Why YouTube Comments Suck (and Reddit comments don’t)


Find the most innocent, uncontroversial video on YouTube. Scroll down ever so slightly, and you’ll suddenly hear a thousand furious [internet] voices yelling. This video about puppies has sparked a heated investigation of 9/11. YouTube isn’t alone. Toxic comment sections are everywhere. But some sites are better than others, reddit.com is full of thoughtful productive conversations. So why does this box create such anger, and this one stimulates so much thought. The explanation seems simple. YouTube has a very wide audience. Attracting enough trolls to ruin conversation for everyone. Reddit is much more isolated. Each community united by a common interest. This theory isn’t wrong, but it’s incomplete. If you’re not quite sold, consider this, by default Redditors are subscribed to a group of communities, which because of this, are filled with large diverse audiences, like YouTube. If audiences were the only factor, default Sub-Reddits would be as terrible as YouTube. They are worse than the rest of Reddit, but not nearly as bad as YouTube. That difference between default Sub-Reddits and YouTube can be attributed to differences on how the two systems work. Comment boxes may look identical, but underneath our very different systems, which produce very different results. YouTube isn’t only anonymous, it’s identity-less. Each comment stands on its own attached to nothing, bringing out the worst in every commenter. Redditors have an identity, a profile score and list of comments. You are anonymous enough to be honest, but invested enough to be generally polite. Good Reddit comments are up-voted, which increases your score, called ”Karma”, like trophies Karma is completely useless. But our brains are motivated just the same. This system is far from perfect, but it does encourage people to make good posts. Given that no one reads every comment, the order in which they appear is important. The YouTube algorithm is super secret. But a glance at an old video shows, that recent comments are shown first, even above much higher quality ones. Good comments disappear into the void. Which also disincentivizes writing them in the first place. Reddit shows higher-quality comments first, which does just the opposite. Democratic information comes at a cost. People often up-vote what they want or assume to be true, not what is. It’s not uncommon for posts on the front page of Reddit to be completely wrong. The top comment may totally debunk the post, but enough people up-vote without ever checking the comments, that it doesn’t really matter. If this doesn’t sound familiar, You’re probably one of those people. YouTube makes this especially bad, by burying replies and making conversations so hard to follow, that most of us only read parent comments. YouTube Channels don’t make money from comments. So any time spent moderating them, is time wasted. And because there are so many of them, comments are usually either barely policed at all or completely disabled. There is a report button, but it’s either completely useless or enough users think it is to have the same effect. Reddit is full of Rules, Bots, Moderators and More Rules. Prohibited comments are quickly removed and users quickly learn not to waste time posting them. Think of all these factors as filters through which comments flow. People have the same thoughts on both websites, but different filters ultimately decide what comments people post. It’s obvious that YouTube is flawed, but it isn’t clear why. Big YouTubers have complained, quite vocally, for ages, but it’s only gotten worse over time. Twitter and Facebook are problematic too, spreading false news and encouraging argument, by forcing the most complex issues into a mere 140 characters. If you were YouTube, or Twitter, or Facebook, your only goal is keeping people on the site. Everything else is secondary, more time spent on YouTube is more ads watched, and more revenue earned. Spreading accurate information would be nice, but it’s just a bonus. YouTube doesn’t improve because there’s no reason to. They have all the numbers we don’t and they’ve found what keeps people’s interest. When you have a Monopoly you maximize profits, and let people be as outraged as they’d like. Facebook has no commitment to the truth. If fake news stories are what keep your attention, so be it, in their minds, they’re just providing what you demand. Reddit also wants to sell ads, but their algorithm is why users come at all. Their goals happen to be aligned with what we want. It’s easy to see YouTube, and Facebook, and Twitter as the bad guys. But they themselves are also products of a much larger system. And behind every bad situation, is a lousy system. politicians are made corrupt by the system that created them. And the problem with click-bait, stems from the constant struggle of journalists to put food on the table. The design of a system is like a stamp, announcing exactly what it will produce We should be outraged by the stamp itself, not at what it produces. This video should teach you that We can spend an eternity fixing everything that comes out of the machine we’ve built, or we can fix the machine. When it comes to YouTube, we can’t change how the comment sections work. But we can control the larger system, of which YouTube is a product of. Remember, companies only care about one thing, which also means they aren’t attached to the way things are. YouTube has zero loyalty to their design if it stops being profitable. If you really care about making change, you need only move your resources, and companies will follow. Captions By: joshuaktanki

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. Thanks. Its feels better knowing all that rage I feel is really intended for some identityless string of antagonizing code designed to time burglarize anyone interacting with the site. I know full well a person with a real 24/7 life wouldnt be that amazed with some vlogger daily nothing rambles or just trying some recent fad and getting labeled a brilliant national treasure. Profiles, user names, all from channels devoid of content, all controllable and puppeteer-able as this very editable sentence. To hostilify its customers like that into thinking their battling the forces of ignorance and prejudice in the field of logical debate is a fruitless endevour when your just in a virtualized simulator with bots. I see the difficult others as something else now.

