YouTube commenters can be brutal — but some of the most mean-spirited commenters could soon find themselves on a blacklist: YouTube is introducing advanced moderation features that will allow video publishers to block individual users from commenting on their videos. Publishers will also be able to ban certain keywords altogether from their channel’s comments.
And even if trolls find ways to slip through those filters, their comments may not get a whole lot of attention. YouTube is also closely integrating with Google+, giving each visitor easy access to comments from their friends and other people in their Google+ circles. And it will bring comments from the video’s creator as well as “popular personalities” to the top, further drowning out mean-spirited or otherwise useless comments.
The final step will be a new way to semi-privately converse about a video, as YouTube Product Manager Nundu Janakiram and YouTube Principal Engineer Yonatan Zunger explained on the service’s blog Tuesday:
“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 your bestie. Like Gmail, replies are threaded so you can easily follow conversations.”
However, YouTube isn’t completely handing its comments over to Google+. Users will still be able to upvote or downvote comments, and a YouTube spokesperson told me that these votes will be “one of many signals that now influence ranking.” Users can also elect not to share their comments on Google+.
The new changes are rolled out in stages. This week, new comment moderation and ranking features will find their way to channel pages. Later this year, the same will be available on individual video pages.
YouTube isn’t the only service that has struggled to find the right balance between encouraging comments and maintaining civility. As my colleague Mathew Ingram noted earlier this week, many mainstream publishers have actually given up on comments altogether, while others, including Gawker’s Nick Denton, believe that comments can be saved.