Google is making a huge and annoying mistake.

I like Google Plus. Some of the smartest people I've ever read are on Google Plus, and the Hangout is amazing.

But Google is doing everything it can to force Google Plus on everyone, and it's pissing me off.

Yesterday, I tried to like a video on YouTube. I wasn't signed in to my Google Plus account, and this is what I saw:

Where the thumbs up and thumbs down used to be, there is now a big G+ Like button. When you go anywhere near it, you get a little popup that tells you to "upgrade to Google plus" for some reason that I don't remember, because the instant I saw it, I made a rageface.

Here's what I wrote on Tumblr:

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.

I am adding now: Those upvotes are incredibly important to us, because we need them to earn another season of our show.

I'm even more grateful now than I was yesterday that we own the IP for Tabletop, because we can produce it ourselves, or crowdfund with Kickstarter, or something like that, if Google keeps doing things like this that will negatively affect how users can interact with us on YouTube.

I was reblogged by Neil Gaiman, who added:

I wish Google would leave the Social Network thing to others. When Google does what it does, and does it well, it changes the world. When it rides bandwagons, it’s irritating.

I’m not on Google Plus, and I suppose that I won’t be liking YouTube videos any longer.

John Green also reblogged me, and he said:

I strongly agree with this. Making it so that only google plus users can decide whether a YouTube video is worth watching benefits no one except for Google Plus: It is bad for viewers, bad for video creators, and bad for YouTube’s ability to curate and tailor videos to potential viewers.

By crippling functionality on sites Google owns (like YouTube) and forcing users to "upgrade" to a service that they may not want or need to get that functionality back, Google is making a huge and annoying mistake. You get people to enthusiastically use services by making them compelling and awesome and easy to use. You don't get people to enthusiastically use your services by forcing them to. In fact, that's probably a great way to ensure that a huge number of people who may have been interested in trying out your service never even look at it.

112 thoughts on “Google is making a huge and annoying mistake.”

  1. I went to a youtube video just now and I could thumb up or down the video. So, my question, is it only some videos? I don’t have Google+ so it should be asking me to sign up, but its not.
    Maybe your comments yesterday already made them change their ways :-)

  2. I’m still hugely annoyed at the way they crippled Google Reader by removing all of the social sharing functions. I used to use it all the time to share blog posts with a great group of friends. When they tried to force everyone to move the sharing to Google+, it just wasn’t the same.

  3. It’s an understandable position. From Google’s perspective it may be less about pushing social media and more about uniting a platform. They purchased YouTube and other “separate” techs out there and are not integrating it.
    That being said, I dislike the rationale that to provide feedback I have to have a Google + Account – especially if I already have a YouTube account. I’m providing feedback – I don’t want to share that with anyone in my circles…
    Unless it’s TableTop that’s just awesome.

  4. I’m still seeing the old Like/Dislike buttons, but I also don’t have a G+ account. Perhaps this is something trying to force those who do have one to login and use their accounts more frequently?

  5. In case you don’t know yet, if a link on facebook forces you to like the content. Just copy the title in google and try to find it yourself. It usually works for articles.
    So that’s like saying screw you news website for forcing to like and still seeing what you want to see.
    You probably know that already, just trying to help :)

  6. I’d like to know what happened to Google’s do no evil mantra. To me, this is quite evil and is reminiscent of the type of stunts Microsoft used to pull all the time.

  7. I’m not a fan of the change either, but the thumbs up/down is still available to everyone. It appears at the top left of the video after it is done playing. That does create a problem of not having a chance to give it a thumbs up if you’re watching the video in a playlist though.

  8. I’m utterly mystified. I’ve tried three different browsers on my PC – Firefox, IE and Chrome – and in each case, I’m still seeing the thumbs up/thumbs down buttons; I only see a “G+ +1″ button if I click the “Share” button first.

  9. Very true, I recently had a lot of trouble simply registering a new user (for a client) on YouTube as it also automatically included a G+ account amongst other things. I was able to remove these later but it is extremely annoying in the least.
    I love Google and most of it’s services but I do not take kindly to being forced into an account I do not need.