  2. "troll" …a term that applies according to one's OWN bias of what a "troll"even is….a pretty high and lofty throne of judgment if you ask me …am I "trolling" right now? Depends on your definition …btw Reddit simply does not attract me like youtube DOES …you see something awful on youtube I dont see at all …some of the worst trolling actually amuses the hell out of me IF it is creative/original ….one troller simply making a rude comment about a presenter's weight or speech impediment may or may not be lame ….if particularly well thought out it might be funny as hell ..and maybe that is what really pisses off the video's author ….they dont want competition for attention and approval? But they SHOULD be happy beI even THERE ….disable comments and I am GONE…RIGHT NOW!

  3. "troll" …a term that applies according to one's OWN bias of what a "troll"even is….a pretty high and lofty throne of judgment if you ask me …am I "trolling" right now? Depends on your definition …btw Reddit simply does not attract me like youtube DOES …you see something awful on youtube I dont see at all …some of the worst trolling actually amuses the hell out of me IF it is creative/original ….one troller simply making a rude comment about a presenter's weight or speech impediment may or may not be lame ….if particularly well thought out it might be funny as hell ..and maybe that is what really pisses off the video's author ….they dont want competition for attention and approval? But they SHOULD be happy beI even THERE ….disable comments and I am GONE…RIGHT NOW!

  4. Today's PC "ANYTHING imperfect is NOT acceptable" BTW I gave this video a thumbs down simply because the goal is ridiculously ambitious ….as though the author feels able to REACH people …. my guess? 95% (or more) people here will not suffer through this ….I could not …I dont need someone thinking for me …I hate it …I'll DO THE THINKING for everyone via MY OWN comments thank you….I AM god here NOT you! LOL

  5. “Reddit is full of thoughtful and productive comments”

    I use Reddit on a daily basis and I can assure this is absolutely horse shit. If your opinion is slightly different than the vocal minority you’ll be shat on by nearly everyone with Reddit’s dumb karma system. Let’s say you’re an ordinary dude, you like looking at memes and tech stuff, perfectly acceptable.

    Then somehow you mention you like watching Trump’s speeches or something, idk. Now you’ve got 50 people writing paragraph long responses about how you’re a fucking shill, a neo-nazi, how you’re a fucking sub-human for even watching the orange fuck. I followed this artist who did fan-art for did fanart for a sub of a game with a small following. Everyone was on equal terms with them until the artist decided to an art piece with a joke about subscribing to pewdiepie, and they got harassed to the point where they deleted their entire account.

  6. You're most likely to get more help screaming what you need in the middle of a city then someone even thinking about helping you on Reddit…

  7. How about the fact that disliking a comment doesn't have an effect on the total vote count for that particular comment whatsoever, but liking it does?

  8. all over reddit, half the fucking comments are just long threads of [delete] because someone didnt fall in line like they were fucking supposed to.

  9. I guess it’s considered criminal to post a comment on a YouTube videos without being labeled a dumbass now so…

    Whatever happened to the 1st amendment?

  10. Heh, have you ever seen r/China? That place is an orgy of irrationality and racism to rival a thousand youtube videos on Israel and Palestine. I literally go to Stormfront.org to get more moderate views(A joke, only occasionally true).

  11. The internet has basically gave humanity a way to preserve bar talk, yearbook posts and that random conversation you had with that weirdo on the bus.

  12. Whenever it comes to space and astronomy videos, some people can’t put their politics aside and just continue talking about war and killing eachother.

  13. Reddit has annoying af default opened cascading comments. So annoying when you want to see the top direct comments on something and not the slowly derping down as the comments continue to cascade

  14. Reddit is the last place I would look for thoughtful, productive conversation. Reddit has just as wide an audience as YouTube. Youtube is the second most trafficked website in the world and reddit is ranked 6-10th most years. It's true that reddit has more distinct communities with the way they implemented subreddits, however that results in reddit's communities being 1) circlejerks/echochambers (nearly all of them) 2) subject to the political whims of their political activist moderators 3) opportunities for brigading and other generally bad behavior when they mobilize as a whole. The voting and commenting system on reddit is far more problematic than YouTube's is. You can't make a post and leave it up for future readers without also opening yourself up to some real BS. For example, many readers will disagree with an isolated post that you make, they won't be able to contend with the actual content of your message, but they still want to 'win' an argument against you, so what they will do is dig through your entire post history (that you can't hide from public view) in order to find one single post that they know the rest of the subreddit you're posting in will disagree with, permalink it 'calling you out', and then cackle as the hordes of users dogpile on your post with downvotes. They say "the downvote isn't a disagree button" but that doesn't stop people from using it as a disagree button. The downvote mechanic only serves to suppress discussion and actual engagement because if your post goes below a karma threshold they will hide it from view and push it down the comment chain. Furthermore, if you get more negative karma on a subreddit than positive karma, you can't post more than once per 10 minute invterval, which is another tactic to silence dissenting opinions that go against the circlejerk. Oftentimes you'll see people deleting their comments as soon as they realize they're about to just be dogpiled on and their karma destroyed, so instead they post the same comment on a subreddit they know will agree with their opinion and then encourage users of that sympathetic subreddit to brigade the original post. The way reddit is organized and designed encourages this, and although the admins publicly state that this is not allowed, they still refuse to ban subreddits that have been purposefully designed to brigade, have large communities, and are gross offenders of this behavior AS LONG AS THEY HAVE THE RIGHT POLITICAL AFFILIATION. All the things that the video creator present as 'good' design elements on the reddit platform are exactly the things ruining reddit. If you want to see some really egregious examples of this, go on r/subredditcancer or r/watchredditdie. I suggest any user that is fed up with this sort of mundane abuse should stop participating in the platform altogether. By being user you are supporting this toxic nonsense. Even censored platforms like Twitter are far less toxic than reddit.

