Dear Google: People Like You Because You're Not A Walled Garden; Please Don't Put Up Garden Walls

from the thanks dept

Wil Wheaton is getting some attention for highlighting what appears to be a pretty ridiculous trial balloon on the user interface design of YouTube: requiring users to be signed in to a Google+ account to up or down vote a YouTube video.

Now, it appears that this is just a test, but just the fact that Google is thinking about it seems like a bad idea. Wheaton makes the point pretty clearly: even though he’s a regular Google Plus user, he knows that this will decrease overall engagement:

Oh, go fuck yourself, Google. This is just as bad as companies forcing me to “like” something on Facebook before I can view whatever it is they want me to “like.”

Just let me thumbs up something, without forcing me to “upgrade” to G+, you dickheads.

The worst part of this? For a producer like me, I’m going to lose a crapton of potential upvotes for Tabletop, because the core of my audience is tech-savvy and may not want to “upgrade” to yet another fucking social network they don’t want or need.

At this point, it’s well known that Google is betting heavily on Google+, but it may be overplaying its hand. A key reason why people like Google is that it didn’t seem heavy-handed on such things in the past, and focused on having as open and permissive a solution as it could. Yet, in this case, it appears to be doing the opposite just to drive more (unwanted) usage toward Google Plus. Of course, the reality is that people who don’t want to sign up for it won’t sign up for it… and that will just lead to less engagement. And that’s probably exactly the opposite of what Google really wants.

If you feel the need to force your users into using your own social network, perhaps you’re doing it wrong.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: google, youtube

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Dear Google: People Like You Because You're Not A Walled Garden; Please Don't Put Up Garden Walls”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
John Fenderson (profile) says:

The next step in google's decline

Wheaton is 1005 right.

This push to turn Google into a social network has made Google actively unappealing to me. The last straw for me was the privacy policy change to allow them to share my data between their various services whether I like it or not. I am now almost completely Google-free. I use an Android phone, which means I share some data with them that way, but even that can be minimized pretty well.

This next step, of requiring you to join their social network in order to do the most mundane things, was completely expected. I think it represents the completion of the transformation of Google into Facebook.

If I wanted to use Facebook, I’d have a Facebook account. Even if Google successfully becomes a social media company, it still represents the end of Google, or at least the end of the parts of Google that were genuinely good and useful.

Hannah B. (profile) says:

Where's the dislike button?

I’m fine with signing in through G+ instead of YouTube, but no dislike button? It’s bad enough that I have to use a third-party extension to preview ratings, removing or hiding the ability to dislike will turn YouTube into a pile of steaming crap where no one knows what videos are worth watching and which are click-bait.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

This is only a test...

So Google is a completely data-driven company, especially when it comes to user testing. There are a few possible explanations for this:

1) They are testing how users respond to this change. Not in a “man I’m angry” sense, but in a “does it generate more clicks” sense. If it doesn’t, or it generates sufficiently fewer, it’ll fail. But they’ll have the data to prove it, not the hunch of a product manager

2) This was an early roll-out feature that involves eventually merging G+ and YouTube accounts, which thanks to Google’s updated TOS they can now do. Once complete, you wouldn’t have to log into YouTube and Google services (gmail, for example) separately. They’d be the same account. The +1 makes sense over the like/dislike feature (which isn’t really relevant to any other current services).

Or you know, you can wave your arms and cry that the sky is falling because you don’t bother to understand. Whatever.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t have any problem with those that don’t mind the datamining and crap going right on to do this. Good for them.

Call me a troglodyte, don’t much care. But Google, Facebook, Reddit, the rest of them can kiss it as far as I am concerned cause I won’t be one of them there.

I come here frequently to read and once in a while to comment. I do that because I don’t have to sign up to make that comment.

Those that don’t mind doing all this sign up, I am sure won’t have any troubles with all the crap that is being tried to be pushed on to the internet to spy in your email, your social apps, and what you do on line. Can’t say as I see much difference in the government doing it or one of the apps datamining for them and then turning it over.

