Sites and services are bolting on real-time features left and right eager to not miss out on the hype train. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn't and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but the actual results or benefits don't seem to sway them one way or the other. Google as a company is becoming more and more interested in the real time – it should, it's a search company after all – but this has trickled down to an unlikely place, YouTube, which has now enabled experimental real-time comment search.
“This feature allows you to search the comments people are making on YouTube in real time. The full comment will appear on a continuously updated results page, and "trending topics" indicates the hottest topics of conversation on YouTube at that particular moment. Comments Search is a way you can find out what YouTube users are saying about everything from the news stories of the day (below, see results when we typed in "balloon boy") to your individual channel or brand,” Jamie Davidson, product manager at YouTube, wrote.
The feature was spotted last week thought YouTube only now made the announcement and the official launch. The real-time comment search is pretty self-explanatory: it allows users to search for a term within YouTube comments and the results can be refreshed and updated, though not automatically, just like on Twitter. This is pretty much what we've come to expect from real-time search and other services have implemented it in a similar way.
The real-time search is available in Test Tube, basically Google Labs for YouTube, which is used to test out new features and functionality that may be too experimental to try out on the main site. Considering that YouTube, if taken on its own, would be the second largest search engine in the US by the number of searches, enabling better search-related features makes sense. But people on YouTube search for videos not comments and this is the problem with the new real-time comment search.
While technically it may be perfect, was there any real need for it? Does anyone actually want to read YouTube comments? Every service has a garbage to value ration that is mostly swayed towards garbage. But filter out the noise in Twitter and there is quality information to be found. Same for Facebook or any other social service. On YouTube though, let's just say its strength is in its videos. And we already know Google can't build a social service, not for lack of trying, so why not just stick with what you're good at?