  10. I have G+ account and have tried it both logged in and out from google, and still only see the old Like button. I’m wondering if they’re rolling the change out to certain areas first, to gauge response.

  11. I agree. This is annoying. Enough is enough. I don’t use Google+ and have no intention of using it. My thumbprint on the Internet is big enough.

  12. Oh, Google, did you forget your motto? “Don’t be evil!” It was so similar to Wil’s “Don’t be a dick!”
    Please, Google, don’t be evil.

  13. Don’t you need to sign in to your YouTube account to thumbs-up? Isn’t having a YouTube account now the same as having a Google account? Isn’t having a Google account the same as having a Google+ account?
    It seems like this is just an ugly reskin of the thumbs-up with an automatic “share with the world” tooltip.

  14. I uploaded a video not too long after you posted this. I had no issues,
    maybe it only happens if it is monetized? mine wasn’t.

  15. I have a G+ and am signed in to YouTube and I still see the like and dislike options. I hope this isn’t something they push to everyone! If Wil and others voice their displeasure maybe they’ll listen and do away with it. If they’re going to force me to share what I like, then I’ll stop liking the videos–basically what I do with facebook trying to get me to like something before I can read it, I exit out and don’t bother with it.

  16. All of the “upgrades” to Youtube going on right now are horrible. It’s not only this replacing the thumbs up, but the HTML5 player which has given me so many problems just trying to watch a single video. What’s wrong with the Flash player?

  17. I was just able to give a thumbs up to a You Tube video. Ironically, it was the one you posted from yesterday, which I thought very awesome and touching.
    It seems to be only a smaller subset of users who are being affected by this. It would seem that Google may be taking a page from Facebook and rolling out “upgrades” like this to a small group at first then increasing over time. Of course if this is seen as an epic failure, as I truly hope it will be, they can pull it back without too many people being affected firsthandedly. (Is that a word?)

  18. Like some others mentioned, I haven’t seen this issue either (yet anyway) While I do have a G+ I tested this out by signing out my Google and thus signed out of YouTube. I went to a video and didn’t see anything about G+, it showed the thumbs up/down, and when I went to click it just popped up below saying “sign in or sign up” directing to sign into YouTube, not G+… which is normal. Almost every comment board site makes you sign in in order to comment or rate it’s content.
    Perhaps this is something they’ve either corrected in the last day since you posted about it, or they haven’t rolled it out entirely yet… I don’t know. I do know I haven’t seen the issue though.
    Good luck to you sir and getting them to change their ways. I like Google.. in fact I love Google and all the integration, but I agree it’s stupid to make somebody sign up for G+ to use YouTube.. 2 different services and one should not be required to have an account with one to use the other. It’s simply convenience when they link them for those that actually do have both and want them connected.

  19. Actually…
    All you need is a gmail account. I am not nor will I ever be on google+ but I sign in to youtube using my gmail. Create a gmail, link it to your youtube account, problem solved.

  20. That being said, your rage is still valid. They shouldn’t be forcing people who don’t know any better to sign up for google+ simply to upvote a video they like. Ridiculous.

  21. I completely agree. I’m on G+, but that doesn’t mean I want to +1 everything. That’s the very same reason I have yet to read anything on a “social reader” that is linked to Facebook, and I never will.

  22. You are absolutely right and I am sorry to say that I am one of those people, who will not give the thumbs up to your or any other videos I liked. I don’t have anything against G+. But I don’t use it. I just don’t need and just don’t want another Social Network. Forcing me to use something is never a good idea but I’m not the one being “punished” here. The people whose stuff I and lots of other folks like are, because we will watch but not show them, if we liked it. Sorry.

  23. I guarantee if you put this out on Kickstarter, you’ll get the funding you need. I for one love seeing new games being explained and played by Wil Wheaton and Friends, and would gladly kick in a few bucks to keep such a venture going.

  24. I’m burnt out period on all the “upgrades” and intrusions. (Timeline and organ donation for FB, etc). I still like Twitter but my Google + account pretty much just sits there and rots.

  25. I had the same experience as wharfrat1983. There is a generic “Like” button that when pressed opens up the usual FB, Twitter and Google+ buttons.
    Maybe it does it if you aren’t logged into Google?

