YouTube tests Notes feature to add video context

Pilot Program Allows Viewers to Provide Contextual Information

YouTube Notes
YouTube Notes

YouTube this week announced a pilot program for a new feature called Notes. This feature, inspired by Twitter's Community Notes (formerly Birdwatch, 2021), enables viewers to add written information to videos, providing additional context or clarifying confusing details. The program is currently in its initial testing phase and is only available on mobile devices in the United States for videos in English.

According to YouTube, the purpose of the Notes feature is to enhance the viewing experience by providing users with more context about the videos they watch. Notes can be used for various purposes, such as:

  • Identifying parodies or satire videos
  • Highlighting the existence of newer versions of products reviewed in older videos
  • Clarifying outdated footage mistakenly presented as current events

This functionality builds upon YouTube's existing efforts to display informative content alongside videos, including information panels and disclosure requirements for altered or synthetic content.

Who Can Participate in the Pilot Program?

In this initial phase, a limited number of viewers are eligible to write notes. These viewers are chosen based on specific criteria, including having an active YouTube channel in good standing that adheres to YouTube's Community Guidelines. Invitations to participate are sent via email or through notifications within the YouTube Creator Studio app.

How Notes Are Rated and Published

Third-party evaluators, similar to those who provide feedback on YouTube search results and recommendations, assess the submitted notes. These evaluations focus on the helpfulness of the notes, considering factors like the use of high-quality sources and clear, neutral language.

If a note receives positive ratings from a broad range of evaluators with diverse perspectives, it may be published and displayed publicly beneath the corresponding video. YouTube utilizes a "bridging-based algorithm" to analyze these ratings and determine which notes are most relevant for a wider audience. This algorithm takes into account situations where viewers with historically different viewpoints agree on the value of a particular note, suggesting its overall helpfulness.

Viewing and Feedback on Notes

While only a limited number of viewers can currently write notes, all viewers in the United States can see these notes on videos within the coming weeks and months. YouTube encourages viewers to provide feedback on the quality of the notes, which will be used to refine the feature over time. This feedback mechanism includes options to identify unhelpful or inaccurate information.

Future of the Notes Feature

The pilot program is designed to assess the effectiveness of the Notes feature and gather user feedback. Based on the results, YouTube may decide to expand the program to allow more viewers to participate and potentially make the feature available in other languages and regions.

Impact on Creators and Viewers

The Notes feature has the potential to significantly impact both content creators and viewers on YouTube. For creators, notes offer an opportunity to provide additional information about their videos and potentially address any misunderstandings viewers might have. Viewers can benefit from the increased context provided by notes, leading to a more comprehensive and informative viewing experience.

YouTube's Notes feature is a pilot program with the potential to enhance the platform by offering viewers more context about the videos they watch. The success of this program will depend on its ability to provide valuable information while maintaining a healthy and informative user experience.

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