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After September 18th, you’ll no longer be able to send messages on YouTube (support.google.com)
134 points by jerrygoyal 59 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 71 comments

This is sad. As someone who loves browsing the "hidden" side of YT where videos and channels with sub 3 and 4 digit viewcount lurk and discovering weird obscure content, this feature was a godsend. I have been able to contact users that otherwise leave absolutely no contact info on their pages to ask them about certain content they have uploaded on multiple occasions.

I really dislike how stuff like twitter and Instagram have become the standard form of reaching anyone, as I have neither and your messages can very easily become ignored due to the very nature of how these two social networks operate.

This is the equivalent of Nintendo disabling profile pictures because of people abusing it with penis pictures.

Not really? 1) you can still have profile pictures from a limited though large set of their IP plus highly custom Mii and 2) the expected user bases and interaction methods between platforms is not at all comparable.

> 2) the expected user bases and interaction methods between platforms is not at all comparable.

Exactly. Pictures visible through normal use are not the same as an inbox you have to go out of your way to read.

At the very least, the sensibe thing is to make messages opt-in or whitelist only. Removing the feature to prevent harassment seems like a scapegoat. I wonder if this was being utilized as an illegal communications channel and YT\alphabet is worried about legal exposure

When did Nintendo have custom profile pictures?

I feel you. Unfortunately if a feature or product doesn't hit the high numbers Google kills it.

I even managed to probed one guy who only had 3 videos to start posting again. I asked him when he would make more videos. I wonder if anybody else did.

>I really dislike how stuff like twitter and Instagram have become the standard form of reaching anyone, as I have neither and your messages can very easily become ignored due to the very nature of how these two social networks operate.

I don't get where this sense of entitlement comes from. Why do you think you have any right to contact creators or that they shouldn't ignore your messages?

Sad. They simply should give content producers the option of whether they want to receive messages or not. (Similar to how you can turn comments on or off). This way, individuals who received "targeted harassment" could be free of it, and other individuals who don't have this problem, or are more thick-skinned or tolerant, can receive messages. (One complaint in a recent lawsuit against YouTube is that Google allow users to "harass" content creators. See https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/lgbtq-youtube-lawsuit-... ). I'm sympathetic to their concerns, and turning off the ability to write messages or contact is one solution. There are already some controls available.

I've used these messages quite a bit to contact people with similar "niche" interests (restoring old electronic equipment from WWII era through the 60s) and it's very useful.

That's impossible to do. A feature like that would be fairly simple to implement, and would make sense, so it can't be done by Google. Google products always have to have some kind of glaring missing feature.

An example I found not long ago is with Google Photos. If you create an album, you can offer to share that album with other people, through their Google account, their phone number, their email, etc. If they accept the invitation, it notifies you and their little circle darkens. If not, it stays light, and still stays in your list of people you've shared with. There's no way to actually remove these unused invites, and these people just stick around as "ghosts" forever. The only way to clean this mess up, according to Google, is to turn off all sharing of your album, and then re-share with everyone you want to share it with, so they all have to re-accept the share invitation (and you have to manually enter in every email address, phone number, etc. again). There's no way to just remove one of these "ghosts", even though you'd think this is a very basic admin task. There's forums where people have complained about this for years, and there is a Google person on there who just complains about people using the forum for complaining like this instead of filing an "official" feature request (which as we all know never goes anywhere), even though this Google person could very well do this herself instead of complaining about all the complaints.

Compelling take.

People like to play the victim. They will leave private messages on, get messages they don't like, and then produce bad PR for YouTube due to this. It's honestly the right move strategically given their goals.

TIL you could send messages on YouTube

I take their word for it but still no idea what it means. Do I have a youtube inbox I have not been checking my whole life?

It was more obvious in the mobile app - there was an entire tab devoted to messaging. I still don't know how to access it from desktop

It was not well exposed, and unavailable completely on the iPad version of their app, but it was quite useful between my wife and I for sharing videos asynchronously.

Youtube's UI is a fucking disaster, like most of Google's interfaces tbh. To this day, I don't know how to get to a list of all my videos; I either literally google for it, or just click around randomly until I finally find it.

It doesn't help that the Google+ profile they forced on me _also_ has a YouTube account, and I've uploaded some videos to the wrong one, so I get to do the dance twice.

