We've talked about the issue of YouTube trolling before and the difficulty many creators have in balancing lively, entertaining and informed debate against negative and sometimes outright racist and misogynistic comments from those looking for trouble. It's been a problem on the internet since the beginning and has led to endless conversations regarding free speech. With the integration of YouTube and Google +, many of us suspected that anonymity may not be the great wall to hide behind as it once once and today YouTube announced that they were rolling out a brand new commenting system that starts to address the issue. Account holders are being given the facility to ban commenters who consistently leave negative remarks as well as filter out comments that contain certain trigger words. The highlights of the new features are:

  • More effective ways to moderate comments: Account holders are being given tools to block persistent offenders and trigger keywords. The aim being to spend less time having to moderate, and more time creating and engaging with the community.
  • Comments you care about move to the top: You’ll see posts at the top of the list from the video’s creator and people in your Google+ Circles as well as really relevant comments and posts from "popular personalities".
  • The chance to have public or private conversation: You can choose to start a conversation so that it is seen by everyone on YouTube and Google+, only people in your Circles or just you and another individual.

YouTube is giving each (signed in) visitor to the site access to comments from their friends and other people in their Google+ circles before that of random commentators. Just as they did with Search Plus Your World, YouTube are personalising the site just for you and making your network the most prominent voice you hear. Comments will rise to the top based on relevance, not recency so those from your friends and colleagues plus other video creators and celebrities will outshine those of the mean spirited troll. If a user posts a comment on a YouTube video and then shares that video on Google +, the comment will show up on both sites, hence the potential lack of anonymity. YouTube showed us an example of the new format:

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Ding Dong! YouTube Trolling Comments Are Dead   Or Are They? youtube trolling comments 606x593

Users will still be have the ability to upvote or downvote comments, and a YouTube spokesperson confirmed that these votes will be “one of many signals that now influence ranking.” 

Ding Dong! YouTube Trolling Comments Are Dead   Or Are They? youtube comment moderation 606x322

The roll out will begin in stages, with many channel owners able to access the new moderation and ranking features this week. YouTube confirm that individual video pages will be upgraded by the end of this year. Users can opt out of sharing their comments on G+.

  • Victoria

    Once again YouTube helps the popular get more popular. Not impressed at all. Perhaps others have good replies who may not be popular or on their google + page.

  • http://www.katimorton.com/ Kati Morton

    I was at YouTubeSpaceLA last night.... YouTube will also be allowing us to post links in our comments! Overall this new feature set is going to be powerful. The tie in with Google+ is really nicely done! congrats to the dev teams!

  • MrAndrews

    Have we gotten to the point where our own incivility is threatening our freedom of speech?

  • Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    If you see some of the dumb/mean spirited stuff people post on Facebook on their own profile, on other people's pages, you get a very good idea that the anonymity isn't the primary concern for the hardcore troll or even the uber offended person who vehemently disagrees with your opinion.

    What I think will be most powerful for the channel owners is the word triggers. The very ignorant are not highly imaginative when it comes to expressing their dislike and it's highly probable that a pretty short black list will keep their comments from seeing the light of day.

    That, and the ability to block them and send them on their way. :)

    • Carla Marshall

      I think the keyword trigger moderation feature and the ability to block other users are huge game changers for the site

      • Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

        Just saw Gizmodo's headline and thought, "BINGO!" . . .

        "YouTube Comments Will Soon Be Less Racist, Homophobic, and Confusing"

  • Daniel Foster

    A step in the right direction for sure. Now if only YouTube would let us post links in the comments on our own channel... :)

  • Frank Schwarz

    I've never been a fan of commenting for SEO on YouTube or not. I want comments from people that have something to say or need an answer. Just hitting a comment that uses links back (like YouTube does.) made controlling it impossible. (comments off on my videos and channels because I am not a babysitter and I have paid for it, too, in not growing how I have wanted to.)
    Glad to hear there are a' changes comin'...