There is a new project that aims to create a “stupid filter” that detects and filters out writing from stupid people, mostly in the form of comments on videos and blogs. I support this idea so much it hurts. You can read all about the project on their site, but the basic idea is to collect, sort/rate the stupidity of different pieces of text, and create a filter that can ignore ‘stupidity’ as determined by the project’s findings. I think this is all well and good, and I hope they are able to create something usable or at the very least interesting, but I want to use this topic to launch off onto something else that I have been lamenting lately: video comments.
It is common knowledge that most people do not rate or comment unless they really love or really hate a video, and for some reason, the haters tend to weigh in more often. If 1 million people watched and loved a video, but only 200 comment, and of those, 150 are hurling sexist, racist, uneducated, or just plain hateful words, how are the comments in any way a reflection of what people really think about that video?
What if your comments followed you wherever you went, just as our words in the real world follow us. What if you can only comment if you have a confirmed identity; it doesn’t have to be your real name and social security number or anything, but it does have to be a consistent identity that you can’t simply abandon. Those who choose to comment anonymously should be filtered out by default- if you want to leave or read comments from people not willing to stand up and defend their own words, then you should be able to do so, but they should not be factored into the main comments and ratings.
What if every comment had attached to it the rating that each person left for the video, and if you wanted to, you could see all of the ratings that that person has given every other video. Then we could begin true criticism, wherein negative or positive responses can be challenged and questioned and defended. This is how truly useful discourse works- you make a statement, and if someone disagrees, you both add and heighten your position until you have fully explained your thoughts. In a system like this, where you are held accountable for your statements, we would see a much more accurate analysis of videos, with helpful ratings that truly express a communal consensus on the quality of the work.
Yes, I do think about this stuff too much, but I do so because I just hate seeing a potentially revolutionary tool laid to waste by allowing the very worst of human mob mentality to take over. If the KKK didn’t hide behind masks, do you think they would say what they say? Hide behind your mask if you want, but don’t expect me to care what you have to say. Until we can be held accountable for our opinions, they do not matter.
My real name is Andy Cochrane by the way, and I stand by everything I say online, except that one thing I said about Australians that one time. You can comment on anything I say any time or email me, I will respond.