Comments

dredmorbius 9d
This article is a discussion of a study Mozilla published ... without a dateline, though the Wayback Machine suggests it probably appeared 20 Sept. 2022 (today): <https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/youtube/user-controls/>

That was previously submitted to HN though there seems to be no activity presently: <https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=32910321>

PaulHoule 9d
It’s been a while since I’ve logged into YouTube but my impression is that the experience including recommendations is worse if you are logged in.
TheAceOfHearts 9d
The trick to improving YouTube recommendations is to regularly prune uninteresting videos and channels. Eventually this should start surfacing videos you're more likely to find interesting.

I've actually hit the end of my recommendation stream on the mobile app after marking dozens of videos with Not Interested. Once this happens it starts recommending videos you've already watched or older videos from creators you've been watching lately.

Personally, I'd love it if you could curate the recommendation system a bit more. I'm never interested in rewatching stuff I've already seen. And the recency bias for recommendations means you're always getting more if what you've recently consumed. I'd like it if more older interests were mixed in. Finally, I'd love to be able to blacklist certain topics and games entirely.

There's so much missed potential with YouTube recommendations.

Some might say that you can still use search, but that has been crippled to include unrelated recommendations after one page of results. Not only that, I want YouTube to help me discover new content. When the recommendation system works and it shows me new kinds of interesting stuff, it's superb. TikTok is eating YouTube's lunch in this regard.

behaveEc0n00 9d
The zeitgeist of our culture; of course you didn’t MEAN to be negative, here try again.

No, no; I most certainly did mean to suggest you should stop showing me this persons channel. Not because I hate the person but because I don’t want a shit “AI” that’s feeding me what Google makes the best margins on.

amatecha 9d
This reminds me of how games (coughLeagueOfLegendscough) match me up with a player that I literally just reported for harassment, griefing etc. in the previous match. Like, there weren't any other possible players to match me with out of the many thousands? I don't mind waiting a few more seconds to match up with someone else!
makosdv 9d
I'm not surprised by this. I gave up on the YouTube Home page, etc. years ago and I only look at the Subscriptions page. I've just found new channels to subscribe to through word of mouth over the years and I have more than enough content to choose from.
HardwareLust 9d
YouTube doesn't seem to understand my preferences, at all. It's far, far too biased toward what you recently watched. It basically doesn't work and certainly doesn't "learn" anything.
tus666 9d
But at least the "not interested" option works well, at least for me.
mikrl 9d
I didn’t like when they removed the dislike counts, and I still don’t like it.

When I look for videos of folks working on Subarus, I don’t want to have to manually scrub through the video to gauge the quality. Before I’d just look at the ratio and if I was feeling generous I’d preview the frames to see if they had what I wanted.

Now it takes me at least 2 mins longer to get to the same judgement which begs the question of why I’m watching a video when I have a book on my lap and a car waiting outside.

Sophistifunk 9d
Why is everybody pretending the recommendation system is designed to show you what you want to see, rather than to maximise ad revenue?
londons_explore 9d
Long ago, tech giant CEO's realised that recommendation systems are very powerful. They can trick hundreds of millions of users into spending double digit percentages of their life watching memes.

From that point on, focus was reduced on working on recommenders. Instead the goal was not to trick users into spending their whole life on the platform, but to maximize ad revenue from those users in the limited time they did spend on the platform.

The one party that wasn't part of this was tiktok. And that's why they have stolen so much user share.

flenserboy 9d
Improved recommendations would be nice, but the ability to exclude specific channels from ever appearing in recommendations or search results would be fantastic. The amount of litter on YT is extraordinary.
nostromo 9d
YouTube likes and dislikes are now pretty similar to Facebook likes.

It's not there to help you, the user. It's there to make the content creator feel popular. That's why YouTube removed dislike numbers and Facebook never had it to begin with. It's mostly window dressing.

jiggawatts 9d
What a lot of people are missing is that when watching YouTube, they're the product, not the consumer.

I know this has been said many times before, but ignoring this reality is like trying to understand life without considering evolution, or understanding chemistry while ignoring the periodic table.

Google's incentives are to tailor customers to advertisers, not customers to content!

