Updated. It looks like YouTube is one-upping corporate parent Google and its newly-launched +1 button: The video site is testing a feature that would allow its users to express their feelings about a certain video with a number of buttons, ranging from LOL and EPIC to WTF, OMG and FAIL.
The test was first spotted by a reader of Google Operating System, who was able to capture the following screenshot:
YouTube wouldn’t be the first site to experiment with forms of interaction that demand less effort from the reader than a traditional comment. Google’s own Blogger platform already allows its publishers to assign custom buttons to their posts, as Google Operating System points out, and sites like I Can Has Cheezburger let their users vote on stories.
One of the reasons for this kind of approach is that it would cut down on the number of comments that simply state “cool” or “fail”, making the remaining comments more valuable. And there’s another potential benefit for YouTube in this: Since the votes for each of the buttons seem to be tallied, it should be easy to compile lists of the most epic, hilarious or the cutest videos on the site, adding another dimension to video discovery.
However, there is also a potential downside, as some visitors may be offended by some of the terms. Comments on Google Operating System suggest visitors could take offense with both WTF and OMG, and one reader of the blog doesn’t like simplifying sentiment like this at all:
“This is disgusting. I have no problem with the swearing, but please don’t continue this trend of designing everything towards the lowest common denominator. We’re slowly crawling into our own navels with this stuff.”
Update: A YouTube spokesperson sent us the following statement via email:
“These video reaction tags are part of a test we’re doing on a small group of our users. The goal is to take frequently used expressions from our comments system and make them into tags so users can express themselves with just a single click of the button. Depending on how the test goes, we’ll consider rolling the feature out to more users.”