One of these days with the way things are going, we will be where China is today. The Great Firewall of China started out being a way to control pirates. Surely if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear eh? Will you feel that same way if we wind up with the near same type of government concern over your well being like China displays? The net isn’t like you wrote it down on a notepad in your apartment. What ever it is will be around a lot longer on the net.

Vic says:

It’s all developing, I guess… Just about a week ago I have received an email from Google that they are going to disallow comments on Blogspot from people with credentials coming from other sites/blogs. Well, OK, I am not going to comment on my friend’s blog on Blogspot anymore I guess… Was it also just a test, I wonder?

Kenny (user link) says:

Facebook v Google koolaid

People are happy enough to drink at the Facebook fountain and in the name of hell hand over whatever, but when it comes to Google there seems to be minority of people who are sour faces moaning about changes and Google plus. Grow up! No one asked you to use their free services so if you don’t like them s*d off to Facebook, Microsoft and Apple!

Who’s Will whatsit anyway?

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:


Tautology (small computer is small! Anonymous commentator is anonymous!)

That’s like claiming people like TV because they haven’t realized it’s ad funded…

As soon as a person hits the age of reason (around 28yo, give or take a few years) the obviousness of “if you are not paying for the service you are not the customer” becomes glaringly apparent.

In short, people know. They’re just generally too lazy to care.

William Chambers (profile) says:

No, I do not agree in any way. This is not a walled garden, this is a vote button. I actually love this change by google. Having a single global +1 button is actually a really good idea. Having custom Thumbs up/down just for YouTube, while acceptable, is redundant and I like this improvement.

As for Mr Wheaton, I’d say he should do what he told Google should do. Promptly.

I-Blz says:


No, you misunderstand. Before (and hopefully, forever) you only had to log into Youtube to do everything on Youtube. This requires you to log into Youtube, and THEN into Google+, just to use 2 simple buttons that were previously always usable. Imagine if people without G+ couldn’t downvote the Reply Girls, and no one would know that they had -97% popularity?

gorehound (profile) says:

Reddit does this too

Now I have noticed if I log into youtube but I have not signed into google this happens:
I make sure I am not logged into the regular nor plus google as I only do searches on google
I got firefox up and log into youtube.
I close the browser
Later that day I happen to go on google to search.
I am now logged in even though I had hours before made sure I was not logged in.

Anonymous Coward says:

My problem with this is that google is using their position as leads on web search,video and mail to push google plus and forcing it down my throat, while I don’t want to join one.

I mean, I already have a youtube acc, why my functionalities are limited because I opted out of G+ (despite all their efforts to sneakly try to make me sign up for that)?

Your service will get users if it’s good and if people feel it’s convenient. Forcing G+ down people’s throat has higher chances of backfiring than anything – if the power of the google brand is not enough to drive legions of users to it, forcibly tying services into it won’t be the answer.

If people didn’t left facebook for it by now, I doubt they will.

Anonymous Coward says:

Google has been preparing for country-specific censorship (walled gardens) for a long time. And they already do it in some places.

How else can you explain recent trends such as google url’s like getting redirected to the same url with the country’s tld replacing the .com part?

Localization my ass. Like all big corps, Google is out for profit, no matter what shit they have to eat.

Anonymous Coward says:


Who remembers Buzz?

I have several Google accounts and refuse to enable G+ on any of them. What I really want to know is not whether Youtube accounts are being rolled over to general Google accounts (because that ship will sail, like it or not); the bigger question is, are we going to get Buzz 2.0, with Google happily posting my “likes” to a G+ page I never consented to have created for me?

So much for refusing to get a Facebook account to preserve a few remaining shreds of privacy….

Anonymous Coward says:

Reddit does this too

If you want to upvote something on Reddit, you have to login. Slashdot too. Digg? Yup. Oh my god! WALLED GARDENS EVERYWHERE! Thank god I have techdirt to provide me succor. I can stay safe and anonymous.

Wait until you have to log in to post here.

As far as up/down-voting anything is concerned – I never have and I never will and I couldn’t give a shit.

Let the sites change to suppress AC posts and add dimwitted ‘likes’ (as the re-sold and newly dumbed-down Slashdot did). Who cares – its all just fads anyway.

