Nice recommendations



  • The excerpt is from an e-mail by my local Netflix-ersatz.

     

    So they tell me that they are giving me personalized recommendations "based on your choice of films and your ratings". WTF number one, because I never rated a film on their site. 

    But then, they know what I've seen, maybe they can guess what I'd like to see in the future?

    I don't know what made them think that I could like the first recommendation, a 1962 film about a balloon. But at least I can't think of anything speaking against it. 

    The second recommendation is stranger. They are offering me a DVD with bonus material for Taxi 3. Please note that I haven't ever rented Taxi 1, 2 or 3 or a bonus material DVD of any kind. 

    TRWTF is the third title they are trying to make me rent. Its description says "Unfortunately, this title isn't available for rent. We apologize..." 



  • Another company with more money than sense. Congratulations on your first WTF. Don't listen to the people who are going to say something about mugs.



  • The good news is that they awarded that Netflix Prize, so pretty soon they might have an all-new algorithm for pulling random shit out of a hat.



  • @TGV said:

    Another company with more money than sense.
    What the hell are you talking about?  Yes, any results based upon interpolating zero data points are probably going to be a WTF, but they figure it's probably better than just saying, "We've got nothing."  How does that mean they lack sense?

    @TGV said:

    Don't listen to the people who are going to say something about mugs.
    I guess you just got out of a year-long coma.



  • @TGV said:

    Another company with more money than sense. Congratulations on your first WTF. Don't listen to the people who are going to say something about mugs.
    Although you should listen to this:  We haven't used the mug in over a year.  Once Alex started giving away and selling actual mugs, everyone thought they would get one in the mail if they made a horrible OP.



  •  TRWTF is German.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

     TRWTF is German.

    Germanisgreatbecauseyoucanmakenewwordsbyshovingwordstogether.



  • @bstorer said:

    The good news is that they awarded that Netflix Prize, so pretty soon they might have an all-new algorithm for pulling random shit out of a hat.

     

    Maybe their new algorithm will be able to pull random 5-star shit out of a hat instead of random 3½-star shit.  Though they might consider that to be out of scope.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    We haven't used the mug in over a year.  Once Alex started giving away and selling actual mugs, everyone thought they would get one in the mail if they made a horrible OP.
     

    I love this.



  • @bstorer said:

    What the hell are you talking about?  Yes, any results based upon interpolating zero data points are probably going to be a WTF, but they figure it's probably better than just saying, "We've got nothing."  How does that mean they lack sense?

     

    There are not zero data points.   The new netflix contest is actually for this very case of giving good recomendation for users with no or few ratings.  There is still:

    1.  The movies which you have watched in the past.

    2.  How long it took you to return the movies you watched in the past. (maybe there is a correlation here?)

    3.  Where you live (geography makes a big difference).  Country, area, city, neighborhood.  Each one could be an indicator at what movies you like.

    4.  Personal information they might have (family, ethnicity, age, sex, religion, etc.)

    5.  Your rental plan (people with the 1-movie at a time plan will likely have different watching habits from someone with the 9-movies at a time plan

    6.  Your name.  (Name gives hints as to ethnicity, religion, sex and age)

    7.  Browsing information (Amazon does a lot of this).  

    8.  Technology (IE6 vs IE8 vs. Firefox vs. Safari vs. Chrome vs. Konquerer).  Including mobile devices (iPhone vs. Blueberry, vs. Android)

     



  •  The big questions, though... do you actually speak German or is that another botch from some odd zero-data data point?



  • @bstorer said:

    @TGV said:
    Don't listen to the people who are going to say something about mugs.
    I guess you just got out of a year-long coma.
     

     



  • @bstorer said:

    [What the hell are you talking about?  Yes, any results based upon interpolating zero data points are probably going to be a WTF, but they figure it's probably better than just saying, "We've got nothing."  How does that mean they lack sense?

     

    Maybe there is a financial connecton between the developers and the baloon movie. Hard to prove, easy to implement.



  • @North Bus said:

     The big questions, though... do you actually speak German or is that another botch from some odd zero-data data point?

    I would think that the fact he translated portions of the text for us would adequately answer that question.



  • @bstorer said:

    @TGV said:

    Another company with more money than sense.
    What the hell are you talking about?  Yes, any results based upon interpolating zero data points are probably going to be a WTF, but they figure it's probably better than just saying, "We've got nothing."  How does that mean they lack sense?

    Someone didn't take his Ritalin, I guess. How difficult do you think it is to either suppress recommendations or predictions until you've got sufficient data and leave the box blank or whatever, or just print a general list that says "other users liked these movies". It's almost easier than building a recommendation algorithm and have it produce results without baseline data. And it would be more useful and less annoying. So, yes, I'd say they lacked some common sense.



