YouTube's comment section tries to lose the vitriol

Steven Loeb · September 24, 2013 · Short URL:

Revamped comments section will promote relevant conversations

A recent study found that, yes, actually, the Internet does make people angrier. And if you want proof of that, just go to the comment board of any article, on any website, for any subject. Cute kittens? Orphans? It doesn't matter, it all fills people with unmitigated rage.

The YouTube comment board is no exception. The fights that I have seen break out over a Justin Beiber video will make your hair stand on end. Or drive you to drink. It's a depressing display of the lowest of what humanity has to offer.

Unlike some sites (coughYAHOOcough), though, YouTube actually wants to do something about the vitriol that is spewed daily for, frankly, no reason. So it announced Tuesday that it revamping its comments section to make it both cleaner and more relevant.

The overhauled system will push up the comments from both the creator of the video, as well as people who are in your Google+ circles. Also pushed to the top: "popular personalities." So if Kanye West decides to go on a rant on one of his videos, that is what you will see. Hey, at least it will be entertaining! And a rant that you, probably, would want to actually read. 

This is also presumably means pushing down all of the racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic nonsense that appears. And to that, we can all say: thank you. 

In case that doesn't work, though, YouTube is taking extra steps: it is also making it easier to moderate comments. That means being able review comments before they are posted, blocking certain words and auto-approving comments from fans that the uploader knows are trustworthy. 

Hopefully all of this works, and other sites take similar steps. I dream of the day when the Internet is no longer a cesspool of stuff people would be embarrassed to write on the bathroom wall.

Reengaging the fans

Cleaning up the comments section is not only about trying to keep things civil; its about trying to drive up users numbers. Ultimately, the point is to create a better experience for YouTube viewers, and to get them to reengage with the videos that they are watching.

I'd love to see some exact numbers on this, but I have a feeling that many people do not even scroll down to the comments section, let alone post there, because it has become so unpleasant. If YouTube can successfully make the comment section inviting again, it may just worrk.

This is is not the first move YouTube has made recently to make the comment section more engaging. Earlier this month, YouTube got rid of a feature that, basically, nobody knew existed anyway: video responses. And it was simply because they weren't relevant: only .0004% of users, or four out of every one million, were clicking on them.

The more conversations a video can drive, the more people will, presumably, want to watch it. So making the experience as relevant as possible is the name of the game.

"When it comes to the conversations happening on YouTube, recent does not necessarily mean relevant. So, comments will soon become conversations that matter to you," Nundu Janakiram, Product Manager, and Yonatan Zunger, Principal Engineer, wrote.

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