Wanted: Netflix ‘tagger’, must withstand TV torture

The company loves categorising everything, but its micro-genres can never be ‘objective’

Thu, Jul 10, 2014, 02:00

Dear Netflix, I see you have a vacancy. I wanted to let you know I’m your perfect Senior Data Engineer/Architect of Global Payment Analytics. Only joking, it’s the “we’ll pay you to watch TV” job that caught my glazed eye: “UK/Ireland Tagger” based in “London, GBR”, it says on the job spec, although the “role will offer flexible hours based from home”.

As I have one of those “analytical minds” you’re seeking, I’ve spotted a discrepancy there. Still, I’m happy to learn that this position pays well enough for me to be able to afford London rents.

Via press release, you announced you’re looking for a “very special discerning viewer” to join your worldwide team of about 40 taggers. These are the humans who categorise your library and, with considerable help from “top-secret algorithms”, serve up personalised recommendations. The video explainer was cute, particularly the bit about people’s “Grans” having a penchant for “Violent Revenge Thrillers”. My granny was more of a snooker fan, but anything’s possible, and I’m sorry to bring up the whole live sport thing. I hope the World Cup hasn’t been too catastrophic for your considerable share of broadband traffic.

Your tagging system is “a little bit art, a little bit science”, you say. You certainly don’t have to be an algorithm nerd to wonder why my “Because you watched Call the Midwife” list suggests “Nurse Jackie”. I see what happened there. Thanks also for the recommendation to watch Nine Months, that pregnancy movie best known for being the one Hugh Grant was promoting when he got caught on Sunset Boulevard that time. The 1990s were so great.

I admire your commitment to rate how much sex is in a film using a numerical ranking of 1-5, rather than the more common scale of “not enough” to “naked Ryan Gosling”. You’re probably being tongue-in-cheek when you describe your system as “super-accurate”. Still, I must point out that your mission to describe every film and TV show using “objective” tags is more flawed than Don Draper.

Take your “Exciting” films category, for instance. The keywords for inclusion seem to be “bombs”, “terrorism”, “explosions” and such like. No disrespect to Fireman Sam: The Great Fire of PontyPandy, in which Norman and Derek “accidentally create a raging wildfire”, but when I look at my “Exciting” list, I feel jaded.

I’ll tell you what excites me: Chalet Girl. Will poor Alpine novice Felicity Jones triumph against the odds, win the snowboarding competition and get to slalom off-piste with rich Ed Westwick? It’s the definition of predictable thrill. But I notice you haven’t got Chalet Girl in your movie catalogue. If you did, I’d categorise it as “Romantic British Underdog Film with a Bill Nighy Cameo”.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.
From Monday 20th October 2014 we're changing how readers sign-in to comment, click here for more information.