People on the internet will complain about any major change to a system that they regularly use, but Netflix’s switch from a star-based rating system to its new thumbs-up, thumbs-down system has been noticeably odd. The numbers have felt wildly erratic, seemingly pointing us in directions that they couldn’t possibly have surmised from our previous rankings or viewing habits. But no need to “feel” that these selections are wrong any longer—here is objective, quantifiable proof that something isn’t right:
YouTuber theinternetftw overlaid Netflix’s old star ratings (which are still in use for DVD power users) with the new “approval ratings” and found that they do not match up at all. Titles that were once suggestions now came in low, and vice versa. In fact, when theinternetftw lined up around 200 titles that had both ratings and plotted them on a chart, which should theoretically have created something resembling a line gradually inclining toward the right, it looked like this:
“To the extent that there’s a trend line,” theinternetftw says, damningly, “there’s an opposite trend line.”
Of course, there are lots of possible explanations for this. This particular YouTuber appears to have been a pretty regular user of the star rating system, when in fact that system’s lack of uptake was part of the reason for the switch. And theoretically, it should be providing different recommendations for people than the star system did, as it’s designed to be based less on what we think we like and more on what we actually like.
The reason they think everyone likes Friends, in other words, is because statistically speaking, pretty much everyone likes Friends. That doesn’t make it any more disappointing to lose the specificity of an actual bespoke recommendation, as its previous system did a pretty good job at providing, but hopefully their system is getting a little smarter over time. In the meantime, maybe just find a reliable website for recommendations?