So today, Netflix officially launched a new "thumbs up / thumbs down" rating system, completely replacing its "5 star" rating system. While I have many complaints and questions about this, for the most part, okay. I won't argue.

What I am puzzled about however is what happened to all the hundreds of movies and shows that I've already rated over the years? How did the 5-star rating get converted over to the new 2-thumb rating?

The way I used the 5-star rating system was like so:

  • 1 Star = Absolutely hated it, nothing good about it at all.
  • 2 Stars = Hated it, but at least they put some effort in.
  • 3 Stars = Meh, it was okay but not worth my time.
  • 4 Stars = It was great, but could have been better. [Most Common]
  • 5 Stars = Loved it, would recommend to others.

Obviously, the above is now impossible to reflect with just a thumb up or down. I'm guessing, or rather hoping, that it may have been done like so:

  • 1 Star = Thumb Down
  • 2 Stars = Thumb Down
  • 3 Stars = No Thumb
  • 4 Stars = Thumb Up
  • 5 Stars = Thumb Up

How exactly did all my historical ratings get transferred over to this new system, if at all? What algorithm did they use to decide?

  • You were the problem they were trying to fix. Users like you overlayed a set of definitions for the 1-5 stars that did not match what Netflix defined for those stars. I always rated a film in relation to how Netflix defined each star. I always found the average user rating to be fairly accurate but Netflix noticed people like were playing critic instead of just answering whether you loved it, really liked it, liked it, didn't like it etc. So Netflix is now preventing you from playing critic and limiting your options so you won't introduce errors I. Tue their ratings data. – Chino Apr 23 '17 at 18:09
  • @Chino While I somewhat agree with you, that's really not answering the actual question... – Jerry Dodge Apr 23 '17 at 23:44

I was under the impression that Netflix still tracks your rating on the backend. As far as how it maps back to thumbs up isn't something they have officially disclosed. According to Netflix:

For members who have provided star ratings in the past, we will continue to use that information to suggest great content.

I would think in the next few months they will release more information for developers and alike, but doubtful since these types of algorithms may be considered secret sauce for Netflix only time will tell.


From what I can see, all of my old star ratings are gone. I looked at a few things that I know I gave 5 stars, and they were not showing a "thumbs up".

They may be using the old data to drive recommendations, but they certainly didn't convert any "stars" to "thumbs".

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