Turns Out Lots Of People Will Help Netflix Out For The Possibility Of Winning Money

from the and-so-it-goes dept

A week ago, we weren't sure if there really were that many people who would be willing to help Netflix improve their recommendation engine for just the chance at winning a million dollars. While it did seem like an interesting challenge, the fact that only the best would take home the prize and the lack of any major outside benefit besides better movie recommendations seemed like it might be a tough sell. Apparently, we severely underestimated the competitive nature of Netflix fans. Apparently one group has already made a ton of progress and has already bested Netflix's own efforts. The group says that they still have plenty of ideas to keep improving the system as well. Perhaps even more impressive is that nearly 8,000 teams have signed up to participate. With success like that, perhaps it really won't be long until we see these kinds of contests become a lot more popular with other companies. Next thing you know, McDonald's will be asking the community to design their next Happy Meal.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    ?, 10 Oct 2006 @ 12:23am

    I'll perk up when McDonalds asks the community to improve the burger. Until then, I'll wait.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shohat, 10 Oct 2006 @ 12:25am

    Don't touch the burgers !

    They are perfect .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sohrab, 10 Oct 2006 @ 12:58am

    I like the happy meals...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jake Lockley, 10 Oct 2006 @ 1:09am

    Worth More

    Anyone in the industry can tell you if they design a better reccomendation engine it's worth a lot more than 1 Million. License the engine for everyone to use and own it yourself, why settle for a measly 1 Million when an investor would give you 5M + to turn it into a standallone business product.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      James Bowery, 12 Oct 2006 @ 5:15pm

      Re: Worth More

      The answer to that is simple: You take your million from the Netflix prize and later, after you have taken the stand alone business product closer to completion, you ask the investor for a lot less money and keep a lot more of the value yourself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Spartacus, 10 Oct 2006 @ 2:42am

    A ton of progress

    While the phrase "a ton of progress" is pretty subjective I don't think many people would agree that WXYX Consulting has made a "ton of progress". They have not qualified for any prize that Netflix is giving and are not even a tenth of the way to the grand prize of 1 million dollars. So I don't think this is that mind blowing yet. No one is close to the 10% improvement required for the grand prize. I usually like your submissions Mike, but some times (just my recommendation) you should look into your story a little more than simply reading /. and regurgitating their erroneous post. And by the way, regarding the Techdirt article you link to from last week if you go to the Netflix competition site (http://netflixprize.com) they explain exactly how the 10% accuracy mark is measured. It's really not complicated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 10 Oct 2006 @ 3:01am

      Re: A ton of progress

      While the phrase "a ton of progress" is pretty subjective I don't think many people would agree that WXYX Consulting has made a "ton of progress".

      Perhaps, but as you said, it is a subjective statement. Personally, and it seems like many people have made that statement as well, I think that going from nothing to beating the existing offering equals a ton of progress in my book. At least I'm impressed by it.

      And by the way, regarding the Techdirt article you link to from last week if you go to the Netflix competition site (http://netflixprize.com) they explain exactly how the 10% accuracy mark is measured. It's really not complicated.

      When we wrote about it last week, it was before they had officially announced the contest. There were just news reports about it, so it wasn't clear at the time. However, you're right, that when it did come out, the way it was calculated was much clearer than expected or described in the press coverage. So, I'm sorry about that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Spartacus, 10 Oct 2006 @ 3:27am

    Re: Re: A ton of progress

    Perhaps, but as you said, it is a subjective statement. Personally, and it seems like many people have made that statement as well, I think that going from nothing to beating the existing offering equals a ton of progress in my book. At least I'm impressed by it.

    I'm not sure how many more people besides /. and that guy on blogs.siliconvalley.com are saying that it's impressive but to me 3 people (including techdirt) saying it's impressive doesn't qualify as "many people". You may know of more people who are impressed by it, but as of yet I am unaware of them.

    When you say "going from nothing to beating the existing offering qualifies as a ton of progress" that means that ANY progress qualifies as a ton of progress. If that's the case then no one is capable of "a little progress". Progress, in this case, is merely beating the existing offering by any margin. It sounds like you're saying that it doesn't matter how much they improve the existing offering so long as they improve it it's "a ton of progress".

    When we wrote about it last week, it was before they had officially announced the contest. There were just news reports about it, so it wasn't clear at the time. However, you're right, that when it did come out, the way it was calculated was much clearer than expected or described in the press coverage. So, I'm sorry about that.

    Understandable. I assumed that the prize site was already up when you posted about it. Apology appreciated and returned in kind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 10 Oct 2006 @ 6:08am

    Screw the 1 million...

    If I were in a programming team I'd design it, code, it, patent it, and license it out to more than just one company. That way even if Netflix threatens to not pay the 1 million if they aren't given sole ownership of the search engine, the team can tell Netflix to go fuck itself gently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      thomas, 10 Oct 2006 @ 7:19am

      Re: Screw the 1 million...

      The NetflixPrize agreement calls for the winner to give them a non-exclusive license to the code, so you would just turn around and relicense it to Amazon etc. and make your billions there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2006 @ 8:17am

    Not My Burger

    Oh No now my burger is going to be messed with is nothing safe anymore

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trouble Maker, 10 Oct 2006 @ 8:32am

    two cents worth

    Your code is weak my young one. Ask the force for help and be mindful of the promise to reward.

    Easy fixes are the way to the darkside of the NET.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ctyankee, 10 Oct 2006 @ 9:38am

    Spartacus,

    Sounds like sour grapes that someone actually is getting some attention for actually doing stuff. Perhaps you should join the competition and show what you can do.

    But prior poster sounds dead on, if you can beat that they have done internally in a short period of time ... well 'it ain't braggin' if you can back it up.'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mousky, 10 Oct 2006 @ 10:22am

    It's called customer feedback

    With success like that, perhaps it really won't be long until we see these kinds of contests become a lot more popular with other companies.

    Alternatively, companies could simply ask their customers on how to improve a product or service ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2006 @ 10:28am

    VMware virtual appliance contest

    A similar kind of contest was conducted by VMware recently. The challenge was to build useful virtual appliances, that is turn-key virtual machines with applications already installed. The prize money was substantial as well, and hundreds of great ideas were submitted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bartoons, 10 Oct 2006 @ 7:21pm

    Designing the next Happy Meal

    It'll be for Adults! It'll come in a slightly bigger box with your choice of Quarter Pounder w/cheese or Big Mac, fries, a big soda, and miniature versions of a toy we'd remember from the 1980s. Hey... isn't Transformers coming out next year?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2006 @ 10:01am

    fluids that come out of butt

    i don't think so website

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.