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Comments

ZarathustrA

We all know you voted "Very likely" to your survey, Hank.

Luna Saisho

@Hank: It's simple. Netflix would hopefully say "We hear you, and if this is what you want, we'll put it back." but I don't know the ratio of people who care and don't care, so I don't know if enough people care to make it worthwhile for Netflix or not.

If they don't have enough people wanting the features back to the way they were, then they should say something like "Sorry, but there's not enough demand for this feature" or what have you.

The point is that if they take the chance to let you know why or why not, then that would be a lot more fair.

Seth

This is all so similar to how eBay and its power sellers clashed years ago..

Paul Lancaster

OK, Hank. Enough of this charade. I’m not sure what a “troll” is (I haven’t posted on blogs very much, or even read them much till now), but I do know what an employee is. You finally tipped your hand in your last few posts. Had me going for awhile though. I’m relieved that Netflix is indeed participating in this conversation, reading the user protests and responding with your (i.e. Netflix’s) “perspective” (your word). I was puzzled by many of your earlier posts in which you insisted that Netflix has given us their reasons for dropping these features and vastly dumbing-down the details page. I’ve followed this issue closely for the past few days and have seen no such Netflix responses. Whatever could “Hank” mean by that? Then the light dawned as I absorbed your most recent, astonishingly tone-deaf, one-sided posts. Netflix qua “Hank” has given us the reasons for the changes – why do we incorrigible trouble makers keep asking for them again and again? OK. I get it.

Your specific use of the word “perspective” was one of the big clues, since your posts are utterly lacking in any perspective other than the most narrow-minded species of corporate profit grubbing at the expense of even a shred of service attitude and good business citizenship. Your implication that “power users” may well be a pejorative at Netflix for people like me who revel in the features that enable me to search for films that aren’t just the latest-and-greatest releases that the herd wants to rent, and who have a “high turnover rate”, because this behavior costs the company more than one of the “sheep” who lets the DVDs collect dust while Netflix collects their money… Absolutely incredible (sound of jaw hitting keyboard). Incredible, unless of course you’re an employee assigned to spoof a disinterested customer who just wants to add a little balance to the discussion. “Glutton at an all-you-can-eat buffet”. Nice touch. Thanks for the “answer”. It’s hard to hear, but I have to say “thank you” for the enlightenment. It’s true that in all my years of being an avid Netflix fan (it’s my home page) I never stopped to consider that I was a more expensive customer than someone who occasionally visits for a few seconds to queue up a new release. I’ve had enough experience as a business person to know you’re absolutely right. Yes, the nickel-pinching green-eyeshade correct answer to this cost burden is to stick it to the loyal, long term user-evangelists in favor of the profitable low-hanging fruit who use negligible bandwidth and impose miniscule demands on the database and warehouse/delivery aspects of the business. It’s the right answer, and it’s also what gives capitalism its stench. Those who care enough to use Netflixs’ own blog at Netflixs’ invitation to register their extreme disappointment with a change are “putting their own needs ahead of everyone else’s”? This is almost pure self-parody: Greedy capitalist tries to deflect attention from user-disserving cost cutting and profit squeezing by guilt-tripping complainers. Wow. A breathtakingly compelling display of the arrogance that, carried to much further extremes admittedly, leads to populist uprisings that demand the CEO’s head on a pike. Especially when spiced with your delicious taunt that we know we “have nowhere else to go”. Did you really believe your mask wouldn’t slip after a whopper like that? But you’re so right. There is indeed nowhere else for most of us to go, for now and the foreseeable future. Enjoy your salad days Netflix. Rake it in while you can, like any self-respecting monopoly.

Customers aren’t people, they’re profit centers, right Netfl.., er, Hank? We enthusiasts have been wasting our time, and your money, by actually using your (formerly) rich feature set to find movies that we otherwise wouldn’t know about, and bringing in new customers by the dozen because we’re so pumped by how cool this all is (or was).

