With the exception of Facebook, no site on the web inspires so much ambivalence in me as YouTube. The video behemoth can be a nearly limitless source of great content, from news sources to alternative education to extremely handy tutorials. It's also home to some of the most distubing and banal "comedy," endless cat videos and more than a few of the most ridiculous personalities.
That speaks purely to the content side of things, but the interface itself can be equally frustrating. Google changes YouTube's look as often as most of us change clothes. The comments section is enough to make the best of us lose faith in humanity (even with the recent Google+ integration.
All those things aside, it's hard to discuss YouTube frustrations without speaking of the "recommended videos" section. YouTube's algorithms recommend videos based on your history, and if, like me, you have kids, that history can quicky become overwhelmed with, say, Minecraft and Mario and makeup tutorials (or is that just me?).
Until recently, I assumed I was stuck with seeing completely irrelevant suggestions. After some digging, though, I realized I could do something about the problem. First, let me say that the solution is somewhat drastic, and there's an easier, albeit less thorough way to deal with the problem. On your homepage, you can simply click the carat to the upper right of the recommended videos section and choose to remove it from your homepage. For me, that wasn't enough, since the suggestions still clogged the experience on my phone and tablet. Still, it is an option.
If, like me, you want to go further and press the reset button on your entire account, YouTube offers a way to do it within the YouTube itself- no extensions or hacks required.
To start, click your avatar to access settings, then click "Video Manager." In the sidebar of the next page, click "search history." Here you'll have the options to delete certain terms, or clear your search history completely. The choice is up to you, but since I'm going for a full reset, I opted for the "clear all search history option." Note that you can also pause search history, which can come in handy in the future: if you hand your laptop to the kids for awhile, for example, you can just pause history until they've had their fill of What's the Fox Say?.
That takes care of search, but your recommendations are still intact thanks to your viewing history. To take care of it, just head here. Again, you have the option to remove some or all of your history, or pause it. Since I didn't want to sift through 4,000 videos, I again opted to clear it all.
And that should do it. YouTube's algorithm now has no idea what to recommend, so you've got a fresh start. As a bonus, here is another excellent way to make your YouTube experience more enjoyable.