The new YouTube was launched for everyone last week, and as usual, the changes were met with typical hatred, at least that's what I saw. Honestly, I'm the type of guy who, as long as I can watch videos for free like always, I could really care less what YouTube does to the site. I don't really see much difference, other than they made it cleaner and are trying to throw more channels at you. However, for a writer who likes to delve into video statistics and compare and contrast search results, I wish they had improved the ability to sort and filter through search results based off various video statistics and data.
Unfortunately, they in fact made that part a lot worse.
Search Results "Sort-by" Filter Removed
I dislike the idea of what view counts became, which are/were synonymous with "worth." YouTube realized this, and started giving less weight to view counts and more on time watched. However, it is an extremely useful statistic. It tells us what has been engaging viewers on what kind of scale, and I'm pretty sure that the definition of a view has changed over the past year as well, only counting when a significant portion of the video is watched. So, if the definition of a view has changed to make it harder to earn, then the view counts we see should be a good representation of that video's engagement.
Used to be, when you searched for a video, you had filters that allowed you to sort by relevance, date, or view count. Now you have this:
Notice how "view count" is completely gone. And so is "relevance." All the "Sort by" options have been removed. In the previous version of YouTube, you could pick only one. You couldn't have "view count" and "relevance" at the same time. You were stuck with one or the other. This would have been a great improvement to be able to pick both, since you can now pick multiple filters. But now, "view count" and "relevance" are completely gone, and I'm pretty sure that most of the remaining available filters are worthless.
FIX: Here's How to Re-Enable the YouTube Search Sort-By Features:
Fortunately, this has bugged many other folks and someone has created a greasemonkey script that allows you to add the sorting options back - http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/153580
Comparing & Contrasting YouTube Search Results
And what exactly makes certain videos appear on the results page before others?
In the above search for "cat" I got video with a huge view count of over 33 million at the top, mixed with others that had millions. And then there was one for 74,000 views, on the front page, beating other videos that had more. That video must have unbelievable metadata or some other factor to weed through all the other cat videos and make it to the top of the results page.
The fact that it is more difficult to compare and contrast video search results in YouTube is the change I'm the most upset about. Like I said, I can still watch videos and have a reasonable chance of finding whatever I want to watch on the site since the search engine is so powerful. But I cannot make sense of the data. I want to be able to compare videos of all genres against each other and compare and contrast. This is now virtually impossible.
YouTube Charts Simplified
For the longest time, YouTube has had charts where you can see find the most viewed videos of all time. You used to be able to see all sorts of statistics beyond most-viewed, including most-liked, most-subscribed, etc… and then narrow those down by genre. Here's what that looks like now
The only option now is most-viewed videos and with those, there are 4 choices when it comes to view counts. You'll notice that, strangely, "This Year" or "By Year" is unavailable. This is especially strange to be talking about at this time of year because we will be seeing all sorts of lists coming out from YouTube and other tracking services about which videos were the most viewed videos of 2012. Why is the "year" option not available? Is it such a big boon to YouTube to withhold that information and spring it on us at the end of the year? And by the way, we'll only be getting the Top 10. It would be nice to be able to see the "Top 100″ or even more. Another useful feature would be "The Past 12 Months." This data has to be available to YouTube somewhere, but not to us, and for no discernible reason.
So, the new YouTube has decided to axe some fun data that allow us to "make sense of it all." This is one of the many things I hope changes, but hey, get in line when it comes to hoping for anything concerning the site.