On Wednesday, Google announced that it is finally implementing the YouTube comment system change that users and video providers have been anticipating. They've moved to a Google+-powered commenting system, further tying YouTube to Google's larger "social layer".
Obviously the reaction is mixed. Do you think this is the right move for YouTube? Let us know what you think in the comments.
With the new system, Google says the comments "you care about" move to the top. Google knows what you care about. Got it?
In reality, users will see posts at the top of the list from the video's creator, popular personalities, "engaged discussions" about the video, and of course, people from your Google+ Circles. You do still have the option to see the most recent comments by switching from "top comments" to "newest first".
The system also enables you to adjust the privacy level of your own comments. You can comment publicly, or only to people in your Circles. Or even just to one person. Replies are threaded like they are in Gmail.
Video owners are provided with tools to review comments before they're posted, and can block certain words. They can also auto-approve comments from certain fans.
"If you're like the majority of people commenting on YouTube, you’ve already connected your account to a Google+ profile or page and can start commenting now," says Google in a blog post.
If your haven't connected your account, you can do so here.
"Remember, you’re in control of how you're seen publicly on YouTube, whether that’s keeping your current YouTube channel name, using your own name, or creating a new one," Google says.
While some, particularly Google+ users, will embrace the change (YouTube comments don't have the greatest reputation as it is), there are clearly plenty of people, including those providing the videos that aren't pleased with Google's move. Here's a small sampling of what people are saying about it on Twitter.
Ewww, those Google + comments meshed in under YouTube. I want quality, RELATED discussion on our vids.
— The Helldragon (@hfcthd) November 7, 2013
Why, new @YouTube comments. Why. I am displeased that there's no longer an open reply button. Conversation builds community. Fix it please.
— Jackie Rose (@JackieRoseMusic) November 7, 2013
well looks like replying to comments on youtube has become more difficult.. :/
— MDC Videos (@MDCVIDEOS) November 7, 2013
— Blargal (@Blargal) November 7, 2013
Google feels like it's pulling a Facebook with these changes to Youtube comments. No mark as spam, I can mute people but the comment stays.
— Philip Eatherington (@eatheringtonp) November 7, 2013
SOMEONE FIX THE YOUTUBE COMMENTS
— π (@JMTXY) November 7, 2013
While if you look at the comments on Google's own video about the changes (above), they don't seem too bad under the default option, but if you switch over to "newest first," you're going to see a lot of anger and hate. I mean a lot. Warning: you might need to take a shower after reading them.
There are likely plenty of YouTube users that simply have no desire to use Google+, and simply don't want to have another social network forced down their throat through a product that they've been using for years (including for years before Google+ even existed).
Even some frequent Google+ users have expressed disdain with Google's forcing of Google+ into its other products, including YouTube, in the past. We had a conversation with Wil Wheaton last year about this, in fact. It wasn't about comments, but Google had been testing a Google+ like button in place of the YouTube thumbs up button, which prompted him to post a rant to his Tumblr.
When we talked to him afterwards, he said, “The only reason that matters is because it’s part of how Google will decide who gets another season of the shows they’re sponsoring,” Wheaton tells WebProNews. “I want to be very clear about this: when I made my post on Tumblr, I wasn’t even thinking of that. I was thinking about how Google is forcing people who don’t want or need Google+ to sign up and use it.”
That's the thing. The YouTube commenting system is certainly a new way to drive more engagement to Google+. It's not as if Google has been shy about this strategy though. The company has long positioned Google+ as the "social layer" of the larger Google, as opposed to a separate product. The phrase "Google+ is Google," has been used by the company more than a few times.
The fact is that YouTube is part of Google (and a pretty huge part at that), and users are simply going to have to accept Google+ as part of that. Either that or find a different video site to meet their needs.
Do you think Google+ is being forced on people who don't want to use it? Is this the right move for YouTube, or do you think it will hurt the YouTube experience? Share your thoughts in the comments.