Earlier this month, Google launched a new commenting system on YouTube powered by Google+. Google said in its announcement that the "comments you care about" would move to the top. The new system also enabled private conversations to take place around videos, and offered new tools for comment review.
The new system was simply "better," according to Google. As you may have heard, a lot of people disagreed.
Do you think YouTube's new commenting has improved the experience? Do you think the new system will be fine if Google can work out the kinks? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Of course there have been petitions set up to protest the changes. One at Change.org has 215,385 supporters as of the time of this writing.
Internet security industry veteran Graham Cluely, who often voices his thoughts on major changes to web products, wrote about how the new system opened up the spam floodgates.
"There’s an obvious drawback though," he writes. "Google+ allows you to post links. Which means, it’s easier than ever for spammers, make-money-fast-scammers and malware-spreaders to get airtime for their dangerous or irritating links."
"Of course, this may not be a technique which works in the long term as (hopefully) Google+ will suspend accounts which repeatedly abuse the system," Cluley adds. "That may sound like a solution to you, but it’s actually going to be a right pain in the neck if you’re unlucky enough to have your online accounts compromised, and exploited by spammers who want to use *your* name to spread their spam messages across social networks."
He mentions how one video provider with 16 million subscribers disabled comments altogether because the top comments they were getting were filled with links to virus sites and other spam.
Google has now responded to some of the criticism.
"Since we launched the new comments experience on YouTube two weeks ago, we’ve received a lot of feedback from creators on the increase in comment spam," the YouTube team said in a blog post. "While the new system dealt with many spam issues that had plagued YouTube comments in the past, it also introduced new opportunities for abuse and shortly after the launch, we saw some users taking advantage of them."
Google says it has implemented better recognition of bad links and impersonation attempts, improved ASCII art detection and changed how long comments are displayed.
"We know the spam issues made it hard to use the new system at first, and we’re excited to see more of you getting involved as we’ve fixed issues," YouTube said. "New features like threaded conversations and formatted comments are coming to life, thanks to you and your fans."
The company says it will soon launch more tools for comment management, including a bulk moderation feature. It also says it's working on improving comment ranking and moderation of old-style comments.
The comment ranking algorithm is indeed in need of some major improvement. As it stands, some videos are flooded with comments simply saying what the video is, because they are simply Google+ shares. For example, people were sharing this video of Matt Cutts on Google+, and letting their followers know what the video is about. That's fine for Google+, but it doesn't make for very good discussion on a YouTube video when a bunch of people are just saying what the topic of the video is.
As Sarah Perez at TechCrunch notes, the algorithm also rewards troll comments because of they get so many responses.
YouTube's improved ASCII art detection is likely a direct response to what the company would consider spam, but in reality is protest from users over the new commenting system.
I'm sure you've seen Bob and his arsenal by now:
So far, comments on YouTube's own announcement of the update have been fairly positive, but we'll see how the community as a whole reacts. Either way, if Google has done as it says, we'll probably be seeing less of Bob.
One of the biggest complaints against the new system is that people simply don't want Google+ crammed down their throats. I don't see Google changing direction where that's concerned.
Do you think Google is on the right track with YouTube comments? Share your thoughts
Images via YouTube