It used to be the case that, if you wanted to see the lower levels of Dante’s Pit of Hell, you only had to go as far as the comments section on YouTube. There lived all kinds of lowlife, racists, foul-language lovers, and those with keyboards with the caps-lock key permanently stuck on upper-case. And once you were in, it was difficult to claw your way back out again.
But now Google has drained the swamp and replaced it with a sparkly new Google+ powered commenting system, which has made me want to actually start reading the comments again! This is a day I thought I would never see.
First of all, and this is probably the most significant change, the comments are sorted by default as “Top Comments” (although you can filter it by the newest ones first, if you want). The advantage of having the “top comments” by default is that you will first see the ones which have been most upvoted, the ones from people in your Google+ circles, and from the owner of the video. That means that all of the trolls will have been buried out of sight! Excuse me while I go and open a bottle of champagne.
You can also start a conversation about the YouTube video either publicly on Google+, or privately with one or more of your restricted Circles.
Plus it just looks nicer. The fact that every comment is tied to a Google+ account means that there are no more people attacking from behind anonymous accounts. Having their face and name clearly attached to their comments forces them to take responsibility for their words – and hopefully that will force them to either grow up – or move on.