Did the Integration of Google Plus Make YouTube Comments Worse?
On November 6th, 2013 YouTube announced that it had begun implementing their new comment system: all users were now required to integrate their YouTube accounts with Google+. Their reasoning for this drastic change was to diminish spam and help personalize the YouTube experience by showcasing comments from those you care about (friends in your circle). It’s a change that some say was a step in the right direction, but actually it seems that Google Plus made YouTube comments worse.
“No Anonymity” Hurts Regular Users Too
The veil of anonymity is a strong one; certain individuals use that veil to leave spam messages full of mockery and hurtful speech. It’s turned YouTube into a negative space, so much so that certain social media profiles are dedicated to reminding their followers to not read the comments.
Yet, they’re not the only ones who favor using usernames on the Internet. Regular users who prefer to keep their viewing habits separate from their identity make up the majority of people on YouTube; those who visit their favorite channels to view a multitude of videos a day for their fix of entertainment.
This also applies to popular YouTube creators like PewDiePie; YouTube creators who prefer to go with pseudonyms versus their full name. Some may prefer pseudonyms for security reasons, while others are trying to maintain a unified brand. Whatever the case, not everyone who posts on YouTube wants to showcase their real name. YouTube does provide the option to use your username over your full name, but only if you create a second Google+ account separately, an unnecessarily confusing process.
Not Being Able to Comment on Your Own Videos
Even after creating this second account, users found issues where they weren’t able to reply to their own video comments. Either the platform wasn’t recognizing their particular Google+ account to verify them to comment, or there was no reply link for them to click on. YouTube has bolstered that a key element to the integration has been to reduce spam, but if it’s stopping regular users from participating in conversation altogether, the change may have missed its mark.
No Limit on Number of Characters
Twitter has a limit on the amount of characters you can tweet, 140, while Facebook’s limit ranks all the way to 63,206. For Google+ there were no issues as long as the post was under 100,000 characters. This fact was abused tremendously in the first week of YouTube’s new comment system, where one comment could take up half the page—and most of the time this feature was abused, it was to actually users warning YouTube about the exploit. Eventually Google addressed this problem.
Approving Comments is Cumbersome
For brands, having the ability to approve incoming comments is fantastic to bolster positive communication versus the usual negative fueled landmine that usually accompanies very popular videos. However, when that review system is difficult to navigate, it makes users want to avoid it altogether. Then there’s the issue with top comments no longer being voted up; instead the top comments are those from your circles, ones from the Google+ profile belonging to the channel, and, most importantly, comments that are attracting the most attention. And on YouTube, “popular” comments are usually the comments that are the most unconstructive.
Google experienced firsthand what happens when you mess with a beloved system they themselves created then modified. YouTube has admitted that the transition hasn’t been a smooth one, and have thus addresses issues by creating a new tab that lists comments received for example.
Even so, YouTube creators have noticed a steep decline in fan participation in the comments, and some have opted to avoid participating in their own comments altogether. This begs the question if the merger between Google’s social platform, which is still fighting to get more participation, and it’s striving video sharing site (a social platform in its own right) was worth it.