Here’s some interesting news for Netflix users: At a press conference on Thursday, the streaming giant announced that they were officially making an overhaul to their ratings system, which currently works on a five-star scale. The change, which has been in beta with hundreds of thousands of users since last year, will now allow users to rate titles based on a “thumbs up/thumbs down” system. Previous star-system ratings made by users will be saved, so the update won’t change the personalization of anyone’s account.
The effects of the change are twofold. Netflix says that the new “A/B system” has increased user rating activity by 200%, which is a good thing for finding how the Netflix user base at large feels about a particular title. At the same time, reducing the rating options to a simple yes or no system takes away the nuance of user reviews. You may have absolutely loved Stranger Things, but thought Orange is the New Black was just okay, but now there won’t be a way to indicate that without taking the time to leave a written review. Perhaps there should be a third option, “meh?”
Did Netflix make the change in response to the problems of troll ratings? As we covered this week, Amy Schumer’s new Netflix special, The Leather Special, received a deluge of one-star reviews from critics of hers, many of whom didn’t actually view the special and (some) who even organized online to tank the special’s rating. Under the current five-star system, interested users can see the entire spectrum of ratings for the special and average them out; under the new thumbs up/thumbs down scale, that nuance is gone, but it also might remove the incentive to troll as a bunch of thumbs down votes doesn’t have quite as strong of a sting as a 1 star rating does.
The change is scheduled to go into effect in the next few weeks, so we’ll have to wait and see how, or if, it will change things.