The Google+ / YouTube integration is a disaster.
Much has been written about this in the last few days, with people making great points about the value of anonymity and the poor new comment-ranking algorithms. Here's a good roundup of the various issues.
These are fantastic points, and I agree with them 100%. But they're fundamentally matters of philosophy. Whether real names are required in comments, whether a Google+ account is required to post comments/videos to YouTube, and how comments should be ranked/sorted — these are all judgment calls made by YouTube's developers and product managers. Though we may disagree with their philosophies, they have the right to build their products according to those philosophies.
Beyond that, it's important to consider that people don't like change. I've built web apps long enough to know that any time there's a substantial redesign or relaunch of a site, people will complain. They'll say "Version 1 was so much better than Version 2!" Then they eventually get used to it, and, ironically, when Version 3 comes along, they'll passionately defend Version 2.
But even accounting for these two things — people's normal resistance to change, plus Google's right to have its own philosophies/opinions on how their product should work — the YouTube changes still qualify as a disaster.
It's not that I'm upset things don't work in the same way they used to, or that I disagree with their philosophies on the product, it's that things don't work period. The implementation is just plain broken.
Here are three examples.
Connecting your YouTube channel to a Google+ account
I have a decent-sized YouTube channel, with 26,000 subscribers. (I post guitar videos.) I've spent several years building up this subscriber base and, naturally, I don't want to make any missteps that might mess up my channel or devalue it in any way. So I was super skeptical about linking my channel with a Google+ account, but I finally did it after YouTube made it too inconvenient/annoying not to.
Problem was, it didn't work.
When I bit the bullet and initiated the linking of YouTube/Google+ accounts, I got the following "YouTube is updating your channel" dialog box:
The dialog box contained nothing, and it was over a blank background, and...nothing happened. I initiated this several times, trying to narrow down the reasons it might be happening. I signed out of my other Google Accounts, I tried it in an incognito window, I tried doing it from the settings page as opposed to directly from the channel page. Each time, the same thing happened: only an empty dialog box with no response.
So it's some sort of cross-site frame problem. I looked in my browser's (Google Chrome's) preferences to try to disable whatever security setting was causing that, but I couldn't find anything. I finally tried it in Firefox, and it worked. Evidently Firefox (or at least my particular Firefox installation) doesn't care about that cross-site frame problem.
Google built something that doesn't even work in the company's own browser. And the problem is still happening, as of this writing, which means it's been like that for at least a week.
With my YouTube/Google+ accounts finally linked, I could finally post comments again. (YouTube is now requiring a Google+ account in order to comment.) I found a new video by one of my favorite YouTube guitarists, troubleclef, and I wanted to say some nice stuff. But commenting did not work.
I clicked in the "Share your thoughts" box. A new window popped up, immediately closed, and the page flickered a little bit. Nothing changed. Here's a video of the fiasco; it's begging to be mashed up with the Benny Hill theme song.
Chrome was telling me a pop-up was blocked, so I enabled popups for youtube.com. Same problem. I reloaded the page. Same problem.
I cannot post comments on YouTube videos now. It appears to be completely broken.
I get a fair number of comments on my videos (a handful each day), and I get an email notification each time I get a new comment. I haven't received a "new comment" email notification in a week or two, so I was wondering whether there was some new way to get comment notifications.
There's now a bell icon in the upper right of YouTube pages when I'm signed in, and it's the same icon they use on Google+ for its notifications, so I assume this is where I'll see YouTube notifications. I clicked the icon and got this:
"Please sign in to view your notifications"? Am I not already signed in? The fact that my username and avatar are being displayed in the upper right seems to indicate I'm signed in, no?
I have no way of knowing how many people are being affected by these three issues. But for me, using Google's own browser, it's resulted in a YouTube experience that's extremely broken. Beyond the social problems of requiring a real name, beyond the content problems of ranking comments in a bad way, the new YouTube simply doesn't work.
To me, that's the most unforgivable thing about this. Given Google's history with Google Buzz, we know they don't have a subtle view of real names and privacy, so the tone-deaf real-name requirement isn't a huge surprise. The comment ordering, though wrong in several ways, is ultimately their judgment call. But the one thing Google is good at above all else — technology — its failure here is disastrous.