Advanced Title Search

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I am writing to let you who bitterly disappointed I have become with IMDb over the last few months.

I have been a member for 14 years and frankly your site is the only one I use for movie information.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with you.

In 2006 I started to create a little excel table from information in IMdB to start tracking the movies I owned and movies I wanted to buy in the future.  It was nothing complicated, just a dataset of the Movie Title / Year of Release / Number of Votes Cast and Vote Ranking.  I soon got into the habit of updating this list on a weekly basis and it was interesting to me to see how the table changed week by week.  In the meantime I set about a task to build my collection of films (99% of which were purchased from Amazon) upto over 2000 Blu-Rays which was largely based on films in the top 250 movies of all time as they were when I produced each subsequent list as well as the top 250 voted on movies.

All went swimmingly and week by week I built up my little folder of excel files over the next 10 years.  It gave me something to do on a Saturday morning and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The way I sourced this data was simply to run an advanced search for movies with over 25,000 votes (or whatever your current threshold was in regard to highlighting the most popular films at the time), report that data in a compact view and then simply copy and paste into an excel workbook.

Then in summer last year you guys made a significant (and indeed to you might say much needed) change to the search results insofar as you (a) added thumbnails to the compact search, a (b) hid the number of votes behind the rank.

Despite my (and other users) negative feedback on this matter which seems to have been roundly ignored by IMDb staff, I then went through the far more onerous task of taking the movie data through the ftp alternative interfaces.  This included a lot more work as I now had to contend with thousands of titles I needed to exclude once I’d downloaded the data.  The resulting search instead of taking me only a hour of the day stretched out into a good half a day of sorting and deleting documentaries, tv episodes, video games and made-for-tv movies. However, the format I needed was still there and I could live with it (although the work involved meant I now only did this once a month rather than weekly). I even took out a Pro subscription to see if I could get the data I wanted through that interface but if anything this is worse than the regular “free” site for searching in.

So, this month I sit down at my PC to run the June report and what do I find - the FTP sites have been closed. Now they point me towards Amazon Web Services and a process that is way beyond my level of expertise.

So in effect what I consider be my hobby and something I enjoyed doing once a week has been laid asunder by your team who while they are looking to make improvements to the system (which is otherwise commendable) have forgotten the core visitors to your site who aren’t IT professionals.  Would it be too much to even just have a alternative view of the compact search facility whereby you report the following.

Movie Title
Year of Release
Number of Votes Cast
Voting Rank
(NO Thumbnails)


It just worked guys.  Can’t you please help us, your core membership, retain some of the simpler functionality.  I’m sure it would be a minimal amount of work on your part and would allow me to continue my pastime for the foreseeable future.
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Chris Hill

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Posted 2 years ago

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Col Needham, Official Rep

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Thanks for the feedback and sorry for the inconvenience caused. 

It sounds like you can do everything you need with IMDb lists, advanced title search (ATS) and the "Export list" features. 

I am happy to walk you through what you need to do here as I also drive all my viewing and purchasing using a set of IMDb lists with advanced search. 

It may take a little time to set-up but once you are done, it should be significantly easier than downloading and processing files from the ftp servers. 

We can do a few practice steps first to see if this will give you what you need.  

1. I have voted for every movie which I have seen since 1980 so it is slightly easier in ATS to limit results to unseen titles using the "Exclude titles I have seen" option in the "Your Ratings" section of http://www.imdb.com/search/title -- you do not have to do the same thing, however, it does make some searches easier as a result.  If you would prefer not to rate everything, go to the "Your Lists" page which can be accessed via the pull-down menu in the upper right of every IMDb page which will be labelled with your IMDb user ID or your name.  In the upper right of "Your Lists" page you will see a box inviting you to create a new list.  This link goes to http://www.imdb.com/list/create -- you will want to create a new title list called "Seen" or some such similar title. 

2. Create a list to track the titles you own using the same method described above, call this list "Own" or "DVD" or whatever you prefer. Add one representative highly voted title to this list which you own. 

3. Create a list to track the titles you wish to buy using the same method again, call this "To Buy" or whatever you prefer. 

4. Now start at http://www.imdb.com/search/title and choose the "Feature Film" option in "Title Type"; set the minimum number of votes to 25,000; change the sort order to be by number of votes descending.  This will give you just over 4,000 titles at http://www.imdb.com/search/title?count=250&num_votes=25000,&sort=num_votes,desc&title_ty...

5. Let's assume you own the title with the most number of votes, The Shawshank Redemption (1994), so open that title page in a new browser tab, hover your mouse over the "+" next to the title and wait for the lists menu to appear.  You can now add this to your "Own" (or equivalent) list from #2 above. 

6. Return to the ATS page in #4, keeping the search parameters the same, and additionally in the "Lists" section via the "Exclude" box use CTRL+click to multi-select both your "Own" and "To Buy" lists as created in #2 and #3 note that this time "The Shawshank Redemption" is no longer included in the results. 

7. Let's assume you do NOT own the new top match from #6, The Dark Knight (2008), so use the process in #5 to add this title to your "To Buy" (or list from #3)

8. Repeat the search from #6 and note that "The Dark Knight (2008)" is also excluded from the results. 

9. Via the "Your Lists" page go back to your "To Buy" list (from #3) and click the "Export this list" link at the bottom of this list.  This will download an Excel compatible file containing one title to your local system.  This file includes the number of votes and the rating for the one title in the list.  You can manipulate this file with Excel as you wish. 

If this works for you, you can start to build other ATS queries which include/exclude titles which you have seen (either by voting for them or adding them to a "Seen" list in #1) and/or you wish to buy or which you wish to see.  I can walk you through other usage scenarios if the above works. Add to the lists you create (or vote) via the searches as appropriate and eventually you should have a simpler, yet more powerful system than the one you had previously. 

Personally I have multiple "ownership" lists, one for each type of format (DVD/Bluray/same for other family members) and I have a set of bookmarked ATS queries for every occasion. I can do things such as "All titles I have not seen and I do not own which are available for streaming on Amazon Instant Video, sorted by number of votes" or "Every comedy I have on Bluray sorted by my rating" (to re-watch something funny which I love). 

Let us know how it goes. 
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Chris Hill

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Col, many thanks for your comprehensive response.  I ran this process earlier and indeed this is a workable solution. I'm now up and running again and although the first pass was a bit laborious I'm certain subsequent searches will be a lot faster.  Many thanks for your help, I really do appreciate your help.

Best regards
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Col Needham, Official Rep

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I am glad this worked out. Please start a new thread if you need any further help.

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