TED v. YouTube: Who Has Better Commenters?

Okay, brace yourselves: YouTube commenters are objectively worse than commenters on other platforms. Maybe not Tumblr, though.

Hyperbole aside, researchers publishing in PLOS One found that TED commenters are more likely to talk about content and ideas than YouTube commenters, who mainly talk about the person presenting in a video. Additional bonus finding: commenters are more likely to post emotional comments (whether positive or negative) when the presenter was a woman. (We propose calling that the Anita Sarkeesian effect).

As you’re probably aware, TED hosts videos on its own site and also posts them on YouTube. Researchers isolated 405 videos about science and technology featured on both YouTube and TED’s site, gathered random samples of comments, and had some independent coders categorize the comments (e.g., ‘comment on speaker’ versus ‘comment on content’).

Researchers found that TED commenters tended to mainly stick to the ideas discussed, whereas YouTube had more discussion of the person giving the talk, along with more responding to previous commenters. YouTube also had what researchers called a “disproportionate number of 5U comments”, which just refers to that annoying thing were commenters will go “first” and junk like that.

Are these findings depressing and a shade obvious? Sure. That’s why we filter YouTube comments. And you should too!

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