They don't care if you see what you want to see, they care if you see what they want you to see.

In that light, it all makes sense.

robswc 9d
Honestly, I feel like YouTube recommendation is the _only_ good thing YouTube has lol. I often see a ton of complaints about the recommendations but I've honestly never had an issue. I know that yes, you click on one video and now all the sudden you get 100s of that type... but it sorta works for me since it seems like that "effect" wears off just as fast as it starts.

For example, I have a friend that's into cars. I watched a few car videos and then 50% of my recommendations were car videos. It works for me though, because usually those videos are genuinely interesting. I haven't watched one in weeks tho, so going to my home I see 0 car related videos.

I will 100% believe everyone though when they say it just doesn't work for them. Just wanted to share my experience.

chillfox 9d
My recommendations have been filled with crazy conspiracy stuff for months just because I watched some caving/diving disaster videos styled like camp fire stories. I have tried marking videos as not interesting and blocking channels, but there appears to be an endless supply of that stuff.

To make it worse it looks like accidentally letting the preview play a few seconds of a video marks the subject as something you are interested in and it can sometimes be near impossible to select a video in the middle of the page without having one of the surrounding videos start a preview.

I want good youtubers to be able to make a living and I pay for the YouTube subscription, but this crap is driving me towards setting up Invidious rapidly.

Imnimo 9d
I'd be curious to know how many additional "wanted" recommendations the system is able to serve by not treating a dislike as a strong negative signal. It seems like there's a tradeoff here, where YouTube figures that if it interpreted a dislike with a heavy hand, it would also knock a bunch of videos you do want (or at least they think you want).

Presumably from YouTube's perspective, it's more important that your recommendations pane contain at least one video that you want to watch than it is that it contains zero videos you don't want to see. The user's desires are a probably a little more balanced - seeing videos on topics you dislike is annoying even if you don't watch them, and even if there is a single good video mixed in.

happytiger 9d
This concentration of videos around recent topics and YouTube’s circling of that content seems to be one of the reasons so much disinformation and misinformation gets pushed on the platform. It’s not just an inconvenience.

If I watch a video from one or the other side of the political spectrum, or watch something more fringe just because I want to learn about the subject, I get nonstop recommendations for more videos and more videos and more and more and more of the same, nonstop forever. I can’t escape the subject without wiping the account, and while there does seem to be an effect from block channel dislike seems to do little.

I feel like I’m staring into a bathtub full of water in the middle of the ocean. YouTube needs to fix their discovery tools because I think it’s causing someone who goes down a rabbit hole to keep going down that rabbit hole with ease, and that’s not really that cool with radicalizing content.

Just my 2c from recent experience. Love the platform (except for the increase in ads to cable levels recently) otherwise.

Legion 9d
The only way to make YouTube even remotely tolerable is with liberal use of the "Not Interested" and "Don't Recommend Channel" functions.

I also set up separate YouTube viewing accounts by interest, so that I can clobber away everything not related to a specific interest in that particular account (eg. anything not sports related gets "Don't Recommend Channel"'d in my Sports YT account).

YouTube pretty much fights you tooth and nail the whole way, but eventually your blocking of irrelevant and garbage recommendations leaves them no choice but recommending things related to that interest.

subtract-smiles 9d
I've found that the algorithm can be extremely volatile for some things and barely react to others. I watch half of one video by a 'pop' youtuber like MrBeast or LazarBeam and that's the only recommendations I get for a week. Likewise, I can spend hours and hours listening to more passive content like music or long-form documentary style videos and I barely see any bump in that kind of content recommended for me.

The most effective tweaking methods to the algorithm I've found is just subscribing to people who cover a genre I want to see more of and then watching videos from their videos recommended section.

I'm perpetually confused by YouTubes weights for choosing recommended videos.

wodenokoto 9d
Ann Reed, from "How to cook that" did a video on it.

Basically Youtube rewards interactions, and a dislike is an interaction. Her main evidence was a video by pewdiepie where he asks everyone who views it to dislike it. It is one of his most viewed videos, at least around that time, and by far the most disliked.

