Take Control of Video Comments

If you’re a regular YouTube user and even if you’re not, you have probably noticed the recent comments controversy. Google, in an effort to sanitize the comments that appear beneath videos and integrate YouTube with their social networking platform, implemented significant changes to the YouTube comment system. YouTube users, who rely on comments to communicate with their audiences and get feedback, were less than happy about the changes.

While YouTube comments have become infamous for their low quality and there was definitely an argument to be made for improving them, YouTube users were disgruntled about many aspects of the modifications, including being forced to use Google Plus and give up their anonymous identities,  and the confusing and unpredictable comment ordering. They were particularly dissatisfied with the way YouTube now handles spam. So, while it was fair to argue that YouTube comments needed improvement, the specific implementation that Google chose has resulted in an unsatisfactory experience for video sharers and for their audiences.

The comments issue highlights a problem that is all too common when content creators use third-party services for distribution. They pay nothing for those services, which means the company providing them has very little incentive to implement changes in a way that benefits creative people. Google, without consultation, will make the modifications that it considers most beneficial to itself. While there are definite advantages to using a service with the enormous popularity of YouTube, sometimes the price we pay for such services — including a lack of control — is too high.

Many YouTubers have no experience of content distribution outside of YouTube. But, with the right hosting company, it’s almost trivially easy to create a video sharing service over which you have complete control. YouTube is far from being the only game in town. FFmpeg hosting from a reliable hosting provider offers many of the same content distribution benefits as YouTube without forcing users to give up control of the content they share, interaction with their audience, and the platform that they use to publicize the content — no Google Plus unless you want it.

Because there are multiple FFmpeg hosting scripts available and many of them are open source or have a large libraries of extensions, self-hosting provides a level of flexibility far beyond that provided by most third-party video sharing services. For example, for video creators particularly concerned to foster an environment of commentary and community, the ClipHouse script provides advanced social networking features, including Ajax-based video commenting and rating, social bookmarking, and fine-grained group, channel, member and category management. A further benefit of self-hosting is monetization. Rather than being limited to YouTube’s Google-controlled advertising platform, users of ClipHouse can implement any advertising network they choose, or select another strategy for generating revenue, such as paid memberships.

If the changes to the YouTube comment system are the straw the broke the camel’s back, you can take back control of your own content with self-hosted video sharing.