Ongoing changes to several IMDb features

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As you may have noticed, there have been many changes to IMDb in recent months, and many more are in progress now with planned delivery over the coming weeks.

One of IMDb’s top focus areas for 2017 has been to replace the remaining parts of our old software systems with more modern maintainable versions, enabling us to accelerate product development and therefore deliver new features / searches / content to you. In the process, we are continuing to make customer experience improvements, feature simplifications to improve usability, and identifying opportunities to bring consistency across our desktop / mobile platforms.  The ultimate aim is to serve all our customers better and to continue to grow the IMDb content and services in 2018 and beyond.  Once complete, the new system will enable us to more easily address any remaining longstanding bugs as well as faster fix any new ones which may emerge.  An example of visible change as part of this process is the new Parents Guide (for example Blade Runner 2049 (2017)) which moved off the problematic swiki system where only a small number of people could make edits and over to a managed data type.

Some of the features on IMDb are more than a decade old and as part of upgrading the backend technology, we are making a combination of interface refreshes, feature simplification, consolidations and deprecations. These decisions are not made lightly and are driven by a myriad of data metrics; however, we’ve built a very passionate customer base over our 27 years and we have seen some deprecations cause customer confusion/frustration. This is not our goal, but we know we cannot continue to deliver the site and features our users deserve and we aspire without making these changes. 

As a heads up, there will be more changes in the upcoming weeks. We will announce the most impactful changes in the Announcements section of Get Satisfaction. For changes with lesser impact, our team will monitor Get Satisfaction immediately following the change to provide helpful guidance to users. 

Thanks,

Col Needham
Founder & CEO, IMDb.com
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Col Needham, Official Rep

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Posted 2 months ago

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Col Needham, Official Rep

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Official Response
This is in reference to gromit82's post below:
Would the staff be willing to post a page that will list the features and functions that have been removed, and explain the future status of those items -- that is, whether they are (a) going to be brought back, (b) going to be brought back but with some significant changes, (c) under consideration to be brought back, or (d) not going to be brought back at all? 
Thanks for the suggestion.  We are just about finished with the retirement of the old software. We have less than ten items to go from the starting set of over 210, and the remainder are mostly on the small side -- some are simply HTML pages still served off the old system; the largest is advanced name search for which there is a drop-in replacement with a whole set of bugs and limitations removed (including the dreaded 10,000 result limit; the same limit will be removed from advanced title search in Q1 2018).

Given we are talking about over 200 systems / features and many of the changes only added functionality and/or fixed bugs, producing a comprehensive list is not going to be practical, sorry.  Everything with an announcement thread can be located by https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb?topic-list[settings][type]=update and we are encouraging the teams to keep either the main announcement up-to-date or to add an official reply as appropriate (although sometimes things are moving so quickly that it is simply best to get on with building the software). 

The items which were not announced (sometimes deliberate, sometimes accidental) which have active threads are:


Col Needham
Founder & CEO, IMDb.com
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Col Needham, Official Rep

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Official Response
A quick update on the progress here ...

Yesterday, on Friday 29 December 2017 at 3:41pm PST (11:41pm GMT) the final piece of old software in this multi-year migration moved to the new platform. 

Thank you for your patience so far.  We appreciate change is always hard -- please be assured we are doing this to build a much better IMDb for the long term. As noted elsewhere across other announcement threads (see https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb?topic-list[settings][type]=update), the final timing here left us no alternatives other than making some (mostly temporary) painful cuts in functionality of some features. On the plus side, it also made us examine some underused or outdated features and determine to simplify or remove them. Sometimes the best thing to do to improve the usability of an interface is to remove the least used features. Sorry if a personally beloved feature was in this latter set -- you can always gauge shared interest from other customers and lobby for its return by posting in the relevant "Ideas" section here on Get Satisfaction (for the web site, see https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/categories/imdb_imdbcom?topic-list[settings][type]=idea).

For those interested, the final change was the advanced title search (ATS) form at http://www.imdb.com/search/title. It was a relatively small change so the page is pretty much as before, except the (broken) keyword suggestion search field is now a (working) manual field, and the entries in the include / exclude menus in "Lists" are now in most recently modified order for consistency with the rest of the site.  The suggestion search powered keyword field will return early in 2018.  This now clears the way for an upgrade to the back-end ATS software which will remove the 10,000 result limit. This same limit has already been removed from advanced name search at http://www.imdb.com/search/name via a similar upgrade as part of the migration work. 

We are already working on adding / returning features on the new platform.  The pace of this work will increase when more of the team are back in the office after the New Year holiday next week. Please see the individual announcement threads at https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb?topic-list[settings][type]=update to keep up with specific progress as things launch. 

You should already see a more consistent interface across the main IMDb site, and in 2018 you will see more consistency across all parts of IMDb (web site, mobile web, iOS app and Android app). If a feature is missing or limited in one or more interfaces then there's a good chance it is at least in planning. 

Repeating some text which I wrote in another thread earlier this week ...

The numbers we are watching here are all showing improved customer engagement, with even more potential as things like review sort orders and ratings filtering are added back in the New Year.  We now have: a consistent design across all core pages on the web site; list editing on the Android app; all user reviews readable everywhere; consistent (and automatic) character pages; news available everywhere; all data published  everywhere as it is processed and available for instant editing (not random sections running 24-36 hours out-of-sync); an easier data cross-linking format; a better help system; a faster suggestion search powered contribution system; more visible core box office information; more modern list editing (okay yes, drag-and-drop on web is an unfortunate casualty, but the rest is better IMHO); the end of the unmanaged wiki systems (open for all contributors, with FAQ coming soon). This had led to new registrations at an all-time high across 2017; data contributors and data contributions similarly on all-time highs, yet (ignoring temporary holiday backlogs this week) the fastest ever overall processing times plus with the smallest ever backlogs.  Behind-the-scenes almost everything is now on the same modern software platform with simpler, faster paths for future changes; hundreds of (sometimes) years old bugs have been resolved; scores of longstanding requests / suggestions have been implemented; consistency has improved hugely between the nine "on platform" sites and apps which our team directly supports (with more work to do here in 2018).

Of course, not everything today is perfect nor in its desired end state. As mentioned, we had to make some awful short-term trade-off decisions to ensure we completed the technology migration in 2017, but we are confident the short term pain is worth the long term gain. 

Sonny: "Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end." from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1412386/quotes/qt1645298 :-)

Thanks again for continuing to bear with us.  Lastly, thanks to the amazing IMDb team who have all worked hard across 2017 to get us to this point.  Onwards now to our traditional end-of-year "thank you" to IMDb's top data contributors which will be published as on Monday as usual (archive from 2016 and earlier, available at https://contribute.imdb.com/czone/top_msg). 

Col Needham
Founder & CEO, IMDb.com