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Billy

They're taking away a feature I love so they can add more tools in the future? If the future additions are used by only 1% of people, can we trash them and bring profiles back?

Alex

I believe that if they actually have a plan it would not be a problem to share it with us. Something like... yes, we are cutting profiles, but we are completely revamping the site on September 1. We plan to add new features like Blah Blah Blah.

Then we would have the information to decide whether or not we want to stay with Netflix or start switching our secondary profiles to another company.

TheLoneIguana

I'm betting whatever replacement they come up with is going to end up costing more.

I still call BS on the 1%.

RocketTech

The reason why profile users are so voccal is because they are using it- looks like the vast majority probably don't even know it's available. I saw this news yesterday and thought to myself "Self, I bet Netflix has a good reason for doing this and/or are planning an even better implementation". I am disappointed at the anouncement- I think they should have been more clear on the reason and future intentions. This communication today is what should have been the first communication- open, honest, and a glimpse of the future. The first announcement was honest, but did not feel open nor gave a glimpse of the future.
Yeah, I'm a Netflix cheerleader, but honestly if this is the biggest 'problem' with Netflix, things aren't so bad. It would be nice to have the new features ready before the old go away. Sure, Netflix could do a beta site and confuse the heck out of everyone on the switchover. Netflix has a good track record- let's wait with anticipation and be wowed with the new features.

noe638

this really is just another example of netflix slapping their most evangelical fans in the face...you run out and tell somebody about the service and what it can do and they rip a feature away from you with NO alternatives, NO workarounds, NO little show of appreciation for your loss.

Netflix is a community and sometimes they shun their loved ones in an unbending fashion. There is so much they could have done...people really like transparency, tell people you are considering removing a feature and then give it a few months to manifest. It would have gone much better.

Chet

Nope, sorry, not letting them off the hook. Their present plan will delete customer queues and munge customer ratings.

If Netflix got hacked and the hackers deleted 80,000 customers' queues and screwed up their ratings, it wouldn't be called progress.

Revealing your history of slapdash software development does not excuse torpedoing customer relationships. At the very least, provide a reasonable migration path from a profile to a separate account. Otherwise: FAIL.

John Burke

I just don't want to lose all my ratings, reviews, etc. I just want there to be a way to bring my profile to my own account. Then it would be a slight inconvenience, but no gripe from me. And no loss of this member for Netflix.

I mean, my wife never rates her movies, and when she does, it's five for Made of Honor and The Notebook. I think that will look very silly with the five I give to Die Hard, Braveheart, and Gladiator.

Umwhat

This still sounds like... someone made a decision and they are finding reasons the decision makes sense.

Sure, it may make coding easier. Of course. What wouldn't? Just about removing any feature would.

Both Adrian and Todd have enough PR mumbo jumbo in their posts that I think they have just adopted the company line and are trying to be supportive about it.

Todd's comments are particularly unconvincing: "Continuing to maintain the profiles feature for the passionate few who use it (including myself) distracts us from the mission of presenting to all our members the easiest way to find the best titles..."

What a load.

This decision was MADE and then Todd and Adrian got on board with it. That much is completely and painfully obvious.

memyselfandeye

it's still a crap decision, no matter how hard they try to spin it.

darren

Communication is the key. If they have a plan to provide the same functionality by a different method, they should have communicated that to us in the beginning. They didn't.

They could inform customer service to reassure people that other means will be made available to replace the lost functionality.
They didn't.

They could bloody well respond to the "suggestion" emails we send.
They don't.

Then they make asinine statements that "the decision is final", intimating that they have no desire to listen to their customers. This arrogance is what prompted me to cancel my account on June 19. I expect my first movies from Blockbuster tomorrow (incidentally, the same two movies were at the top of my former netflix queue with "long wait" beside them).

Donna

"We will do our best to find better ways for families to share accounts than the existing profiles feature and will continue to invest in improving the website experience in many different ways."

Right. So here we have the crux of it. Families sharing accounts...not sharing queues or profiles. Accounts. That's multiple accounts, and I'm not paying for multiple accounts. I'm on the three out plan. If I drop to the one out plan on September 1, it's because I'm not going to dance the dance it will take to manage multiple types of DVDs (TV, documetary, movies) that are currently handled by the profile system.

Seriously, Netflix, you don't take a feature like Profiles, and discard it without having something to put in its place at that time.

This is basic.

Matt

I think I'm canceling my account.

