We are all familiar with recommendations that are “pushed” towards us on e-commerce sites–think Amazon.com, Netflix, Pandora, and even Facebook (who suggests “friends”). We never seem to receive Netflix recommendations that we like without suffering through a lot of misfires. For every movie we really love, there are at least 20 duds. And I have rated over 2580 movies on Netflix. So they should know what I like by now.
In a recent article in USA Today (April 9th) I learned that Netflix is trying desperately to improve its recommendation system, especially for its video-streaming service. It seems that most subscribers watch the recommendations list provided by Netflix on Instant Queue. (See my top 10 recommendations in my February 6, 2012 post) Netflix even offered a “Netflix Prize” of $1M to the individual or group who could recommend movies that viewers would rate higher than what Netflix predicted.
In the case of Netflix, their five star-rating system is used to determine what movies I might watch. Netflix filters my past ratings as well as information on my Instant Queue (knowing I watched only ten minutes of one of their suggested movie recommendations, for example). With no experience in any of these high-tech algorithms, my husband and I have, nonetheless, become increasingly satisfied with the recommendations we are receiving both in Instant Queue and in the mail. Why has this happened? Because we have changed our method of rating movies to only one star or five stars–one star for “awful” and five stars for “wonderful”, with a few four stars “excellent, but flawed” thrown in. No more waffling with two-star and three-star movies. A three star vote is the same as not voting at all.
See for yourself how many two- and three-star movies are on the Netflix website–the vast majority of their inventory! Does the three-star movie (which means two stars to the left of the scale and two to the right) suggest it is worth two hours of my time or does it mean that I didn’t want to rate it as a strong dislike, but wish I hadn’t watched it anyway?
Get what you deserve–change your rating system to only the extreme likes and dislikes. Never vote three stars. Then the recommendations will be more closely aligned to something worth watching, not a lot of “meh”!