YouTube rolls out conversation tool for all to use

YouTube and Google on Thursday released to all users a tool called Google Moderator it had used in just a few high-profile events like a Q&A project with President Obama.

It’s an interesting attempt by YouTube to provide a more controlled comment environment than the comments below videos on its site. It’s yet another strategy, a software-based approach, to increase the signal-to noise ratio of user comments.

Here’s how Olivia Ma at YouTube describes how it works:

You set the parameters for the dialogue, including the topic, the type of submissions, and the length of the conversation. Watch as submissions get voted up or down by your audience, and then respond to the top-voted submissions by posting a video on your channel. The platform operates in real-time, and you can remove any content that you or your audience flag as inappropriate. You can also embed the platform on your own website or blog.

One of the organizations YouTube invited to try out the new product is the New York Times. How to improve the conversation in comments and how best to manage comments continues to be both an evolving and controversial subject for news organizations, particularly newspapers. And it’s interesting that YouTube, which have been in the forefront of innovating around Web video, is now taking a crack at online comments.

Here is how the New York Times used Google Moderator to start engagement with its readers and users.

It actually seems very similar to the concept used by Knoxville-based Voices Heard Media, lead by Will Overstreet, Chris Van Beke and Curtis Jones. WBIR, the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Atlanta Falcons and others have experimented with the firm’s product.

Perhaps a large announcement like this by YouTube will jump-start interest in products of this general type. The Voices Heard folks might have some thoughts on what Google Moderator means in this application space.

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