Ratings have changed from the Star system to a binary "Thumbs-Up ‘Like’" / "Thumbs-Down" system. Anything other than a 1- or 5-star rating is rarely used on YouTube, and so we moved towards a simpler "Like / Don't Like" model.What's sad is that there is so much potential at You Tube. So many viewers and your typical proportion of willing raters means they could really impact the world. How cool would it be if there were a top 250 for videos, categorized into music videos, activism, stand up comedy, etc?
Sure there might be more 1 / 5 star ratings than you'd like. So why not incentive 2-4 star ratings by weighing them more, throw out some of the extreme ratings like imdb probably does, or better yet, count the rater's deviation from his own average rating? Switching to a 10 star system couldn't hurt.
Instead of a solid rating system, we must rely on recommendations (with small, insular sample sizes) and feedback-propagating lists of "most viewed" videos. With Google's decision, the internet became a little bit less self-aware. I doubt anyone shed a tear. But maybe we should have.