What Happened to Tags on YouTube?

What Happened to Tags on YouTube?You may have noticed that tags are no longer visible on a YouTube video’s watch page — you know, the sometimes endless stream of words underneath the video itself. One reason for this is that actual viewers never really used them. Did you ever click on any of those tags to find different videos, or discover new ones? The other reason is that many abused the system to drive more traffic to their own videos.

In Google Groups, you can find countless complaints by users about some of their fellow YouTube partners. Certain individuals were abusing the tags and giving their videos misleading titles just to make more profit through ads, yet the content presented was hardly anything valuable. Unfortunately, there are thousands of these duplicate trash content videos. Now, tags are private and invisible on the watch page of any video on YouTube. Yet, on the back end side of things, they’re still very important for appropriately categorizing videos.

So, from now on, only those who upload can write and view tags for a video. On the Google+ page of YouTube Creators, it says: “Please keep providing tags when you upload, though — they’re important tools to help promote and connect your videos.” Making tags private is a long overdue decision.

For this reason, our own Chris Pirillo believes in the importance of quality over quantity. One shouldn’t try to exploit a system, looking for loopholes, instead of making an effort to attract a legitimate audience with quality content. Attention is far more valuable a metric, by far — and that cannot be gamed.

When was the last time you ever saw (or clicked on) a YouTube tag?

Image: Google YouTube Logo

Article Written by

He's a writer and photographer living in Sweden. Technology, philosophy, and films are some of his other interests. In 2008, Maximilian completed a BA in creative writing in London. So, being a writer has been important to him for a long time -- although he prefers to be called a "storyteller."

  • http://www.facebook.com/dane.a.morgan Dane Morgan

    I have, but most often it’s been a pretty special interest tag like ‘geocaching’

  • Jesse Aranda

    I actually gravely disliked having tags show up because I would often click expand to read the description and it would instead end up being a long list of unrelated tags. That was annoying to say the least.

  • http://dalesutherland.co.uk/ Dale Sutherland

    I suppose it’s just YouTube trying to prefect their system. I can see both positives and indeed a few negatives about this decision. Positive: It does make the video page a lot more compact, and cleaner. Also, it will discourage certain individuals copying a videos tag that is popular. Negative: YouTube have taken away the social side of equation. No longer can you view other videos with the same tag.

  • http://twitter.com/Harold Harold

    Surely I’ve clicked tags on occasion. I’m not currently recalling any of those occasions, though — only dim memories.

  • LewiHussey

    Ah, I think the tags are a lil’ outdated now anyway, I like they’re taking a step forward!
    Great article. :)

  • Curtis Coburn

    I never ever clicked on a Youtube Tag. But it’s good that they got rid of them.

  • https://plus.google.com/112301869379652563135/posts Ryan Matthew Pierson

    Good riddence! Great article.

  • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

    Honestly? The one “feature” I wish they’d eliminate is the damned Dislike button. It’s too ambiguous.

    • http://mrcab666.livejournal.com/ MRCAB

      Always liked the star rating system myself. But I disagree, Chris, there really needs to be something to help point out crap without having to ‘not view it’.

      • http://chris.pirillo.com/ Chris Pirillo

        Again, it’s ambiguous.

        There are NO qualifiers around a negative social action.

        • http://mrcab666.livejournal.com/ MRCAB

          I’m more likely two watch a review video [of one of my interests] with a 1,173 likes / 25 dislikes rating than a 1,173 likes, 250,000 dislikes video; for example. And crap videos are easier to spot than having to read though comments. But you know what, if you don’t like it, you can disable it. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/RyanOfTheWWW Ryan

    Never really used them.

    Should help a bit in deterring the ongoing reply girl epidemic though.

  • John Mosuela

    I used them to help me legitimately tag my own videos

  • sdfgh

    aw i wish they hadn’t some youtubers tags are funny

  • Thomas

    “The other reason is that many abused the system to drive more traffic to their own videos.” – But this update doesn’t stop people abusing the system, it encourages them by making sure viewers can’t tell if they’re abusing the system! I keep finding the wrong videos, and I can’t tell if a misleading tag has been used because they’re hidden! Why does no-one see this obvious flaw? :(