Friday, March 05, 2010

Netflix: Correction, Netflix contravenes its most active members

I realize I frequently use verbal shorthand that conflates or implies a bunch of reasons beneath one word or phrase so let me explain why I said Netflix "hates" those who use the community features:

1) Netflix point-blank announced it would eliminate multiple profiles, limiting every account to one (thus requiring families and individuals who have 2-5 profiles to purchase that many separate accounts or do without) until users' hue and cry caused them to recant

2) Despite hundreds of millions in revenues, Netflix has failed to upgrade its infrastructure to support the use of community features, causing system performance to slow to a crawl or time out in system errors for a vast majority of the time (even on fast systems), wasting countless hours of time for its most active users

3) Netflix has again tried to do away with community features by eliminating list access on the movie pages, greatly handicapping facility and access to lists in general, and so hiding and handicapping access to Friends that it couldn't be worse unless Friends were completely eliminated, and (of course the biggie)

4) Netflix sees its most active users as a drain on its profits because we watch more movies (hence the court decision that affirmed the sin of throttling, which Netflix admitted and atoned for in part with a legal settlement) instead of a net gain in revenues because of the loyalty and goodwill engendered by the many hundreds of its most active members.

So is "hate" too strong a term? Let's see:

1) Netflix intended to lobotomize multiple profiles until members objected

2) Netflix is effectively starving members who use community features (or any features beyond viewing a movie page or queue or adding to a queue)

3) Netflix has performed cosmetic surgery so as to all but cut off use of the community features

4) Netflix has worked intentionally since its founding to dilute the movie-watching, reviewing, and community participation of its most active and creative members.

(In its defense, I'm sure it's been no picnic for Netflix to deal with the sniping and spoiler wars of its most negative members, the "haters.")

So sure, "hate" is too strong a term, esp. since Netflix doesn't sink to rampant profanity. Let's just say "strong negative orientation and active policy of disentitlement or, if possible, elimination." Better?

Netflix: Netflix hates its most active members

Robowriter here. Sure, under the new fluffy airhead design I can still get to Friends by the tiny link at the bottom of the page (hm, all but hidden away like New Releases under the tiny RSS link) but it requires many more steps and is so time-consuming as to be useless. (The system has already been so slow that my extremely fast machine has not been able to call up my Notebook page for 13 months now.) Sure, I can pound a nail in with my thumb -- but why would I?

What really fries me though is the loss of the Top 10 lists on the movie page plus the link to add a movie to my lists (and esp. to see what lists it's already on). I cannot tell you how convoluted listmaking has now become. It was a tedious labor of love before but now it's four times as much tedium. I'm pretty sure I cannot continue listmaking at this pace.

I've always told everyone "Netflix rocks!" Now I can no longer say that. Why? Netflix clearly hates its most active and supportive members who give their time and enthusiasm to promoting Netflix and its movies to others. Netflix clearly hates its community features, repeatedly tries to get rid of them, and therefore its most loyal customers.

I don't mind the airy design per se. Just don't take away useful features! Removing value only alienates your customers, Netflix. Bring back the Friends tab and the Top 10 lists!