  26. On a slightly related note, Typepad forced me to register or to use my Facebook login if I wanted to “Favorite” this post.
    We hates them all, Preciousss.

  27. @GlowingRobot: “What’s wrong with the Flash player”? Are you kidding me?
    Flash is one of the slowest, glitchiest, most memory-hogging plugins on the internet, even more so for a Linux user like myself. You haven’t experienced true rage until you find yourself inexplicably unable to watch any Flash-based stuff because it’s glitching out or it crashes yet again.

  28. If I don't require some kind of sign up for blog comments, I am overrun by spammers and anonymous asshat trolls.

  29. I am also tired of having to use third parties to log into various sites to comment. (Although I did use Twitter to login here, I am not counting it as it’s my own fault for not remembering my Typepad password.) Why does the internet keep trying to make itself SMALLER?
    Also, I have to confess that I am patting myself on the back for resisting the urge to G+ this post in my feed reader.

  30. Flash also doesn't work on iOS devices, which is one of the leading reasons video sites are adopting html 5 players.

  31. What shits me with all the google account linking is; I don’t like to do EVERYTHING under my real name. So now, I HAVE to have a YouTube connected to my primary email address that I DON’T want, but to log into the YouTube account I do wish to use, I also have to log out of my email and every other thing. It’s incredibly annoying. I do not want my YouTube linked to my email address, but that notion seems to be beyond them. Because if I DON’T create a YouTube account with the email that I do use, than it won’t let you watch a number of the videos without signing in, and therefore OUT of my email, into an email that I fwd to my main one and so registers 2000 things in the inbox.

  32. Wil: does watching Tabletop at Geek & Sundry, as many of us do, help with a next season? I’m assuming that upvotes is just a way to quantify viewership for advertisers or sponsors? Would site traffic do the same?
    I dumped Google all together when they did the mass merge. So far, the only thing I feel I’ve missed out on are G&S-related hangouts. It looks like G&S are working on their own chat platform, though. So I hope that comes together and I can continue to pretend Google+ doesn’t exist.
    On that note, if you want to use Kickstarter for another season, I say do it! I like directly supporting the things I like, rather than filtering it through some old-fashioned advertiser/commerce model.
    (And please, commenters, read the comments before yours! Chartier linked an article explaining why Wil sees a G+ while others still see thumbs.)

  33. Hmm, curious. I’m still seeing the Thumbs up and down too. So long as I’m logged out of my Google account anyway. In the UK, but my works internet pipe routes out of South Carolina. Perhaps it’s an experimental feature only active in some areas?

  34. HTML5 also allows the use of almost any video/audio format (in theory), so there’s no need to change from MP4 or AVI to Flash; you can just use the data straight from the recording device.

  35. Well, for what it’s worth, I just thumbed up the two tabletop eps so far Wil. I didn’t know that this helped you get another season, as I generally don’t bother with the “like” and similar features of sites. I just wants to watch my videos and be done with it. But since it helps, I’ll totally do it.
    (Also, I’ve been watching them through my XBox 360, so not sure if that even *has* a thumbs up feature).

  36. The biggest problem with Google Plus is how collecting information about people specifically has flipped Google from collecting all of the world’s information to essentially being a creepy stalker. Admittedly, the signs were there: it has photos of my house and watches everything I do on the internet.
    Someone on a tech blog suggested that what Google should have done was just roll out the big Google +1 thing and build the ‘social network’ around the things you’ve shared. I would have used that. It doesn’t give off nearly the same Google-fingering-through-your-underwear-drawer vibe G+ does.

  37. This should be illegal. I use gmail, so I had to get a google+ account when they were created, but I never use the thing. But I’m always logged into it and I just hate that everything I do is connected to it.
    I had no idea that the “likes” on these videos directly impacted whether or not a show gets picked up. I will start liking every video I like now!

  38. Wil, I just looked up one of the TableTop videos and I do not see the Google+ button that you showed. I have the thumbs up and thumbs down buttons. If I am not logged into my Google account, and click the thumbs up button, it tells me, “Sign in or sign up now!”
    It looks like YouTube is requiring that I sign in, which I dislike, but it’s odd that it does not show me the Google+ button.
    I even tried logging into YouTube with an account that does not have a Google+ account, and I was able to thumbs up the video.