Dave

My reply to Adrian:

So, let's assume you're going to piss off about 80,000 subscribers. Let's also assume (conservatively, in my opinion) that about 10% of them are going to downgrade their plan by one disc, either because they won't find it as useful without profiles, or just because they're angry. Right there you're looking at losing 80,000 * %10 * ~$7/month = $56,000/month in lost subscriber fees.

That's just 10% dropping one disc - that doesn't even count those of us who plan to leave, or potential subscribers who we're going to warn off due to being taken for granted, or just more people willing to stand against your decision. Do you really think your new features are going to recoup that subscriber base? Are you saying you can't get people who can fix your profiles code with that kind of money?

I personally don't care what lengths you need to go to to fix the problem without impacting my customer experience. That's your problem for not having implemented profiles more cleanly in the first place. Who's convenience is more important: your developers' or your customers'?

Lisa Abeyta

I am working on a feature article on family-friendly companies and products. Netflix was to be one of those companies. Instead, I now have the perfect example of a corporation that is choosing to throw out family-friendly features because they don't think enough customers will care. Profiles allowed parents to allow independent selection by several children, all at age-appropriate levels. It was one of the things that set Netflix apart. This is a move that will tarnish that reputation - perhaps with irreparable damage.

danb

I'm far less upset that they're getting rid of profiles and far more upset that they don't see a reason to provide people with a way to migrate their data to a separate account. If you want to get rid of the feature, especially for the reasons given in the scenario presented, then fine. You shouldn't punish 100k of your user base to do it, though. You're already inconveniencing them, so provide a way for them to move their data, at the very least.

I spent a lot of time rating movies in my profile. I use it to reference what I've seen and remind me of how I felt about a movie, without having to remember if it was me or my wife that saw it. Now all of that will be lost.

The data in my profile is one of the reasons why I never tried Blockbuster's service. September seems like a good time to give it a shot.

Sam Jackson

I still call BS on the 1%.

Prove it. Seriously, put up or shut up.

it's still a crap decision, no matter how hard they try to spin it.

No, it makes perfect sense in light of the latest info, no matter how much you want to deny reality.

Here's some ear plugs. You can go in the corner and shout "NAH NAH NAH I'm not listening!"

They're taking away a feature I love so they can add more tools in the future?

It is slowing things down NOW.

If the future additions are used by only 1% of people, can we trash them and bring profiles back?

Only if they have the same lack of critical thinking skills that you do.

Pup, MD

I'm pretty sure a dorm room full of freshman CS majors with a few dozen cases of Mountain Dew and a few bottles of Adderall could fix all of their problems in a weekend.

Quiet Desperation

I'm pretty sure a dorm room full of freshman CS majors with a few dozen cases of Mountain Dew and a few bottles of Adderall could fix all of their problems in a weekend.

Or, you know, not. The days of hacking something together in machine code on some 8086 machine are long gone, my friend. I've done some web development. It can be really ponderous, especially when it needs to be cross platform, and that's *without* using Microsoft DRM. ;-)

Man, you just gave me a total craving for Mountain Dew. :-) I'm in Southern Cailfornia. It's 206 degrees and half of it will probably be on fire by Sunday.

Not to be snarky, but... well, OK, to be totally snarky, I'd really like to know how many of the loudest complainers were picking on folks like me when we protested the apparent retirement of the Releasing This Week page?

matt

So netflix hires 40,000 people? i read that only 1% of users use the feature and half of those are netflix employees...B.S.

Eveything i read coming from netflix boils down to bad programmers...bad code can be fixed and worked around so i dont by it that this is effecting anything upcoming/future additions or system performance...

StC

That profiles was a kludge on top of their existing systems was obvious. Trying to tack a multi-value system into a system that assumes single-value in the first place is always a kludge. Profiles are something that has to be done in the design phase.

But too bad, Netflix. You did it. This is reflective of your entire codebase. It is all one big giant kludge. How many times has the entire site gone down? Yeah, we know the whole mess is a hodge-podge of kludges. It's obvious to anyone who has ever designed software.

Take a big step back. Re-design it. Separate functions. Design the UI and database for things like profiles. Take six months or a year to make it. Then when it is time to happen, you put it in place on a second cluster of servers, leaving the first in place. You migrate customers to it in big blocks. As soon as the front cluster sees the UID they get the UI from the cluster (old or new) that they belong to.

