Back in November I whinged about Netflix’s feature deficiencies. Today someone posted an anonymous comment in my old blog indicating that Netflix has a couple of the features I requested. So I’ve done a bit of investigation.
The biggie is being able to make and receive recommendations with people I know who are also Netflix subscribers. It appears that Netflix has a feature called "Netflix Friends" in limited trial right now. I can’t use it from my account, but I was able to find references to it in their online help.
One of the FAQ answers says, "The exact date on which the Friends feature will be available to all customers has not yet been decided. But if you already have access to the feature, you can send out invitations to any of your friends who use our service. Your invitation will automatically add them to the group of members with access to Netflix Friends Sneak Preview." If anyone who’s reading this is part of the trial and is willing to invite me, I’d be most appreciative. Thanks in advance.
The other feature I want is being able to see the queues of other people I know. Netflix has recently created RSS feeds for subscribers’ current queues and recent rental activity, so in theory I can exchange the URLs with friends and view their queues in an RSS aggregator. I’ve been playing with this a bit and unfortunately it doesn’t render particularly well in RSS Bandit. It doesn’t sort nicely and old entries aren’t expired properly. I’m not sure if this is true with other aggregators but I suppose I could ask Dare.
The main problem with their RSS feeds is that they’re unauthenticated and unACL’d. The URLs contain a long, random, constant string, so they rely on security by obfuscation. This means that once I share my RSS feed ID with others, I can never revoke their access, nor can I prevent them from passing it along to anyone else or even posting it in a public location. So from a privacy and user control standpoint, I’d have to say… still sucks.