Stop already with the Netflix Worship

Every product team I work with cites the Netflix Recommendation engine as the pinnacle of user experience. It isn't and you should be ashamed to mention it...

Stop already with the Netflix Worship

We build learning, for technical audiences, and our latest work in progress is a new platform. One of the key features is an AI/ML deep data driven recommendation engine that will ensure that the customers have relevant, targeted nuggets of training and content presented to them, to increase the stickiness of the platform, drive more engagement, and keep them glued to the screen.

While I am not on the platform team, I am peripherally involved, and a lot of time is being spent on this recommendation engine. Their manna from heaven, their golden calf, is to have it work as well as the Netflix engine.

Every time I hear that I cringe. I cringe because my experience is that the Netflix engine sucks.

Then I take the work mandated Green Belt program on “Data Literacy” and the talking head uses - you guessed it - Netflix as the acme of deep data insights.


Why do I think that, when just about everybody in the tech universe worships the Netflix golden algorithm?

Several reasons, the first being that no matter how much I watch, they never seem to get what I like. I have a penchant for British crime dramas and police procedurals, so I seek them out.

What does Netflix infer and recommend to me? Their latest “Netflix Original” crap offer. Oh, it tries to get me to watch Stranger Things, but, I will level with you, that is one awful program. I gave it 3 episodes, and never went back.

I log in to Netflix, and what is at the top?

You guessed it, Stranger Things.

Four or five rows down, what is there?

Stranger Things.

Seriously, quit pimping that awful show to me. I just hate it.

And after scrolling seemingly forever, I can’t find anything to watch, so I switch over to the awesomest streaming service, HBO Max. Dial it up to the TCM “Hub” and go looking for a killer movie to watch.

Every damn time.

I am sure that I am not the only one who thinks that Netflix isn’t the Acme of recommendation engines, or masters of the data deep dive.