As netimperative reported yesterday, at a breakout session at this week’s Google I/O conference, Google has revealed that it is “working on some improvements to the YouTube comments system”, details of which should emerge in the coming months.
Noting that you can now share your Google+ profile on YouTube, netimperative speculates that this may be a first step towards making YouTube commenters more responsible for what they say within the channel by tying users’ real-life personae more closely to their YouTube profiles.
“If you are currently YouTube user joeysam87, you can now appear as Joey Samson, the full name from your Google+ profile (with an actual space in the middle!), along with any photo you uploaded,” YouTube announced in a blog post recently (though note that your YouTube url will not change – you’re stuck with “/joeysam87”)
Improvements to the comments system will be very welcome. YouTube is such a creative, functional resource, such a useful personal and business tool, but the comments on the videos are frequently spam, abusing or flaming. YouTube is the Wild West of the Internet: although there is a ‘safe mode’ which can be set to view videos in order to give parents some measure of reassurance, the filter system doesn’t apply to the comments.
I’m a firm believer in the ‘broken windows’ theory applying to online spaces: if viewers see a clean well-mannered comment stream, they are far less likely to post unacceptable content.
Perhaps YouTube could attempt a two-pronged attack to help tame the wild frontier of their ugc? Linking users’ social profiles should result in a cleaner stream, as users are held more firmly to account for their words. But perhaps they could also consider building in moderation filters and content queuing systems?
Whilst we recommend to brands that they continually monitor their channels in order to safeguard their reputations and protect their viewers, this hasn’t been very easy on YouTube. What is available on the native system amounts to an inbox which tells you when there have been comments on one of your videos, but it only surfaces the most recent comment. If a hundred heinous things have been posted (and they frequently have), it only tells you about one of them: you have to go through to the front end as admin to deal with it all.
There are existing options to aid moderation: I believe that there may at least one third party working with YouTube who has included the platform in a bespoke management systems, and it is possible to set comments to pre-moderation only: if brands are short on resource, they may well be advised to take the latter option. But it would be excellent if Google could make it easier for conscientious brands eager to protect their reputation and improve the viewers’ experience to do so: if YouTube commenters can’t be encouraged to drop their weapons, the installation of a native filter and moderation system would at least mean that brands have both barrels loaded in defence.