You’ve asked repeatedly: what plan might we propose as the “real” reason for this otherwise inexplicable leap backwards and the stony silence in the face of the outcry from savvy users? OK, here it is. Netflix is in the process of radically reducing their inventory via slashing the depth of their library of available titles. Warehouses and shipping centers will be closing. Delivery times will lengthen. Older titles in our active queue will more frequently drop into the “Saved” queue as they’re struck from inventory to save costs. In a fixed price business model, less frequently rented older titles don’t carry their weight like the new releases. All the recent feature retrenchment is geared towards making it much more difficult to browse for titles we might enjoy (I’m assuming you’re not so nakedly partisan as to pretend that the Netflix recommendation algorithm isn’t laughably useless, especially compared to Top 10 lists and the ratings of Friends with similar taste). Of course they wouldn’t want us to guess this, much less candidly announce that eventually they’ll only stock hot releases for the masses since the “vocal minority” will just have to eat it in any case. So yes, it’s a “conspiracy” to avoid owning up to their (your) abandonment of the dream of the realization of the ultimate online video store in favor of another dreary MBA-led exercise in profits-uber-alles.

BTW, I won’t insist that “Netflix employee” is your only possible real identity. The other one is major stockholder nervous about the recent shakiness in the stock price and analyst ratings, which fits better since a mere employee probably wouldn’t bend as far backwards as you have in pleading on behalf of profits and impeaching the motives of critics and loyal customers.


Jeff

@Hank

21 posts in less than 2 days. Seems a bit excessive for a regular old hacking netflix reader. Really, 21 posts, defending netflix. I can understand liking the company and all but come on. Obvious company shill. I personally don't use the friends feature but if enough people feel strongly about it; why should it bother me or any other "real" customer if they keep it?

jafi

@Hank-Carrie: I also use the Notes to send info to my parents. They aren't power users and that's how they tell me they liked a movie, or I find stuff they'll like or mentioned they'd like to see.

My mom asked how the Leave a Note worked - we connected and were off and running. Would she have used it otherwise? Probably not - but my entire family and several friends all used Leave and a note to communicate. My brother in law's ratings on movies (we both like movies so bad they're good) has saved me from watching many a movie so bad it's bad.

I've recruited several people to Netflix and used the friends the connections.

fielden

The new page layout is great visually.
Functionality of the new design however, leaves a lot to be desired. In the following areas things are now much more cumbersome, annoying, or downright undoable leaving me irritated and frustrated with the Netflix site.

1.Where is the Leave a Note function? This is my preferred way to receive/send friends recommendations for titles - reverting to an email client is far less convenient and the message ends up where it not relevant - in my email account not in my Netflix account where I can act on the message where it makes most sense - on the Netflix site.

2. Where are my friends ratings if they've seen the movie?
I often only visit the movie description page to see if my friends have seen a movie and their rating.

If I've rated the movie - you now show me my rating in 2 locations - under the title image and in the right hand box with the date of the rating. This makes little sense when the At Home, Rating, Date info could all be handled under the image leaving the right hand box for the now missing friends features.

3. Where are the top 10 lists and "people who enjoyed this also enjoyed" features? These helped me discover lots of great titles and even entire genres. My understanding also is that creating/adding to lists is also far more cumbersome than before.

4. And my nomination for least useful "feature" on the friends page: the "Loved"/"Hated" boxes. You can't see WHICH of your friends loved or hated the title - which makes it useless for helping to evaluate the movie. THERE'S NO CONTEXT or granularity to make sense of that designation.

5. Finally, with the respect to titles that have many seasons or sequels. Previously the additional entries were listed in the left hand column making it easy to find and add them.

Now you have to search on the title to find them, and the results are often mixed up or the sequence is not clear. This change now makes what was an easy process extremely cumbersome.

I simply don't understand the removal of so many features that made Netflix unique, easy to use, and enhanced a participating users experience.

Facebook connect is not an adequate substitute for the friends features - again it's not in the context where it is most relevant and I prefer it - the Netflix site, as well as the fact not all Netflix users are on Facebook (shock, surprise), and finally it means more clicks and steps - it does not enhance functionality or the user experience.

Please, please, restore these features. If not to every user - then let us "opt-in" to them as modules on a customization page ala Yahoo, iGoogle, netVibes etc.

