YouTube has begun warning users that they will soon be required to login with a Google account, instead of their old YouTube accounts. Just as people freaked out when Flickr changed the locks on the doors and required a Yahoo account to get in, you can bet that this is going to make some people very angry.
User generated content communities tend to have a very particular culture. If and when they get bought out, all kinds of issues arise around cultural differences and control. Seldom is this as clear as when old logins at a site are no longer accepted and users are required to get an account with the big powerful company that bought the community.
Update: YouTube contacted us after publication to clarify that this change is only required of people who previously chose to associate an additional Google account with their existing YouTube account and have continued to sign in with their old YouTube username and password. Those users will now be able to use either their YouTube username or their Google username but will be required to use only their Google password to log in. This is the kind of thing that happens sometimes when companies have to merge associated accounts for a single service - but people who haven't tied a Google account to their YouTube account will see no change. We apologize for getting the story wrong.
Chris Messina caught a screenshot today of a logged-in page at YouTube with the message: "Please start signing in with your Google password from now on. Pretty soon we will be phasing out support for signing in with your old YouTube password." Pretty simple!
We'll see if that warning ahead of time is helpful in calming the likely outrage by some users. YouTube is roughly four and a half years old - and it's been a Google property for three of those years! Maybe Google just now decided to keep it.
Will this be an opportunity for users to vent about overbearing copyright controls on background music, the rapid growth of commercial content on the site or other ways things have changed from "the good old days?" Time will tell. Given the small number of users who can even remember the pre-Google days, this transition might not be such a big deal.
See Also: Is YouTube The Next Google?