I’ve been studying online-video comments for a few months, and I’d like to share my unscientific but well-documented conclusions. Online-video commenters come in three segments:
- Angry cynics (66%)
- Supportive fans (23%)
- Self promoters (11%)
For some of my videos it would take more time to read the comments than it did to shoot, edit and submit the video. But I’ve scanned almost all of them, and here are some typical responses:
- I’m a bad dad for encouraging my kids to do x, y and z (few consider we’re acting and the kids understand this)
- I’m a good dad for spending time with my kids
- I’m a f**k p**s moron idiot (I get a lot of that)
In general the people that slam are also the ones that don’t have any of their own videos posted. So they’re kinda the mini version of Ebert except angrier. I don’t remember seeing any of Ebert’s films. Now here’s the interesting thing. The commenters are more or less acidic depending on the online-video site.
- Revver: Always positive. Because they don’t allow comments.
- Yahoo: Downright encouraging and kind- with an occasional exception.
- YouTube: Mixed angry and not. Usually dissappointed with the humor level.
- Metacafe: Extremely supressed and disturbed, with some exceptions.
- Live Digital: Satanic. Not posting there anymore.
Context is the biggest factor in the commenter’s response. If they’ve found my video while searching for silly kid videos then they’re clearly positive. However if it shows up randomly (like the homepage of Yahoo) then they mostly don’t understand that it’s a viral video and intended for humor. Most of all, if it’s featured in the middle of extreme, risque or irreverent videos, mine usually get a lot of “gay” and “wtf” responses. I once posted a spoof with my kids on a rap contest on Live Digital. I had to pull it down because the reactions were demonic.
How do I respond? Mostly with intrigue. The only thing I don’t like to see is “yawn” or “you’ve done better.” I’d rather a reaction- positive or negative. My favorite is when people analyze a video far beyond what I’d ever imagined. There was once a debate as to whether I was representing George Bush in a video. It reminded me of 9th grade English when we’d look for meaning in a Hemingway book that Hemingway never probably even considered.
Would welcome further diagnosis of “commentitis.” Maybe someone should launch an “angry online video site” just for repressed folks who don’t make videos but like to critique. I’d submit.
Most importantly, I’d encourage people to develop thick comment skin. It comes easier with time. Tuning into them will discourage you and make your videos worse.