Joel says:

Reddit does this too

Did you even read the whole story? Of COURSE you have to have a Youtube account to thumbs up something. That has been the situation for years. No one cares. When he says “Core of my audience” he basically means subscribers and you need an account to subscribe to someone on Youtube. Here he is SPECIFICALLY talking about the fact that you need an account on, what is essentially, a 3rd party website in order to like a video.

Pseudonymous Coward says:


What’s even sillier is that they insist on real names only for Google+, but keep trying to push everyone to sign up for it. Most of my Google accounts are under pseudonyms, so if I went along and let them push me into Google+ they’d just delete my account for not using a real name.

Google apparently doesn’t realize how many of the accounts on Gmail/YouTube/etc. are pseudonyms and, by their OWN RULES, not qualified for a Google+ account. But they still try damn hard to force you to sign up for one… I’m not very impressed by how they’re dealing with it. At least the hideous Google Buzz you could opt out and it left you alone afterward. Google+ keeps trying to get me to sign up for it constantly.

Anonymous Coward says:


Apple is supposedly this creative, wonderful place except in reality focuses on making one size fits all products with names reflecting that philosophy. No creativity exists in anything they do since their “creativity” is actually just a pile of money used to temporarily monopolize certain logical technological advances (like the really “mind blowing” retina display, sigh) and then they slap some Lowest Common Denominator, general-use word with as few possible syllables in front of a lowercase ‘i’ so they can trademark it:

iMp3 is WAAY too many syllables, and Apple probably would have a hard time trademarking it, so its iPod

iTunes just is a sacrifice they were forced to make because its hard to come up with a 3 letter word that has one syllable and is still quasi relevant to the idea

iPhone, same as itunes. iCell just wasn’t LCD enough.

iMac – again because Macintosh is too many syllables and the word “macintosh” doesn’t sound hip, and is a LOT harder to remember than 3 letter words following a lowercase ‘i’, also, iCpu wouldn’t work.

iTV – not out yet but thats the obvious as fuck name because it required no thought whatsoever to meet the LCD requirement and is STILL trademark-able!!!! Bonus points!

iCloud again the LCD, unoriginal naming

iPad – wow genius… its, its like this shape, like a PAD of paper… like a… notePAD!

My brain is fried from trying so hard to reverse engineer the thought processes Apple’s obvious geniuses went through to overcome all obstacles and the sheer unimaginable odds that stood in their courageous paths to name their products so “elegantly”. I’m really excited to see what general descriptive words can have an ‘i’ slapped in front of it and sold to me in the future!

Anonymous Coward says:


My problem is the opposite, my google account is on my real name because I use gmail as a personal under my real name account. I have a youtube account connected to it but it originally started as a separate deal way before I even got into college when google wasn’t into the whole bundling accounts thing.

Now I’m an adult and have become a teacher, sure I’m still a young one but I have a image of respect to keep in front of from my students, and that’s why I don’t keep a social network profile – I’m all for being close to students, but I still want to keep my privacy and the image that comes with it.

I don’t want to be forced to sign up to Google+ and have my students to search for my name and see that I have +1’d “Super Pony Time” or other random youtube poop which will lead me to abandon the thumbs up/+1 system entirely – and I don’t doubt a lot of people will do the same.

IMHO, I really don’t like this whole deal of slowly removing the separation between public and private that social networks are doing, and Google Plus is the worse offender.

Anonymous Coward says:


Given the amount of shit they’ve been getting over YouTube in Germany, for example, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they want to move to a country-specific model.

Oh well, the web used to be fun until Big Business??? ruined it. I guess it’s time to move to the darknets for the next few years, and wait for them to find out about those as well…

Anonymous Coward says:

Reddit does this too

I sure do like having to sign up for a million google services in order to tell someone who made a good video that he’s better than the endless sea of terrible vlogs that is youtube.

We should just make it where you have to be logged into Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Reddit, Digg, Discus, Blip, and Viddler in order to be able to make a comment anywhere on the internet.

