On September 20th, Youtube announced it’s plans to launch it’s ‘Youtube Heroes’ system for moderators on the site. Thanks to the gamification model of hiring moderators, many Youtube content creators have been speaking out about their concerns. So, what is Youtube Heroes and why are content creators so upset about it?
Any aspiring moderators will be encouraged to sign up and start on the bottom floor, so to speak. By gaining points, they can work their way up the ladder. It works as follows:
Level one: You can access the separate Youtube Heroes dashboard, and begin earning points by captioning videos or answering questions in the Help section of the website.
Level two: Learn at ‘exclusive’ Hero workshops and take part in ‘Hero hangouts’.
Level three: You can mass flag inappropriate videos and moderate the Youtube Heroes community.
Level four: Get a sneak peek at upcoming products and get the ability to speak to Youtube staff directly.
Level five: You can test products before release and attend the Heroes summit.
This looks fairly innocuous, but the system bears dissecting a little. The issue most content creators are worried about is the ability to mass flag videos. As much as we’d all like Youtube to stay neutral, in fact it can be a breeding ground for trolls and other ne’er do wells. It’s been pointed out that flagging videos can be disastrous for a content creator’s livelihood.
The way Youtube’s flagging system works is that if a creator’s video is flagged, it can be reviewed for content. If it’s deemed to be inappropriate, it can be de-monetized, which loses the creator money. Alternatively, the video can also be removed. Youtube works on a three strikes policy, so if you have three strikes against you, your channel can be deleted. When trolls are well known for maliciously flagging content of creators they don’t like, you can see where this system can go wrong.
Also, it’s worth looking at the fact that Youtube has decided to gamify their moderation system. The Youtube Heroes program isn’t a paid position with Youtube. It’s relying on users to spend their free time doing the moderation work for them. It does beg the question, why won’t Youtube just hire moderation staff? There are plenty of times where gamification works well, such as in habit building apps, but here it feels a little bit exploitative.
Instead, the ‘Heroes’ are given perks. These perks sound great, but in reality they’re getting content creators’ backs up too. As NerdCubed pointed out in his video on the subject, at level four you can speak to Youtube directly, and even he doesn’t get to do that. The perks balance seems to be in disarray, and could use looking at.
If Youtube wants to address the balance, they’ll need to think about the powers they can give what are essentially unpaid volunteers. They also need to think about what moderation powers they should be giving content creators. With some tweaking, the system could work well. It remains to be seen if Youtube addresses these concerns, though.