YouTube can be a number of things to different people. It’s a valuable advertising platform, a video hosting service, a social network by itself, and the second largest search engine after Google. As great YouTube is though, the comment system is another thing entirely. You’ll be surprised at some of the negative, sometimes racist or misogynistic comments you’ll find there. It’s been a long time problem on YouTube and has gotten bad enough to spark arguments about free speech and anonymity. Well, YouTube is about to change that now that its comment system is powered by Google+.
Making the Move from Comments to Meaningful Discussions
Prior to the revamped comment system, YouTube comments were sorted according to the last made comment. Whether the comments would trigger a lot of engagement or not was irrelevant. If you come to a particular comment too late, there was a good chance you would miss out on some YouTube comment gold.
The new Google+ powered comment system changes this by showing the comments that are most important to you first. How this is determined is based on a few things. According to CNET.com:
[Nundu Janakiram, product manager at YouTube] explained that three main factors determine which comments are more relevant: community engagement by the commenter, up-votes for a particular comment, and commenter reputation. If you’ve been flagged for spam or abuse, don’t be surprised to find your comments buried, but that also means that celebrities who have strong Google+ reputations will be boosted above others.
In addition, any comments on YouTube videos that have been shared on Google+ will also show up on YouTube itself on that same video. If you happen to have a particular commenter in your circles, their comments will show up higher up as well. And if you comment to anyone in your circles, you even have the option of making it private or public.
Of course, you can still switch to the old recency-based sorting method. Naturally, old comments won’t be deleted but will be attributed to the Google+ profile of the user who made the comment.
Moderating What You Get to See
The new comment system will also provide YouTube users with a number of moderation capabilities, such as filtering out blacklisted words, whitelisting specific commenters, and being able to review comments. These new tools should make it easier for everyone from content creators to the average user to moderate comments so there’s less time spent on that and more time spent creating actual content and engaging with the community.
What This Means to Vloggers and Channel Owners
Additionally, it allows you more control over your reputation on YouTube. The new moderation capabilities make it easier to screen for negative comments through the typical white listed users, blacklisted words and comment review.
But what’s really valuable to internet marketers will be the natural ability of the community to self-govern the comments they see. Comments that get a lot of down votes automatically get pushed down into oblivion while popular comments with a lot of up votes get pushed to the top for you to see them. So if you have an engaged fan base and someone tries to sneak in and leave some negative comments and possible start a negative comment campaign, your fans will actually do the heavy lifting for you. And the larger your follower base, the better since they’ll be able to down vote it so far down that few people will ever get to see it.
Another interesting new feature though is that YouTube will stop telling users that they’ve been blocked. Love it or hate it, there’s a lot of value in it for content creators and channel owners. TechCrunch says:
This, the team hopes, will fool them into believing that their comments were posted and stop them from creating new accounts after they’ve been blocked.
This isn’t just for trolls, but a way for content creators and channel owners to combat against negative marketing where competitors might hire people to flood the attack to a particular video with negative comments.
What This Means for You
So what does this mean for you? You get to see more comments from people you are more interested in and fewer comments from mean-spirited trolls. And any conversation that you’re already engaged in will show up at the top as well. The real hope though is that the switch to a less anonymous environment to one where there’s a face behind the name will result in lighter and more meaningful interactions. Of course, you can still use a pseudonym if you want. It’s not exactly anonymous, but at least you won’t have to share your full name.
What This Means for Google
Google+ is widely seen as a ghost town and this new move might be a way to make it seem like the social network has a more active user base. As active as commenters are on YouTube, it would instantly breathe new life into Google+ while fixing the comment system on YouTube at the same time.
This isn’t the first time Google+ has done something like this to make it seem like people are more engaged on the social network. They also did it with another Google-owned property, Blogger. It will no doubt make it seem like people are as engaged on Google+ as they are on YouTube, but really, I see little impact on its ghost town status anytime soon. It’s simply another way to get people to sign up for a Google+ account and automatically share content that was meant for somewhere else.
When Will the New Google+ Powered YouTube Comment System Roll Out?
As of right now, only a few people have access to the new features. According to ReelSEO.com
The roll out will begin in stages, with many channel owners able to access the new moderation and ranking features this week. YouTube confirm that individual video pages will be upgraded by the end of this year. Users can opt out of sharing their comments on G+.