Anonymous Coward says:


MAN, if only there was some kind of



that would let me vote on youtube without having to create an account on an obviously dying social networking service.

too bad those things don’t exist, now if you excuse me, I have to tell all of the internet that they are wrong and stupid for not wanting to sign up for my tiny, insignificant website in order to post comments on disqus.

Anonymous Coward says:


I can’t Log into your Reddit account to make the most of your memes! hard enough to make the stupidity of your comment go away.

Oh, you appear to forgotten that everyone else has to have a Reddit account in order to see memes on the internet. Might want to fix that.

To do that, you have to log into your 4chan gold account, and then link your 4chan account to your reddit account, which has to be verified on facebook, and then log onto your internet meme database account and uncheck ‘Make my memes exclusive to gold account members’. Otherwise everyone else just gets that message to log in.

If only someone spoke out about this problem of interlacing, pointless internet services before the walled garden apocalypse. Feels Log into your Reddit account to make the most of your memes! man.

Anonymous Coward says:


Uh, no. Technology has made some people wary of signing up for a social media service that has privacy concerns and weird rules like the real name policy, which some of us, having been stalked irl and online, can’t use safely.

Next, I’m sure you’ll say I don’t need to vote on youtube videos anymore, and that is indeed what’s going to happen. Personal safety vs. supporting my friends – sadly, no contest there.

Rekrul says:

Now, it appears that this is just a test…

The key word being “appears”. Make no mistake, Google WILL make this change, the only question is when. Just like they forced everyone to change their YouTube account email addresses to gmail ones.

Google has gotten to the point where they really don’t care what the users want anymore. Users are just the annoyance that they have to tolerate in order to keep making money.

Ninja (profile) says:

Reddit does this too

FireFox (and most browsers) has a feature that lets you clear existing sessions and data. I set my FF to clear all authenticated sessions, cookies and cache every time I close it.

Actually, all of us should be careful. If you close a browser and use the “restore previous session” feature and the last user had authenticated pages running (say, logged to twitter) then their account will be there and logged. It’s a pretty bad security flaw if you ask me.

Niall (profile) says:

This is only a test...

Unfortunately, the ‘dislike’ is a valuable feature of the YouTube service, and it will be a big loss to see this go. It’s a good bellweather as to

With only +1s, if I look at some creationist or end-of-the-world-in-2012 nonsense I would not be able to indicate my disfavour, or see how many others had disliked it compared to the fewer ‘likes’ 🙂

techinabox (profile) says:


That is not what is going on here. Youtube accounts used to be separate from Google accounts but you could link your Google account to Youtube. I am betting a lot of people do this because it means just one login or all Google services. Now Youtube accounts are being slowly migrated into full Google accounts, no more special Youtube accounts. At some point in the future it will just be one single sign on for all Google services including Youtube.

How is this bad? I don’t think it is at all.

What people seem to be getting confused about is Google re-branding and integrate the social features that already exist in their products into one service that exists across all products and the new account is called Google+.

Youtube has likes/dislikes, comments, subscribing, and messaging.
Reader has subscribing and recommending.
Picasa has friending, subscribing, and messaging.
Docs has sharing and collaborative editing.
Latitude has check ins and friending.
Google Profiles had a bit of everything.

The new G+ account replaces the old Google account even if you don’t make a profile, and you don’t have to, so that all it is is a name change.

To sum up:

Youtube accounts are becoming full Google accounts that are now called G+ accounts.

Really tiny mostly insignificant change.

Anonymous Coward says:


Speak for yourself. I like it. I also like how it changes density based on display size. I switched as soon as it was available.

Then aaain I don’t mind change. I used to run a forum, and before had to deal with cries of “what did you do to my facebook?” I heard the cries of “what did you do to my message board?” And ignored them, because it was usually the same interface with a different theme. In two weeks most people didn’t even notice.

You may still notice the change in email. But how different is it, really? Most buttons/displays are in the same place, they just changed the packaging.

mertz says:


Actually these are not insignificant changes. These are changes, minro or major that google views to be essential or critical in their next phase or progression of google, where they see the company going, what they want it to become, product wise and in terms of maximizing and streamlining their data. So all in all it seems like google is cleaning up and growing up. They are offering new products. They are enhancing their terms and fundamentals. They have updated, over the years, their vision and their brand.

