December 08, 2006

A Cry of Help, or, The Recommendation Engine That Couldn't

Over the years, Netflix has given me a hard time. Probably because I've likewise given the Netflix site a hard time, by rating vast swaths of films, clicking away with glee on literally thousands of "Not Interested" buttons hoping against hope that the system would one day wake up and realize I don't have any interest in the television category, the sports category, kids cartoons category, and on and on. Now, my Netflix account looks like this:

20,133 ratings, 209 items in my queue, and Netflix still can't think of anything to recommend to me . . . except a single movie. One measly title. Out of how many tens of thousands, probably close to or exceeding 100,000 titles, just one. For me. All Netflix can do is find a SINGLE movie to recommend to me. Think about it. I've fed its recommendation engine enough information that it ought to be able to write a disseration and get a Ph.D. not to mention recommend to me every movie I would like and every movie I wouldn't, for the rest of time. Netflix should be an absolute friggin' expert on me by now.

So, you can imagine I was quite curious to see which movie, which SINGLE FILM, in the entire vast infinite library that is Netflix, it was going to recommend me based on my 20,133 ratings and the 209 films I had selected to place in my queue.

With a mixture of great trepidation, excitement, and curiosity, I clicked on the "1 Recommendation" link.

Here is what I found:

As Charlie Brown would say, "good grief."

Of course, I couldn't resist, and clicked "Not interested". And how did Netflix respond?

It now has 0 recommendations for me.

Sigh. Posted by brian at December 8, 2006 08:09 PM


20,133 ratings is a movie a day for over 55 years.

Did you just rate everything they offer, leaving them nothing else they can recommend?

Posted by: Gordon Mohr at December 9, 2006 05:50 PM

Go here:

It's a long story :-)

Posted by: Brian Dear at December 9, 2006 06:12 PM

I wonder if that particular movie is hard-coded into the recommendation engine as a last resort if it can't possibly match you up with any recommendations. By clicking "not interested," you snuffed it for good. :)

Posted by: Chris at December 10, 2006 07:56 PM

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