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[UPDATED x 2] Letters to the editor: YouTube comments

  • Philip K. writes…

    Hello John, just want to congratulate you on your decision to close down the comments section on your YouTube channel. The quality of discourse across forums these days is truly depressing and the one or two enlightened comments in no way compensate for the woeful standard that predominates. I think your channel, and your business in general, will be all the better for this decision. Best wishes….Phil


    Tony D. writes…

    Once upon a time mad uncle Bob could only inflict his irrational obsessions and conspiracy theories on family and tolerant acquaintances. When this audience had enough, they would tell him to shut up. Being somewhat timid by nature, he usually did.

    The Internet changed all that. Uncle Bob quickly learned there were others like him, who understood and reinforced his obsessions. Mad Uncle Bob joined every like-minded group and felt vindicated. He was overjoyed to discover there are also public comments fora, where no one can make him shut up. Behind the safety of his keyboard, uncle Bob’s felt much braver, and his worst personality traits blossomed.

    On the bright side, uncle Bob is now so occupied on the Internet, his family hardly ever see him.


    John R. writes…

    I fully support your decision to eliminate the comments on your YouTube videos. It only makes me want to support you and your excellent efforts even more. People say things online that they would never say in person. This simple, obvious statement, pretty much sums up the epic failure of the current social media experiment. Peace, from San Diego.


    Mark C. writes…

    Hi John,

    I’d like to thank you for rekindling my return to listening properly to music at home, with a little additional help from Covid. At the start of lockdown (in the UK) I discovered your YouTube channel. Your introductions to DACs and Streaming were invaluable.

    So, I dusted off my old setup, quickly replacing my old speakers and adding a Pi music streamer with a top DAC and Volumio. Brilliant! However unfortunately or fortunately my amplifier decided to die just before my 60th birthday in the summer. With the money saved from the pubs being closed and birthday money, a new Marantz PM6006uk was purchased. Returning to listening to music with a reasonable Hifi setup I have you and Steve Guttenberg to thank, for reawakening my love of music.

    Your introductions have been invaluable, your attitude and obvious love of music are a welcome antidote to some YouTube reviewers. Personally, I’m into Prog Rock and Folk… But now I’ve dipped my toes into electronic music courtesy of the music you use in your video’s and Tidal.
    Anyway!! Possibly far too much information. Keep up the good work, and maybe someday I’ll progress to the next level up of Hifi equipment.

    …Oh and the reason I started writing, I never read YouTube comments, too often they’re full of poisonous nonsense. Keep the information on the equipment and music, your viewers are not missing anything by losing the comments.

    After Covid, if I get to Berlin, I’d like to buy you a pint to thank you.

    Cheers
    Mark


    Dale C. writes…

    I am glad to see comments turned off. Most people cannot handle making comments when hiding behind a computer keyboard. Too many other forums (Steve Hoffman, Audiogon, etc) where people can express opinions. I think you and Michael [Lavorgna] should get together and form a “premium member” section and then allow comments via forum and provide more in-depth content and opinions.


    Jacques R. writes…

    Do whatever you want.
    Love your work. Keep at it.
    At least I can use this form to tell you how much I appreciate your work. Good luck.


    Leo K. writes…

    Hello John,

    I endorse and understand your decision to disable comments from the videos in your channel. I posted a few times but I’ve seen a very intolerant and frankly rude behaviour from some members in our community. Somehow they feel entitled to an opinion (which is ok) but also their strong belief that their opinion is the right fact (not ok).

    Moreover, I’ve seen rude, racist and misogynistic comments. If I had to put up with it I would probably have done the same thing only from a psychological point of view, let alone the time consumed on moderation. These are exceptions to the rule but too many exceptions that will actually drain your time and will discourage people who might not be into the “argument” type of discussion. Some will be annoyed and some will lose the chance to exchange information with other music lovers/audiophiles but to be honest there are many dedicated forums to do that.