  • @TGV said:

    @bstorer said:

    @TGV said:

    Another company with more money than sense.
    What the hell are you talking about?  Yes, any results based upon interpolating zero data points are probably going to be a WTF, but they figure it's probably better than just saying, "We've got nothing."  How does that mean they lack sense?

    Someone didn't take his Ritalin, I guess. How difficult do you think it is to either suppress recommendations or predictions until you've got sufficient data and leave the box blank or whatever, or just print a general list that says "other users liked these movies". It's almost easier than building a recommendation algorithm and have it produce results without baseline data. And it would be more useful and less annoying. So, yes, I'd say they lacked some common sense.

    No, because their goal is to keep you as a customer.  To that end, they try and keep you around with the idea that there are other movies you would enjoy.  Even if they're completely winging it, it's better than doing nothing for them.  That's extremely sensible.



  • @bstorer said:

    No, because their goal is to keep you as a customer.  To that end, they try and keep you around with the idea that there are other movies you would enjoy.  Even if they're completely winging it, it's better than doing nothing for them.  That's extremely sensible.
    If they don't have any baseline data a sensible default is to list popular movies minus pornography.



  • @bstorer said:

    No, because their goal is to keep you as a customer.  To that end, they try and keep you around with the idea that there are other movies you would enjoy.  Even if they're completely winging it, it's better than doing nothing for them.  That's extremely sensible.
     

    While you are correct in a way, the "Do something! Anything!" course of action is mostly only sensible if the actual something done is also sensible.

    My wonderful example:

    "Something must be done. What shall we do?"

    "Let's all jump off a cliff!"

    "I like it. Make it happen."



  • Damn you.  Now I have that stupid catchy 80's song "99 red ballons" stuck in my head.  as another poster said it pulls more info than you mentioned, when determining that list.  The less data the wider the net so to speak.



  • I live in Germany and they are a German company, so the language is not the problem here.

     About the "no baseline data": I have rented movies in the past. I also have made a list with the movies I want to rent in the future (their business model is to send me a random movie from that list, wait until I have mailed it back, then send another one). I don't rent the latest holywood shooting frenzies, but I guess that I am not the first to rent the movies on my list ("Volver" alone hase been rated 1428 times). So even if they don't have another customer who has previously rented both "Swimming pool" and "Ice Age 1", they could have offered the more popular films rented by people who saw any of these films, like "Shrek". Or they could have offered "Ricky", because it was made by Francois Ozon, the director of "Swimming pool". There are ways to make a sensible recommendation with very few data. If you delete all cookies from your system, access the Internet with a different IP  than your usual one, go to Amazon and visit the product page for the Polar RS100 pulse computer, you will get recommendations for Garmin pulse computers and books about running, although they don't have any data from your previous purchases and ratings. 

     So the rental company had quite a few choices - offering me films which almost everybody likes; offering me films rented by people who at least partially share my taste; offering me films which are similar to the ones I already rented; or just not including a recommendation section in their e-mail. What they did instead was very strange: they seem to use the least popular DVDs in their recommendation. The first film is really obscure. The second one isn't even a film, and I don't know anybody who actually sees bonus material even if they happen to have it lying around. And about the third one: that isn't a "Sorry, it is not available" as in "Another customer has the DVD right now, it will be available next week". In that case, they'd let me put it on my list, and they will send it as soon as they have got it back. It is a "Sorry, it isn't available" as in "We don't own the rights to rent this film" or "a customer put our only copy in the microwave and the distributors don't carry the title any more". It doesn't mean that they plan to have the title available soon either, else there would have been a "order in advance" option. So not only are they offering me films I am unlikely to rent (and anybody else is unlikely to rent too), they are offering me films which I cannot rent should I wish to do so. While I can think of a justification for any of the choices I listed at the beginning of this paragraph, the option they chose is just plain dumb. 



  • @dhromed said:

    @bstorer said:

    No, because their goal is to keep you as a customer.  To that end, they try and keep you around with the idea that there are other movies you would enjoy.  Even if they're completely winging it, it's better than doing nothing for them.  That's extremely sensible.
     

    While you are correct in a way, the "Do something! Anything!" course of action is mostly only sensible if the actual something done is also sensible.

    My wonderful example:

    "Something must be done. What shall we do?"

    "Let's all jump off a cliff!"

    "I like it. Make it happen."

    Nothing in your example shows that their course of action is not sensible, though.  It is extremely prudent for them to provide suggestions in order to try and keep you as a customer.  It's not unlike a television network advertising other shows during the current one.  For example, when watching an NFL game on CBS, they will run quick promos for Two and a Half Men.  Now, I'd rather jab myself in the eye with a sharpened moose penis than watch Two and a Half Men, but they don't care.  If they hook more viewers than they alienate, then they've got a net win.

