Is updating the same as upgrading?

July 28, 2012 5:00 pm

Facebook and YouTube. Both of them currently dominate their areas of purpose. While Facebook appears to dominate the arena of social networking sites with 901 million users since April 2012, and YouTube, which is currently the most common site for people to share their videos, averaging at 1,200,000,000 views per day. However, another sad thing that they have in common is the tendency to make unpopular updates to their site, which is not usually well received by its users.

First off, YouTube’s updates to its overall site are mostly mixed in the eyes of its users. Before its change, YouTube videos were rated by the 5 stars mechanic, however, from experience I and many others would usually rate the video at either 5 stars or 1 star, making the numbers in the middle seem pointless. So replacing it with the Like/Dislike rating system made rating the video simpler and easier to judge. Also, the automatic updates to comments was also a welcome addition, since not only was it optional to turn it on or not, but interacting with other users became easier and more controlled. However, that does not mean that all of its changes can be considered beneficial. Practically the best example for this is when someone with a YouTube channel likes a video; a pop-up appears stating ‘Did you know that you have a YouTube Channel?’ Considering that you cannot like a video without having a YouTube Channel, some if not many would find this reminder quite patronising.

But perhaps the most hated update to YouTube is the design of YouTube Channels. Many people were not happy with the fact that YouTube channels had to be unnecessarily complicated. The following criticisms have been made by example is the fact that you cannot see comments or the activity of the user without having to load more by clicking a separate button, when before all that was required was to scroll down the channel to the bottom. Another mutually agreed blunder is the removal of the ability to design YouTube channels. Many users, especially those with a large base of subscribers, took the time and effort into creating attractive and eye-catching channels for visitors to not only enjoy, but also stay and look at other content by the Channel’s owner. But aside from the wallpaper, nearly the whole of the YouTube channel looks the same as any other. Although the quality of watching YouTube videos is growing, it does appear that it is coming at the cost of the quality of YouTube channels.

Now we come to Facebook, which has quite a long history of barely accepted updates to its site. But perhaps the section that many have a problem with is the small box of content to the top right of the screen, known as a ticker. This ticker basically update the user on every activity made by every person associated with them, such as friends, groups joined even if the said activity has nothing to do with the user. This does raise quite a few questions over the privacy of activity on Facebook, since doing anything is made visible to everyone associated with you and the other person you are interacting with. And perhaps the biggest downside is that the ticker cannot be removed or closed.

Finally, perhaps the most controversial change to Facebook has been the replacement of the Wall by the Timeline, which first happened in December 2011. It was considered optional at the beginning, but like many other updates it was made compulsory for all Facebook pages to change from the Wall to the Timeline. The criticism is not necessarily that the Timeline replaces the Wall, which is one of the biggest trademarks of Facebook itself, and also a solid design, but the fact that the update was forced on its users, regardless of whether they liked it or not. This is perhaps one of the major problems with updates: They are mostly forced upon users of sites, even if they have reasons for wishing change to be brought to their content. Updates are a necessary evil, to keep ahead of undesirables wishing to exploit or abuse the weaknesses if the site. However, updates are supposed to improve the quality of these sites, not hinder them.

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