About a year ago, YouTube introduced a system that they thought would increase the level of discourse on the site and make it a better place for everyone. Instead of just showing you the most recent comments on a video, you would (by default) see algorithmically selected comments that would take into account who your friends were, how highly ranked commenters social media profiles were, how many people “like” the comment, and whether the comment inspiring discussion.
I never liked that system because, basically, it ensured that the average comment would never be seen because it would be buried by previous comments or comments from famous people. But I didn’t think it would be this bad.
Whether by design or by chance, Top Comments seems to weight whether comments inspire discussion extremely heavily. It also does not seem to take into account the number of downvotes a comment gets. As a result, the most controversial (and often disgusting) comments sit on the top of a video for everyone to see. Top Comments is a system that literally (and seemingly intentionally) promotes the worst sort of trolls.
Thus, every SciShow video has a promoted comment from the same guy arguing about creationism or global warming. Racist comments sit on top of the comments in Vlogbrothers videos. VLOGBROTHERS! The comments of Vlogbrothers used to be (and still largely are) the nicest place on the internet.
But because people acting terribly get promoted, the comments appear to be a terrifying and disturbing place.
I thought Top Comments was meant to prevent that…and it would be a very easy fix (simply weight downvotes heavily). And yet it hasn’t happened…which makes me wonder if YouTube actually likes the trolls. Maybe trolls in the comments increase time-on-site…a statistic that YouTube is praising very highly at the moment. That /really/ can’t be the case. I’m not allowing myself to walk down that line of reasoning because it indicates a lack of interest in the community that I cannot believe possible by my friends at YouTube.
So, for now, I believe that the YouTube comments team is bound up by some internal bureaucracy or logistical problem and wants very badly to fix this problem (that they MUST know about). That’s bad, but it’s not as bad as the alternative.
But whatever the cause, fix it, because it’s making the platform hostile and unpleasant to my viewers and me, and there are other platforms out there…
In the meantime, I would like to call on Nerdfighters for a bit of a hack. Trolls will be trolls…when you reply to their trolling you are literally promoting them. So, instead, click on “newest first” every time you go to a video and leave reply comments to good comments. Funny comments. Insightful comments…or leave one yourself. This shit sucks, maybe we can make it a little better.
Great post, Hank! Top Comments blows chunks, and we can’t wait for it to get fixed. When you’re on YouTube, bury trolls by not replying to them, and instead reply to nerdfightastic comments. Thanks, and DFTBA.
• “At least you’re not dying!”
• “You’re only disabled if you let yourself be.”
• “You need to tell yourself you’re going to get better, else you won’t.”
• “But you can’t be in pain ALL the time, don’t exaggerate.”
• “You don’t LOOK ill.”
• “There’s so many people worse off than you.”
• “I’m sure you don’t REALLY need help.”
• “Sometimes it’s easier to just give up.”
• “Stop being so negative.”