YouTube’s latest initiative, “YouTube Heroes,” is gamifying viewer participation in content moderation, angering several content creators who believe incentivizing crowdsourced moderation isn’t a great approach.
Announced Tuesday, “YouTube Heroes” will allow enrolled YouTubers over 18 (or over 13 with a guardian’s consent) to receive points for sharing knowledge on videos, captioning videos or moderating content. YouTube Heroes with more points will have more tools to moderate and access to perks, like sneak peeks at upcoming YouTube features. At the 5th level, the highest, YouTube Heroes will be able to speak directly with YouTube staff.
Here’s the program’s trailer:
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the initiative is the ability for higher-up Heroes to mass-flag videos. Like this, Heroes are incentivized to flag videos and receive more points (albeit, videos with unsavory content). While, like always, a person will go through to confirm Terms of Service violations, YouTubers wonder whether there will be enough employees to handle a potential influx of complaints.
YouTube gaming personality Jim Sterling describes YouTube heroes as “another bafflingly out-of-touch idea from the minds of Google,” YouTube’s owner, that will prove “deeply ineffective, exploitable and wholly indirect.” Reflecting these criticisms is YouTube vlogger Philip DeFranco, who argues that we’d have “armies of people going around, saying, ‘That’s offensive.’”
“Do you really have enough stuff to go through the material volunteers are flagging?” he asks.
Over at media analysis YouTube channel Folding Ideas, “YouTube Heroes” is described as a “Failure to read the optics of the situation.” The channel’s run-down of the program is even-handed and digesteable:
On one hand, YouTube heroes will be rewarded for combating harassment and fleshing out videos’ captions and citations. On the other, moderation is labor and should be fairly compensated for.
Update—3:20 PM, 9/23/16: A commenter pointed out that YouTube’s announcement of YouTube heroes has received nearly half a million downvotes.