    What I don’t really understand is that many people feel entitled to express their opinion wherever and whenever without understanding what it takes for the moderator to keep it civil. Do they complain why they can’t comment on the BBC 6 O’clock news or during weekly PMQs in Parliament? This is a hobby for us and a job for you (also a hobby). In that sense, we all need to understand that you do that for a living and we receive the entertainment, plus information, free of charge. Since this is your job and I understand the time-consuming process to moderate comments I encourage you to focus on your videos and see probably more of them. I’d rather see more equipment reviewed rather comments.

    Kind Regards

    Leonidas

    PS: those who will unfollow probably made you a favour.


    A. writes…

    Discovering you removed comments served as a nice reminder to unsubscribe. I don’t agree with removing comments & there are other unrelated videos I’d rather watch with my limited time. It’s easier to look at your articles I’m interesting [sic] in.

    Besides, the majority of reviewers are audiophools with limited knowledge of audio production. The ones that understand audio production seem to have a limited understanding of audio design & what they’re listening to. It results in too much pushing of preferences & flavors of the month. I prefer a goal of high fidelity to serve my needs. Most that claim this have no clue when they’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater, which adds to the irony that they’re like the masses. This has less to do with you & more to do with the sad state of the industry. It’s sad when a big name designer starts his own label & then brags about a track that is compressed & rolled off & doesn’t know it.

    Best of luck with your channel! You at least offer a unique point of view from other reviewers.

    My reply?

    The sender withheld his name and email address so a reply wasn’t possible but does A. perhaps stand for arrogant? With ‘audiophools’, ‘no clue’ and ‘sad state’ peppered throughout, A.’s missive makes it clear – as if we needed reminding – just how quick some hi-fi community members are to spray their negativity. Baseless judgements and prejudice are cancers that eat comments sections from within. Ditto unmoderated Facebook groups and forums. But why prescribe chemotherapy when preventive measures can stop the infection before it metastasises? Are other commenters offering up such pearls of wisdom that the negativity and self-entitlement are worth bearing? That’s what any self-reflecting and self-respecting community page runner must eventually ask him/herself.

    Furthermore, that A. is happy to read this website’s articles with its comments section turned off but ‘disagrees’ with YouTube videos having their comments disabled suggests an illogical double-standard.


    Jim A. writes…

    You were right to turn them off. Use the time you would have spent dealing with comments on something you enjoy.

    Cheers,

    Jim

    My reply…

    Bang on, Jim.


    Simon B. writes…

    Hello,

    Could I kindly ask why there is now no way to provide comment & feedback on your Youtube channel?

    Surely feedback, comment, question & correction from viewers/subscribers provide a way to honest, fact-based & transparent information being provided by your channel.

    If indeed your only concern is the next dollar & viewers are simply your means to an end then surely a simple ‘This is an advert’ warning before viewers are given a carefully crafted sales pitch is the least you can do.

    Consumer groups within the UK are looking at ways to place some responsibility & a means of compensation being sought from individuals/companies using such tactics.

    Regards,
    Simon

    My reply…

    Simon

    As I’ve said MANY times before, the companies buying ad space on my website and as pre-roll on videos are there for all to see. Changing the end user’s ability to comment on YouTube doesn’t alter this fact. Nor does it suddenly change the content of the videos published. Inventing conspiracy theories to the contrary is just silly.

    Conspiracy theory creation usually involves leveraging areas unknown (or unknowable) in service of an unproven (or unprovable) opinion. That the theory is baseless or just plain bonkers is, to its beholders, inconsequential. For them, it’s a way to navigate their negative responses to someone else’s actions.

    To wit, the reasons why YouTube comments have been disabled has been explained not once but twice on the site in the past seven days.

    John

    P.S. And what of the YouTube channels who charge manufacturers per video but never let it be known to their audience — are their YouTube comments sections surfacing this kind of info? Clearly their not, which blows a hole right through the middle of any ‘comments uphold transparency’ argument.


    Richard G. writes…

    John:

    I enjoy your content, and will likely become a patron.

    I fully understand your frustration with inappropriate comments below YouTube posts. There is a golf-related YouTube channel called TXG (Tour Experience Golf). They are club fitters in Toronto. They get lots of views and have many subscribers. Not sure how they do it, but there are very, very, very few inappropriate comments. They don’t appear to be a large company with a large staff.

