Home > Youtube > Youtube Comments – Fighting Pollution with Pollution?

Youtube Comments – Fighting Pollution with Pollution?

Unless you live under a rock with your fingers in your ears, you probably know that Youtube recently changed its comment system, and




Apparently one of the things people are pissed about concerning the new system is the fact that now comments have no character limit. So, people are protesting–in the form of copying and pasting really long works of literature, wikipedia pages, etc. into comments, to “prove” that the system is crap because it lets them do that. Let me explain why this is utterly ridiculous.

I think it’s really as easy as looking at the logic behind the protest. A bunch of people don’t like that the new system apparently allows for really long spam comments. So, the protesters are going around posting really long spam comments to protest the fact that people are allowed to post long spam comments. But this doesn’t make any sense. Youtube removes an artificial limitation it placed on us (the character limit), then people are worried about spam, so instead of sending feedback to Google about the fact that they are getting spam on their videos, and reporting the spam they get in order to help teach the spam filter, they decide to EXACERBATE the problem by posting spam themselves.

Without these “long comment protesters,” the problem they’re worried about might not even exist. It might, but it might not. We can’t really tell the magnitude of the real problem anymore because now we can’t tell what’s actually a “legit” spam comment and what’s just part of the protest. The protesters are essentially giving themselves something to protest about, and then using it as a reason to protest about it more.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

One might think that the Google+ integration or the new comments system isn’t a nice thing. That’s fine. But why make it even less nice, leading to things like Pewdiepie disabling comments on his videos? You might rightfully also blame Google for that; again, I’m not saying the new comments system is perfect or even good. But if someone is actively and intentionally helping to make the situation worse, then that person has no right to complain about the fact that it’s bad.

It’s like protesting the pollution of a lake by dumping even more sludge into it. If people are turning off comments on their videos because of what these protesters are doing, then regardless of Google’s responsibility for designing what may be a poor system that allows for spam, it also becomes the fault of the protesters themselves for posting the very thing they’re worried about.

Going to the merits of the protest itself, it’s not even targeting the correct issue. Long comments get auto-truncated with an “expand this comment” link, much like the “read more” link on wordpress blog posts. The real problem with the new Youtube comments system is that it allows the posting of spammy or misleading links or text without the comment being filtered out as spam. But even a “short spam comments” protest would be subject to the same criticism I made of the “long spam comments” protest. The goal, after all, is to reduce spam, not create more.

If we really want to get problems with the new comments system fixed, we should just report it and speak publicly about it. If instead we all get in the habit of going the route of “let’s make it so bad they’ll HAVE to fix it like I want,” we not only act counterproductively before the problem is fixed, but we risk just jumping on bandwagons and being blind to times when maybe the thing wasn’t even so bad in the first place. I do think there are problems with the new comments system, but the degree of the real problem, i.e., how much link spam was being/would be created without the protest, is pretty much unknowable now.

Tl;dr: The comments system may be bad, but this is not the right way to go about getting it fixed. Send feedback, mark stuff as spam, even post a public rant on a blog or as a video. But we shouldn’t try to fix a problem by intentionally making it worse.

  1. May 25, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Sweet long comments are AwEsoMe!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. May 1, 2014 at 10:21 am

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  1. February 21, 2015 at 3:30 pm

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