  15. Other people have already pointed out that Reddit comments also suck, but I'm confused how some people think youtube comments are better than Reddit comments. Reddit comments are not significantly better, but it definitely has an edge as YouTube comments are some of the worst on the internet, which is saying something. They are both really bad, but some specific subreddits have way more substantive discussion than about 99% of YouTube comments. After years of reading them I've finally decided recently to avoid most comment sections on this site.

  16. YouTube is using a hidden algorithm to block the comments that you write.
    The algorithm is designed to allow one or two come threw as they block most people form seeing you. YouTube will also FLAG YOUR CHANNEL so that most of your comment end up in a SPAM FOLDER so nobody will see your comment !!!!!
    Someone should develop a new site that will compete with YouTube !!!!

  17. I came here because I was watching free energy generator DIY
    and just by looking at the comments always negativity and complaining that free energy doesn't work
    and then claiming them-self that are proffesionals electricians which they fucking are NOT.

    This comments are more toxic and depressive than watching fake videos.

  18. try and remember the last time you commented on a video about something negative (regardless if it agreed with the video or not)

  19. YouTube comment section is full of miserable scumbags who have no morals and love to poke fun of others just to feel better about their own pathetic existence while people like me don’t even bother to do that because I actually have better things to do, if you seriously want to prove my point by poking fun of me then be my guest

  20. I dont get why the YouTube comments are so bad on many videos I go on like who could those people be like are they bots or just internet trolls?

  21. jesus dude sometimes I've gotten hated by lots of replies on my comment sometimes and I still regret it to this day and now sometimes I just don't comment because for real this comment could have to most toxic replies Im just afraid of starting an argument again again jesus dude it's like this YouTube world is Hell yeah call me crazy or whatever dude :p

  22. Over censorship is not the answer. Reddit is the most ridiculous app that is literally in favor of the page owners and their bias. The app is 100% for people to create a following and censor anyone who disagrees with them

  23. People who use reddit are mostly Nerds . And nerds want to be "politically correct" . That's why Reddit comment seems polite than Youtube comments .

  24. Jesus too much sarcasm I see in the comments, I know it might be funny it's just feels less honest and enjoying to read.

  25. Reddit is dumpster trash, a bunch of leftist hipsters banning anyone they disagree with, but you should be happy now, YouTube is doing it as well. Now you can live in an echo chamber of Disney while you get raped dry.

  26. Trolls aren't only to blame for the YouTube comment section, there are deeper reason which can explain everything.

  27. There's just this problem. There are dumb rules to follow or you're downvoted to Oblivion. For ex. Ask a normie question (downvotes) tell your opinion (downvoted) tell a correction (downvoted).

  28. Well I can tell you this he run into the worst of the worst in humanity on the YouTube comment sections like the guy who drowned in those kids made fun of him there's people who are obvious socio pass in the comment section same what they did is OK because they more obligated by law it's because he run into people like that is what's wrong with youtube

  29. I like the random comments you get on Youtube. The world would be tedious if everything was helpful and linear. B====D~~~~ rocket ship

  30. this doesnt apply cause my country banned reddit so i dont even know what reddit is like i know i can use a vpn but im too lazy to download one

  31. cause only the dumbest memes are the only ones that are seen and they have to be posted the second a video is made. Make a comment even a few days after a popular video is made and no one will ever see it.

  32. If people ignore trolls lets say.."classic, media distracting us from 9/11" and it had zero likes zero replies then its simply grand to live in this world instead people dont know what ignoring something is they just……

  33. Lol! Reddit comments suck way more then yt comments. Half the time you can't even comment on the damn site. "Something went wrong, don't panic."

  34. On pornhub if you go on a hentai comment section those mother fuckers help you with your Pre calculus homework

  35. I really hate reading youtube comments.
    Sure, there are the good comments that are relevant and informative. However, I can’t help but feel that all of the terrible meme comments have more of a voice and nullify the actual good comments.
    Things like these make me wish that dislikes weren’t disabled.

  36. It’s crazy how much people assume and make up about each other on YouTube. Everyone has an interesting, challenging and storied life we can learn from. Keep an open mind and treat and help each other that way.

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