Screw you, YouTube
YouTube, there are so many things wrong with you. I will list them here. Please fix them.
1. The rating system.
It was fine when it was a five-star thing. Why would you constrict the rating options?
Sure, you’ll get more people voting because of the narrowed choice (after all, it’s a well-documented fact that people’s brains explode when exposed to a choice of three or more), but let’s look at this for a second: how much do those votes actually count?
Star-based rating systems are fairly neutral – they don’t imply a personal attachment from the viewing public to the video. They feel more trustworthy than a system based on various people’s “likes” and “dislikes”. Honestly, who cares what most of these people like or dislike? Giving a video stars makes it seem less like they’re voting based on partiality, and more from a critical standpoint.
Granted, there seems to be an unwritten consensus we all abide by when we examine the star ratings on videos, but that’s a matter of opinion. There’s a far more fundamental flaw with the “like/”dislike” system, and it’s using the terms “like” and “dislike”. What do the terms “like” and “dislike” actually mean? Quoting Wiktionary, to like is to enjoy and derive pleasure from something. To dislike is to have a feeling of aversion or antipathy towards something.
Now, multiple meanings can be applied to pleasure. Liking something can mean anything.
“Oh, yeah, I really like Pink Floyd! Their music speaks to me.”
“I like mashed potato, but I prefer chips.”
“I can’t stand Russell Brand’s comedy, but I like his hair.”
See how each of those sentences carries a different degree of personal preference? If you like a band, typically you listen to their albums, buy their merchanise and overall enjoy the experience that they provide. You can also like something more platonically, like how you would like a food. You might even use the word “like” if you’re completely indifferent to something. (This is something I’ve done in the past to impress people. “Oh yeah, I like Take That.”)
However, the definition of dislike is far more concrete; when have you ever said that you dislike something/someone and not meant for there to be any sort of ambiguity? If you say you dislike something, there’s no two ways about it – you hate that thing. Whatever it is, it’s causing you extreme discomfort and perhaps even anger. (And believe me, YouTubers get very angry over certain collections of moving pixels.)
So when you give the average YouTuber the choice between “like” and “dislike”, they’re going to be far more sure about clicking “dislike” than they are “like”. In fact, many people probably click “like” out of habit more than out of any actual preference. Here’s basically what the two options look like to them:
Like: I can tolerate this video.
Why offer one ambiguous option of personal preference, and one far more extreme option? A system like this is completely unbalanced. Remove the ambiguity and reinstate the five-star voting system, please. Alright, it might still be prone to abuse, but it’s still better than the current Facebook-imitation like/dislike joke of a system. People don’t just “like” or “dislike” everything about certain videos (alright, there are both people and videos that serve as exceptions to the latter). They might “like” the majority of the video overall, but maybe a tree in the background looked weird or something, and they would be forced to subtract a star. See? A little extra choice doesn’t hurt anyone.
Oh, and one more thing.
I’m pretty sure at least everyone on the planet Earth is at some point going to accidentally click the wrong button when they’re arranged in a stupid goddamn layout like that. What is the deal with that?
2. The comment threads.
As alluded to previously, YouTubers get indescribably incensed over the littlest of matters. Taking merely a few seconds to read through the average comment thread on YouTube is like peering into the mind of someone who literally has shit for brains.
“Oh, man – there’s a minor thing in this video that I don’t like! I’ll call the uploader a piece of shit from hell!”
“Oh, man – this video looks like it was shot with a potato! I’ll let the uploader know that him and his stupid camera can burn in hell!”
“Oh, man – this person in the comments section mentioned something vaguely related to religion! Time to go FULL RETARD.”
Imgur handles comments thread beautifully. First of all, they’re called “captions”, not “comments”, and there’s an important distinction between a caption and a comment. “Caption” implies that it has a direct relevance to the video. “Comment” implies somebody going on about how their dog is clearly better than the dog in this stupid video.
It also arranges the captions in order of “upvotes” – that is, the highest-voted caption appears at the top, just below the image/video, so there’s more incentive to make a fitting or insightful comment on a video if it’s at all possible to have it appear just below the video as the “top caption” – it satiates the human being’s primaeval desire for attention. The other upside is that the least impressive comments are consigned to the bottom of page, and those voted into the negative aren’t even visible.
At current, only two of the highest voted comments actually appear at the top. Only two? Really? And have you seen them? There’s no incentive to act intelligent, because holding the “top comment” seems to be left to chance – or rather, the arbitrary and unreliable preference of the video’s viewers – not many of which can be trusted with the power to give karma to comments. Half the time it’s a user exposing the idiocy of another fellow commenter, along the same lines as “this video is gay” / “no u”. That should be the point at which this fruitless exchange is done with, of course, but unfortunately the rest of the viewers then take it upon themselves to declare this counter-comment the absolute pinnacle of human wittiness and upthumb until it shows at the very top of the thread, the newly-crowned king of the comments. Users visiting the video from that point on will suddenly want to find exactly what sparked off such a witty retort – and this converts the thread into a battleground as the new visitors decide to contribute their own say to the argument.
Imagine how much cleaner the comment threads would be with these small changes. People would actually try to be witty or relevant. The fight for the “First!” comment would cease to exist. Political debates, spoilers and spam links would be buried beneath the commenters who actually have something to say. I daresay it would actually raise the average intelligence of the website.
Oh also it’d be great if you could address the shambles that is the current comment reply system. Why not make replies to a comment a collapsible list in descending order so we don’t have to go on a freakin’ treasure hunt (past reams of vitriolic comments) when we want to find a certain comment/reply?
3. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The video player must have changed about 1,327 times since I started using YouTube (in about 2007). If it plays the video, it serves its purpose. Surely the design of the option bar and the look of the buttons/icons and the presentation of the video page matters not one iota.
What’s with your obsession with completely reorganizing everything? The front page, the video page, the browse page – it has all been completely reworked multiple times and has really done nothing to improve their overall look or ease of use. I don’t really complain about how they’re different, but I’m baffled by how more time seems to go into improving the look of the website than fixing the myriad problems that plague it. Speaking of which…
4. A bunch of stupid annoying things.
What’s with the “more videos by this user” window having four pages, and starting me at the end of page 4 so I can’t scroll forward, only backward?
Why can’t I organize my videos in the Video Manager in any order I like? I was able to at one point, but you decided arbitrarily that that was too much freedom.
Why can’t I tell the lengths of the videos in a playlist?
Why did you give me an extra (empty) Watch Later playlist, leading me to believe that somehow my old one had been erased?
Why is the playlist editor so difficult to use? There is an unnecessary number of steps to deleting a video.
Why does the player sometimes not move the video forward to the point at which I click it?
Those are my gripes. Now get to fixing them.