Tuesday, May 11, 2010

User ratings and its influence on consumption

Along with all the cosmetic changes going on at YouTube at the moment one of probably the most symbolic changes has been the removal of 5-star ratings and addition of like/dislike buttons.

The change is for the most part unsurprising, the majority of YouTube clips probably only require a like or dislike, critical reviews of videos are not generally a done thing on YouTube.

The symbolism of the change shows that YouTube's two major stakeholders - publishers and consumers - are not interested in monitoring ratings or worrying whether a video is 3 or 5 stars. This acceptance of a lack of critical consideration of videos on YouTube is essentially an admission by YouTube that it is a 'fast moving video portal' - users consume high volumes of short videos with little consideration in-between.

If this is the way that YouTube is going then good for them on selecting such a model. The only problem I have with this is that it totally dis-regards its whole YouTubeEDU educational portal. YouTubeEDU was created largely in response to the likes of iTunesU and Academic Earth, video portals for long-play academic presentations.

Academic Earth for its part has taken a very definite line in its user ratings that sets it way apart from the new YouTubeEDU. Academic Earth users get to rate the presenters as if they were students, with typical A to F academic gradings.

iTunesU is a little more varied in its approach and from what I can understand individual users can rate academic presentations via their 5-star iTunes rating system they use for all iTunes media.

As can be seen though, the user ratings system you choose for your media can inform the consumer how they are to consume and consider their consumption. Give a consumer a throw-away ratings system and they'll follow suit.

I may be making a mountain out of a mole hill but I really think that the YouTube user rating changes has signified the wane in its experiment in long play educational videos. It will be interesting to see how it continues.

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