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Oops -- YouTube's new commenting system actually increased spam

The system provided new opportunities for abuse, the Google-owned site said

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Call it a work in progress. YouTube is now trying to stanch the increased flow of spam on its site, just weeks after a new system was employed to clean it up, the company recently said.

Earlier this month the Google-owned site overhauled its commenting system to push better quality comments and ones from certain people higher up, while diminishing less important or spammy posts. As part of those changes, users were forced to sign up for Google+, if they hadn't already, and comment using that account.

The new system was designed to reduce spam and lead to better conversations on the site, but things didn't quite turn out that way.

While the system did address previous spam issues, it also introduced new opportunities for abuse, YouTube said in a Monday evening blog post.

After the revamp, the site received a lot of feedback from creators citing an increase in comment spam, YouTube also said. The site did not say exactly how much spam increased, and a YouTube spokesman declined to comment further.

To reduce the spam, YouTube has made a number of updates to the site, the company said. The fixes include better recognition of bad links and impersonation attempts, and changing how long comments are displayed, YouTube said. The site is also improving its detection of ASCII art, the graphic design technique known for producing in-comment images made from text characters.

So far, the fixes might be working. A quick review of some of the most popular videos on Tuesday did reveal mostly intelligible comments, though some were more frivolous.

New features like threaded conversations and formatted comments will continue to improve the site's comments, YouTube said. There are also improvements on the way to help creators better manage their comments, as well as improvements for comment ranking and the moderation of old-style comments, the company said.

YouTube might have longer-standing issues to fix. A number of users were upset over the change forcing them to use Google+, judging from a petition on the site Change.org. But the problems might go back further than that.

"Ever since Google has taken over YouTube, it just hasn't been the same," the petition reads.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com



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