  39. #1 I still see the thumb up/down buttons on youtube.
    #2 I felt that you are giving false information.
    #3 I had to sign in through twitter to comment on your article.
    #4 I would never want you to go fuck yourself.

  40. Having just checked Youtube after reading an above comment from someone saying at their end they still have the “thumbs up” like… Google does occasionally alter their USA-version site before they do so for other countries. Here in Canada I’ve still got the not-pushing-G+ version.
    Google are pulling similar antics in their transition of Picasaweb to G+ Photos. They’ve made it nearly impossible to properly share [i.e. including a usable thumbnail for a photo, or a cover for an album] via any route other than G+ as it currently stands. I haven’t seen them be in-your-face on G+ Photos about joining yet but they’ve already managed to design things in a way that prevents data sharing by/from other sites like Facebook. Which.. really seems odd, considering they’re usually the ones publicly championing open standards.
    Maybe it’s different now that /they’re/ the ones serving the actual content that’s being trawled, crawled, and mauled by the net at large..

  41. I just tried to rate something on Google-Maps, and before it would let me submit a rating (1-5 stars) I was more-or-less forced to enroll in something called Google Places (which I, and I’m sure you, have never heard of). I could write a review, but if I wanted to affect the star rating I had to sign up for one more thing I’ll NEVER use.
    Oh, and here’s a twist: Google Places lets me use a pseudoname, the one major “must-have” lacking from G+ that drives me away from it. (or did you think my name was actually Winston?)

  42. Heres a news flash:
    YouTube uses Google Accounts. Which means all they are forcing users to do is link Google+ to their Google Account. Anonymous up down votes are kinda retarded to begin with. Part of the problem with the internet is people don’t take ownership of their activities.
    Also, They do not need 50 ways to like content accross their properties. Social network federation is coming and you can certainly push you likes to multiple networks by using

  43. Google Talk randomly removed the file transfer function without any notice. File transfers to me say they’re withdrawn by my friend, my friend is told I denied the transfer (neither of us even touch the window in the process). Upon searching which took over an hour to find, I came across an employee’s post in this thread that says “oh yeah we’ve removed file transfer in favor of our cloud services, thanks for your support” Their cloud services that have terrible terms of use that grant Google rights to your shared files. Super. That’s not a feature and I’d expect a reasonable announcement or a software upgrade removing the “Transfer File” button.!msg/chat/nuaBNh4qzQA/r9PIwh7qL7IJ
    I’ve been so annoyed by google as of late I’m ready to start using competing services.

  44. Here’s the thing though. Google has shown time and again that they don’t care about you the user, they care about their customers. The customer isn’t the person uploading content, using the service, relying on it for email communications, writing their thesis in docs or backing up vital family memories to drive — the customer is advertisers. All of the ‘services’ exist to sell ad impressions, or keep users ‘stuck’ to the branded properties to sell data about habits to make those ads more lucrative.
    Now, with YouTube being “plusified” — their marketing people can claim all its users within the g+ ecosystem, increasing the “social value” or something and make more ludicrous claims about how large and ‘vibrant’ the G+ community is. Just like they did with search, just like they did with mail.
    So google got rid of a feature you, and many others relied heavily on without notice or warning — wouldn’t be the first time, they do it in Apps, that businesses use, all the damn time. A full refund of all of the $0 we’ve paid in to it would be in order.
    Always remember, if you’re not paying for it — you’re not the customer, you’re the product.

  45. I also didn’t realize how important clicking “Like” was for showing support of Tabletop. I have now “liked” both Tabletop episodes.

  46. While I don’t have the issue of seeing thumbs up/down at Youtube (it might be a different setup for us Canadians), I’ve seen something similar while in Google+. The Thumbsup/down buttons were embedded in the video popup menu, though.

  47. Will, shouldn’t Google be allowed to promote their free social networking service via their free online video service?
    When I watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on G4, I’m ok when they promote “Attack of the Show”.
    This is the same issue. Google is cross-promoting products, and it’s ok.

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