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Sometimes Google listens

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Fri, Dec 5, 2008 at 12:18 pm

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Don’t be shy about telling Google what you think of the company’s activities.  Sometimes the internet giant listens to what its users say.

A case in point: Thursday Google’s You Tube service offered a new feature for folks who use You Tube to embed videos on their websites.  Without warning across the top of the thumbnail picture appeared a new bar with a search function within it.

It not only looked terrible, but likely confused users of a website.  As it appeared on Consumerwatchdog.org, a visitor to our site could well infer that that the search function was for our site.   In fact it was a search of the You Tube site, pulling more people into Google’s web.

Here’s a sample of the reaction on You Tube’s Community Help Forums:

"I do not care for the new search box.  It has just started showing up on my website.  I have a featured video in a sidebar which is considerably smaller in size.  Half the screen is now taken up by a search box.  I can see the advantage for YouTube, what’s in it for me, except that I will probably lose traffic now because of this.  Thanks for screwing up a good thing.  I’ve considered switching to another service, this may just be the thing to motivate that change."

And another:

"I’m in complete agreement with others who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the changes YouTube made 24-hours ago to the search feature: it’s far too big and distracting and it shouldn’t be displayed before a video has been viewed. This is nothing more than a desperate attempt by Google to scrape visitors from sites that use embeds to display videos on their websites.

"I’ve removed all the embeds on my site and reverted to our normal video player. I will not use YouTube embeds until this search box is removed or made an option."

And this:

"Please get rid of the Search bar at the beginning of embedded videos. It really makes embedded videos look horrible.  Showing up after the video plays is great but before the video it just looks tacky.

"YouTube is a great tool for Video Podcasts to allow viewers to watch without downloading, but with the new search bar at the top when the page loads I think will confuse viewers.

"Please consider removing it.

"Thanks for listening."

Apparently someone at Google did. When I was on our site this morning the offensive search function had vanished from the embedded thumbnails.  A spokeswoman confirmed that the complaints revealed "a bug"  that has been fixed. Moral: Don’t be afraid to tell Google what you think.  If enough of us do it frequently enough, we just might get through.   Now when do we get adequate privacy guarantees with Google services?

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