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YouTube dabbles in personalised subscriber feeds, sparking backlash from creators

YouTube has been overhauling its video platform as of late, from revising its partner program to amending its firearm policies. Subscription feeds have largely remained untouched, preserving the chronological format for users to see the latest, and possibly greatest, videos out there. This is now under threat from a more personalised feed, prompting content creators to speak up against the change.

A personalised feed is wonderful in premise, offering users quick and easy access to the videos that they are most likely to tune into via an algorithm that serves catered videos on a platter without having to hunt them down. This has been trialled since February, departing from the platform’s chronological algorithm that simply displayed videos in the order that they were uploaded.

“We are currently experimenting with how to show content in the subs feed,” a YouTube representative said on Twitter. “We find that some viewers are able to more easily find the videos they want to watch when we order the subs feed in a personalized order vs always showing most recent video first.”

Concerned content creators on the platform have voiced their disapproval for the system, with H3H3’s Ethan Klein stating that with the sub feed now conforming to YouTube’s unwanted “optimisation”, the platform can “make ur channel completely invisible even to ur own subscribers.”

“Stop wasting our time @TeamYouTube — just erase the sub button already and show us what you want us to watch,” Klein Tweeted. “The final step in removing any control users have over content they see.”

Previously, YouTubers have complained that their videos had not been showing up in people’s subscription boxes. This new personalised algorithm is suspected to be the cause, prompting content creators, including Klein, to feel like YouTube is shooting itself in the foot.

“With more videos coming to YouTube every minute we’re always experimenting with ways to help people more easily find, watch and share the videos that matter most to them,” reasons YouTube in its blanket statement addressing the changes.

“We’re testing a setting that allows users to sort the subscriptions feed based on the content a user usually engages with the most. This is one of many small experiments we run all the time on YouTube. We use both quantitative data as well as user and creator feedback to make decisions on which features to launch.”

The new algorithm, like many other sites that have switched over to personalised feeds, seems to prioritise user interaction with content creators, but this inherently devalues the viewing habits of each individual user.

Given the wave of demonetisation experienced by a plethora of content creators thanks to the platform’s other changes, YouTubers are now faced with an uphill battle to remain relevant and be seen by the audience which has already chosen to support that channel.

Luckily, YouTube has expressed interest in letting users decide what kind of feed they want, with an option to choose between chronological or personalised subscription feeds inbound.

KitGuru Says: Generally, I interact more with up-and-coming content creators I personally know, often ignoring the like system entirely for those I have no connection to, but this does not mean that I don’t want to see the latest Game Theory. It’s sad to see YouTube ignore the happiness of its user base just to drive more potential clicks. Do you prefer the new personalised feeds or has it caused some trouble for you?

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