According to a new thread last week over at the Google forums, YouTube is in the midst of making some changes to the YouTube Friends and Subscriptions system. Many users have become confused on the intended differences and uses for the two, and the hope is that the new set up will make things more clear. But unfortunately, it’s only making things more confusing… at least up until this point.

There are also the usual number of users who are upset with the change just because it’s seen as a change that wasn’t necessary. Of course, it’s necessary for YouTube to start cleaning up Friends and other contacts, because they’re trying to get more and more social with better predictive abilities.

And as usual, there’s not a lot that complaining can do to change things… it appears the new YouTube Friends and Subscriptions is here to stay.

So… what’s the change? Basically, the two categorizations are merging… Friends and Subscriptions are becoming one. But there will be two categories: Subscriptions and Contacts. Confused yet? Me too.

They’re also addressing the most common questions/issues users are reporting about the change–if you’re struggling to get your head around it, your question might be among the most-often asked:

Rejected friends showing up in Subscription Manager: Thank you for reporting this. We submitted a fix & you should see it reflected today.

Issues with blocking users: Thanks for reporting this. We realize that the ability to block users is a serious concern and we are working very hard to find a quick fix. I will keep this thread updated with progress on this issue.

Issues with posting a bulletin: I have tried to reproduce errors with attaching videos to bulletins on both the old and new Channels design and haven’t been able to replicate this. Please make sure that you have the correct link to the video you are hoping to share if you are attaching a video to your bulletin. If you are still having difficulty, please take a screenshot of the issue you are experiencing and post a link here.

Only able to see 3,000 contacts in address book, even if you have more: Before implementing this change, we investigated the amount of friends each YouTube user has. We found that the number of YouTube users with more than 3,000 friends is actually incredibly small. However, we understand that those of you with more than 3,000 friends have strong feelings about this change and we want to provide a solution that suits everyone. In the future, those of you who are looking to remove contacts from your list of 3,000+ contacts in the address book will have a way to remove these users. Again, I will keep you updated on what solution we will be putting into effect.

Missing contacts: We presently show you your top 1,000 most active contacts in the Subscription Manager. We realize that there are still cases where you would like to find a contact who is not as active as some of your other contacts & we are exploring ways to allow you to do this. Again, stay tuned to this thread for news around a solution.

Apparently, everyone who was just a Friend (meaning “not also a subscription”) will now be a Contact. Everyone who was just a Subscription or both a Subscription and a Friend will now be a Subscription.

Of course, I’ve read through the entire discussion thread–and the second updated thread they started on the topic–and I’m still not 100% sure I understand everything… so take my interpretation with a grain of salt. Just know that Friends and Subscriptions are merging… so that Friends can go away and be replaced with Contacts. Keep your eye on the most recent thread if you want more detailed updates or answers.

Obviously any change to the subscription set up is something online marketers should pay attention to. Most will immediately wonder if their subscriber numbers will stay the same or possibly go down. Knowing how YouTube works, and why, is crucial to having every advantage possible in getting your content found by the right viewers.