Facebook did it. Instagram did it. Now YouTube is the latest platform to test out a non-chronological subscription feed, the company confirmed in a series of tweets.
The first confirmation from the company came in the form of a reply to a tweet from a fan who seemed to be a part of a limited-user beta. “We are currently experimenting with how to show content in the subs feed,” the company wrote. “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.”
Just to clarify. We are currently experimenting with how to show content in the subs feed. 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.
— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) May 23, 2018
Word quickly spread, and creators like Grace Helbig and Ali-A jumped to voice their concerns.
Please don’t do this. https://t.co/I0FtkQ9zel
— Grace Helbig (@gracehelbig) May 24, 2018
If YouTube change the Subscription page away from the chronological ordering we all know and like, to their own list of “here’s what WE think you should be watching” (a bit like Instagram + FB) then they’re making a HUGE mistake…
— Ali-A (@OMGitsAliA) May 24, 2018
Creators are fearful of any sort of change that might impact how their hard-earned subscribers find their content – and rightfully so. Viewers are the bread and butter of YouTubers, and undue change could impact creators’ livelihoods.
People use the subscription tab to mainly avoid this sort of algorithmic behaviour on the platform. Please keep that to the home page and recommendations
— Jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) May 24, 2018
Ethan Klein of h3h3productions created a video responding to this revelation. “They’re finally doing it, you guys – they’re finally taking the sub feed. It was the last thing we had – the last sacred piece of YouTube left that wasn’t ‘optimized.'”
The subscription feed is presently the last place where YouTube users can go with an expectation and feeling of ownership over the content they’re going to see. The homepage and sidebar recommendations are entirely curated based on algorithmic recommendations, stemming from both your viewing history and content popular around the globe.
Klein also pointed out a change in the notifications feature on YouTube. Users previously had two options in regards to push notifications from their favorite creators – either on or off. Now, the platform includes an “occasionally” option, set by default when someone subscribes. A single click of the bell icon toggles the status to “always.”
The company noted in a reply to YouTube gamer Ali-A that this is currently just an experiment being tested with a “small group of people,” and that even those in the experiment can still choose to sort chronologically. It’s not immediately clear how participants for this experiment were chosen, or if they have the option to opt-out altogether.
“Stop wasting everybody’s time, remove the subscription button altogether, and just show us the content you want us to watch,” Klein said. “If they actually go through with this, this is the death of YouTube.”