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Google+ is literally the worst reason to quit YouTube.

Submitted by kmeisthax on Fri, 11/08/2013 - 19:42 in Rants

Adapted from a Reddit post I made.

YouTube recently made Google+ identities a mandatory component of the comment system as part of a large upgrade to their shitty commenting system. This is, strangely enough, actually provoking a user revolt on YouTube for reasons I mostly understand. However, I'm writing this post because I think this is the worst thing to revolt for. It's not like there's no reason to revolt - I'm actually thrilled that YouTube is facing a real threat of a Digg-style exodus. But Google+ is not a reason to exodus. On it's own it's actually an improvement and I'll explain so further down the post. But read on first.

YouTube has done a number of exodus worthy things which people haven't batten an eye at. First off, Content ID should have been an exodus worthy offense. Over the years YouTube has continuously kicked content creators in the teeth over and over again by letting arbitrary rightsholders claim transformative and interesting content, steal ad money from those videos, and do it at Google scale. Part of the balance of the DMCA system is that rightsholders have to actually spend time and money flagging videos. YouTube gives them a switch to flip and they immediately start making money. And they provide this service because it lets YouTube monetize pirated content; at the expense of steamrolling legitimate content creators in the process.

Or let's talk about the channel page. *Every time* a redesign of that particular component comes around, content creators - especially the ones who had advanced channel design features only available to a select subset of partnered channels - will justifiably complain about how the new layout ruins their existing YouTube presence. Indeed, despite the fact that the channel page actually has gotten more modular and customizable over time, YouTube has a particular knack for making everything look less and less visually distinct.

I'm worried about the message we send to other social content network companies when we say that it's okay to throw high-activity content creators under the bus but even minor inconveniences for low-activity users will doom your platform.

With that, I promised some actual information about the commenting system, so here it is.

There are people who don't want to have a real name connected to their Google profile. That's fine. Here's how you avoid that: When YouTube asks you to enable Google+, say, "I don't want to use my real name." Select "Keep my existing YouTube username". Agree to the Pages terms and confirm everything.

Bam, you are now on Google+ with your YouTube account without a real name. You don't even need to have had an existing G+ identity before - I've done this on corporate accounts in the past which were previously tied to one-off e-mail accounts specifically for a single channel. This process is so easy I literally did it five minutes ago when I started writing this post. From thereon you don't have to do anything else with Google+ ever again and you can pretend it doesn't exist.

What do you get from doing this? First off, you can now register additional YouTube channels and manage them from a single e-mail address. Likewise you can also grant multiple people access to the same YouTube channel. It works exactly the same as a Facebook page - which is, incidentally, why you had to sign up for Google+ in the first place. You can also rename your channel now, at least in terms of the name that's displayed on YouTube. Don't like "xXxX420SmokeWeedEverydayXxXx" anymore? Well you can actually change that name now.

The core problem with this update is that the user experience is abysmal. Ideally, what they should have done is just create Google+ pages for every YouTube channel and then let people decide if they wanted it to be connected to their profile after the fact. But there's a Google-wide fear of triggering another Google Buzz incident where they did precisely that and wound up ruining everybody's privacy settings. So they have to ask you to actually set that up and make the decision between a Profile channel and a Page channel. Just press the damn button, keep calm, and carry on.

For the record, yes, I know that there are probably a shit-ton of issues with the new commenting system, but for content creators it's a definite improvement over what already existed. But for most users who don't give a shit about G+ it's literally click two buttons and done. And more importantly this isn't the change that you should get mad about - it's the ones before G+ that, honestly, are doing the most long-term damage to YouTube as a social media platform.

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