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December 4, 2008

YouTube Changes

There are many changes going on at YouTube and many of them aren't likely to improve user experience. Let's start with the search box that is displayed before playing a video in an embedded player. It was a great feature when it was displayed at the end of a video, but now you'll see it before playing the video and every time you pause it.

There's a parameter that can be added to your embedded videos if you don't want to display the search box: edit the code and add &showsearch=0 after

YouTube updated the header and there's a new overlay that shows the duration of a video over the thumbnail. YouTube's blog says that the thumbnails will no longer be selected from the 25/50/75 points of the video's index, but they'll be selected algorithmically to minimize the impact of manipulative thumbnails.

Another change, which caused considerable uproar, is demoting videos that include suggestive content and profanity. "Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our 'Most Viewed,' 'Top Favorited,' and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions." Probably YouTube didn't like that the list of popular videos usually looked like this (NSFW). Users didn't understand YouTube's goal and they started to call the change "censorship".

"Algorithmically demoted... That's a nice way to make a video that is top favorited or most viewed not be in that category anymore for no apparent reasons. Angry parents and other narrow-minded people shouldn't get through with putting the pressure on youtube. Where's the freedom of saying or expressing what you want?," commented dirtbiker100890. "One of the main reasons I watch videos on youtube is because people have been able to say what ever they want, for the most part. If the youtube staff starts censoring everything then I won't have much of a reason to come here anymore," thinks GeneralCrazyIvan.

YouTube shouldn't demote a video because it includes suggestive content or profanity, but only if it uses misleading thumbnails or descriptions to artificially increase popularity. YouTube could include a preference that filters suggestive content and profanity, so the videos will be excluded from search results and the list of popular videos.

"Videos featuring sexually explicit content like real sex acts are not allowed. Other content like nudity and dramatized or implied sexual conduct may be considered sexually suggestive depending on whether or not it is intended or designed to arouse viewers," explains a help page.

From now on, videos that include suggestive content will be filtered from the lists of popular videos and they'll be age-restricted, so you'll have to confirm your age before viewing them.

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