Community responses to changes at YouTube

In my last post, I discussed YouTube’s roll-out of language options and localization, and aired some concerns I have about its cultural implications.

This morning I had a quick look to see how the YouTube community has responded to the move. I’m a bit surprised there isn’t more discussion, celebration, or protest than there is, actually. Especially compared with how intensely the Flickr community debates and discusses even the finest points of changes that are implemented at the site – which speaks to the quite distinctive ‘cultures’ emerging in each of these social networks.

In fact, at YouTube there is just as much protest over another major change that came with the recent redesign: the disappearance of YouTube’s content categories as a browsing option from the front page. And apparently, in typical YouTube fashion, this was done in the “middle of the night”, without forewarning or consultation. CapnOAwesome, for example, seems most concerned about how anyone will find stumble across quality content from the long tail without the invitation to browse categories:

I haven’t found anything like the same amount of discussion of the language and localization issue. But I found a few interesting things.

The dominant line of complaint could be summed up as, “Dude, where’s my country????” – involving mainly people from English-speaking countries who not only resent having to be lumped in with either the US or the UK (which was my first reaction too), but also feel moved to demand a version of YouTube localised for their own countries. Namely, Australia and Canada. See this one and this one:


These simplistic posts are drawing interesting comments, though:

If they wanted YT to truly be a global experience, they would have just added a language feature so you don’t just have to understand english to fully enjoy it.

That’s what I reckon too. But Ars Technica explains the probable motivation behind this whole thing:

localized versions of the main site might split up the otherwise unified community of YouTube, but will also help the company strike deals with smaller, local content providers and offer more targeted videos to its users.

Even the YouTube blog entry appears to me to be quite confused about the difference “countries” and “languages”.

Meanwhile, BadAlbert (from the UK) is not happy about the “splitting up of the YouTube empire” into “provinces”, and wants to know what the (f**king) point is anyway, if YouTube is not a “global medium”:

US resident Elaina43 obects to the ubiquitous “little flags” at the top of the page, and says she “doesn’t want to be reminded” constantly that she’s in the US, and that furthermore, the presence of the flag makes her feel as though she’s being commanded, “be patriotic! be patriotic! be patriotic!”:

I would love some help with this little investigation: ironically, the only language I speak well enough to understand what people are saying in their vlog posts is English – so I’d love to hear from any Dutch, French, Spanish, Brazilian/Portugese, Polish or Japanese-speaking readers out there who might have come across different points of view. And does anyone have an inside track on what might be going on with Germany or China?

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