IMDb "Known For" Section desperately needs change

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Suggestions for the IMDb "KNOWN FOR" section...

IMDb's 'cache" in our business and the World, is that we feel we can trust what is posted at IMDb as accurate. I highly recommend the following suggestions in regard to the "Known For" section:

1. Give us the ability to turn it on or off from within our profile.
2. Give us the ability to list more projects as "known for"... up to 10
3. Give a choice of different algorithms, as one might work better for one person than another.
4. Or else... Delete it until you find a better way...

Everything on the "works" section is verifiable & therefore changeable, and everything in the "profile" section is programable by the person. But your "Known for" section is coming across as some computer's weird erratic opinion..., which in some cases might be considered hurtful to the person's identity or career..., and it undermines the legitimacy of the rest of the information on the page. In some cases it is almost comical. Further, your FAQ's which say... "Please don't ask us to edit "Known For" titles for you -- we can't" - is highly offensive when you are dealing with people's careers, and livelihoods.

Thanks for giving us this place to speak out...
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Gary Bar

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  • frustrated & not alone

Posted 6 years ago

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bluesmanSF, Champion

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But if you understand its main purpose, identifying which name in a list is the one you're looking for, it really makes your points moot.

Turning it off would make some functions of the site hard to use. For instance, adding names into a search or using collaborations. The function offers title from filmography so you can choose the correct name. For that matter, submitting data in general might become less accurate.

It's not meant to distinguish the "best" work, which would be impossible anyway because that would be based on opinion.

Like the Roman numeral after names, people seem to want to attach a significance to the function that isn't there. And, again, getting rid of it or turning it off makes necessary and core functions of the site, searches primarily, work less efficiently.

known for FAQ's

See also

With 5 1/2 million people listed and peoples' filmography changing constantly, they'd need a large crew working around the clock Fielding requests for changes (then requests to change again as filmographies get added to). No one means to offend you by stating what is common sense...add to that, that there really is no reason other than pride or simply differing opinion for switching known for titles back and forth. Afterall, it's "Known For," not "best work."
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Ronald Thompson

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Your answer does not address that person's issue at all. They are talking about the known for titles on the actor's page, you seem to talking about the title that appears beside names when doing a search.  I TOTALLY understand what this person is saying by comical and hurtful to one's online identity and career.  Just have a look at my page....

Two of them no movie poster even (should be a bare minimum requirement among selections that DO have images), and they are least popular selections of the entire bunch.  No one ever said "best work" just credits that make more sense.  Tell me do you think more people would be more "known for" the high budget long running and culturally popular hit TV series Supernatural or the obscure student film no one has ever seen?  Give me a break. 
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Giancarlo Cairella, Official Rep

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The 'known for' information is meant to provide a quick aid to identifying a name in the database, especially when a person has a name that is similar or identical to someone else's.

It's not meant to pick the 'best' title of a person's career, or the credit that is most worthy of being in the spotlight (although in some cases the choice will match those two criteria). It's not a promotional tool -- it's a device used to help users identify/distinguish names. As such, popularity weighs very heavily among the factors used to pick these titles.

When users search for the name 'John Carpenter' they need a way to tell at a glance whether the John Carpenter entry in search results is the guy who directed Halloween and Escape From New York or the actor who appeared in Network and Tootsie; when users land on a page for a John Williams, they need an easy way to tell whether this is the American composer who scored Star Wars and Jurassic Park or the British actor who appeared in Dial M For Murder and To Catch a Thief.

This also explains why we don't allow (and don't plan to allow) opting out of having a 'known for' title selected for a name: since this information is used when displaying search results, there'd be no way to tell names apart if it were missing.

The system is automated for several reasons:

  1. It would be impossible to manually select these credits for each of the 5.4 million names in the database.
  2. The selection of which titles/credits are more representative of a person's career is often very subjective. An older person familiar with Julie Christie's career in the 1960s would pick Dr. Zhivago or Darling as her best/most famous roles, but a young guy is more likely to have seen her and associate her name only with recent films like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or Finding Neverland. Put these two people together in a room and they'll violently disagree with our choice of 'known for' credit for her, no matter which one we pick.
  3. Someone's need or desire to be associated with a certain credit doesn't necessarily imply that their choice is the best for the purpose of easy identification. As stated above, the 'known for' credit is not designed to be a promotional tool -- an actor who has recently changed careers and directed his first film might want his directing debut to be the credit next to his name, but although that desire is perfectly understandable, the vast majority of users would still identify/recognize/associate him with one of his past acting roles. Some people are unhappy to be identified with a specific title because of typecasting concerns or because they consider other work to be better/more representative of their abilities, or because they want a more recent title next to their name. But the main criteria used to determine the 'known for' title is popularity/recognition. It's the title/credit that is more likely to get people to say "oh, that John Williams" when you mention it after their name.

