The XX Factor

The End of an Era: YouTube Decides to Clean Up Its Comments

Will blogging be the same without the sexual harassment? 

Photo by Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Pity the angry dude. Promised by thousands of years of history and articles at the New York Post a charmed existence full of easy promotions and gorgeous, compliant women at home bearing sandwiches, he instead is finding that someone—Rush Limbaugh blames some broad named Gloria Steinem—came and took it all away. Now women are leaning in and mocking his most precious sandwich-based dreams, and he is reviled for thinking that those pre-equality days sounded pretty good. Luckily for the angry dude, there has been a perfect outlet, a place to vent all that righteous rage: YouTube comments. Got a female boss at work? Restore balance to the world by writing “boobs!” in the comments under a female vlogger’s latest entry. Some stupid feminist yakking online about how sexual harassment is wrong? With the sweet anonymity of YouTube comments, you can explain how right it really is.

Yes, YouTube’s comment section is a haven from the cruel world that expects you to act with decency and respect, but now, as with the rest of the world, it’s being taken away. Or that’s the dream, anyway, as YouTube announced plans to overhaul its comment section, hoping that it can be something other than a repository for angry dudes telling women they’re fat and trying to explain why certain races are just inferior. As reported at Wired:

Yes, today YouTube announced that its commenting system is getting an overhaul. The current system drops the latest post right at the top of the comment section. The upcoming system will use several factors to determine which posts float to the top of the conversation. Posts by the video creator, “popular personalities,” posts with engaged conversations, and posts from your Google+ friends will appear at the top of the stream of comments.

Clearly, the whole world is out to get the angry dude. If he can’t cause ordinary people to accidentally glance at the comments on a video and then look away in disgust, what does he have left? However, all is not lost. As many comment system administrators have discovered to their dismay before, systems that use algorithms to rate comments can be gamed by determined trolls, if the trolls have enough time and energy to devote to figuring the system out. And as anyone who has wandered into the comment section of any website on the internet can attest, one thing angry dudes with keyboards have is endless amounts of time and energy for the task of spewing garbage. Knowing trolls, I can assure you that no mere computer algorithm will stop them from ruefully whining that they can’t masturbate to this.

So don’t despair, angry dudes. Even if YouTube miraculously manages to defeat you, you’ll always have Reddit.