YouTube's comment cleanup commences

Video site says goodbye to chronological comment threads and hello to sorted comments based on popular posters and friends in Google+ circles.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

It's no secret that YouTube comment sections are often dismal corners of the Internet, where anonymous posters disparage, defame, and diss anyone or anything they can find.

YouTube has been working over the past year to clean up these shadowy sections of its Web site. And now, the day has come that commenting on YouTube, as we know it, will change.

The online video service announced Wednesday that all users will begin seeing site-wide changes. The main gist of these changes is that comments will now be sorted so that users will see prioritized posts based on community-focused commenters and people in their Google+ circles. Before now, YouTube comments were simply sorted by the most recent post.

"Let's say you're enjoying Lindsey Stirling or Epic Rap Battles' latest video and want to join in the conversation," YouTube wrote in a blog post. "Would you rather see comments from people you care about (including Lindsey or ERB themselves), or just whoever in the world was last to post?"

Google began rolling out changes to its comment sections to limited users in September. This new system, which is powered by Google+ and was developed in collaboration between the YouTube and Google+ teams, uses three main factors to determine which comments are relevant: community engagement by the commenter, up-votes for a particular comment, and commenter reputation.

By the same measure, those users flagged for spam or abuse could have their comments buried; and, celebrities who have strong Google+ reputations could be boosted above others.

The revamped commenting system also provides several new tools for moderation. These tools let uploaders and channel owners review comments before they're posted, blacklist certain words, and whitelist specific commenters so their posts will always be approved.

While YouTube is beginning its roll out for all users today, it could take awhile before changes are seen across the entire site.