YouTube publishers can now add simple discussion forums to their channels, thanks to an integration of Google (s GOOG) Moderator that the video site announced on its blog today. One of the first users of the feature is the New York Times, which is soliciting questions for foreign correspondent Nicholas D. Kristof on its YouTube channel. Viewers can either pose their own questions or vote on other people’s submissions, and the wisdom of the crowd is supposed to take care of the rest, surfacing the most interesting or sought-after entries.
Google Moderator was launched in the fall of 2008 as a tool for crowdsourced discussions, and Google has leveraged Moderator in the past to solicit ideas for YouTube and some of its other products. YouTube also experimented with integrating Moderator into its own site when it asked its audience to submit questions for interviews with President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Integrating Google Moderator is another sign of YouTube’s desire to bring civility to its sometimes rowdy comments section. YouTube already changed the way comments are displayed with a redesign that was rolled out two months ago. While the site used to display comments in reverse chronological order, it has been giving more weight to comments by the video’s uploader, as well as highly rated comments ever since the relaunch.
Picture from the NYT’s video soliciting questions from YouTube viewers.
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