Psychology of Online-Video Commenters

angrycomputer.gifI’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:

  1. Angry cynics (66%)
  2. Supportive fans (23%)
  3. 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:

  1. 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)
  2. I’m a good dad for spending time with my kids
  3. 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.

5 Replies to “Psychology of Online-Video Commenters”

  1. Sometimes (ahem) on YouTube I break down and see what the commenters have posted themselves and usually? Nothing. I have ‘blocked user’ a grand total of once, but I think it’s an important feature. It’s not a monetized site, but Vimeo seems to offer a nice, small community of mostly positive comments, that seems to encourage a degree of reciprocal “nice work you too…”… although the upload limits prevent me logging longer clips there, it seems small enough a site that everyone “behaves”. User icons/avatars/whatever possibly also encourage civility. A nice/odd mix of what seems to be “urban hipster” plus “here’s somehing my kid made” and “slightly arty 60 second cellphone weirdness”. Veoh seems to have the potential for “a positive community of commenters” but they don’t have the user base, and you can’t delete the one clown who goes from clip to clip leaving angry death threats (speaking from experience) (and that’s why I like leaving death threats) (I jest…) The level of anger some people seem able to muster on YouTube after “wasting” a whole minute of their lives is quite impressive. Hoping to see more American users get into Metacafe’s peer review mix. Then on (again, unmonetized) sites like Addicting Clips, I get a lot of views and no comments. Speaks to a very different audience consuming clips differently. For the most part though, on YouTube I’ve mostly stopped reading the comments… if you have enough views that people are arguing among themselves, neat. But I don’t need to read most of them to know what they’re going to say…

  2. Wow, Metacafe commenters are rude. I’ve posted two of my cat videos (I don’t have kids yet) that have drawn an amazing amount of hilariously rude comments:

    “i just saw the other video of u playing fetch with ur cat! GET A LIFE!!! get out the house ffs.”

    “my cat does that to, but i didnt post it on metacafe…..i just figued, u know, about the whole nobody caring thing?”

  3. Yes, funny lot the human race. More interested in commenting on “what I don’t like / want” – than on, “what I love… and what makes me happy inside!” Heck the negative destructive puerile path is the easy line of least resistance… until LOVE flows and reveals its power.

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