Hi Steve, I've been reading popstrip for a while, but since I worked with the people who ran the Netflix prize at that time I thought I should comment...
A lot of individuals and university students worked on the prize along with some corporate research groups. In the end many of them got together into a big team to win the prize by combining all their algorithms. The work they did was collectively worth well over $1M to Netflix, so the prize was a good deal.
Movies you haven't seen are predicted for you as one to five stars, then if you actually rate it, the difference is noted. The new algorithm was used to reduce that difference on average.
Not bothering to rate the movie at all would count as Meh, I guess?
For example the movie Lemon Popsicle http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/70060435 is predicted 1.3 stars for me, but 2.8 stars average, so some people must like it...