs" system probably isn't that much worse and might even be a more accurate reflection of how most people are using the system.

    Finally, I'd just note that there's just no room for nuance in star ratings anyway. I remember Roger Ebert's system where he said he tried to give ratings based on expectations within the film's genre, for example. Thus, even if Ebert thought stereotypical rom-coms were pointless and an exercise in rolling out standard genre tropes, he wouldn't give them all terrible ratings. He'd instead give a lot of middling ratings, and even good ratings for those that took a few steps to be outside the norm and mildly interesting.

    There's no way to express the nuance of your ratings in a 5-star system. For example, there are a number of films over the years that I've loved ironically. That is, I may dislike the genre itself, but some films are just so over-the-top that they become amusing or interesting for "meta" reasons. What do I rate such films? Because if I rate a Norwegian disaster film with 5 stars on Netflix because it's more over-the-top than any Hollywood disaster film I've seen and thus just becomes hilarious to me, Netflix is just going to fill my suggestions with Norwegian films and disaster movies, neither of which I'm likely to appreciate. (Well, I've actually seen a few decent Norwegian films, but that's beside the point.) So then rating becomes sort of like "gaming the system," but if other people are giving ratings to game the system, at what point does it become more dysfunctional?

    TL;DR -- My personal "Thumbs down" to any ratings systems on Netflix. I've had much better luck spending five minutes skimming reviews online rather than trusting Netflix's system, despite having rated maybe 1000 movies over the years in it.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:10PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:10PM (#481186) Journal

      Even after repeatedly trying to explain this to my parents, for example, my father still frequently will say, "I watched this movie last night, and it was terrible. But it had five stars!" And I yet again try to explain that isn't some sort of rating by educated critics or even a summary of all Netflix users, but some sort of marketing algorithm trying to sell films to him... and succeeding.

      Just fixing some things there. This reminds me of the "fake market" story [soylentnews.org]. IMHO if Netflix were really matching your interests to like-minded people, it wouldn't be wrong so often. The algorithms for that aren't that hard.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:29PM (#481192)

      It doesn't really make reviews worse unless you were somebody that regularly rated things using all of those stars. I have a feeling that people either weren't using it at all or they were only using some of the stars in most cases. A simple up or down vote is more likely to be used and when analyzed with the other ratings is probably more helpful than the 4 star system where Netflix has no way of knowing what the ratings really mean as people have different standards for what they would consider a particular rating. Some people will rate things as 4 if they enjoyed them and some will only rate them 4 if they consider it to be a masterpiece.

      Whereas with an up or down vote, it's much more consistent in assessing what the viewers intent was in giving the rating.

    • (Score: 2) by Rivenaleem on Wednesday March 22 2017, @03:40PM

      by Rivenaleem (3400) on Wednesday March 22 2017, @03:40PM (#482779)

      The 5 star system was far too subjective anyway. Does each star have equal value? Or do you do like the White Wolf RPG system (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storytelling_System) whereby 1 is weak 2 is average 3 is strong, and 4 and 5 are only reserved for superhuman or supernatural traits.

      I think a thumbs up/down system (similar to what is in Valve's Steam platform) is much better, because you end up with a score out of 100% with which to compare one game to another.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Entropy on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:10PM (2 children)

    by Entropy (4228) on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:10PM (#481185)

    Seriously, does this too need to be dumbed down? Things are more complex than thumbs up, thumbs down.

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:25PM (#481189)

      We could call it the "Electoral College".

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday March 19 2017, @07:22PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 19 2017, @07:22PM (#481233)

      Seriously, does this too need to be dumbed down? Things are more complex than thumbs up, thumbs down.

      Mate, why the surprise?
      The entire humanity is dumbed down to "have/haven't money" - damn'd be sustainability, quality of life, individual-specific aspirations, etc.

  • (Score: 1) by RoxTeddy on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:24PM (1 child)

    by RoxTeddy (6500) on Sunday March 19 2017, @04:24PM (#481188)

    The I can add my own ratings to movies and tv. Them they won't be erased by some jerk that has decided that it is to helpful.
    I already dislike netflix for not providing simple lists, I have to scroll through numbers of pictures to find a movie

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @09:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 19 2017, @09:05PM (#481254)

      Viewing the cover pics is supposed to be enticing, plus i am sure it helps with the appearence of more choice with all the swiping,scrolling you end up doing. I have seen this "picture" system envaigle its way into it support "catalog" but every pic is the same unopened box. Helpful not!!!

      Ratings should be disconnected from the provider, somewhere without a profit motive, of course that creates new filtering issues. Oft times it is more valuable to know person i knows opinion than some average, meta-influenced or otherwise.

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