1) Retire a feature
2) Offer a half-arsed work-around
3) Wait an indeterminable period of time
4) Release a new feature that covers the original use-case
That's crap, as users are stuck at #2 for ages and some of them migrate away to use other tools that cover this use-case. All this method achieves is to annoy every user that used the feature (even if they seldom used it).
Surely it would be better to:
1) Release a new feature that covers the original use-case
2) Wait a declared period of time (short or long)
3) Retire a feature
Which means people can immediately start using the new way. And if the new feature fully covers the use-case of the old one, then #2 could be skipped altogether.
> 2) Offer a half-arsed work-around
Oh man, so many times.
They recently did the same thing to /my_subscriptions, which was the only proper way to keep up with a lot of subscriptions. It was a grid view where watched videos would disappear. The only option now is a "feed" view where it's a long list and watched videos are just grayed out.
It has produced quite a lot of anger and two kinds of solutions have emerged - one is userscripts that restyle the new "feed" view into a grid and another one is what I'm currently working on - a proper replacement page that just uses the YouTube API, stores your history locally and lets you hide videos that you don't want to watch (this was why I wanted to build this, even before they removed the original grid view).
Their statement is:
> So, on September 12 we’re going to retire this little-used feature as we work to develop more effective fan engagement tools for creators.
They are going to replace it with a new thing to cover the engagement mechanism.
It is true that with things like Google Reader it was not being replaced. But in this case their statement declares an intention to replace the retired feature with something else that helps solve the engagement scenario.
but for all startups this is a point of concern, after experimentation, which features to digg further and which ones to keep. user analytics definitely is a must.
Edit: that said, I didn't actually click them. I just saw them.
But 4 in a million people clicked on the video responses. On a mathematical level, it just wasn't worth it. This isn't a big deal, I don't know why everyone is getting so worked up about it. It's an extremely marginal feature, not a flagship component being eliminated tomorrow without warning.
In evaluating a feature, it's important to have a global view. But it's also important to have a local view. If you choose features at random, they're generally used by a small number of people, but they get made because they're important to somebody.
In this case, you can't think just about the people trying to view the video responses. You also have to think about the people who have been making them. Content creators are a vital part of the YouTube ecosystem, and getting non-creators to cross over and become creators is an important engine for content growth.
To somebody who has been using this feature, this is a fuck-you twice over. The first time is shutting down a feature they were using. The second time is the recognition that YouTube was having them do something that didn't work well, but that YouTube doesn't really care.
Can YouTube get away with offending a bunch of people? Sure. But treating people like they only matter when they are currently useful to you? That's for sociopaths and supervillians. When you're building things for people, it's important to treat them as people. They'll remember when you don't.
That's true, but the two cases can't really be compared. Groups of people are, very frequently, in nearly every discipline and line of work, treated as mathematical entities. It's how governments determine how to allocate resources and funding in social programs, and how advertizing and marketing work.
In a public company, one of the main goals is to make as much of a profit as possible. Reducing costs is paramount to keeping profits in the green, and when you're operating on the same scale as YouTube, even a tiny optimization like this can translate to huge savings in the long run.
You are also wrong about the main goals of a public company, and wrong again about how to get there. Those are central dogmas of the MBA worldview, but they're just dogmas.
A great example is cars. American car companies minimized costs and focused on profits. Toyota maximized user value and minimized waste in creating that value. Toyota has been kicking the asses of American car makers for decades. Even when Toyota teaches American car-makers their secrets, they can't adapt, because those and other items of dogma make it impossible to change: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/403/n...
The team is focused on enabling you to share video links in comments.
Although it's true that the execution wasn't smooth, they should have removed the feature when the replacement was ready.
Youtube has to optimize for the greatest number of users it can. When you're working with a business at scale and there are millions of users (or even a billion), you don't get a bellyache over features that have to be scrapped because they're not used enough. It's a company, not a charity. That's how it works.
My point is that sure, sometimes you must alienate users. But good product management requires you to minimize that number, and the size of the pain. That's just good business.
Which isn't many, but it might have been critical to those 4.
And given the numbers involved when we talk about YouTube, it's not like it's really as low as 4 people, it's 4 out of 1 million views on a site that generates 1 billion unique visits each month ( https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/en-GB/statistics.html ). It's actually a large number of users then.
The reach of those 1% is pretty substantial.
I have never used the feature in question, but I'd certainly think twice about removing any feature that 1% used.
Linking within the video works, but it requires that the creator of the original video does more work, and if it was not planned when the video was created then, while doable with annotations, it appears scammy.
While piggybacking may be an option for garnering initial views, using it for this purpose encourages response spam. Using good 'ol search optimization should really be the first option for content creators looking to get off the ground.
Well yeah. But you can say that for nearly any feature of program. I don't see this as a big deal.
When you watched a video that was a response to another video, YouTube showed "This is a video response to ______"
I personally used that a few times, unlike video responses which I don't remember ever using.
Fixed that for you.
Hacker News has featured videos on its home page. A lot.
 Fabricio Benevenuto, Tiago Rodrigues, Virgilio Almeida, Jussara Almeida, Chao Zhang, and Keith Ross. 2008. Identifying video spammers in online social networks. In Proceedings of the 4th international workshop on Adversarial information retrieval on the web (AIRWeb '08), Carlos Castillo, Kumar Chellapilla, and Dennis Fetterly (Eds.). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 45-52. DOI=10.1145/1451983.1451996 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1451983.1451996
They suggest people should search for responses to the video instead. Few will and even if you do, you don't have a good chance of finding them necessarily.
Now if only they'd bring back the ability to subscribe to a playlist rather than a channel. I still have some playlist subscriptions, but you no longer have the option of following a playlist without seeing all the other videos from that channel.
Maybe by using the title, description, etc. the competition creator can aggregate them and create a playlist but that's more work for them. Just browsing through the video responses is a much quicker way currently for both the competition creator and participant.
Features need to be trimmed now and then for a piece of software to survive in the long term - otherwise it evolves towards infinite complexity and feature bloat, and subsequently ossifies.
If you're one of the 1 in 100,000 youtube users that enjoyed this feature, you're upset that it got removed.
But for the greater good you should just accept you were unlucky.
The alternative is a system (and UI) that gets more and more complex over time to the detriment of everyone
So are there really two orders of mag of fraud in the bigger industry of banner ads, or despite popular belief is video two orders of mag less compelling than static banner ads or email spam... Something doesn't add up.
I wonder how many people will stop using Google products as a result of this design decision.
4 people in a million? You'd get rid of the feature too. That's what you should do - it might alienate four people, but honestly, your business has to pick and choose which customers to piss off. You really can't please everyone in the world with your decisions, and this frankly wasn't useful to Youtube from a mathematical perspective.
The math pretty much proves it - this was a smart decision. People will adapt and get over it. This is barely news.
Further, who these people are matters. The number of active editors on Wikipedia is about 0.0004% of total users. But if you kill something even a small percentage of them use, god help you.
Most importantly, people aren't mathematical entities. You may sometimes have to piss some customers off. But most of the time you don't have to piss anybody off. And that's a good choice, because unlike, say, your average integer, people have memories, and they talk with one another.
Product decisions aren't mathematical decisions; they're human decisions. Ones often helped by good math.