Are You ‘Shocked, Shocked’ by YouTube’s New Comment System?

Are you as “shocked, shocked” by YouTube’s new comment system as Captain Louis Renault was to find that gambling was going on in Rick’s Café Américain?

It’s worth taking a few minutes to examine the recent “controversy” over YouTube’s rollout of the new YouTube comments powered by Google+. It illustrates the three different groups that often struggle for influence within the YouTube Community.

Group 1: YouTubers

In the early days of the video sharing site, the first group was called YouTubers. These are users with YouTube accounts, which enable them to like your video, favorite it, post a comment, and subscribe to your channel.

Now, millions of YouTubers create videos and upload them to their channels, but millions of other users with YouTube accounts only post comments. And many of these comments would be flagged for violating YouTube’s community guidelines if they were videos.

As Rick Silvestrini, Product Marketing Manager, wrote on the YouTube Biz Blog back on July 26, 2010, “Comments can provide valuable feedback and additional information about your videos and your audience. Viewers will tell you what they like and don’t like about your videos. But you need to have a bit of a thick skin since there will always be haters and trolls; don’t take them too seriously.”

On Sept. 24, 2013, Nundu Janakiram, Product Manager, and Yonatan Zunger, Principal Engineer, first announced on YouTube’s Official Blog that better commenting was coming. Their post has generated more than 1,664 comments.

One of the top comments is by Ronnie Bincer, who works at The Hangout Helper in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He wrote five days ago:

Now that this is happening, there is a Revolt going on inside YouTube and many are spilling their poison here into the Google+ space out of spite, ’cause they are possibly starting to figure out that this change will not let them continue in the ways of the past so easily.

They can comment in the same way with their own friends that also like the foul stuff, and I think that their friends will let those comments remain. For others, I’m glad that we can get better interactivity between Google+ and YouTube, what for years I’ve referred to as GooTubePlus.

Realize that any change of any kind has always caused issues with those who have gotten used to a Free Site that changes at times in ways that the Owners of the Free site find most useful… Hey, we even get a bit miffed at times when G+ does things we don’t like, but it seems for many of us, we learn to adapt and move on… I trust that will happen for the YouTubers, but my experience there makes me wonder!

Group 2: Bloggers & Online Journalists

The second group that that struggles for influence within the YouTube Community consists primarily of bloggers and online journalists. They can embed your videos on their blogs and sites, often adding their commentary and perspective.

The initial reaction to YouTube’s new comment system by members of this group was fairly positive. More recently, however, other members of this group have expressed surprise that these changes have become “a matter of some controversy.”

Even The Editorial Page Editor’s Blog at The New York Times has lamented the passing of YouTube’s old regime for handling comments.

Now, The Times did acknowledge, “It’s sometimes a little frightening to read the comments on a YouTube video.”

And The Times also noted that these comments often included “a large helping of inanity as well as racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and pure nonsense. It’s well known that the YouTube comments section is a virtual septic tank. In the immortal words of BuzzFeed: ‘YouTube IS the room with the million monkeys and the million typewriters.'”

So, after YouTube tidies up its comments, what exactly will The Times – which has long had a strict moderation policy – miss the most? The Editorial Page Editor opines, “The comments, for now, are human, even if all too human.”

Seriously? Hasn’t anyone at The Grey Lady heard about astroturfing, the practice of masking the sponsors of a message (e.g., political, advertising, or public relations) to give the appearance of it coming from a disinterested, grassroots participant?

Who would use YouTube for astroturfing? Even Captain Renault could “round up the usual suspects.”

Group 3: People Who Share Videos

This brings us to the third group that that often struggles for influence within the YouTube Community. It consists primarily of people can share videos they’ve found on YouTube with their friends and social networks.

This group appears to be neutral – because they don’t need a Google+ profile or page on YouTube before sharing a video via email or Facebook, Twitter, reddit, tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social media.

So, What Should Video Marketers Do?

As Search Engine Watch suggested six weeks ago in the article, “YouTube’s New Comment System: 7 Things Video Marketers Should Do,” there are a series of things worth doing – even during the current controversy.

Remember, you’re not in Casablanca. You’re in YouTube Nation, which gets more than 1 billion unique visitors each month from around the world. And even if you are shocked, shocked by YouTube’s new comment system, you don’t want to forget your winnings, sir.

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