Announced earlier today on the official YouTube blog, the YouTube development team has integrated the site’s commenting system with the Google+ social network. Originally announced during late September, this transition is an attempt to move more relevant, high-level comments to the top of the feed while pushing less helpful comments down into oblivion. By displaying the “Top Comments” by default, users will be shown comments from the creator of the video, comments that received lots of positive votes, comments posted by public figures and comments posted by friends within a user’s various Google+ circles.
Similar to the Facebook News feed, Google has included a setting to switch back over to the most recent feed of comments. However, when a user clicks on a different video, the default view will change back to the top rated comments. Regarding comment management, the video creator also has a new set of tools to use when moderating the comment stream.
For instance, video creators can review comments before getting posted to the page or pre-approve all comments from specific YouTube users. There’s also an option to block specific words, perhaps ideal for filtering inappropriate language on videos targeted at kids. However, it’s probably less likely that people will post inappropriate comments if the comments are tied to their real name on a Google+ profile.
In addition, the YouTube team has tied Google+ profiles into commenting. For instance, users can tag the Google+ accounts of specific friends in order to bring their attention to a video. Similar to the layout of the Google+ profile, users can also choose to share the comment on their Google+ feed or change the privacy settings for the comment to restrict viewership to a private audience. When a tagged user responds to the original comment, Google has formatted the layout to appear in a threaded view to simplify reading.
In order to transition YouTube users to Google+, the layout prompts the user to connect their YouTube profile to a Google+ account. One potential scenario that could ultimately backfire on YouTube users that have constantly left negative, abusive or degrading comments is applying a real face and name to those comments. By stripping that anonymity away, YouTube users could accidentally unmask their true identity with a simple click of the mouse and become vulnerable. For instance, a potential employer could stumble across those embarrassing comments, assuming the YouTube user connected up their account with their Google+ profile.
While the YouTube development team hasn’t divulged more details about the comment voting system, it’s possible that users with tons of positive feedback across many videos could be elevated into the Top Comments section more frequently than other users. Alternatively, users that receive a significant number of negative votes across many videos could have a harder time making it into the Top Comments section. This would be a more complex setup, but could encourage more users to provide helpful, entertaining or insightful comments in order to become more influential within the YouTube community.