You think you're the first company to ever have this problem? Give me a break. I've done this with customer data that is 100x more complicated than what Netflix manages. GIVE ME A BREAK. There is absolutely no reason for this except incompetence and lack of respect for customers.

Oh, and 1% of customers? Who each have several profiles. Each profile is a separate customer. Count each profile as an account and suddenly your talking about 5% or 6% of your best customers. Go ahead, delete 5% of your customers, they won't care.

Do the math, how much marketing money goes into attracting 50,000 new customers vs how much it costs in retention?

Amazing how a company that used to be the best thing since sliced bread, could do no wrong, had the best web interface, etc etc etc ... suddenly has bad programmers, doesn't care about it's customers, is lazy, and it's entire website is one giant kludge.

Geez, when the Lord taketh away after He has giveth, the faithful change religion awfully fast.

This is just too funny to keep reading.

Odis

I don't care how they spin it...it still sucks. When my wife and I moved in together, I convinced her to merge accounts with me and use the Profiles feature so we could save money. So she has already had to lose all her ratings and her queue once. Now I have to ask her to go through that again???

Thanks a lot, Netflix.

Dave

Correction to my comment above: I realize Netflix' margins are probably slim, so that only a fraction of subscriber fees are 'disposable', but still - are we really so inconsequential?

Richard

They need to be upfront about what the "replacement" is, tell us that we will be able to migrate our current profiles, and convince us that it is a viable alternative before announcing that they're going to eliminate such a useful feature. I have three profiles that are over three years old from the inception of the feature, complete with queues with over 100 disks each, as well as 100s of ratings and recommendations. Don't tell me that you're just going to scrap all of that unless you can convince me that A) you're going to replace it with something better, and B) that I can migrate all of this data. Otherwise you're just going to piss off and alienate a bunch of users of profiles. If they don't think that the feature was designed well and that it was confusing, then MAKE IT BETTER! Don't just scrap it and zap everyone's queues and ratings into cyberspace.

Phil

So why do I seem to always be part of a "small (and vocal) group"?? Several years ago NBC took a show called Star Trek off the air, those who liked the show were called a "small (and vocal) group". A certain retailer recently stopped carrying a certain product, we were called a "small (and vocal) group". The music industry would describe people who didn't like the music they were putting out as a "small (and vocal) group". 4 and 8 years ago we voted in a certain individual as president, anyone who oppised this was called a "small (and vocal) group". We went to war, those who disagreed were considered a "small (and vocal) group". A certain Reverand had a dream, his followers were called "small (and vocal) group". Well, I suppose if we're that small (and vocal) it won't make a difference when we downgrade or quit our accounts and go somewhere else!

Jon

I've been an avid and vocal, almost preachy, fan and member of Netflix since 2002, however this decision is a terrible one and has completely alienated me and many of my friends. My wife has been nagging me for some time to get rid of Netflix, considering all the other options out there. Until I read this announcement I had refused not even considering it a choice. However once I read of this decision I decided on my own to cancel my account. It is a shame, but Netflix will deal with many others like me in the months to come I'm sure. I truly can't believe that only 1 or 2% of users use queues, it's one of Netflix's best features. So long Netflix it was great while it lasted.

David Grenier

Yes Phil, because Netflix getting rid of profiles is EXACTLY like the legacy of slavery, segregation, lynching, and Jim Crow laws that Dr. King was fighting against.

I'm more satisfied with Adrian's explanation, Todd's just sounds like BS corporate speak - like the guys who lie and spin so much they aren't even aware of when they're doing it and how phony they always sound.

One question I would pose to Adrian if I could, just out of my own curiosity, is whether the way Profiles is implemented is PREVENTING them from bringing on new features, or if its just more of a "look, we've only got so many programmers and so many hours in the day. We're prioritizing X, Y, and Z over continually rewriting the profiles code."

My guess is it is the latter. I know just enough web development to be dangerous, and I can see how going from the way Netflix was originally written to having multiple profiles would be a huge pain, and stuff would break. a lot.

Matt

I canceled my account last night. Good job Netflix.

Brian

Netflix's head of web engineering has basically told the world that a lot of the services they built into the website are kludges, the code is difficult to work with, and they are having to make a large investment to clean it up.

It's not sour grapes for us to talk about that now. Somebody on the inside has actually gone public with that information.

Steve

As far as I'm concernced, Netflix can suck it. If they go through with this bullshit plan, I'll drop down to 1 on 9/1 and hope like hell that BB has made their crap website usable by then.

