JONATHAN JK

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Re: Google is Making A Huge and Annoying Mistake

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Wil Weaton discusses at length the issue of Google Plus appearing on Youtube videos. Instead of the standard ‘Thumbs Up’ and ‘Thumbs Down’ buttons on a video, viewers are now presented with a ‘upgrade to Google+’. The discussion is mostly about Google forcing non Google Plus users who use Youtube to sign up for their service.

While I understand his problem, I think ‘Likes’ or ‘Thumb’ ratings are worthless, they invite the lowest and laziest forms of critique from people. They don’t add to a discussion with a constructive opinion, they are there for people who can’t express a sentence of their own to describe how they felt when reacting to something. Ask yourself if we as internet users are really engaging with content, with the push of these buttons?

I’m a kind of person who wants to know why. It’s the reason why I’ll write a comment AND click those buttons. If I have nothing to say I won’t comment either. At the same time though, all those ‘likes’ are useful as aggregate data for the owner (which Wil Weaton touched on).

This can be regarded as an appetiser with regard to engaging with the internet public. The main course is the issue of how valuable are comments themselves. Here is an introduction for those who are unaware of this topic.

Notable blogs like daringfireball.net, marco.org (not directly related, but very interesting read) don’t enable comments. The long story cut short, if you want to comment on something, respond on your own blog.When you factor in the spam, the rude feedback, general negativity, fake accounts and those who comment without identifying themselves, it’s a good stance to take (John Gruber especially has other reasons for not allowing comments, but I won’t go into those here, have a read yourself in the link above). Owning your own blog to respond to others also allows you the one responding; to be held accountable.

It’s one of the reasons why I really like tumblr, it’s trying to get people to do exactly that, take some ownership over what you want to say on the internet.

I tried removing comments from this blog a while back, for the 1% I receive which is useful, the other 99% is spam. I’m in praise of WordPress’s anti-spam feature, I really wonder why spammers bother; they won’t get to my readers and I certainly won’t buy from them if they are actually targeting me. I left the commenting system intact in the end because the WordPress template still held remnants of the commenting system. My idea was to make the site cleaner for removing them, but the template doesn’t allow it.

The writer, Dr. Axel Rauschmayer in the last link above (2ality.com) offers a few suggestions if somebody wants to enable comments on their blog and cut down on the noise.

I have a suggestion of my own I wanted to add: when somebody wants to comment, there should be a 140 character minimum limit in comment fields, you can’t post the comment until you’ve written at least 140 characters. One word responses would die and maybe richer discussion would come from that. It probably wouldn’t work for a site like The Verge, what with all it’s image only comments that are really fun to surf through. So I recognise it isn’t an approach that would work everywhere. It won’t stop those who really have an opinion, just those who don’t really want to say anything of worth.

UPDATE: Readers are ‘liking’ this article, hello irony!

Written by jonathanjk

May 2, 2012 at 20:12

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