The first rule of the YouTube comments section is that you don’t go near the YouTube comments section. That’s the law many users of the video site abide by, mainly because, as with any online forum, the potential for comments to descend into abusive, offensive exchanges is extremely high.
YouTube has a community policy with guidelines for comments, and users have always been able to report content that they think violates those guidelines. Once flagged, YouTube is notified of the comment and reviews it before deciding whether to remove it. While there are teams that monitor all of this, YouTube is now turning to another group of people to moderate its commenters: the commenters themselves.
For some time, YouTube has had a Trusted Flagged program for those who report guideline violations with a high rate of accuracy. Now, it’s stepping up that scheme with the launch of what it calls “YouTube Heroes”.
“Our Trusted Flaggers’ results around flagging content that violates our Community Guidelines speak for themselves: their reports are accurate over 90% of the time. This is three times more accurate than the average flagger,” explains Jen Carter, Product Manager of YouTube Heroes. “Given the success of the Trusted Flagger program, we want to do more to empower the people who contribute to YouTube in other ways.”
The scheme, which is now available to “a select group of contributors from across the globe who have histories of high quality community contributions”, will allow Heroes to flag comments, but also add captions and subtitles to videos, as well as reporting videos and sharing their knowledge in help forums. They can also access a dedicated community site, plus a dashboard to monitor their own contributions and impact. That introduces a gamification element to the whole program, with users able to level up to get access to training, more advanced tools to flag multiple videos at a time. Level 4 Heroes will be able to preview product launches and “contact YouTube staff directly”, while Level 5 Heroes will be able to test products before release and apply to attend a “Heroes Summit”.
YouTube will still have the last say on what to remove or update on the site, but the idea has already sparked some controversy, with users concerned that the scheme could open up the YouTube community to even more abuse.
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