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Netflix replaces star ratings with thumbs, because we're simple creatures

18 March 2017

Netflix is looking to streamline how viewers rate its content in the hope it will encourage more people to leave feedback on its shows.

Variety reports that Netflix first introduced the new thumbs up and down ratings with hundreds of thousands of subscribers in 2016. Or perhaps we're so terrified of being judged for our opinions that we present fake opinions to the rating-crunching robots at Netflix because we just need the approval of someone. They tested out the new system with some users and saw a big boost in how many people rated what they watched.

Netflix has stuck with its standard five-star rating system for years, but the streaming service soon plans to make a subtle tweak to the tool.

A thumbs-down rating isn't merely an expression of your thoughts on the content - it is also a way to let the system know you don't want to see that content as a suggestion anymore.

In addition to the thumbs, Netflix will be adding a "percent-match feature" that will indicate how close to your tastes a particular show or movie is. Shows that have less than a 50% match won't display a match-rating, however.

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Founder and CEO Reed Hastings meanwhile said that as a company Netflix was happy experimenting and willing to learn from these experiments.

If, as a Netflix user, you're more inclined to rate movies you've watched, the algorithms have a better chance of offering up content you're more likely to enjoy.

Ben argued earlier that it could be seen by some as a dumbing down of the system, and, at least for users actively engaging with the current star ratings, less informative in general.

Separately, Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt revealed that the company was planning on making mobile-specific cuts of its own original movies and TV shows, to better suit mobile watchers.

Netflix replaces star ratings with thumbs, because we're simple creatures