YouTube Heroes: new volunteer program for YouTube

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 22, 2016
Updated • May 22, 2018
Companies, Google, Youtube

YouTube Heroes is a new volunteer program that Google just launched to make YouTube a friendlier place by reporting videos, sharing knowledge or adding subtitles to videos.

YouTube is without the shadow of a doubt a toxic environment, at least when you look at the comment section on the site.

While there is without doubt a lot of good on the site as well, it is clear that Google's algorithms to keep YouTube clean are not working properly.

While commenting is an area on YouTube that needs improvement, Google tries to address more than that with its new YouTube Heroes program.

The YouTube Heroes Program is currently in beta and subject to change. Our goal is to have a positive impact on our users, and we look forward to refining the Program as it continues.

YouTube Heroes

Update: Google modified the video in two key sections while keeping likes, dislikes and user comments. The company changed "report negative content" to "report inappropriate videos accurately", and "help moderate community content" to "help moderate content in the YouTube Heroes community".

This was likely done to make it clearer that users who are picked for the Heroes program won't be able to moderate user comments on YouTube. The only exception is on the YouTube Heroes community forum. End

YouTube Heroes uses a gamified system for volunteers. All members start at level one, and rise through the ranks which increases their level and the things they can do on the site.

  • Level 1: Access the heroes dashboard
  • Level 2: Learn more at exclusive workshops
  • Level 3: Unlock new tools (mass flag videos, moderate community content)
  • Level 4: Contact YouTube Staff directly.
  • Level 5: Test new features before release

If you are accepted into the program, you get the following rights right away:

  1. Flag inappropriate videos.
  2. Add subtitles or captions to YouTube videos.
  3. Share your knowledge with the community.

Doing so earns you points and when you accumulate enough, you level up and unlock new tools and features doing so.

According to Google, accurately reporting a video or contributing a sentence that gets published as a subtitle earns one point, and answering questions on the YouTube Help forum with your answer being picked as best answer gets you 10 points.

It takes 10 points to level up to level 2, and 1000 points to reach level 5, the highest level currently.

It is interesting to note that Google puts the focus on flagging videos and not flagging community content.

As far as requirements are concerned, YouTube Heroes is only open to users who have a valid YouTube channel and are of legal age in their jurisdiction.

Anyone who meets the requirements can submit an application, but only select users will be accepted to the program.

Closing Words

YouTube is a massive site and it is clear that algorithms and Google's own staff are not sufficient to keep everything in order on it.

Getting users to volunteer their time to help Google with administrative tasks on the site is a clever move on part of Google.

While any YouTube user may report a video to YouTube, flagged videos by YouTube Heroes members will likely be prioritized over those reports.

Now You: What's your take on YouTube Heroes?

YouTube Heroes: new volunteer program for YouTube
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YouTube Heroes: new volunteer program for YouTube
YouTube Heroes is a new volunteer program that Google just launched to make YouTube a friendlier place by reporting videos, sharing knowledge or adding subtitles to videos.
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  1. Anonymous said on September 24, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    We need p2p alternative to YouTube. New inventions are required and this is the right time. Content creators need to move on. I guess they can reupload their content to new platform without any infrigment to anyone’s right. Recent news are frightening to open speech. This Hero’s BS is sickening. I don’t want some fourteen year old to moderate me, who assumes leveling up in YouTube is an acomplishment. They are giving another reason for these young generation to get addicted to online world.
    Power should be in hands of content creator, at least the ones who are graduated.
    I like the parodies being made of YouTube Heores. Worth watching and gives a good laugh.

  2. earthling said on September 22, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    I think this is pretty bad in terms of censorship. As Tom mentioned “Power to the people by the people has often proved to be power to a few by a few.” Those with enough resources to spare and a high interest in preserving or hiding certain ideas or protecting their image/reputation will love this new change in policy. Israels paid and/or voluntary sayanim internet-army comes to mind! Censorship is already a big problem on certain sub-reddits, now it also comes to youtube – GREAT stuff!

  3. Mikhoul said on September 22, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    One picture sum it all…

  4. accountuser said on September 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I use YouTube extensively for everything in my world except music videos, which I don’t care about. I am permanently logged into YouTube (as I am all things “Google” because I’m not paranoid, but that’s another subject) and am there daily. I view the video, sometimes download it if it’s useful to my purposes, and move on. I don’t read comments unless some of the technical aspects of subjects might be helpful.
    All this self-righteous indignation over the nonsensical comments posted by arrogant little boys craving attention is silly, since it is no better nor worse than any other social media site. Why are you bothering even to look at that “toxicity” unless you’re actually interested? No one will be happy until YouTube is sanitized to some video version of GeoCities.

