Less than a week after rolling out its new comment system, YouTube has experienced a significant level of backlash from small to mid-size creators. A petition to revert back to old comments, or comments that do not require Google+ profiles, has been making the rounds across the web, and has already received over 97,000 signatures. Things couldn’t look bleaker for YouTube’s new comment system, until now.
Earlier this week, many of YouTube’s top creators started disabling comments from their videos in light of some glaring flaws built into the new functionality. YouTube’s second-most subscribed channel, PewDiePie, after disabling comments from all of his videos, wrote this message to fans: “Hey bros! I’m really sorry but to prevent spread of virus or spam in general, comments are off until YouTube blocks ability to abuse top comments.”
The problem comes from the fact that with YouTube’s new system, which rewards relevant comments over the most recent ones, spammers have found an exploit that allows their offensive or virus-laden content to reach the top comment spot. Boogie2988, a popular gamer and YouTuber, explained that since the new features have rolled out, his channel has become a living nightmare. “The people that get the most attention on my YouTube comments is people who tell me to kill myself and call me a fat worthless piece of crap,” he says. “Anytime I visit any of my YouTube videos and I go to read the comments to see what people are saying, here is what they say: ‘go kill yourself, fatty.’”
Boogie also speaks to the fact that the new Google+ integration allows spammers and trolls to comment with an unlimited amount of characters. He explains that users have begun posting entire movie scripts and offensive ASCII art (images made of text) to his YouTube channel. Imploring YouTube directly, Boogie says, “I’m not here to judge you, I’m just asking you to make it stop, please. Please find a way. I don’t know how you’ll do it, but your engineers got to figure it out.”
Popular YouTube gamer TotalBiscuit took to Twitter to express his dismay over the new comments, writing, “Will be working on alternate methods for viewers to interact and provide feedback on the assumption that Google won’t fix a damn thing.” Since tweeting, TotalBiscuit has disabled comments on all his videos. The gamer openly considered moving his videos off YouTube via Twitter, but ultimately wrote that “Leaving YouTube is not a short-term option.” TotalBiscuit joins creator DanNerdCubed, who has also disabled comments from his gaming channel.
As the negative response surrounding the new comment system heightens, YouTube has yet to publicly address any concerns or feedback from its community. We’ve reached out to YouTube and asked if these are problems they are aware of, and if they plan to fix them. VideoInk will update once we receive a response.
Update 11/12/2013 2:00 pm PST: A YouTube spokesperson responded to our request. Speaking about YouTube’s awareness of the current spam and virus exploits in the new comment system, the spokesperson explained that the company was working on the problem. They said that fixing the comment ranking exploit was a top priority and a fix was coming in the “short-term” future.
The spokesperson also said that YouTube had no intention of updating the comment system and “walking away.” They mentioned that YouTube will continue to work on perfecting the new comments, which they believe are a “core part of YouTube.”