Vi Hart: cramming G+ into YouTube has made comments even worse, I'm leaving

Google has changed the commenting system on YouTube so that you need to be a Google Plus user to post; the new system uses algorithms to promote some comments above others, and has the perverse effect of making trolls more visible. Vi Hart, the incomparable math-vlogger (and a regular favorite around here) describes how Google's decision to double down on its flagging Facebook-alike G+ service by ramming YouTube users into it has made her lose faith in the service: now her regular, good commenters comments hover at the bottom of the pile, while hateful trolls whose messages generate a lot of replies are judged "good" by G+ and promoted to the top.

The promise of G+ in the beginning was that making people use their real names would incentivize them to behave themselves. It's abundantly clear now that there are more than enough people who are willing to be jerks under their real names. In the meantime, people who have good reason not to post under their own names -- vulnerable people, whistleblowers, others -- are now fully on display to those sociopaths who are only too happy to press the attack with or without anonymity.

Now even discussion is curated by Google, rewarding those who talk often, and promoting hateful inflammatory comments because they provoke responses. Taking all the collected data and computational power of Google and using it to optimally encourage people to watch advertisements and argue with each other is, in this author’s opinion, brazenly unethical. We can only hope that everything that’s happened in the last year has been unintentional and that Larry Page will have some sort of epiphany, pull out before the transformation is complete, and start putting the company’s energy into doing good things again, as in a heartwarming vampire holiday tale.

As for me, I’ll continue posting on my own RSS-enabled site and making my videos available as torrents, and maybe I’ll follow in the footsteps of the many other prominent YouTubers who are moving discussion of their videos off YouTube.

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Notable Replies

  1. If Facebook ever 'beats' Google, it won't be by building a better search engine, or through the magic of 'social graph search' or whatnot, it'll be because they managed to scare Google into smearing a layer of 'social networking' shit across the surface of more or less all their products.

    G+ started as a harmless, if worthless; backwater; but now you basically can't touch a Google property without dismissing at least one dialog box demanding that you link absolutely everything, and your real name, to everything else; because Benefits!

  2. agies says:

    If the worst comments float to the top because people are replying to them then perhaps everyone should remember to not feed the trolls.

  3. Ratel says:

    If you had any "good" commenters on YouTube you must have been pretty radically obscure. My advice: disable YouTube comments, start a blog, embed video, keep your comments there.

    I'm much more heartbroken that Herp Derp has been killed by this.

  4. churba says:

    Of course, it also doesn't help that all the people who can't deal with change are throwing their fucking toys out of the pram about this change, and upvoting shithouse comments to prove that the system is "Broken". And then, they complain that the fact they upvoted a giant ASCII penis to the top of the comments is an indication of how everything is terrible now and G+ is literally the Antichrist bringing the end of days. I cannot fucking wait till this bloody festival of sooking is over, and we can get back to business as normal.

    Really, it's the same people who whinge about Facebook changing it's interface every single time, demanding a return to the previous update. And no, this isn't special just because people can articulate their feelings on the issue in a way that sounds plausibly objective - I've seen the same thing happen with Facebook interface changes, people articulate these wonderful arguments about interface semantics, colour, flow, anything you can think of involving the design of an interface. Then they're arguing the exact opposite twelve months later when they're firmly used to it, and Facebook tries to bring in the next interface update.

  5. One could conclude from this that people who use a service don't want it changed, and try to avoid forcing it on them when there isn't any real purpose. Or one could express contempt for their users, constantly adjust things without regard to proper design, and have people like Vi Hart walk. They have a right to do that with their services, we have a right to point out that's how nice things get ruined.

    So what happens to you when services start requiring it? Besides, there are more levels of vulnerability than needing an all-out witness protection program. For instance, someone might feel the need to express themselves on-line under a pseudonym, yet still have a professional e-mail account. Having what is linked to what change is serious for a lot of people, whether or not you care about them.

    Right, no criticism at all - you know, for someone so anxious to defend google, you don't seem particularly good at using it. But it is true that far more people will complain when they actually see a change in practice and can tell what it means for them than when it is just a plan explained on blogs, I'll give you that.

    I thought Vi, with the links she provided, gave a reasonable overview of some reasons people don't want them. I'm not really sure which you don't get; your link is only some complaints about BoingBoing censoring commenters for things like non-feminist opinions, which I can sadly tell it doesn't do much, so I'm not sure the relevance.

Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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