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October 28, 2008

Prelude to the Youtuber

Filed under: analytics,youtuber — Tags: , , , , , — Brandel Zachernuk @ 9:31 pm

People talk a lot of trash about youtube comments. People often accuse it of any or all of the three following things:

  • They’re stupid,
  • They’re repetitive,
  • There are too many of them.
  • The first two accusations are reasonable – there are a lot of stupid comments out there, and they are very repetitive.  They are so hated by some that someone has developed a Firefox Add-on that will strip comments out of the page before you can even be offended by them.  On the other hand, though, people are very stupid and repetitive.  There’s often a surprising honesty to the statements that people make on youtube. It is suggested that the monumental scale of the youtube ‘community’ means that individuals are effectively anonymous, which liberates users from any self-censorship that would occur from fear of shame or other punishment.  It’s not all honesty, since people are more likely to be offensive if they know they can get away with it, but it’s a refreshingly different place to look for views and opinions in.

    So while they may be stupid, they’re still worth looking at.  The issue of quantity is more of a practical issue, though.  For example, I keep tabs on  a video called “The Most Pathetic Baby Panda Ever”. It has almost 5 million views and 15,500 comments.   Even if you only dedicated 5 seconds to each comment, you have to spend over 21 hours studying them. The Evolution Of Dance has almost 250,000 comments -   almost two weeks’ worth of study.  While they’re interesting, they’re not that interesting.

    Conveniently, though, this is exactly the kind of thing that the study of data mining is supposed to deal with.  In addition, the fact that the comments appear to be stupid (or simple,) and highly repetitive works in our favour. The first question I would try to ask of these comments is “what’s a typical comment?”  and toward that end, I have created the Youtuber.

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