Howard

"Not to be snarky, but... well, OK, to be totally snarky, I'd really like to know how many of the loudest complainers were picking on folks like me when we protested the apparent retirement of the Releasing This Week page?" posted by Quiet Desperation.

Couldn't have said it better myself. I would imagine that a lot of the fanboys who derided people for complaining when Netflix made a feature (RTW page) harder to use are now the ones complaining now that their balloon is punctured. Go Netflix!!

Brian

For the record, while I was not here or active talking about the "Releasing This Week" incident on any forums/messageboards, it bothered me when it was removed and I let Netflix know of my displeasure. It wasn't something I felt devalued the service for me since I rarely put new releases in my queue, but I was not happy about it.

Carrie

My question, how could 1 program be so damaging to the Netflix site? Aren't most companies goal to grow? So if you grow, shouldn't you have put programs in place so that any added features would work with existing features? Why is it that a feature you implemented years ago all of a sudden has become the culprit and demise of your website? You are in Silicon Valley, you mean to tell me with all the computer programmers in the area you cannot find one brilliant enough to get this problem fixed? Your solution is to just get rid of a popular feature, dismiss your loyal customers with bs reasons and expect us to go quietly about our day so we don't take up more of your precious time? Well don't worry, I won't waste anymore of my time on your site after Sept 1st, I'm going to giving it to Blockbuster. Oh by the way, you will lose 2 future customers in my daughters, they would have eventually had their own accounts when they turned 18 and moved out.

Brian

I can understand how poor design and implementation can cause a disaster in their codebase. I don't understand the poor way they handled this.

Ryan

This is total BS and they are banking this excuse on that most people are not enterprise programers.

When you have written an application as large as the netflix site is, and you see some kludge causing you problems - YOU REFACTOR THE CODE! (for the non programers, your rework how you did it) You fix your shitty work first before you go and try to add some sparkle, plain and simple.
I have made plenty mistakes in how I chose to initially design something, that doesn't mean I can pull the feature out years down road that my customers use - I fix it.

It's called being a good programer and having good customer service.

sdoug76

The other side of the coin, I am in the 98% that does NOT use this. So I could really care less it is going away.

Galofree

Wow. Suddenly everyone is a high-level programmer with intimate knowledge of how Netflix code works. Regardless of your level of expertise or amount of experience with code, you cannot in all fairness say that it would be easy to do this or easy to do that since you are unfamiliar with the Netflix code itself. You are ignorant of the factors involved. If you can do it better, do it better. Put up or shut up. Write your own kludge.

DigiStrat

Lame, lame, lame.

Ryan

@Galofree
I don't think anyone (including myself) said it was easy, or that they could do it better. In fact, re-factoring code can be one of the hardest things to do since you have to look at the problem from another angle where in your mind you thought you got it right the first time.

Everyone here is just stating the obvious, netflix is coping out.

Jay

As a former Netflix employee, I can't say I'm that surprised by the decision. It's true that not everyone used the profile feature, and it's possible -- note that I said possible, not likely -- that the 1-2% figure is accurate; however, it was most definitely a value-add, and a lot more justification than "we had kludgy code, and it's going away ... deal with it" should have been provided.

Do I think the decision was "justified?" They're a company. They can do whatever they want with their code base. Do I think it was well-reasoned? From a management perspective, I'm sure they thought so; and, from an engineering perspective, almost anything that frees up cycles on the system can be -- at least in theory -- rationalized. Then again, I've worked in marketing and dealt with PR for a number of companies: I know spin terms, and I saw plenty of post-decision justification refinement while I was there.

Then again, considering the number of other poor decisions I saw both internally and customer-focused, the group I feel sorry for is the customer service personnel. Most of the time, we were given notification of a service closure at the same time as the customers, although some early-shift people occasionally found out about changes when the customers called in, because the memos about the changes hadn't gone out to the floor yet. It wouldn't surprise me if they were given a copy of the email and told "this is what you have to work with: make the customers believe it's a good idea."

Now, having said all that, and regardless of whether or not the decision was right and proper, do I think the -announcement- of the decision was poorly implemented? Yes. Unfortunately, like many decisions at many companies, upper management makes decisions, provides limited information to the peons, and expects customers to suck up their displeasure for the privilege of continuing to use their product/service/feature.

On the subject of coding, though, trust me: if you think the web site's kludged, you should have seen the variety of tools we used to maintain customer accounts and track discs. Oy!

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