Another day another story about YouTube comments. If you haven’t been living under a rock on the surface of the moon, then you’ve probably heard all about YouTube’s semi-disastrous comment update, which made having a Google+ profile mandatory for anyone looking to leave a comment on videos. While the backlash — as is the style of web crowds — was slightly overblown, it turns out that even Google+ boss Bradley Horowitz doesn’t necessarily disagree with his critics.
At a Le Web conference held in Paris Wednesday, Horowitz explained that the new comment system, from launch, was struggling. “To be clear, out of the gate we weren’t doing so well, and a lot of that had to do with ranking, and a bit of an arms race around spam and abuse,” said Horowitz.
As the new comments rolled out, we also spoke with a Google rep who told us that combating spam and abuse was a constant battle. Those who get their kicks from spamming comment sections apparently are quite deft at finding ways to work around newly implemented anti-abuse models. For instance, with YouTube’s Google+ integration, spammers began posting offensive ASCII images (images made of keyboard symbols), which naturally received the most attention in comment sections. Under the new system, comments that earned the most feedback (negative or otherwise) were rocketed to the top of the video page, as they were deemed “relevant.”
Despite the significant flaws in the comment integration, Horowitz stuck by the shift to Google+. He explained that the update was “a very beneficial thing for channel-owners and for commenters.”
The Google+ boss used 2012’s smash hit “Gangnam Style” as an example when discussing the potential the new comment system has for wading through pointless comments: “It means I can go to a video like ‘Gangnam Style’ that has millions of comments that were useless to me a month ago as I tried to paginate through them, but now we’re able to rank those comments in social proximity to me.”
Although Horowitz stands by the Google+ integration, the YouTube community had remained largely unhappy about the updates. At YTtalk, one of the community’s largest forums for independent creators, one YouTuber writes: “If my main were not with Maker Studios and making money for me, I would leave YouTube altogether; I don’t like being ‘force fed’ Google ‘features’.”
Back in November, YouTube issued a release stating that it was working on updating comments to combat the new crop of spam. With the update in place it seems as if spam and abuse has, in fact, dropped exponentially.