Take a Persona oriented approach to Netflix site rather than a least common denominator for the masses one.

Sock Puppet

@ Paul Lancaster: Excellent post! I have actually been ignoring Hank as it became obvious early on he was simply trolling.

I even had to resist the urge to post:

"Please Don't Feed the Troll's"

As usually if you simply ignore them, they go away.

Sock Puppet

@ fielden


*Applause!!*

MiniMonkey

I won't leave Netflix. I already said I won't. But that doesn't mean that my love for Netflix hasn't lessened with the change or that my enjoyment of their service hasn't declined greatly. One of the reasons I loved Netflix so much is that they were always doing everything they could to make the service better for their customers when they didn't have to. This does not seem to be their driving force anymore. It has changed to eliminating everything that isn't used by the majority of members. I think it's a bad direction for a company to go and will lead to less loyalty in the end. If I didn't already have such a deep-seeded hatred for Blockbuster, I might consider giving them a shot at this point, since the community features no longer differentiate Netflix as a company who puts everything into giving its customers optimum value for their dollar (in more than just the core service).

Hank

@Paul, it's amazing that it took you guys this long to work it out. I must confess now that Netflix sent me here.

We thought long and hard about it and our first choice was to send a guy who would tell you how important you were to us. How every customer is like a family member and how it would bring us great sorrow if any one of you were to leave. Profits are fine, but our members come first and our family wouldn't be the same without the friends who've stuck with us all these years. He had this whole spiel about how this was just a temporary glitch, that our managers and developers were working hard at bringing back such great features in an even better way. Just stick by us a little longer.

And then we had a better idea! Why not send me over to Hacking Netflix instead? Hacking Netflix has a long pioneering history in uncovering the hidden secrets of the business, so we'll calm down this uprising by giving them the truth. First, we'll tell them they're being childish. Then we'll tell them that you "power-users" are meaningless to us, you cost us money, and we'd rather you just leave. I'll throw them off balance with the revelation that we're actually not their family and we're just trying to make money off them.

That was our secret plan. Pretty clever, huh?

I must also fess up to being the one who deleted the comments on the blog. I really thought no one would notice and that the complainers would just go away. Then a co-worker pointed out that there were other places on the internet where I couldn't just delete all the comments. That hadn't occurred to me, my bad. Fortunately he stopped me with my finger hanging over the delete key on our facebook page.

Now what I didn't expect was for you guys to suss out our long-term plan to turn ourselves into Blockbuster. I thought we did a good job of hiding that, but you guys are too sharp. We've idolized their business model and success for a long time and we thought now was our chance to become more like them.

Paul, please don't start your own company with all these brilliant insights you have into this business. Our employee stock plan wouldn't like the competition and I've got kids I'm putting through business school.

Hank

@fielden, very well put. I hope Netflix considers your opinion fairly.

Ripvanryan

Yeah, I don't have a whole lot of influence, but number 1 reviews for Mad Men Season 1, The Shield Season 5, and the final season of The Wire have now all been changed. Among others. It's not much, but I feel good knowing my protest will be seen by at least a few other members and may eventually provoke some discussion amongst the Netflix suits during their next Vegas junket. Boo-yah!

Hank

@Sock Puppet, it's interesting how the minority opinion has become so much more important now that you are in the minority and they've taken away a feature you rely on.

Ripvanryan

There are a lot of influential Netflix reviewers who are angry about the removal of Friends Features. I've only got a Reviewer Rank of 314, but I imagine that those with a higher reviewer ranking would be able to make the biggest difference. Last night I managed to alter quite a few #1 ranked reviews. I can only imagine what would happen if the higher echelons of the reviewer ranks took action...

Tim

First of all, I don't care what my friends, family or anyone else thinks about movies. Most people's opinions are worthless to me. Second, I use Netflix to rent movies, not to socialize. What a bunch of whiny babies. Why don't you ask them to think for you too?

Sock Puppet

For anyone who might not be aware of all the things that have been removed from the new page you can take a look at this image which shows everything that has been taken off.

clip.png

Sock Puppet

@ Jimbo

OK try it from a different angle. Netflix is a professional business, and "supposedly" they hire knowledgeable people to run various aspects of their business, including the official blog.

