Netflix plans to soon change its current review system from traditional 1-5 star ratings to instead only allow users to like or dislike a film or TV show, but is it the right move?

The company’s reasoning is that the old 1-5 star ratings weren’t relevant to how popular content was necessarily, with users giving lower ratings to films they might deem of lesser quality (which is sort of the point of the star ratings) even if they are watching it more often than content they rate higher and watch less frequently:

Yellin gave the example of an Adam Sandler movie that someone might give three stars to, but then watch repeatedly, versus a foreign-language documentary that might receive five stars but the person watches only once. In that case, they’d “be rating for the quality and what you’d want to project out there,” Yellin said, versus what they actually spend time watching.

To back up the change further, Netflix says that it’s run tests that show its users will rate films with a thumbs up/thumbs down system more often than the old 5-star ratings.

As part of the move, there will also be new percentage-based recommendations, with Netflix itself predicting how likely you are to enjoy something and displaying an “80%” or “50%”, for example, beside titles.

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. It could perhaps mean less thoughtful ratings based on the quality of the content, and more based on popularity or how cool it is to like a particular piece of work. But it sounds like Netflix thinks the new system will help improve its data and surface popular content you’ll like more accurately.

Do you think the new thumbs up/thumbs down system is the way to go?


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