I don’t really see what they are doing as damaging, as much as it is “different” as in that all things change and at some point people adapt or die. If google moves on and becomes the next of what the company is, maybe someone else will key in on the things that made google in the first place and bring that to the fore as a new business. Some of the things google has done I’ve seen in different lights (I used to think their blogging platform wouldn’t be able to compete because there were new and cooler bloggin platforms or even networking platforms out like wp,lj,tumblr, etc…but still that blogspot thing exists and in some cases people are actually going back to the gblog platform…shocking i know) but I’m not overly critical of the company.

I actually understand WW’s concerns.

I’m an avid googler. I’ve been a google user for 14 yrs (most of my entire life) and I’ve used many of their products/services. I understand all the implications of being a google user especially with their adwords based model. I’ve kept up with and ditched products and ideas of theirs I like or don’t like or think would be impossible to create (which they then make happen), or things they do sometimes it seems like in an instant or a long forcast hail mary type pass which then doesn’t pan out for them. As a company and as they get bigger/older, I don’t really expect much from google, but I do atleast expect them to have and keep to their core tenets, but I don’t expect them to forever be unchanging. Like I said before some things they do I like, some I don’t, some I think is unnecessary, some things I don’t expect to succeed actually surpass expectations. As a google user, most of the time I’m really happy with the company. I don’t mind their evolving, but I wish that they would listen to their users and allow all options for everyone instead of the best options for the company as it moves forward (which is countrer intuitive). I use google in a particular way and I’m one of many users but I understand that everyone uses google differently as well, but maybe in a particular repetitive habitual way since google has become so streamlined into our lives. I almost can’t remember a time when the company didn’t exists and when there were other search companies available. Now and like back then, even though there are different options, most people still use google through the good and the bad. I’m not a youtuber. I don’t use google commercially. Google isn’t really vital for me, but I do use it all the time and it’s just a part of my everyday life. I don’t want to only have one google account with all their products available/streamlined or curated to me. I understand why they’re moving this way, to make our lives online more efficient, but I also don’t have to like the changes they’re making. I wish there were more ways that google could be more individualized to a person, but I also understand the pitfalls of that.

They’re trying to compact everyone into one big online-socialized id. They already know as much about a person/individual, but they would like to know more and how to maximize that information. They would like to improve our use of their company and products. I don’t begrudge them. I actually don’t think google is at all a bad company, but I think that as it grows and progresses and maybe as it’s users also grow that their views google’s views of the future might not be aligned and I think that would provide plenty of room for mistakes to happen.

MeryR (profile) says:

This is only a test...

The +1 makes sense over the like/dislike feature (which isn’t really relevant to any other current services).

Just because Facebook doesn’t encourage people to downrate people’s posts… Doen’t mean a thumbs up/down button system is irrelevant. Personally I hate only being able to like things because Id like to tell face book I dislike things.. So that things I don’t like wont be shoved in my face anymore.
I would imagine that’s probably where a large portion of the disdain for this idea comes from.

Anonymous Coward says:


My concern is simply that I don’t want Google+ integrated any more fully into the family of services than it is now. I recognize that if it is successful, it probably will be. However, I don’t fully trust Google’s understanding of privacy, because they always seem to put data first, then people. Therefore, any public system of publishing user data (like Google+) has a high chance of being abused. We’ve been down that road over and over.

This change implies that a feature that used to be associated specifically with Youtube is now associated with another service that I actively do not want. I don’t know how deeply connected that feature is to Google+, or how that connection might change in the future. Does clicking a G+ button on Youtube activate Google+? Does it force a user to say they don’t want to activate the service? Does it silently add information to my account somewhere that may be accessed in the future by other Google products? (That last one – almost certainly)

I don’t believe this is merely a cosmetic change associated with rebranding. I also don’t believe I have to be on board with Google integrating all of its products into a single, deeply-entangled bundle if I’m not merely disinterested in some of those products but actively want to avoid them for safety reasons. YMMV.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...