Monday, June 30, 2008

The Majority Does Not Rule

News today that Netflix is reversing field and not, repeat not, eliminating the Profiles feature on its website:

Netflix issues mulligan on profiles, won't eliminate the feature

According to Netflix, they intended to delete the feature (which allows members to set up separate profiles for their family members or roommates, with their own movie queue) because only a small percentage of members used the feature. Only it turned out to be a really vocal percentage, and now the company has been forced to backtrack.

Aside from my own personal pleasure in the announcement -- I love the profiles feature, since it allows my wife and me to split our four DVDs down the middle -- I think there's a lesson to be learned here. Namely, not all community members are created equal. I'm sure it's true that only a small percentage of Netflix subscribers used the feature, but it looks like that was the most passionate, dedicated members of the Netflix community. They were the core of that community, and you piss off your core at your own peril.

When it comes to site functionality, the majority does not rule; if something is used regularly by your most engaged, passionate, dedicated members, don't even think of eliminating it, or you'll see those engaged members migrate to your competitor.