November 06, 2013, 6:40 PM — YouTube is overhauling comments on videos to highlight the ones that actually mean something to viewers, the site said Wednesday.
The new system is designed to push better quality comments and ones from certain people higher up on the page while diminishing those from random viewers, YouTube announced Wednesday. The changes will start appearing this week, the Google-owned site said.
YouTube has several ways of identifying the more important people. At the top of the list, people will see comments from the video's creator, popular personalities and people in the user's Google+ Circles, as well as engaged commentary about the video, YouTube said. Users will still be able to view comments chronologically by switching from "Top Comments" to "Newest First," if they want.
The changes are powered in a big way by the Google+ social network. To comment on videos, users need to be on Google+, and need to connect their Google+ profile or page with their YouTube account. Google has encouraged users to link their Google+ and YouTube accounts for some time now, but Wednesday's changes show that the company is ramping up its efforts to increase the exposure of its social network.
Google has been tweaking and updating Google+ over the past year in an effort to attract new users and better compete against rivals such as Facebook and Twitter. A hodgepodge of new photo editing features was unveiled last week.
Users can still have one name for their Google+ account and another for their identity on YouTube, the video site said. "You're in control of how you're seen publicly on YouTube, whether that's keeping your current YouTube channel name, using your own name, or creating a new one," YouTube said.
Users also will have more ways to control the visibility of their comments and can choose to comment publicly or privately. People can choose to have their comments seen by everyone, only people in their Google+ Circles, or only a particular person, YouTube said.
Video creators will have new tools to moderate comments and review them before they are posted. They can also block comments that contain certain words, or choose to auto-approve comments posted by specific people, YouTube said.