And it keeps getting worse. Before, videos I had already watched would have the thumbnail dimmed, with text on top. Now there's a thin red line under the video thumbnail that displays how far into the video I was last time.

It would be really useful to be able to go into a user's profile and filter out the videos you've already watched, or filter them at all.

It would also be nice to have a proper category list.

This is obvious functionality, that they must've left out on purpose. But why?

I'd love to be able to filter out videos I've watched that way. Speaking of which, I've noticed that the red line tends to disappear after a while, causing me to start videos I've already seen.

On the website, the first option in the dropdown when you click your profile is "Your Channel" which has all of your videos?

That just shows me what other people see when they view my channel. It doesn't show me the unlisted/private videos, nor does it let me _manage_ them in any meaningful level.

Clicking on "Youtube Studio (beta)" will show me some videos with checkboxes, and let me do some editing, I think, which is probably the thing I'm usually looking for.

Nope. It only has your public videos -- no private, no unlisted.

Yeah the thing is there's a million other ways for you two to share them so to Google it was a low volume product with a lot of risk for harassment and little utility.

TIL = Today I Learned... Had to Google that...

It's a mostly-Reddit abbreviation.

Good illustration of TIL by the way.

"TIL Today I Learned"

It's pretty common on reddit.

"Google continues the war against its own users", as someone will write about this article.

Probably in Comic Sans, too.

I think you were downvoted by people that didn't get the reference, cheers for the reminder.

This was actually a pretty well-used feature back around ~2010. The problem was that it was hidden away more and more every time the site was redesigned, so its discoverability (and presumably use) basically dropped to zero over time.

I assumed it had already been quietly dropped, rather than just effectively hidden. It would be interesting to see how much use it actually gets these days.

Yep. They dropped it a long long time ago and re-introduced this in 2017(?) as a different feature.

Weird. YouTube had a messaging feature?

I work for YouTube and I did not know this was possible -_-; Or maybe I knew and forgot.

Just reintroduce the feature a few years later when everyone forgets. You’ll get a promotion from what I hear.

I had no idea about this too. I think it makes sense then that this is being removed. The feature is not well known but it must be putting a lot of burden on their team to keep it clean and protect it from abuse.

Exactly, I wonder how many people even know of this. From what I've seen following a few youtubers, most of them request that you contact them through Twitter or Instragram DMs.

I've used it ages ago. Some youtubers read them and made response videos out of them (Q/A).

But later some of them disable it as the only got a flood of messages through it.

I just noticed it being used by a few channels in last few months... and it's gone.

It might've been used more during live feeds?

It's so funny seeing Zawinski's Law hold up after all this time (replacing "email" with "messaging"), and Google again fighting it.

I wish the culture of SaaS development would move away from this try-to-do-everything mentality that always leads to anciliary features being modified or removed, and instead focus on honing their core offering. No user cheers a feature going away -- either they're ambivalent about it or annoyed for having to switch away.

How come the orangered envelope is cherished on reddit, but youtube discontinues the same feature? Has google entirely given up on getting a social network?

Google seems to constantly create new messenger apps. Why would they discontinue the one that could be used to turn youtube into a real social network? Instead of hiding the feature, they should enhance it and make it usable, i.e. make it easy to block harassment. Then they can offer an optional! integration with their other messenger apps which would allow them to compete with facebook.

> the orangered envelope is cherished on reddit

Is is cherished? There is literally a meme that "orange envelope = who did I piss off now?". And granted there is a little bit of worthwhile content on Reddit, but it's basically the equivalent of reading Facebook at this point in time. Especially in what used to be the default subs.

3 envelopes = happy.

300 envelopes = oh shit.

Does it really matter what people on a forum think of you?

I also don't understand this, just like the decision to remove certain features over time.

Used to be that YouTube had the option to translate comments from another language, with a button right next to the comment, even before Twitter was doing it.

While not perfect, the translations were usually still good enough to get what people were writing and at times even good enough to have conversations across language borders.

I really used to enjoy that part of YouTube, until the Google+ integration completely removed that option [0]. Sure, now I could just have the browser translate the whole website to read comments, but that always feels super weird and like way more effort than just pressing a simple button right next to a comment.