If you have read it, you will see how "Jamie" admits that a technical error was responsible for removing the first 150 posts (a technical error that did not happen at any other blog hosted by that company BTW).

If Jamie knows how to do what he was hired to do, then he would know how to contact the Blog hosting company and tell them he made a booboo, could they please restore the missing posts.

But he did not, instead.... outside of posting the whoops I made a booboo reply, nothing else has been said or done about it.

If you don't think that's BS, then perhaps like Hank you are another employee trolling this thread too.

Paul Lancaster

@Tim: so, you do in fact let "people's opinions" think for you about movies. In your case, it's the film promoters who make the trailers and posters (though you may not have stopped to realize this). I used to rely on that pool of opinion until I found myself often feeling I'd wasted time and money renting an over-hyped stinker. A small group of critics and friends turned out to be a much more reliable predictor of what films I'd enjoy. Same is true for many of the "whiners" here. Does it bother you that we may be pointing to something you're missing?

Hank

@Sock Puppet,

You seem to have a lot of inside knowledge about Netflix. Are you sure you don't work for Netflix, like me?

So because the "technical error" that you describe did not happen in their other blogs that is evidence that it was not an error? Most people would think the opposite from that statement, but I guess you have inside knowledge.

You also seem to know that no effort was made to recover the blog entries. Now is your chance to call their bluff and show them (you) for the fools they are. Do you have some documentation that the blog host will easily restore any deleted blog comments? A FAQ reference will do, or send blogger an email pretending you are a blogger and ask them to restore all the posts you accidentally deleted.

So here's your homework, get blogger or netflix to back up your wild assertions. I'm not a blogger so you might be right about what a trivial and common operation this is. Now's your chance to prove it.

Hank

@Hairy Mangina,

I love to put my tongue all over your nether regions. There's nothing like licking the tomato skin, corn, and peanut chunks off of your tiny little pud after you're done pumping my chocolate alley. Ohhhh! When you wear your cut-off jean shorts, combat boots and mesh tank-top, you make my brown mangina ooze with milky love juice. I grow weary of the Hacking Netflix debate and long for your hot, steamy love missile to be in my naughty brown cave. I'm coming to bed soon my sexy little Thai tranny-boy; just let your little pudding eater put these lowly peons in their place.

Suck it biatches,
Hank "The Cavern Like Rectum"
C.O. Netflix.com

fielden

Here's a comment I ran across on the HDreport site that also points out how the new design is not a good business/marketing decision for Netflix

"Understanding that the Friends feature may not be used by a majority of Netflix users, it was definitely used by the most enthusiastic, and active users. Sure, I’m willing to guess that MOST Netflix users have an account they rarely use, getting maybe a few movies a month, and that those are the users Netflix prefers: those who don’t use the service a lot, i.e. don’t cost anything to the company, but still pay the monthly fee.

However, the more active users are also the ones that are exuberant in their talks about the service, that scream from the rooftops how great the service is and “Oh my goodness, you don’t use Netflix?! It’s the best!” type of comments.

The needs of the many may exceed the needs of the few, but if the few are your free advertising, they should hold more weight.
How easy is it to get a friend to use Netflix when you tell ‘em that they can see what you rated a movie, leave a note for ‘em etc, versus, oh yeah, they mail you the DVDs so you don’t have to go to Blockbuster. Well, Blockbuster does that, and then you can take their mail DVD to their store to exchange for another.

No, the Friends feature was something that made Netflix stand out."


I agree whole heartedly. Even if most users aren't taking advantage of of certain features, if your service evangelists are, and companies need customer evangelists, then you need to retain those features.


fielden

How do you clear a movie rating now?

I can't find a Clear Rating button. I rated Inglorious Basterds for a screen shot of the new layout and now can't clear it. Not change it - clear it since I haven't seen the movie.

Hank

The Clear Rating button is still an option on the movie details page that everyone is complaining about, right below Not Interested and the star rating.

