C0nc0rdance has put up a video berating me for shutting down my youtube comments. It might be more interesting if it weren’t so full of speculation about my motives…motives that I understand very well, while he doesn’t have a clue.
It’s simpler than he thinks. I set up my youtube account to have all comments sent directly to my email account; I read them all. And I was appalled.
Not at the fact that they were critical, but that they were so illiterate, repetitive, and ignorant. After a few months, I had enough: there was no reason to read them any further. I noticed a number of different phenomena. One was that very few of the commenters actually paid any attention to my videos; instead, they’d been dispatched there by thunderf00t or other critics, where they simply parroted their masters. Seriously, it got tedious seeing the same verbatim comments from people over and over again.
These commenters didn’t even read each others’ comments. There was little interaction, and again, I’d just see repeated strings of the same phrases over and over. Did they ever notice that the previous commenter had said exactly the same thing? Or that the previous ten commenters had all repeated the same bogus argument? No. If they aren’t reading each other, why should I read them?
What I was also seeing was further demonstration of the greater internet fuckwad theory. On youtube, there is no accountability, nearly universal anonymity, and amid the noise of neglected mindless commentary, there was nothing but straining to be the loudest and most shrill. There was virtually no attempt to engage or discuss.
C0nc0rdance has a comically inflated view of the quality of the youtube “community”. There’s a reason it has a reputation as the cesspit of the internet, and the comments are best ignored. He calls it a “populist paradise”, with discussion that is more varied and more interesting: I call it an open sewer that further dumbs down the discourse by encouraging the worst to shriek with no concern for quality. I shut my comments down precisely because C0nc0rdance is dead wrong — the “community” (rather, “mob”) was neither varied nor interesting.
His rationale for allowing youtube comments? A ludicrous comparison to blasphemy day — he had the gall to compare the frantic, noisy voices of nattering youtubers to people fighting against religious oppression. Sorry, but no. I’m not using force to silence critics — I assure you, they’re still just as loud. Just read C0nc0rdance’s comments to see a multitude of examples. Any attempt to claim that free speech has been suppressed by the fact that I insist on a little more accountability is ludicrous.
His only cause for asking me to open up comments, besides his grossly inflated opinion of the quality of youtube commenters, is that it does no harm to allow them. Wrong. By indulging idiots, by giving them free rein and never questioning the value of their so-called discussion, you contribute to the further poisoning of real discussion and also, as we can see beautifully demonstrated in C0nc0rdance’s case, diminish taste and expectations to the point where an otherwise intelligent person considers youtube comments a sterling example of smart conversation and the informative exchange of information.
He also seems to think I’m making a commercial decision — that I’m trying to channel youtube commenters to my monetized web site. Nonsense. I get almost 3 million hits a month. Redirecting a few angry whiners from youtube to my site is going to be a negligible addition. I am not a major youtube player where my readership there is going to be significant in number.
C0nc0rdance also tries to make a feeble case that somehow a completely unmoderated forum is superior to one that imposes a few minimal standards, and complains that gosh, people would have to register and subject themselves to the tyrannical hand of my vicious moderation policies. A pointless objection, again: it’s easy to register, and even creationists manage to do it; if it’s a hurdle to youtuber’s participation, then that’s another instance of those people failing to vault over a very tiny hurdle. There are also plenty of people here who routinely criticize me — heck, even the regulars here are often wagging their fingers at me — but they do it by actually trying to make a rational argument rather than parroting someone else or unthinkingly cussing me out.
So no, my final word: I will not ever on any of my future videos provide a venue for fools to delude themselves into thinking that vomiting up invective is clever. I will provide links to a thread on Pharyngula for discussion. If they really care enough to make a sustained and intelligent argument (something you can’t do on youtube), the comments on Pharyngula have no character limits and will actually get the attention of other commenters…which the infantile babblers of youtube probably consider a drawback, since they’re not actually used to getting arguments.
But hey, after this is posted I’ll go over to C0nc0rdance’s video and leave a link to this article. If past experience is any guide, none of his readers will have the guts or willingness to engage to even bother to come over here.