    1. Chains The Bounty Hunter said on September 22, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      Except that the problem isn’t the typical bile that has been YouTube comments for years now. The bigger issue at hand is Google giving power to the very thing they’re attempting to combat.

      Google gives the impression that the vetting process for this program is going to be a stringent one, but it’s been proven time and time again that any number of patient trolls and people looking to push agendas (their own or otherwise) can be patient and seemingly well-mannered at the surface and in cases like this, it’s these people who will gladly take advantage of this program to amass whatever power Google is willing to provide through it and abuse it without second thoughts.

      YouTube already has a number of other horribly broken systems that have been abused willfully by its users, this is going to be no different unless it undergoes some radical restructure (or is scrapped entirely).

    2. T J said on September 22, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      @ accountuser

      OK, OK, you love using YouTube. I think we have all got the message. Thanks for your input.

  5. Yuliya said on September 22, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    All websites where I’ve seen some sort of ‘leveling up’/achievements system, it was abused. Waiting to see subtitles added just for the sake of points by those ‘heroes’, when either not needed or a half-arsed job.

  6. Chains The Bounty Hunter said on September 22, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Yeah, this system won’t backfire almost immediately.

    Flagging is all well and good, but I sincerely hope they take a step back and reconsider giving any of these volunteers actual moderation capabilities and leave that end of things up to people who aren’t volunteers but are instead paid Google employees.

  7. Tom Hawack said on September 22, 2016 at 11:05 am

    No chocolate medal after Level 5?
    No valid YouTube channel, not even a non valid one, not even a YouTube account … poor little me :)
    Even with a channel of my own I wouldn’t consider loosing my time to participate to tasks which should be handled by Google, but I agree of course that “Getting users to volunteer their time to help Google with administrative tasks on the site is a clever move on part of Google.”. Clever is the word, Google is always clever. Is it possible to be too clever, does that even have a meaning? … off I go, see you later, alligators :)

    1. Jason said on September 22, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      In fairness to Google, they’re not doing anything different here from what Reddit or some other companies do with their volunteer moderators. It’s very clever to be able to convince your users that your product is a community organization to which they should donate their time.

      1. Jason said on September 23, 2016 at 12:24 am

        I’ll get my popcorn and watch the drama unfold as a new breed of corporate fanboys is created. :)

      2. Tom Hawack said on September 22, 2016 at 6:29 pm

        Power to the people by the people has often proved to be power to a few by a few. Places that run nicely are those with a headmaster who is educated, open-minded, tolerant but no to excess and above all neutral. I’ve experienced too many so-called community based managements to not be aware of such schemes. Not my cup of tea but I may be wrong concerning this new experience. Good luck to them anyway.

    2. Rotten Scoundrel said on September 22, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      Geeze Tom, poor old google are barely scraping by financially and you begrudge them a few unpaid heroes. Tsk tsk.

      Oh, wait, “that” google, the biggest thing on the internet that can pay Billions of dollars a year to several companies to prioritize it’s search engine in their browser. The one with more off-shore cash than the gross income of several small Countries combined.

      Smart move by google, it can only improve their bottom line by not having to pay their own Moderators. Some smart people working there, probably got a new MIT graduate a nice fat bonus. Whatever happened to honor over greed?

      1. Teddy Ficile said on September 22, 2016 at 5:22 pm

        I have the feeling it’s a smart move also because it frees Google’s implication in the moderation process. To moderate is to be an authority and to be an authority means having to show authority, and showing authority nowadays can quickly degrade one’s image. Pontius Pilate in a way.

    3. accountuser said on September 22, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      If you don’t use YouTube, why are you commenting here? We get it. You don’t like Alphabet. Just don’t use it and off you go.

      1. Tom Hawack said on September 22, 2016 at 6:44 pm

        Why would I dislike Alphabet if not by demagogy? I try to remain objective when exposing my experiences and thoughts about Google as well as with YouTube. If you took the time to read rather than to extrapolate I may hope you’ve noticed my last comment as pertinent to a given structure of administration rather than to a bill of hatred. I visit YouTube and appreciate the tremendous volume of available videos. The comment here had in mind ‘YouTube Heroes’ and in no way a subliminal message reserved to the awareness of brilliant minds.

  8. Thorky said on September 22, 2016 at 10:16 am

    In Germany there is a saying: “Nix Geld, nix Held!” :)
    Means: “No money, no heroe!” ;)

  9. Ben said on September 22, 2016 at 9:53 am

    Oh at level 4 you can contact your MfS (Stasi) officer directly.
    That’s nice.

  10. Behine said on September 22, 2016 at 6:08 am

    Look at the video thumbdowns. Hehe, I’d say the program is working out pretty well so far.

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