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Jacob Neff

I guess I'm not the only one who has found Netflix's predictions to be uncannily accurate. I've rated almost 1700 movies/TV show seasons, although it didn't take nearly that many ratings for it to become accurate. I can watch something, pick a rating, go to Netflix and 95% of the time their prediction is within .5 stars. Impressive.

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Wow, I'm at about 1500 ratings and so far Netflix recommendations have been awful. I think this might have to do with a rating system limited to five options... I don't know, maybe I just have really unique tastes.

I strongly recommend the site MovieLens for recommendations instead. They're far closer. They predict my ratings and are usually either right on, or within half a star or what I eventually rate the film.


Yes, it's a little spooky how well it knows me.


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The Netflix ratings engine actually uses time travel to predict your ratings. The software just refers to a value in the future. The reason the ratings are not exactly correct is that once you read the predicted rating it of course slightly alters the future and your perception of the film.

By the way Amazon buys Netflix in August of 2010.


This is funny because Netflix Movies You'll Love does not work for me at all!
I have rated over 3000 movies and I go through the suggestions and click Not Interested on about 95% of them.


Ryan, I find that too, but sometimes I think it's because I've seen and rated so many of the top rated movies in a certain genre, so they wind up scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with something I haven't seen.


I'm surprised that anyone is surprised. Predicting a user's future ratings based on his or her past ratings is trivial - especially since there is no penalty for being wrong.

Consider this questionnaire.

Do you like samurai movies?
Do you like John Wayne type movies?
Do you like John Hughes movies?
Do you like Doris Day type movies?
Do you like stand up comedian concert movies?
Do you like Vompire movies?
Do you like car chases in movies?
Do you like Kung Fu in movies?
Do you like full frontal nudity in movies?
Do you like animated movies?

I just made up these questions. There are certainly ten better questions but I'm tired of thinking just now. Of course we get the values of the questions (factors) by examination of the user's NetFlix usage not by actually asking questions.

These questions give us ten "factors". Next we examine a user's movie picks and ratings and calculate their profile on the ten factors. Finally we calculate the degree that each movie corresponds to this profile.

This is not rocket science as they say. Almost any such scheme will give predictive results better than chance. For example just predicting fours stars for action movies for males and four stars for romance movies for all females works.

If I were to do this for real I would start with a stepwise regression analysis to develop each factor's weight. Not trivial perhaps but not really difficult either.


PatB, you should have entered the million dollar contest. Oh wait, it's not that simple.


@Ryan "I have rated over 3000 movies and I go through the suggestions and click Not Interested on about 95% of them"

Don't click "not interested" then. That's like saying "I need money, but I keep telling people to stop giving it to me."


@Ryan... I don't think that counts. The system truly wouldn't work for you if you watched a movie it recommended and hated it. Instead, you're not even giving it a try.


i have to say that it bugs me that i only get the option (most of the time) of seeing what "they" think i would rate a movie, when i'm more interested in the average customer's rating - u know what i mean? - maybe i should rethink this - okay, rethought it - i still prefer having an average of NetFlix veiewers' ratings, people i consider my peers, regardless of age - movie peers, if you will


hehehe - so i just go to the NF website and "movie ratings are temporarily unavailable" - however, every movie selected now shows me only the average viewer rating - if only it would stay this way (sorry ratings enthusiasts)


I agree with jjfromnyc. I don't mind reading what they think I'm going to rate a movie AFTER I click on it.. but I liked being able to glance at film's current overall average rating before I clicked on it. I don't know why they changed this.


I find the recommendations for me are pretty shallow. "Because you enjoyed Seinfeld Season 4 we suggest Seinfeld Season 5" Um, thanks. But what I really think screws Netflix up is that I love enjoyable bad movies and rate them highly. Netflix doesn't know what to do with someone who loves Schindler's List and Massacre in Dinosaur Valley.


My only complaint is that we can't rate in half-star increments.. sometimes 2 is too low and 3 is just too high! =-)

John K.

@LR: I kind of like only having 5 choices. 1 - movie made me angry it was so bad, 2 - found myself wanting it to end already, 3 - not a waist of time, 4 - was pretty good, 5 - would or have watched multiple times. Though I'll admit its prediction will sometimes influence my ranking. I do like it showing its prediction instead of the true average (every movie out there is like 3.6 or 3.7).


True, I usually don't give the recommendations a chance.
But, when Netflix recommends anime to me because I liked Scooby Doo, they are really missing the mark.

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Sock Puppet

I very much enjoy Netflix's rating system. Its not perfect, but it's right more often then its not.

In fact I never would have started watching foreign horror movies if it had not been for the recommendations, nor would I have developed a love of Anime... If they had not started recommending it due to my having rated things like Scooby Doo, Samurai Jack etc...

Now I have a queue that is exclusively for Anime with other animated films thrown in when they arrive. I also enjoy sharing truly great foreign horror flicks with friends/family who never would have thought to check them out.

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Great Post !! I think this might have to do with a rating system limited to five options... I don't know, maybe I just have really unique tastes.This is the best idea according to me.


I have choose the course about film ,and I cost one term to learn it ,but i think it is not interesting .so disappoint.

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