You need a strong constitution to spend much time ‘below the line’ in YouTube’s comments section, especially if you published the video that’s being commented on.
YouTube has been aware of the frequently-toxic nature of comments on its service for some time, and has previously promised creators tools to help them tackle the problem. Today, it’s debuting some more of those tools.
They include the ability to ‘pin’ comments at the top of the feed, to promote the most constructive and useful contributions over spam and abuse.
Channel owners will also be able to ‘heart’ individual comments to show their approval, and whenever a creator posts a reply, their username will appear with a “pop of colour” around it to show that it’s really them.
These features are launching today, while YouTube has also revealed another tool in beta that will enable channel owners to hold “potentially inappropriate” comments for review, with YouTube’s system determining which may be problematic.
“If you choose to opt-in, comments identified by our algorithm will be held and you have the final decision whether to approve, hide, or report these comments,” explained product manager Courtney Lessard in a blog post.
“We recognise that the algorithms will not always be accurate: the beta feature may hold some comments you deem fine for approval, or may not catch comments you’d like to hold and remove. When you review comments, the system will take that feedback into account and get better at identifying the types of comments to hold for review.”
Today’s news follows the launch earlier this year of features enabling channel owners to appoint moderators from their teams or trusted fans, as well as blacklisting certain words and phrases.
Musicians on YouTube stand to benefit as much as other creators on the platform from those old and new tools alike, with vloggers and gamers in particular having regularly called for more action from YouTube to clean up its comments section.
“Comments are my main way to communicate with you bros, but I go to the comments and it’s mainly spam, it’s people self-advertising, it’s people trying to provoke,” said Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg in September 2014 – one of YouTube’s biggest stars – after growing frustrated with the issue.
“I don’t care about that, I want to see what you bros say, but it gets blocked out. I was hoping YouTube would figure something out, but I’m sick of it.”
The issue has been acknowledged at the highest levels of YouTube. In June 2015, its second-in-command Robert Kyncl addressed the problem in an interview.
“Our product group is working on a whole bunch of solutions that would make it more pleasurable, but at the same time it has to be authentic,” said Kyncl at the time.
“How do you keep it open, but at the same time decent and collaborative and constructive? Having those tenets is very important. We think about that a lot, and we’re working on it.”