ByRicky Derisz, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

Time is precious, especially time spent binge watching. With thousands of titles to choose from, the search for new content on Netflix can be painstaking, which is why the site's recommendation system is so important — there's no need to stress, the streaming giant's algorithm has cherry-picked the best choice, ready to watch at the click of a button.

However, in news that may be slightly jarring for a large number of longterm subscribers, the current star-rating system is set to be replaced with a polarized option, drastically reducing the complexity of user reviews down to a mere "thumbs up" or "thumbs down."

Netflix's new rating system [Credit: Variety / Netflix]
Netflix's new rating system [Credit: Variety / Netflix]

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Netflix Is Revamping Its User Reviews

As the old adage goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Clearly, though, feels the current system — where users can rate the shows they've watched between one and five stars — isn't working to its full potential. Netflix executive Tod Yellin explained how, in a test run of the new system, user input increased by 200 per cent, because, well, it's a simple yes or no which doesn't really require much thought.

The current star-rating system [Credit: Netflix]
The current star-rating system [Credit: Netflix]

While a gladiatorial thumb verdict doesn't tell the full story — reducing the user's level of enjoyment into very basic terms — the star rating system was flawed beyond the paradox of choice (who hasn't spent hours agonizing over a three or four star rating?), failing to translate that, more often than not, quality and watchability don't always match up.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, a Netflix spokesperson explained the why they expect users to be twiddling their thumbs to their heart's content:

"Unlike other services, though, this feature is about helping members better personalize their unique experience, not sharing an opinion on the quality of a story."

Which is a valid point; most of us enjoy the guilty pleasure of a less-than-well-made action movies, or a romcoms that won't be winning any awards. The True Memoirs of an International Assassin may only be worth one star in terms of production value, but it's preferable to a subtitled French arthouse indie while in the grubby depths of mind-numbing, attention-span-reducing, life-sapping hangover.

Will Back To Basics Increase Recommendation Efficiency?

The revamp centers around this issue, by also introducing a new compatibility percentage with its recommended shows. From April, based on your own likes and dislikes, and the likes and dislikes of other users, your recommended list will consist only of films or TV shows with over 50 per cent compatibility. So keep your eyes peeled for the lucky day you spot a 100 per cent match.

But with all these changes, do you have to worry about thousands of reviews collected over the years disappearing into oblivion? Fortunately, no, you don't. Although the changes will be implemented across the board, previous recommendations will still be taken into consideration, so those hours of deliberation weren't for nothing. Thumbs up to that.

Are these new changes good? Or is it an error for Netflix to get rid of their star-rating system?

[Credit: DreamWorks Pictures/Universal Pictures]
[Credit: DreamWorks Pictures/Universal Pictures]

(Source: Entertainment Weekly)


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