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Netflix users are asking for a retired functionality to help deal with broken rating system

Change isn’t always for the better

Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

It’s no secret that Netflix users are in a state of discontent over the streaming service’s new ratings system, but one of the issues has led subscribers to ask for the return of a retired function.

Years ago, Netflix had a function that allowed users to hide titles they weren’t interested in seeing. A popular example is Netflix’s stand-up comedy section; users could choose to hide those specific titles and, based on the company’s algorithm, stand-up specials would eventually be placed lower on the comedy page. When that disappeared in 2015, people were upset but realized that by assigning a one-star rating to movies, shows or specials that belong to a certain category, those would slowly start disappearing from the front page and suggested titles.

When Netflix got rid of the star rating system and replaced it with a like or dislike option — similar to liking something on Facebook — users noted a number of issues that came with it. Disliking a title didn’t necessarily remove it from the front page. In addition to the new problematic “online dating algorithm” that Netflix introduced, which displays a percentage indicating the likelihood that user will like that title, people noted it was getting more difficult to curate the company’s constantly expanding library of original series.

Michael McWhertor/Polygon

One of the most suggested ways to combat this kind of search fatigue is to bring back the “not interested” or “hide” option. It seems like an easy enough solution and would help the company maintain its subscriber base, which has been upset with the functionality changes since they went live two months ago.

“The new rating system has significantly reduced my enjoyment of Netflix, to the point that I'm considering cancelling,” one user wrote on Reddit. “I took the time to rate everything I could (i.e. that I'd seen) and its recommendations remain terrible. At least when the star system was in place, I had a rough idea of what to expect.”

It’s an interesting conundrum for the company who instituted the new changes as a way to promote content that users would be interested in. Todd Yellin, vice president of product at Netflix, said the star rating system felt antiquated and they wanted to find a way to create a hub for, “the stuff people actually want to watch”, calling it “super important,” according to The Verge.

Unfortunately for the company, the opposite effect has become the unanimous moan among users. Many have threatened to cancel their subscription while others are worried about Netflix’s shrinking library. Polygon has reached out to the company for comment on whether or not a “not interested” function could be reintroduced to the streaming service.

Before rolling out the new ratings system, Yellin addressed some of the issues Netflix saw at the company surrounding what users said they wanted to watch and what they actually did, offering this as the potential solution to cut through the noise.

“What’s more powerful: you telling me you would give five stars to the documentary about unrest in the Ukraine; that you’d give three stars to the latest Adam Sandler movie; or that you’d watch the Adam Sandler movie 10 times more frequently?

“What you do versus what you say you like are different things.”

It’s pretty clear at this point that what many Netflix users want is the old ratings system.