The Blog of Brian Ballard Quass

For What It's Worth

Four ways to improve YouTube

I would like to make four constructive suggestions to Google regarding YouTube (although, honestly speaking, I feel like this is a waste of time, given the size of the Google corporation and the consequent improbability that this message will find its way to the right person, someone with both the ability and the desire to act on the ideas that it contains).

1) You really ought to publish more information about your video publishers. I keep seeing a lot of videos that appear to have been just plain stolen from major video producers like National Geographic and the History Channel. But I can't investigate because the publisher's name is always something short and stupid like "Bells Cows 27," the kind of name that seems to have been intentionally chosen to be as meaningless as possible. Clicking on "about" tells me nothing. Nor can I find any meaningful information when I search such names on the Web, making them seem very shady indeed. If Google wants to stop pirate re-publishers, it needs to make its YouTube site much more transparent on the question of WHO is publishing WHAT and WHY. It's often completely unclear what connection the YouTube publisher has to the video that they are publishing. It looks like a lot of people are just opening up YouTube sites right and left under ambiguous names with the intention of making ad money off of other people's stuff.

2) Google should require full, real names before people can post comments about videos. I am seeing a lot of garbage comments -- some that seem to deliberately have nothing to do with the videos at all. I just saw a comment for a video about aircraft carriers: It said something like: "I'm looking for a girl named Debbie, or maybe Donna. She lived in the Philadelphia area in 1974." Then other comments are just plain hate speech. People would think twice about publishing such nonsense if real names were required. If this free-for-all commenting keeps up, the whole comment field is going to be routinely ignored by video publishers "in the know." The comment field is rapidly becoming nothing more than a dumping ground for jerks and haters.

3) Get rid of the "thumbs down" icon. It just enables haters. If people don't like a video, they won't watch it. That's the real thumbs down. As it stands, the "thumbs down" icon is just a superfluous referendum on the popularity of the video publisher, not a useful referendum on the quality of the video itself. Controversial organizations always get a lot of "thumbs down" votes under this system, but that tells us nothing about the quality of the videos that they're publishing: it just tells us that (surprise, surprise) the controversial organizations are, in fact, controversial. (There need no ghost come from the grave to tell us that!)

4) STOP publishing the "F" word (and other obscene words) in closed captions for children's cartoons and videos by family-friendly organizations (no matter what your algorithms think that they "hear"). I have found the "F" word incorrectly rendered in the auto-generated captions for over a dozen children's video cartoons!!! I have found the "F" word (and similarly foul language) incorrectly captioned in family-friendly videos by Habitat for Humanity, Lions Clubs International, American Red Cross, the ASPCA, and the United Way, to name a few!!! (If you want the screenshots, I have them. Just ask!)

Deaf children and their parents have just as much right to protection from bad language as do their hearing counterparts. I've contacted all of these organizations to point out these problems. None of them had any idea, until my phone call, that Google was even allowing dirty words to be auto-captioned in family-friendly videos. Pardon me, but this seems to be an irresponsible oversight on the part of your algorithm-writing staff! Even as we speak, thousands of cartoons are incorrectly appearing with the "F" word in their auto-generated closed captions. The only "up" side to this problem is the fact that few deaf children probably bother to read such captions since they are usually gibberish (as Google's algorithms can't adequately distinguish between vocals, sound effects, soundtrack, and background noise).

For what it was worth....

Brian Ballard Quass from Basye, Virginia, USA

youtube, suggestions, google

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