For all these reasons, we will never have a mechanism able to pick titles/credits in a way that will be considered to be 100% accurate/satisfactory by all of our users -- there are just too many conflicting needs and opinions about what is the 'best' title for any given individual. We think that the system currently used works well for the vast majority of cases, and we periodically tweak it to make it even more relevant/accurate. Obviously there are and will always be edge cases and exceptions and situations where someone disagrees with the automated choice;
and when these anomalies are brought to our attention, we use them to improve the system.
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Ronald Thompson

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Look at my profile and tell me if your algorithm is working the way it is meant to.

You say it's a way to distinguish who that actor is then tell me who is going to look at my page and see and say "oh he was in Pearly Gates, I know that student short even though there is no movie poster to identify it"  

It's a good idea but just admit it DOESN'T WORK.  I mean clearly there is NO RHYME OR REASON to how these credits are selected.  Here's an idea of criteria listed in order of importance that your algorithm should use.....

1) Does it have an image
2) How popular is the credit.  

It really isn't more complicated than that.  Of the credits that have images, which four are the most popular.  No one is going to complain about the most popular credits of their work being shown in the "known for" section.  It's when the obscure student short with no image and no other recognizable actors gets listed there that people have a problem with cause it makes no friggin sense.  
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Jason Sereno

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Yeah, my 'known for' titles were also screwed up in December. The titles IMDB picked were so obscure and ancient that I felt compelled to start an account to change them back to the old/proper titles. Now that I'm canceling my membership, an email tells me those 'known for' titles are going to revert back to the obscure videos from 8 years ago that are measurably less popular than my other work. It seems like a grift.
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that1guy111987 .

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This is pretty weak.  At least update some of the titles.  I can't imagine it's that difficult to change the "known for" to be up to date.  I'd like to know what you had for Brad Pitt before World War Z.  
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(closed account)

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"I'd like to know what you had for Brad Pitt before World War Z."
In late November 2013, "World War Z" replaced "Moneyball" on Brad Pitt's "Known For" list. ("Moneyball", in turn, had replaced "Se7en" a couple of months earlier.)

(Source: Archived page snapshots from the Wayback Machine at
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Karen N. Kahler

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I'm baffled by an algorithm that would say I am known for a student film I did a decade ago (to the best of my knowledge, not an award winner or a film widely screened at festivals) while ignoring the credits for which I am actually...kind of known. As it stands, my first "Known For" title provides "a quick aid to identifying [my] name in the database" that is useful pretty much only to the makers of that student film. The "popularity and recognition" factor cited above seems to have had nothing to do with this selection. It surprises me that this more obscure title has not been pushed out by something else more high-profile by now.
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Ronald Thompson

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I feel you. That's my exact issue as well.  
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Michael Howard

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And sadly this is STILL an issue in mid-2016.  I have directed two feature films, one that has larger industry names involved, and 3 of my 4 "known for" are college films that were made over 10 years ago with no famous names or anything noteworthy.  Three of them are without posters.  I've also acted in a network show and it doesn't list that one. Just because early on, those short films were the ones clicked on the most, it definitely should have updated over the years.  Very frustrating. 
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Cyd Schulte

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I agree with Ronald Thompson. The "Known For" algorithm should have credits that have images and just be the four the are the most popular on IMDB. On my page, the algorithm has a title in my 'Known For' section of a film that I am not even in and 3 nobody knows films, but nothing about the popular TV  and films that I am in ( I am sorry but it is a terrible program and it can indeed negatively affect an actors online image. Thanks for trying IMDB, but your position on the matter makes it appear that you not only do not care about your actors, but that you are intentionally trying to hurt them. That is how it feels to me anyway. I do hope you can reconsider your position and fix the algorithm. It really isn't complicated.  Of the credits that have images, the four that are the most popular. And as Ronald says, if it were that way I doubt you would get as many complaints about it. Thanks
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Apparently, a recently introduced feature can allow IMDbPro subscribers 
some control of "Known For" listings on the subscriber's claimed name page.
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The algorithm used by IMDb for it's "Known For" choices... SUCKS! I have 35 years in the business and 68 credits to choose from and the algorithm selects "Stepford Wives"? You've gotta be kidding me. These "Known For" headings are the first (and sometimes only) thing seen on someones profile and should be selected by the user, not some numerically abstract equation, which obviously works badly. Users shouldn't be forced to subscribe to IMDbPro in order to make this basic and important presentation choice. IMDb can and should offer ALL it's users access to basic screen credit presentation requirements. It should not be only for those who can afford to pay an extra monthly charge. This is a singular and simple fix, requested by many users. Come on IMDb, get current with simple technology. Thanks

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