    Now, are there suggestions very good?  Probably not.  All of their recommendations are a numbers
    game.  That they come up with the wrong numbers for a single user isn't
    surprising at all.  We can debate the quality of their recommendations, but as I've said, the OP isn't giving them much to go on.  It seems like Ling's proposal to just suggest the most popular movies would be wiser, but perhaps they are drawing on other things, as tster points out.  Now that I think about it, they do sometimes suggest things to me just because they're popular in my home town.  

    Long story short, you guys are focusing too much on the small picture.  My primary opposition is to TGV's claim that we can take this as evidence that Netflix is "another company with more money than sense."   That is a stupid thing to say and should be derided as such.



  • @bstorer said:

    Nothing in your example shows that their course of action is not sensible, though.

    You just cannot admit you're wrong, right? There is an example of actual customer dissatisfaction, right here on this page. That means it's not very sensible. I wouldn't be impressed by such suggestions either.

    It is extremely prudent for them to provide suggestions in order to try and keep you as a customer.  It's not unlike a television network advertising other shows during the current one.

    It's also not unlike a TV network that advertises children's programs during "adult" entertainment.

    ...but as I've said, the OP isn't giving them much to go on.

    Which seems to be the whole point of the OP going WTF. 

    My primary opposition is to TGV's claim that we can take this as evidence that Netflix is "another company with more money than sense."

    Nobody here is talking about Netflix. This is a German company, which the OP didn't name, but described as his local Netflix substitute. If you were trying to defend Netflix, you did it in the wrong thread... 



  • @TGV said:

    @bstorer said:

    Nothing in your example shows that their course of action is not sensible, though.

    You just cannot admit you're wrong, right? There is an example of actual customer dissatisfaction, right here on this page. That means it's not very sensible. I wouldn't be impressed by such suggestions either.

    Are you drunk?  Do you understand probability at all?  The outcome of a single user doesn't validate your claims at all.  Consider a bag with 10 balls in it, nine are red, one is green.  It is sensible to bet on pulling a red ball, even though occasionally a green ball will be pulled.  The green ball coming up doesn't invalidate the sensiblity of betting on red.

    @TGV said:

    It is extremely prudent for them to provide suggestions in order to try and keep you as a customer.  It's not unlike a television network advertising other shows during the current one.

    It's also not unlike a TV network that advertises children's programs during "adult" entertainment.

    That's true, if they have reason to believe that such advertising will be effective.

    @TGV said:

    ...but as I've said, the OP isn't giving them much to go on.

    Which seems to be the whole point of the OP going WTF. 

    I didn't say it's not a WTF.@TGV said:

    My primary opposition is to TGV's claim that we can take this as evidence that Netflix is "another company with more money than sense."

    Nobody here is talking about Netflix. This is a German company, which the OP didn't name, but described as his local Netflix substitute. If you were trying to defend Netflix, you did it in the wrong thread... 

    Fine, you're right, it's not Netflix.  But that changes nothing at call.  Replace all instances of "Netflix" with "Netflarx" or whatever his equivalent is called and your comment is still dumb.



  • @TGV said:

    Nobody here is talking about Netflix. This is a German company, which the OP didn't name, but described as his local Netflix substitute. If you were trying to defend Netflix, you did it in the wrong thread... 

     

    I was talking about netflix.   When someone comes to an American (English only) forum and says:

    The excerpt is from an e-mail by my local Netflix-ersatz

    I read that as 

    The excerpt is from an e-mail from Netflix

    note to OP:   We don't speak German.



  • @tster said:

    @TGV said:

    Nobody here is talking about Netflix. This is a German company, which the OP didn't name, but described as his local Netflix substitute. If you were trying to defend Netflix, you did it in the wrong thread... 

     

    I was talking about netflix.   When someone comes to an American (English only) forum and says:

    The excerpt is from an e-mail by my local Netflix-ersatz

    I read that as 

    The excerpt is from an e-mail from Netflix

    note to OP:   We don't speak German.

    "Ersatz" is an English word, though obviously of German origin.  He used it slightly incorrectly by appending it to the proper name rather than using it as an adjective, which is how it would be phrased in German.  It's obscure, but I can't fault him for not knowing how commonly-used a valid English word is.

     

    Edit:

    OP:  For future reference, it would have been better understood by English speakers if you had said "the company that acts as an ersatz Netflix" or some variant.  Using it as an adjective would have made it stand out more, whereas tacking nouns together is not usually clear English.



  • note to OP:   We don't speak German.

