Netflix’s new way of rating the shows and movies you watch on its platform is binary: Thumbs up if you like it, thumbs down if you don’t. The streaming service is looking for clear-eyed decisions on what you like and what you don’t, in place of the wishy-washy five star system that it had in place until today.
The change is about making content recommendations more relevant to individual users, not less, according to Netflix. Star ratings won’t be shown next to titles anymore, and instead you’ll see a percentage that represents how likely Netflix believes you are to enjoy the content, based on your viewing habits and overall behavior across the platform. It has nothing to do with what people overall think of the stuff available on the service, and everything to do with you and your tastes.
Or rather, your tastes as near as Netflix can predict them. The Thumbs are the key to refining those predictions: They’re designed to let users give direct, immediate and uncomplicated feedback about the recommendations Netflix is making. Basically you’re telling the service that it either guessed right or wrong on a particular item, which helps Netflix adjust its signal interpretation algorithms behind the scenes to hopefully boost the effectiveness of its machine learning.
You can still always check Rotten Tomatoes if you care about the opinion of the crowd, but Netflix primarily cares about keeping you happy, rather than critical consensus. Whether their plan is effective or not will be borne out in how much better or worse its recommendations are for individual users, so keep an eye on that home page and see if the hit rate goes up.