Yesterday, YouTube announced a new commenting system that will be powered by Google+. The system, which is launching on channel discussion tabs this month, this week before rolling out to all videos over the next few weeks and months, will automatically rank comments and feature threaded and private conversations.
Right now, YouTube comments are a hotbed for spam and idiocy, something Google is painfully aware of. The new system aims to fix this by personalizing and ranking comments for each individual user.
Last year, YouTube started asking its users to connect their YouTube and Google+ accounts so more users would use their real names on the site. Today’s integration goes quite a bit deeper. The new system will switch away from the current, recency-based system and instead rank comments according to a wide range of factors.
As part of the Google+ integration, YouTube will now also aggregate public comments about a video from Google+ and display them on YouTube. Private messages, of course, will remain private. Thanks to the Google+ integration, users on YouTube itself will now also be able to have private conversations on the site by leaving comments that can only be seen by people in their Google+ circles or individual users.
Why I’m curious: Especially as a CM for both YouTube and Google+, it is interesting to witness the strategic moves Google enacts to make Google+ more relavant. Especially, I see this changing the nature of Youtube commenting, once a hotbed for spammers, trolls and all-around idiocy. Taking away anonymity from YT comments (though one can create a G+ page under any name or pseudonym and giving control to the YT video owner should make the comments more relevant, applicable and tolerable. But it is worrisome that by doing so, video posters can essentially block all negativity altogether. Will this be the death of dissent, and will the YT comment section go from hateful troll-infested waters to sanitized chamber of only the most clean and positive pre-approved comments? We shall see…