    Journal entry, 15-10-2009: Have made contact with indigenous people. They seem rather self-absorbed. They only understand their native tongue. That doesn't stop them from commenting on things in other languages.



  • @TGV said:

    note to OP:   We don't speak German.
    Journal entry, 15-10-2009: Have made contact with indigenous people. They seem rather self-absorbed. They only understand their native tongue. That doesn't stop them from commenting on things in other languages.
    You really are the idiot son of an asshole, aren't you?



  •  Ersatz is a perfectly cromulent word. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ersatz



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @TGV said:

    note to OP:   We don't speak German.
    Journal entry, 15-10-2009: Have made contact with indigenous people. They seem rather self-absorbed. They only understand their native tongue. That doesn't stop them from commenting on things in other languages.
    You really are the idiot son of an asshole, aren't you?

    Quoted For Truthiness.



  • @belgariontheking said:

    You really are the idiot son of an asshole, aren't you?

    He could have said: "sorry, I didn't understand the word [i]ersatz[/i]", but nooooo, it had to be "we don't speak German". Well, not only is that wrong, as at least two people in this thread do speak it (a bit), it also puts the blame on anyone but themselves. Why should they acknowledge making a wrong comment? They didn't understand it. The OP should have used normal English words, right? Like us normal people understands at home. Normaler than ersatz, anyway. So just shout until everybody walks away and you can pretend to have won an argument.

    But at least you got the sarcasm, or so I infer from you name calling.

    More difficult words with German origin to try: angst, kindergarten, zeitgeist, and gestalt.



  • @TGV said:

    @belgariontheking said:

    You really are the idiot son of an asshole, aren't you?

    He could have said: "sorry, I didn't understand the word ersatz", but nooooo, it had to be "we don't speak German". Well, not only is that wrong, as at least two people in this thread do speak it (a bit), it also puts the blame on anyone but themselves. Why should they acknowledge making a wrong comment? They didn't understand it. The OP should have used normal English words, right? Like us normal people understands at home. Normaler than ersatz, anyway. So just shout until everybody walks away and you can pretend to have won an argument.

    But at least you got the sarcasm, or so I infer from you name calling.

    More difficult words with German origin to try: angst, kindergarten, zeitgeist, and gestalt.

    Whiny meta-discussion, such as yours, is obnoxious and is not appreciated here.  Try to be less of a jackass, pardon my German.



  • @TGV said:

    He could have said: "sorry, I didn't understand the word ersatz", but nooooo, it had to be "we don't speak German".
    After saying "When someone comes to an American (English only) forum and says: [English sentence with a German word as if it had widespread English usage when it doesn't]"

     I'll leave it to you to continue to argue about the former without considering that it was a continuation of the latter.

     (Hint - "we don't speak German [on here.]" does not mean "we can't speak German," or "we won't speak German." - but would probably spoil the point you're abysmally trying to argue, so feel free to continue.)



  • @blakeyrat said:

     Ersatz is a perfectly cromulent word. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ersatz

     

    Just because something is in a dictionary doesn't make it a real english word: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ginormous

    Now, I'll admit that "ersatz" might be an english word, but I am a college-educated, native english speaker whom many (for certain definitions of many) consider to be gifted with words and the use of the english language, and I do not recall every hearing or seeing this word.   

    Anyways, my point still stands, that the sentance given is confusing to english speaking people who do not know german.  If I was posting on a French forum, I would avoid using english words which have wiggled their way into the french language in preference to more common french words.  (For instance,in Quebec "chaud chien" instead of "hotdog")



  • @tster said:

    Now, I'll admit that "ersatz" might be an english word, but I am a college-educated, American english speaker whom many (for certain definitions of many) consider to be gifted with words and the use of the english language, and I do not recall every hearing or seeing this word.
     

     FTFY. 

    This is not a bitch at American vs UK or Aus or NZ or any other variant of English, but just to say each has their own common sets of phrases. Ersatz is frequently seen in UK English (my country of origin), particularly in academic circles - quite possibly due to the proximity to Europe. UK English also borrows a lot from French. I take it from your post that this phrase is rarely seen in the US - fair enough, but no reason to jump down the OP's throat when he did a nice job of translating the text for us.

     



  •  @tster said:

    I do not recall every hearing or seeing this word.   

    Sounds like a personal problem. I've come across it plenty of times, and seen it in novels, etc.



  • @blakeyrat said:

     @tster said:

    I do not recall every hearing or seeing this word.   

    Sounds like a personal problem

    I'm not sure that means what you think it means.



  • @tster said:

    I'm not sure that means what you think it means
     

     

    My name is Inigo Montoya...



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Whiny meta-discussion, such as yours, is obnoxious and is not appreciated here.  Try to be less of a jackass, pardon my German.

    Sublime irony. 


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.