TH Reviews....Tom Hehenberger

A response to Netflix changes.
I am not a vengeful or I hope...a rude person, but I have become increasingly dissatisfied with Netflix's community oriented services. For the past year or so it has become very difficult to use many of the features of note sending to other members, list making, and communication within the main Netflix site. As a sometime apologist for Netflix, I understand the huge popularity of sharing notes and reviews within the site may make it hard to manage and maintain a consistently working site and still maintain the bottom line....and let's face it, we all like to eat and maybe send our kids to college some day.

But Netflix has proven itself to be rather high handed in making major changes, taking away beloved perks on the site, and then remains silent in the face of such a public outcry throughout the community. Instead of cursing the darkness, I would rather light a candle...shifting my movie reviews, notes, and discussions to this blog....and encouraging others to do so as well. So if you have enjoyed discussing film or reading my reviews in the past, please join and engage me on my film blog site: http://threviews.blogspot.com/.

And here's to our common love, Film!!!
TH Reviews
Tom Hehenberger

Martal

@ fielden.

Click 'ratings' on your Friends page, and then sort by title. There's a 'clear rating' tab for each movie.

Thanks for your constructive postings here and elsewhere.

Hank

@fielden, Walt has posted similar sentiments a few times in different places and his thoughts are sound, in principle. But how do they measure up to reality?

Netflix had big plans for their community features and featured them prominently for several years. They were hoping that this would snowball and existing customers would bring lots of real friends to Netflix, they would bring new customers and they would all find so many good movies they'd have to increase the number of discs on their plans.

Did that happen? Apparently not. What seems to have happened is that hard-core movie fans who were existing Netflix customers found each other. Other movie fans managed to cajole some of their real-life friends who were already Netflix members into becoming their friends and it kind of peters out there.

I have about 15 Netflix friends and all of them are real life friends or family. They were all existing Netflix customers and not a single one of them had any clue about the Friends feature. Maybe one or two of them have added another friend since then. They love movies, but their lives don't revolve around movies.

Have these evangelists really brought a lot of new customers to Netflix? If this were true then there would be far more people using the Friends feature, which by all objective accounts is not used by many customers. Those they have brought in are, like them, typically not going to be the most profitable Netflix customers.

From Netflix' perspective the community features have cost them millions to implement and support and they have little to show for it.

Hank

OTOH, look at the potential benefits from using existing social media, Facebook, Twitter, et al., and of providing an open API so that developers could write their own Netflix centered applications.

The development and maintenance costs are negligible for Netflix and they open the business to many new customers. Jeanette, you are far more likely, IMO, to bring new customers to Netflix by being a member of the Netflix facebook group than you were by using the community features.

Netflix has apparently decided that their service, selection, features, and pricing are enough to grow the business beyond the hard-core movie fans who already are knowledgeable about Netflix and have made their choices.

Maybe they were wrong in the details. Certain community features (seeing what your friends have rated a title, e.g.) may be cost effective and worth retaining. If so, hopefully they will recognize this and add them back or even improve them.

But it's really hard to see Netflix getting back into boosting the "community" concept with a robust feature set. The core protesters don't want just one or two key features, they want it all back and they want it to work perfectly. It's not going to happen.

Hank

@Tom, if such a change is necessary there is just no good way to do it. Netflix has usually taken the approach of just implementing the change and weathering the temporary outcry.

IMO, it would have been far worse if they had announced they were removing these features in advance and invited discussion about it. When they eventually removed those features anyway they would get the same, or even worse, backlash because they "ignored" their customers.

Not to mention that no level of discussion would satisfy those hell-bent on rejecting the change. If they tell them (which they did) that surveys, statistics, et al. showed that these features were not being used, then the protesters would demand to see those surveys and statistics. If Netflix says that it's too expensive to maintain these features the protesters are going to demand to see the accounting. When they see all of those, the protesters are going to complain that Netflix should have promoted the community features more so the numbers weren't so bad. ...

MiniMonkey

Yes, I do want it all back... but I certainly don't expect that. The only thing that has gone away that I desperately care about are Friends ratings on a per-movie basis. I would even be content if it weren't on the main movie page -- as long as there is some way to view all of my friends' ratings of one single movie in one place, whether or not I have seen it myself. That is one tiny little request that uses data that is already being stored. I may want more, but that is all that I require.

