I remember several months ago, I thought Soapbox was amazing. Compared to YouTube, it was awesome. Much better looking UI, easy interface, fast, quick, high quality videos, lots of tools, and it was awesome.
But with the new update, it’s awful.
The whole site has gone from "Soapbox on MSN Video" to "MSN Video – Soapbox". Now it’s just awful.
I gave tons of feedback to the Soapbox team, but it seems they’ve done little to fix it.
There’s still the matter of the darn copyright laws, text character limits, branding on video descriptions and the commenting system.
None of that seems to have been fixed, except maybe the copyright law, kind of.
So here’s how MSN Soapbox has turned for the worst, since I’ve last remembered it:
- MSN Video content being dominate over Soapbox user content – Ok, I can understand the migration to one video site, but throwing MSN content over user content is overboard. When you enter to MSN Video, you see a bunch of MSN content. It’s not a bad thing, but I remembered Soapbox was suppose to be a user-oriented place. Not MSN’s to say. If a video finished, and you didn’t add anything to put in the playlist next, a MSN content video comes on. How annoying! Who says I want to see one? I would have searched for it on my own, thank you. The Soapbox user section is still there though, but inconveniently at the end. So please, merge user videos, and content videos as the same thing. Like the NBC section, could have it’s own user name called "MSN-NBC content", like YouTube with major content.
- Floating ads – I know Microsoft needs a source of money to run the site and servers, but floating ads? That is very intrusive and annoying. It’s as similar as to a pop-up ad. It’s that annoying to me. I don’t even mind the ads, but if they’re going all over the site, then I’m not happy. What’s wrong with a banner ad at the top, or even text ad? Sigh. The old MSN Soapbox had no ads at all.
- Quality of video degraded – I remember how I was really ecstatic about how compared to YouTube videos, Soapbox did a better job with the original quality. I even made a comparison video between the two, and you could really tell. Well, now it seems to be gone. The quality is just as bad as YouTube’s, or even worse. I don’t understand why they did that. I mean, MSN Soapbox could have sold itself on better quality, but they just downgraded on that. The point in the market, is to differentiate yourself from your competitors, not offer the exact same quality, or even go below that. My last few videos are pretty pixelated, compared to the originals.
- Search is cluttered – Now search is really cluttered. Not only do you have Soapbox user videos, but now you also have a separate section for MSN Video content, and web results. How ridiculous is that? First of all, MSN Video content, should just be a channel in itself, or like it’s own user’s video, instead of something far from different than user videos. So those two should be together as one, not anything different. As for the web results, this is a video site in itself, why would MSN Video want to show results from other sites? That’s not the best way to promote your own site. There’s already a Video search, in Live Search. No need to add confusion. So merge MSN content results with user videos, and ditch the outside video search.
- Toolbox with MSN Video (not consistent) – Ok, I think it’s ridiculous how users have full access to the whole toolbox for user videos, but not for MSN content videos. I really loved the toolbox when it was just MSN Soapbox, but there’s reduced functionality for MSN content. Is there anything wrong with putting along several tools like "IM video", "Add a comment", "Embed video", "add to Favorites" or even rate the video? No, I don’t think so. If a video is that bad, it deserves a bad rating. If it’s good, it will get a great rating. And for commenting, is it seriously a crime for users to do that? Users can’t comment on MSN content? How mean. Allow for the whole toolbox to be available on all videos.
- Video description/comments/tag box under the video – It’s still the same, and it’s still bad. I would love it, if MSN Video would remove the LARGE "Soapbox on MSN Video" label right on top of the video’s description, comments, and tags. As anybody would notice, this is MSN Video and Soapbox. It says so at the top of the page. So do I need to be reminded about that? It takes up room, where a larger title can be placed, or more longer descriptions. About the comments – it needs work. Writing a comment in an itsy-bitsy space is not appealing. How about a big virtual Flash windows, that pops open, right on the site when you want to make a comment or view many comments? Like the floating ads do. That way there’s more room to type, and read comments. Plus, it would also be wonderful to have a toolbar to make our comments much more nicer. I would love that. As for tags – only 5 tags per video? That’s not nice. I want at least 10 or more tags per video. No restrictions.
- Ugly player – I didn’t talk about this before, but it is kind of ugly. Simple, yes. But pretty, no. It was definitely better than the old one, in pre-beta. But these days, it’s all about looks and style, as much as it works. How about a player similar to Brightcove. Or with the familiar nice look of WMP 11, without it being WMP 11. The Brightcove player is the best out there, and offers tons of functionality right in the player. It’s Flash, and does a ton of things. It just works. Why can’t the Soapbox player be as simple, elegant, and functional as that?
- Uploading is a pain – Compared to YouTube, Soapbox now uploads slower, and takes at least 3X longer to get processed. I would know. At least before the latest update, it uploaded speedy fast. I’m guessing the long processing is to check for the dumb copyright content. Character limits are still a pain compared to YouTube. Categories is still dumb. I mean, who looks for videos by a certain category anymore? Tags are what helps filter out things that you do want, not a cluster of similar stuff. Man is uploading a pain. At least you can upload multiple videos, but it makes it somewhat slower. Make video uploading/processing faster, allow little or no restrictions on text character limits, and ditch the old-fashioned category system.
- User profile is limited – My profile is a mess. You can’t give a description of yourself. My profile picture doesn’t even show up. What a mess. Thanks MSN. Make it easier for users to personalize their profile on MSN Video.
Those a 9 big faults I find with MSN Soapbox today.
I’m not trying to be mean to you guys, but you’ve got to understand from any user’s perspective, that MSN Soapbox just isn’t completely fit to be a #1 video-sharing site, or even a site to bother visiting.
MSN Soapbox has/had potential, but they really have to work on the ideas I suggest to get it going. It’s like the perfect solution to a better video-sharing site, but it has to make it worth it.
So please, Soapbox team, consider these ideas, and make them a reality. There’s many things I love about Soapbox, but cons overweight the pros. So fix the site up, and you’ll get lovers.