[0] https://webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/100528/where-did...

I couldn't even manage the other day to get Google Translate to translate a YouTube page so I could read comments mostly written in cyrillic to a Russian video about the protests over there.

Perhaps I was doing something wrong (I don't think so), perhaps it's because I use Firefox and this was a gentle nudge to get me to try in Chrome, or perhaps it's just another one of Google's infuriating and perplexing 'quirks'.

Because in the current data-snowflake regulatory and legislative climate, it’s too tough to get away with monetising content sent in a ‘private’ context. Googles business model relies on being able to index and advertise to every phrase you post, but I’m sure they don’t want to run into the same issues fb has, because fb posts have an expectation of privacy. Hence google has no interest in providing a private messaging platform.

And yet they provide a private messaging platform on their mobile OS and online. Chat will be replacing hangouts, it’s where the devs from Allo went to and supports things like RCS.

YouTube with a bit more work would make an amazing social network. Like games, people tend to share/centralise their conversations around a type of media - it's why Steam & Discord are now technically popular social networks.

A proper investment in a social sharing feature centred around your friends on YouTube would be a great idea. Not only for watching together with friends but for sharing it privately (just look at how popular video is on Snapchat). They even have a stories feature already - but for YouTubers to talk to fans!

I've been using YouTube since it came out and today was the first time I've heard you could send messages.

I'm guessing it is an under-used feature and causing more harm overall than good. I'm assuming they expect folks to communicate on video comments if they want to talk about the video in question.

Everyone on HN seems to assume that Google has some sort of grand master product plan.

News at 11 : they most certainly don't, as can be ascertained by the gigantic random walk their product update strategy has been in the last few years.

Observing them from the outside, I sometimes even come to doubt their grand master business plan (I'm assuming they have one of those, which is also a doubtful proposition) is to make money.

> Has google entirely given up on getting a social network?

The problem is moderation. Youtube has enough on their hands dealing with trolls, conspiracy crap, spam, Nazis/other hate speech, propaganda, pedophiles, animal/child abusers, terrorists, copyright, ... - they don't really have the resources to deal with the inevitable sausagefests in the inboxes of women and the other hate that this feature would be used if it were more widely known.

Their obscure social networks (g+, Reader, ...) are/were niche enough to not attract too many abusers of all kind.

1) With gmail, they have the foundation for good filters.

2) Google knows the identity of almost any internet user, as shown by the new recaptcha system.

3) They don't allow banned people to recreate new accounts. At least that seems to be a problem for people who were banned from the app store.

If they link this up, they should be able to keep inboxes clean. And if this fails, they just have to offer an option to switch to a whitelist approach for people whose inbox is flooded.

They offer no motivation for the change.

Are they trying to make it harder to weaponize nasty content?

Or do they just want to save a few bucks by stopping maintenance on a feature?

I don't imagine the average consumer would ever notice but I wonder how much it is used by youtubers to arrange collaboration between different channels in similar spaces. At least as a way of establishing initial contact.

It would be a shame to see collaboration between channels drop as that, in my opinion, is one of the best parts of the medium.

Google services needs a Mean Time Before Finish indicator.

One step further to being "alone together".

Yet another feature being removed that noone ever remembers using.

Sounds good, right? Why "yet"?

You’d think they’d simply migrate to one of their other redundant chat products!

But no, I suppose just killing the feature with no meaningful replacement strategy is the new GOOGLE WAY™. I can’t wait to invest all my money in a library of Stadia games that will surely last forever. /s

> You’d think they’d simply migrate to one of their other redundant chat products!

Too risky. They are probably going to deprecate those for another chat product in 6 months.

Funny. NoScript blocks this link as XSS.

Does anyone have insights or ideas about why this change is being made?

Step 6 seems to be misspelled: ‘Select “Creative archive”.’

Is it my imagination or is Google devoid of the ability to integrate it's different "products"?

Damnit, how will I ever communicate with all my peeps from the tube of you.

Kinda wish they would disable comments. Those tend to bring out sides of humanity that rarely show off any benevolence.

What kind of videos are you watching with toxic comments? I never see them in the topics I watch, only relevant or helpful ones.

And yet, you comment, showing us that side. Not sure if blissfully unaware or diliberately meta.

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