There’s a dark and murky corner of the internet that those of us with sound mind dare not go. A place that breeds misery and contempt on almost every single page of the internet. I’m talking, of course, about the comments section.
That’s right, the comments sections of web pages are treacherous places and it could be argued that they are more trouble than they’re worth. While intended to provide a forum for people to air their opinions and engage in healthy debate, a lot of the time comments descend into abusive, opinionated and spam filled streams of nonsense. Such is the futility of the comments section that PewDiePie, the world’s most famous YouTuber with over 30 million subscribers, has taken the decision to block comments on all of his videos.
PewDiePie lists a number of reasons for why he has decided to remove the comments. He says that the comments he really wants to see are lost among “spam, people self-advertising and people trying to provoke”. He also says he was hoping that the system would get better and YouTube would find a way to improve the service but has since grown “sick of it”.
Instead of communicating with his followers via the comments section of YouTube, PewDiePie says that he will set up a Reddit page and use Twitter to talk to his fans. This is a strong argument to suggest that comments sections are in fact becoming redundant. Social media channels like Twitter are a much more effective way of gauging public response, or provoking discussion on specific topics. Comments sections have been a staple of the internet for years now, but perhaps they have run their course.
The Bigger They Come...
When thinking about the purpose that they actually serve it’s hard to fight their corner. Maybe comments are only problematic to large websites or high profile individuals though. Smaller websites get a fraction of the comments that bigger ones do, receiving much less spam or promotional tweets. That said, even small websites must install comment filters in order to moderate inevitable spammy messages. No one is safe from auto-generated messages.
Forcing The Hand
With such a heavyweight user like PewDiePie publicly criticising YouTube’s comment system and putting his backing behind other social media outlets like Twitter and Reddit, YouTube may be forced into a reformation. It’s highly unlikely they will remove comments altogether, but it’s impossible to block troll or even spam comments. PewDiePie is not the only one turning his back on comments as a number of high profile websites have disabled them too, or even launched without them altogether (Tumblr is a notable blogging platform that does not support commenting).
Whichever way you look at it, comments sections are pretty worthless. The comments received, both positive and negative, very rarely offer any sort of constructive criticism. Someone will give an opinion, someone else will disagree, and this then usually results in personal attacks, swearing and profanity. Comment sections are beneficial to a website’s SEO, but only if engagement is high. If filled with spam, with very little genuine interaction it could actually be damaging (not to mention off-putting to visitors on your site).
Should we do away with comments sections for good? It can be argued that social channels like Twitter and Facebook provide much better platforms for interaction with customers and fans. Spam is greatly decreased and commenters are much more accountable for their messages. When a person’s real name and picture are left at the side of their message, the likelihood they will be abusive or offensive is much, much less. Maybe we should move on from comment sections and focus on the more constructive and meaningful ways we can get feedback from our audience.
What do you think? Let us know in our comments section below...