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The MovieLens Conversion FAQ
  1. So, what is going on here?
  2. What was wrong with the old version?
  3. What is new?
  4. Are my ratings and To-See list intact?
  5. Huh? What happened to my Groups?
  6. I never used Groups before and now I have a Buddy named 'Test Buddy'! Who is he?
  7. Are there any changes to the browser requirements for MovieLens?
  8. Why? (I like my Netscape 4!)
  9. I have a valid browser, and I still can't submit ratings!
  10. I was a beta-tester for this new version of MovieLens, and I made many changes to the movies I rated. Did you move these changes over too?
  11. How do I improve the quality of my recommendations?
  12. How does it work? Did you change the recommendation algorithm?
  13. Where did MovieLens Unplugged (the AvantGo channel for handhelds) go?
  14. Does MovieLens have a Privacy Policy?
  15. Who do I contact if I have problems?

    So, what is going on here?

    Welcome to the new version of MovieLens! After seeing how successful MovieLens has been for the last 5 years, we decided that MovieLens needed a makeover. There were several changes we wanted to make to the recommendations we generate, and there were many suggestions to the user interface from users.

    What was wrong with the old version?

    MovieLens was getting old and difficult to properly maintain. This new version of MovieLens should be faster and better for users, and it is easier for us to maintain and to deploy new experiments.

    What is new?

    There are many, many exciting changes! Here is a brief list:

    1. A new user interface!
    2. Rate movies in half-star increments!
    3. The To-See list has been re-named as your WishList.
    4. Sort results both by MovieLens prediction and by title!
    5. Submit ratings immediately to the server (No longer need to click on a "submit ratings" button)
    6. "Saved Searches". With this feature you can create a search into our movie database (for example: "1970's musicals released on DVD") and be able to run the search as often as you want with one click of your mouse.
    7. "Hide this". Now, if you come across a movie and you never want to see a prediction for it, you can "rate" it as "Hide this" and MovieLens will never generate a prediction for this movie for you again.
    8. MovieLens Movie Buddies replaces MovieLens Groups.

    Are my ratings and To-See list intact?

    Yes. Everything from your old account has been moved over this new version. All of your ratings and your To-See list should be just as they were before. All of the users in your MovieLens Groups became MovieLens Movie Buddies.

    Huh? What happened to my Groups?

    Groups became Buddies. With groups, you could only get recommendations for an entire group. This was a drag for groups larger than two people when not everyone is there. With buddies, you can select only the people who are actually going, which is much handier (we think!).

    When we switched over, we converted any groups you were a member of to buddies. Every pair of people in a group became each other's buddy.

    Except... if a group member had chosen to hide their recommendations, we did not automatically convert them to buddies, in order to protect their privacy wishes. You're welcome to invite them back as buddies by clicking the "Manage Buddies" link once you have logged in, but in the new version of MovieLens, users cannot hide their recommendations from their buddies.

    One other note: if you invited someone to join a MovieLens group, but they had not yet accepted, these invitations were not converted over. You should use the "Manage Buddies" feature to re-invite them. Sorry about the inconvenience.

    More info on buddies is available in our help files. Let us know how
    you like buddies compared to groups!

    I never used Groups before and now I have a Buddy named 'Test Buddy'! Who is he?

    In order to show users how easy it is to use buddies for recommendations, we have given each user a test buddy. This test buddy is named Test Buddy and has, in our opinion, a rather electic taste in movies. We invite you to try getting group recommendations with him and see what you think. If you don't like him, just go to the Buddy Admin page and delete him.

    Are there any changes to the browser requirements for MovieLens?

    Yes. We no longer support old web browsers, including Netscape 4.

    Supported browsers include:

    For more information, please see our MovieLens Browser Requirements page.

    Why? (I like my Netscape 4!)

    Because Netscape 4 and other older browsers have very buggy and incomplete implementations of important web standards such as HTML, XHTML, JavaScript, and especially CSS. These broswers make programming complex web applications, such as MovieLens, very difficult. As such, we chose to limit the browsers we support.

    Plus, if you upgrade, you might find that many other websites will also start looking a lot better too.

    I have a valid browser, and I still can't submit ratings!

    There are also Javascript requirements. Please see our MovieLens Browser Requirements page.

    I was a beta-tester for this new version of MovieLens, and I made many changes to the movies I rated. Did you move these changes over too?

    We would like to thank you again for being a beta-tester! Your comments were very valuable and we attempted to integrate all of your suggestions and comments into this version.

    At the end of the beta test, we asked a survey question if you wanted your changes from the beta version of the site to propogate to the final version of MovieLens. If you answered "Yes" to this question, we did move all of your changes to your ratings to this version of MovieLens.

    How do I improve the quality of my recommendations?

    If you find that your recommendations are not accurate, here are some things to try that might improve your recommendations:

    1. Rate more movies.
      We recommend having at least 35 ratings. If you have less than 35, you might want to look around and rate a few more movies.
    2. Re-rate movies with half-star ratings.
      Now, you can rate in half-star increments. By going back and re-rating movies, we can understand your tastes even better.
    3. Rate movies you don't like as well as movies you like.
      Just by rating a few movies with 1 or 2 stars that you really hate can dramatically improve your recommendations. Having a good mix of movies that you love, hate, and were indifferent towards is best.
    4. Try rating some less popular movies.
      You can get more information about a movie by clicking on the 'info' link. One of the pieces of information it reveals is the number of people who have rated this movie. Look for movies with fewer numbers of people who have rated it and rate it if you have seen it.

    How does it work? Did you change the recommendation algorithm?

    MovieLens uses a technology called collaborative filtering to generate movie recommendations. We are using a new recommender engine that we built especially for this new version of MovieLens, and we have optimized the algorithms we use based on the results of our research to generate the best possible recommendations for you.

    Where did MovieLens Unplugged (the AvantGo channel for handhelds) go?

    Unfortunately, the PhD student working on the mobile versions of MovieLens has graduated and at the moment we have no other students who have time to pick up and maintain the project. There is a small but steady stream of emails requesting that we get this feature going again, and we'd like to do it, believe us! We hope that it will return at some point in the future, but for the time being, it is unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    Does MovieLens have a Privacy Policy?

    Yes, we do. Please read it and let us know if you have any problems or concerns.

    Who do I contact if I have problems?

    See our Contact Us page.


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MovieLens is a free service provided by GroupLens Research at the University of Minnesota.