Most people would probably agree that YouTube comments are generally pretty worthless (especially the ones that tell you the year the commenter last watched a particular music video). In fact, the video streaming site is widely known for having some of the vilest comments on the internet. So now, after all these years, it seems Google may be finally coming around to this realisation and is looking to change things up with a test in India that hides YouTube comments by default.
This YouTube trial was first detailed by XDA Developers and only seems to affect the YouTube app on Android for now, and it couldn’t be more straightforward.
Normally, when you open a video in YouTube and start scrolling down, you’ll see a row of buttons for liking, disliking, and sharing a video among other tools, followed by a list of suggested videos, and then finally after scrolling down even further, the comments for that video.
But in YouTube’s new test in India, Google has simply removed the comment section below the list of suggested videos and replaced it with a comment button that sits between the Dislike and Share buttons, so that users won’t see any comments unless they go out of their way and tap the Comment button.
To make room for the new Comment button, YouTube is testing a layout that removes the Save For Later button, which could be annoying for some, but not a complete loss as that functionality has apparently been moved to the drop-down window you get when you click the arrow to see a video’s full description. (XDA Developers has screenshots if you want to get a visual of the change.)
YouTube did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
While it’s easy to vilify all YouTube comments as garbage, there’s also a lot of useful info or heartwarming anecdotes shared in comments as well, so it’s nice to see that YouTube isn’t quite ready to abolish comments entirely. (Here’s a shout out to all the commenters that take the time to list out all the tracks in long DJ sets.)
And just maybe, by making the process of reading and posting comments a more deliberate affair, YouTube might actually encourage more thoughtful discourse. Big maybe.
[Update: 2:20 PM] After we reached out for an official statement, a Google representative replied with a response saying “We’re always experimenting with ways to help people more easily find, watch, share and interact with the videos that matter most to them. We are testing a few different options on how to display comments on the watch page. This is one of many small experiments we run all the time on YouTube, and we’ll consider rolling features out more broadly based on feedback on these experiments.”