Netflix Will Continue To Farm Its Research Out To Cash-Strapped Nerds

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Netflix's last foray into research bribery, a million dollar prize for anyone who could improve the company's recommendation algorithm by 10%, was a success, both as a programming project and a spectator sport. Naturally, they're doing it again.


Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer at Netflix, dropped this on the Netflix forum:

The advances spurred by the Netflix Prize have so impressed us that we're planning Netflix Prize 2, a new big money contest with some new twists.

Here's one: three years was a long time to compete in Prize 1, so the next contest will be a shorter time limited race, with grand prizes for the best results at 6 and 18 months. While the first contest has been remarkable, we think Netflix Prize 2 will be more challenging, more fun, and even more useful to the field.


He doesn't give any meaningful clues as to what the second challenge will be about, but CNET, having either talked to Hunt or simply just made a bunch of stuff up, seems to think it could be all manner of objectives, from "creating an algorithm to suggest other users to befriend" to "helping the company better determine which movies to purchase to meet demand." But hey, why not just do this for everything? It'd be like having an endless army of unusually eager, underpaid employees, except without all those pesky "labor laws" and "benefits."

Details of the second contest should come on September 1st, when the company will also announce who's getting the cash from the first contest, after that more-fun-than-it-had-any-right-to-be nailbiter of a finish. [AP via CNET]