YouTube Tests Crowdsourced Annotations For Videos


YouTube is piloting a new experimental feature allowing users to add contextual notes to videos to provide supplemental information.

The “Video Context Notes” feature, currently being tested on mobile in the United States for English language videos, allows invited contributors to write short annotations.

Screenshot from: blog.youtube.com, June 2024.

In its announcement, YouTube describes how it intends for people to use context notes:

“These notes could clarify when footage contains parody material, point out if a product review is outdated due to a newer version release, or confirm whether viral clips actually depict current events.”

Notes build on other YouTube efforts to present context alongside videos, such as information panels and disclosure labels for altered or synthetic media.

However, YouTube recognizes there’s potential for inaccurate or unsuitable notes during the experimental phase, stating:

“We anticipate there will be mistakes – notes that aren’t a great match for the video or potentially incorrect information. That’s part of how we’ll learn from the experiment.”

Availability

A limited number of YouTube channels in good standing will be invited to write and attach context notes to videos.

Viewers in the U.S. will be able to see and rate the helpfulness of these notes.

Third-party evaluators, the same contracted personnel who provide feedback on YouTube’s search and recommendation systems, will also assess the quality and accuracy of posted notes.

Their ratings and viewer input will be processed through a “bridging-based algorithm” to determine which notes get published broadly.

YouTube explains in the announcement:

“If many people who have rated notes differently in the past now rate the same note as helpful, then our system is more likely to show that note under a video.”

As the pilot progresses, YouTube plans to explore having contributors rate each other’s notes to further train the note-publishing system.

Why SEJ Cares

Letting users add context could add another layer of credibility to videos, such as confirming or debunking the presenter’s claims.

While there are bound to be some growing pains, if YouTube can get this new notes system right, it could raise the bar for transparency when it comes to video content across the web.


Featured Image: Queenmoonlite Studio/Shutterstock



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