Sadly Ann Reed names her videos after what she cooks or debunks, and not her critiques on the algorithm (she has quite a few really good one)

I'd appreciate if someone knows the link.

yedpodtrzitko 9d
I dont see it mentioned BlockTube extension [0] anywhere in the comments yet. It automatically blocks videos/channels based on your defined keywords and it works perfectly. For some period of time my main YT page was filled with a variation of videos about "walking in Tokyo". I'm not interested in walking in cities nor Japan, so I have no idea where that came from. No matter how many of these videos I marked as "not interested", more of them kept coming for days. Blocktube just automatically purged them for me. Sometime I saw just a blank page (because all the videos were blocked automatically), so I had to reload page to see at least something. It took some time to get rid off the "noise", but my YT experience is now way better.

[0] https://github.com/amitbl/blocktube

KaoruAoiShiho 9d
I run https://fiction.live which has a similar recommendations function as youtube.

The key insight here is that dislikes are not the same thing as uninterested. People will dislike stories that they're interested in but think are poorly written or do not have the ending that they want it to have. If you use dislike to mean uninterested you are ruining the recommendations.

Rather you need to have a separate button that says do not recommend other content like this. That's what we do and it works out well.

tjpnz 8d
The report button doesn't work either. I regularly get crypto scams in my recommendations. I report them but they're still running hours later.
tomcam 9d
People seem to think we can train the YouTube algorithm. That's backwards. As I see it, the algorithm is there to train us.
doener 8d
Link to the original paper: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=32909873
_def 8d
I recently watched a craft video of a guy that was a pretty egocentric douche, at one point he even mentioned how people get offended by him and dislike his videos (not only via the dislike button, but also that) and he mentioned that it doesn't matter. Apparently he was right.
vonwoodson 8d
They left out the block channel button. Very effective. Seriously, as an avid YouTube consumer (and not a creator) training my algorithm is such a huge part of what my entertainment life is. Definitely have used private mode, on a VPN, with a different browser to watch videos I didn’t want polluting my algorithm. Now that my kid knows how to use YouTube and I let him use my account, my years of work are totally shot… maybe. It’s nice to be able to see and block channels, guide the algorithm away from YTP, and be sure to keep plenty of math and science options on the recommendations. I’ve also noticed that it varies by time of day. I wouldn’t mind more control, but as it is, I learn the system and do have control that I need. I don’t always know what I want, and do like surprises. Like, who knew I’d be into cow hoof trimming? YouTube did.
Garvi 8d
About 6 months ago I ran my own little unscientific experiment with Youtube, after I noticed them promoting a certain channel that I've never watched. Nothing political or anything like that. Just a run of the mill youtuber, currently very popular with the kids.

The first week or two I was pushing the "not interested" and "don't recommend channel" every time one of the videos would show up in my feed (mind you I've never actually clicked on one and watched it and I'm a firefox+ubo user). Those two buttons had no effect at all. So I tried flagging the videos for "unwanted content". No effect either. The videos would keep on appearing in my suggestions at various places for a whole month straight.

The theory being that the channel was being actively promoted by Youtube and was thus impossible to hide. Ties in with the removal of the 'dislike' button as I believe it had the same reasoning behind it: raising the value of their advertising service.

xani_ 8d
You're supposed to click in video in recommendedation in the three dot menu and click either "not interested" or "do not recommend channel"... for some fucking idiotic reason.

Other fact about downvotes is that they count as engagement so downvoting a video promotes it more than not clicking anything at all, that is why many youtubers go "if you don't like it click the downvote and write about that in the comment"... because both of those actions drive "engagement" so video is promoted more

kevincox 8d
My main problem with YouTube recommendations is that the majority of my feed is videos I've already watched. I generally get quickly tired of waiting for the algorithm to recommend something interesting.

Although occasionally on the mobile site it inhects a "want to see something new?" into the feed which is a godsend. That list of recommendations is beautiful and interesting. However it doesn't seem to have any repeatable way to access it.

Although the poor recommendations may be partly because I manage my subscriptions via RSS so most of my watching is direct-to-video links then leaving the site. But that doesn't seem to excuse recommending things that I have already watched.