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Streams were a feature on YouTube up until February 18, 2010, when the feature was removed from the site. Any stream link would redirect to a channel called "whyarestreamsgone", where users can read an explanation for the removal, albeit a rather vague one..
Streams were one of YouTube's oldest features. Even in 2010, before their cancellation, they used YouTube's oldest version of it's player. Despite the above-mentioned channel stating that they only had a "small but dedicated number of users", they were, in truth, one of YouTube's most popular features. It's removal was almost universally criticized, with the site's community, especially veteran users, seeing the removal as unneeded and pointless, and as another sign of Google taking over the site. Some more dedicated users who had used the streams almost every day even left or boycotted YouTube.
Functionality and features
One of the streams' main features was the ability to chat with other users, similar to an instant messaging service. This was a large contributor to their popularity, as YouTube offered no other way of instant message "chatting", and some users did not wish to open another service while on the site.
The streams' main purpose was for groups of people to add videos to the stream's "playlist", which would play videos in the order that they were added. The users could then watch the videos all at the same time, while talking about them or just making general conversation. The owners and moderators of the streams could ban or suspend users, and also remove videos.
Other uses for streams
Many people made or joined YouTube streams for other impractical purposes than to just watch videos and chat.
Some people used the streams to role play, occasionally adding music or other videos to fit the mood. There were several designated "RP" streams.
A rather popular use for the streams was as a means to find multiplayer matches for online gaming services, mostly popular ones such as Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, and Nintendo's Wifi(More prominent in the heyday of Diamond/Pearl/Platinum). This was done by joining a designated stream, usually with 30 or more people in it, and asking for a match.
Others would join to have private discussions with people in a group they might have belonged to. This was done by setting the stream to closed after the selected people were invited. This could range from friendly, harmless things such as gaming clans, to more controversial discussions, such as trolling.
Stream creation and editing options
In addition to joining another person's stream(this could be done by following a link someone had given you, or going to the "streams main" page, which would list every active stream in order of number of users in it, and would give information about each one)a user could also create their own stream, from the streams main page as well. A user would have to set a name and description for their stream, and it could be opened and closed at any time.
A user could also make their own custom "welcome message" which would pop up within the stream in a small window.
One could also edit many aspects of their stream, such as how many users can be in at once, and whether or not adult content is allowed. They could also choose who would be an admin or moderator in the stream, as well as who was banned.
A somewhat useless or "lost" feature within YouTube streams was the ability to have a custom background, just like channels. However, you could not upload an image from your computer, rather you had to link it from an external hosting site. Due to unknown circumstances, possibly a glitch, the image used for one's background would never be visible, usually off to the side of the actual white background of the stream. It could, however, be viewed by selecting "view background image".
Despite the streams' substantial popularity and positive reception, the streams were rarely, if ever, updated. While the rest of the site received both aesthetic and technical updates, the streams remained the same since their release. YouTube's staff seemed to have all but forgotten about this feature to work on other things.
On February 18, 2010, without any prior warnings or updates given by YouTube, the streams were removed. This angered many users, and even today, years later, videos can still be found criticizing YouTube's controversial decision to remove them. A website was even made to emulate the streams after their removal, known as "SynchTube", though it is not exactly the same as the original, and had existed before the streams' removal. It is unknown whether they will ever return or be replaced.