Steve

Hank I am not affiliated with this site nor in anyway speak for it. However if I was, I would suggest that we understand how you feel and to please allow new people to contribute to the conversation.

There is little to be gained by your continually challenging every comment that is posted. It does not even benefit your own arguments.

Hank

@Mini, I agree that that was by far the most useful and most indispensable feature. Every other change makes sense to me, but removing "what your friends thought" is hard to fathom.

They certainly are not getting rid of ratings, so they will always have the data available. Having another panel which only queries that data upon demand shouldn't compromise the UI too much and shouldn't be too much of a load on their servers if their database schema is well designed. They could even hide the existence of that panel for the majority of users who don't have any Netflix friends.

The only remotely plausible ideas I have are:

1) that they are planning on eventually removing access to this info completely and this is a stepping stone to wean people off that desire, or

2) that they removed it with the intention of adding this one feature back to appease those complaining about all the other features.

If not those two then this feature is being used far less often than even I think it is, or they just made a colossal miscalculation.

Hank

@Steve, at this point I'm only responding to new posts. So if I challenge a comment it's because they've added something new to the conversation that I want to respond to. Or that they ignored my previous comments and posted a redundant uninformed and erroneous viewpoint.

My understanding of Hacking Netflix is that it is not a protest or complaint site. It's raison d'etre is informing the Netflix community about all things Netflix and exposing Netflix' practices and hidden secrets. Critical thought and debate are crucial to that goal, IMO.

If people just want to vent or add a "me too" there are several far better options where uncritical thought is encouraged. The Netflix blog or the Ning forum, for example.

Lester

@Hank, chill out and have a Cold One on me.

fielden

@Hank - I've brought 4 people in via community/Friends and zero via Facebook. I've only joined the Facebook group to protest the change.

I will be dropping the Facebook group when this is all over. I don't personally know those people and that's not who I want my movie ratings from. I want to see the ratings from my friends. Only one of the people I'm connected to on Netflix are on Facebook and the others have no intention of joining.

fielden

@ martel

Click 'ratings' on your Friends page, and then sort by title. There's a 'clear rating' tab for each movie.

Thanks for your constructive postings here and elsewhere.


***************
I discovered I had to reload the page after the accidental rating. The clear rating button then popped and I could clear it.

I had the erroneous expectation that as soon as the stars were marked on the movie display page - the clear rating button would pop on the display page - allowing me to clear it without additional steps.
I

Hank

Lester,

Steve and others want to hear new voices, so let's hear what you have to say on this topic.

It looks like you're in favor of the protest, in general. So please answer the following questions:

Do you think Netflix tried to suppress feedback by deleting all the posts from their blog entry?

Do you agree with posting protest reviews for movies that the reviewers haven't seen and aren't even in the theaters yet?

Do you think its fair and productive to spam all available Netflix email addresses over this issue?

Would you support this form of protest for other Netflix complaints?

Why not start a campaign for captions on IW titles? Or insist they stock more new titles to cut down wait times? What about advocating for Linux support for IW? What about email support? Blu-ray prices, broken discs, ...

What makes this issue so special? Other than it pissed off a small group of rabble-rousers with a lot of time on their hands.

fielden

Slight clarification - I'll be dropping as a fan of Netflix - it's not a group page.

I have no plans to start using Facebook Connect - so FB Connect is not an adequate replacement for the removed Netflix features. Many other people using Facebook for primarily professional reasons are not going to start pushing their Netflix info through Connect either - assuming they even have a Facebook account.

The ironic thing is this has annoyed me enough that I've broken my self imposed embargo about posting on a personal subject on blogs. Which means - anyone who knows me can search for these and give me grief about my feature rant and for violating the privacy lecture I constantly give people about being prudent with personal info.

As of this point - I've made the case I have to make in as many places as I think is relevant. Over and out.

Lester

@Hank. I just said you needed a Cold One to cool off.

Lester

Nf has responded on the blog.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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