Google announced this morning that it is enabling real-time discussions on YouTube channels by adding support for Google Moderator. Moderator allows sites to request questions or ideas from its audience that can then be voted up or down by the site's community of visitors. The service had previously only made appearances on YouTube for exclusive interviews with President Obama and the Prime Minister of Canada, but as of today every channel has the ability to add this feature.

The widget sits front and center at the very top of the page, and by placing the most recent questions at the top it creates a real-time stream of suggestions from the audience. Google has already invited 12 popular YouTube channels to participate, including the New York Times, Stanford University and Howcast.

On Stanford's channel, Dr. Euan Ashley, a cardiologist and professor, is taking heart-related questions from the audience. Over on Howcast, which creates short videos explaining how to do various tasks, it's soliciting ideas from its audience for its next video creation. And on the New York Times' channel, it has created an open forum for people to ask the Times any question of any sort.

Moderator comes with the ability to flag inappropriate content, as well as sort by highest voted or most recent posts. It's great to see some real-time Web functionality coming to YouTube - a platform that already seemed fairly real-time with the ability to nearly instantly create video content online. For channel admins, adding Moderator may be a great way to focus the submission process for ideas within YouTube itself, but if YouTube isn't your thing, you can also embed Moderator on any website.