I love YouTube. I would love it even if I didn't regularly consult or write about it. It's a fantastic service that has made video-sharing dead simple—and has simultaneously revolutionized a lot of industries. It's made adding video to your website free and easy while also removing the obstacle of bandwidth charges. Every day millions of people find videos that are touching, moving, hilarious, heartbreaking, and awe-inspiring.
Yep… I'm a big, big fan of YouTube.
And I feel the need to say that because I'm about to list some gripes I have with the service. These are, as the title suggests, gripes that fall into the "stupid and petty" category… things that I believe would take one of my favorite online services and turn it from "Awesome" into "Perfect.” None of these issues keeps me up at night, or aggravates me to the point of anger… but are merely the sore thumbs sticking out to me on an otherwise amazing website.
Let's dive into the complaints, shall we?
1. Extra Clicks
When browsing videos, if I want to switch from "Today" to "This Week" or "This Month", I have to first click on the current setting before I can see the drop down menu of choices. That's two clicks to change the results instead of the one click they could accomplish if they made that drop down menu a hover. Maybe there's a really good reason they make you click on the current setting first, but I can't think of one (aside from maybe inflating page-view numbers, maybe, which I doubt they would do). But if Google is all about speed, and suggesting websites should get faster to rank better and provide better user experience, then why does their darling child company do this? It's not as though YouTube itself is averse to using hovers, as there are plenty in effect on other places of the site.
2. More Time-Period Filters Needed
As mentioned above, when I'm browsing videos on YouTube, I'm only able to see videos by three time periods: Today, This Week, and This Month. I would give real, honest money to be able to filter by more than just those three time periods. How about This Year? Or The Last 48 Hours? Or The Last Two Weeks? Two Months? And so on.
I guess this point is all about having more customization on the time-filters, which I think would help more users discover even more content. As it is… I can only see the most popular videos for today and for this entire week… but cannot know what video was most popular three days ago. So it begins to feel like I'm only getting a section of the site's content, instead of the whole.
3. Limited Selection When Browsing
When browsing videos, I can only get five pages of results. That is ridiculous. They are basically hiding the bulk of their content behind this arbitrary five-page cap. Sure, I can filter by topic on the left, and see a somewhat smaller segment of the week or month's most popular videos… but there are supposedly millions of videos uploaded per day. I am not able to keep going through results after five pages, and it feels like a ripoff, because I know there's video content for that imaginary sixth page… if I could only gain access to it. It's almost like they're trying to tell me that only the most popular videos are worth checking out.
If you use Search on YouTube… you can go well past five pages of results. So what gives?
4. Search Accuracy/Relevance
Search should still be better. I'm not saying it hasn't been improved… because it definitely has. But I still have regular occurrences where I search for logical keyword phrases (when hunting a specific video) and don't see the video I'm after on the first page of results. I'm sure it's much more difficult to be accurate with video results than it is with websites over on parent company Google's search. I'm just saying I still have more misfires than I do with Google, and it makes me sad.
5. Limited Filtering By Type When Browsing
I can really only filter types of videos by Popular, Most Viewed, and HD for filter types (aside from categories and time frame filters, obviously)? Oh, but then there's the "more" button… that I have to click on in order to get the drop down for (see point 1)… and it has Spotlighted Videos, Rising Videos, Most Discussed, Recent Videos, Most Responded, Top Favorited, Top Rated, Rentals, and As Seen On.
Okay. I guess. I mean… it still looks like I'm only supposed to be going after videos others have already said were awesome. Or are gaining views quickly. What about videos that are new? Oh, we have Recent Videos… right… and it goes five pages deep on search results, which is limiting.
What about Least Watched? Or Most Disliked? I'm being funny, of course, but not completely. What about some kind of Diamond in the Rough category? Something that doesn't have a ton of views, but is still rated highly by the viewers it has had? That could be a very interesting filter option.
6. Recommended Videos Not A Home Run
I'm sure YouTube is using an algorithm on the Recommended For You section that is more advanced than just one data stream. But why are they all pitched as being recommended for me "Because you watched…" some other video? And what I've watched before is obviously a big part of how they pick these "recommended videos," even if it's not the only factor, because I've certainly seen all the videos they're referencing with the "because you watched…" section.
But do you have any idea how many of my idiot friends send me video links in a given day? Or how many of those I don't like? Unfortunately, I don't know that I don't like them until I click the link (which gives the user no more indication of what kind of content the video will have than a bit.ly link does). So you're serving up recommended videos to me that I also don't like… based on the fact that I watched the first one… which I only watched because of my idiot friends.
Using videos I've viewed before as a main factor for how you suggest new ones says more about my selection in friends than it does my taste in video. But that being said… how about opening up the curtain a little bit more and showing us what other factors are at play? "Because you favorited?" "Because you shared?" How about "Because you copied the embed code or the URL?" or "Because you commented?”
There needs to be some improvement to this system, since more than half the videos recommended for me are not up my alley. I'm guessing that my logged-in behavior on YouTube provides more applicable data for predicting my future favorites than what is currently being used by the algorithm. Or else I wouldn't have "Iyaz – Replay" in my recommended list. If you do a lot of blind browsing, as I do, you're bound to be frustrated by the Recommended Videos system.
7. Copies and Copies of Copies
Let me get this straight… YouTube has such sophisticated technology at its disposal that they can automatically transcribe a video's audio track for captioning… or can tell when copyrighted content is being used so they can warn the rights holder… but they can't do anything about all the senseless copying of videos that goes on? Call me skeptical.
It's hard for me to know sometimes which instance of a video on YouTube is truly the original, so cluttered are the results with fakes, reposts, doubles, and other rip-offs. I understand that sometimes an event happens on television, such as a news blooper, and multiple users upload their own recording of the event. But in some cases it's pretty obvious that users are just stealing someone else's video and reposting it in the hopes of stealing views. (See the thumbnail to the right, which is a screencap of the results page for a search on "kung fu bear," and you can see that there are multiple instances of the video competing with each other for rankings).
And you'd think YouTube would want to fix that, because they're paying out money to people who place ads on their videos… and a lot of these reposted videos are simply scraping content and adding advertisements and stealing fame and fortune from the original uploader.
I'm not saying it has to be perfect, or that it even can be. But sometimes, when a video shoots into the stratosphere of popularity, there are fifty instances of it on YouTube within hours. And it feels like they ought to have some automated way to detect and prevent this kind of thing from happening.
I better wrap this up before it turns into a novel. Don't forget that this is intended to be a fun list of tiny gripes, and not representative of any kind of overwhelming dislike of the service. I love YouTube. I love it so much I use it all the time. And because I use it all the time, I have found some repetitive frustrations… and this was just an opportunity for me to vent those frustrations. If these are my main frustrations, then that speaks to how well the core service is working as a whole.
What are your complaints? What about YouTube do you hate? What drives you crazy that you wish they would change, beyond just the recent redesign that everyone seems to dislike? What little thing could YouTube do differently that would make your life, as a user, more productive and enjoyable?