    Richard

    My reply…

    Thanks, Richard.

    Please note: it’s not just the inappropriate comments that weigh down my schedule. It’s having to explain time and time again that I’ve not heard X or have not done the comparison between A and B, even though the videos make that self-evident.

    Perhaps the viewers of the VW channel you mention see it for what it really is – entertainment that inspires action – and not a gateway to chatting to the channel operator about what car they should buy next.

    And perhaps the VW Channel isn’t run by a single operator who must also manage a website. That’s the thing about being self-employed: you get to write your own job description.

    🙂

    John


    Michael C. writes…

    Hey John,

    Thanks so much for your videos!

    It’s helped me understand why I love working on optimising my music listening experience and the approach I take to my little audio journey.

    To intro myself, I’m Michael, a 25yo guy who likes music enough to spend a chunk of his entry-level salary on. I love the audio community, it’s a really helpful bunch and you have people like yourself who really go out there and provide value to not just gear, but music enjoyment.

    However, it really is such a shame that the “audiophile”
    community seems to be known for its ego rather than its artistic and subjective nature driven by the music and its experience. There is so much redundant conversations and argument on gear, formats, lossless. Even if you make a video about how unimportant certain aspects of this hobby are, you will always have one person saying the most out of context point about some piece of gear they bought 6 months ago and that they “never could be happier with the sound”.

    I feel like it’s a statement on the consumerist lens most people have about gear, pricing and format. Some feel like it’s synonymous to building a pc, which in some sense it is. But in a broader sense, it isn’t. Your purchase choice (since we want to get our purchases of gear right the first time, we’re not all reviewers) is dictated by what your taste is, even beyond music. Example, if I wasn’t such a Soulection, Neo-Soul, Kaytranada basshead who loves a good festival, I would NOT be looking into more analytic sounding gear that a person with a Ryuichi Sakamoto taste would appreciate. Instead my buying choice went towards gear reviews about musicality, warmth, body, darkness and sweetness to really feel the thump of a Kaytranada bassline. I didn’t buy my gear based on a price-performance ratio (I did have a budget, of course), but it feels like the majority of the audio community does fall into the trap that money + measurements = performance. To put it into a product perspective, I don’t think it would surprise me that people will think of things based on price-performance marketing. An example, the Hegel H390 can be considered the Nvidia RTX 3090ti of integrated amps because it’s the most expensive based on some limited frame of reference and experience (this limited experience is not so bad though, ignorance is bliss when you know $20,000 cables exist).

    Taking this consumerist attitude to heart prevents people from being happy with their gear. It feels like the majority of YouTube commenters and the community at large are pretty much just justifying their purchases to themselves on a per comment/forum post basis. It’s almost a psychological phenomenon of skewed consumerist attitudes. It’s actually concerning to see people say “MQA or nothing”.

    John, I would really love your thoughts on if we could ever see a video about the psychology of the “audiophile” since you are neck-deep in the community, and to talk about the different lenses we can view the audio world other than consumerism. That it is also social, it’s fun, it’s also more respect to the artists people listen to. This hobby can be so many things to spread some positivity to make us less nerdy and more like passionate music listeners. To also seek new experiences with and in music, not with your next bit of gear.

    Anyways, apologies for the rant, but thought you might want to know.

    Stay safe,

    Michael

    My reply…

    You’ve touched on behaviour that I see plenty of on more community-minded sites and social media: it matters not that the seeker of, say, buying advice has different circumstances and tastes, the majority of people will recommend Product X because Product X is what they bought. It’s one thing to speak from what you know but if you’ve only known one (or two) things, your opinion isn’t as interesting or as reliable as someone who has sampled many things, many times over. In order to engage with someone else, we must step outside of ourselves and our world.

    Nowhere do I see people shoring up their world views more often than in responses to active loudspeaker reviews where a hardcore vocal minority of commenters will fall over themselves to tell us how their passive system sounds better, even though they’ve never heard the actives under review. This kind of egocentrism seems to be the beating heart of too many conversations conducted on fora, comments sections and Facebook groups.


    HH Scott writes…

    WTF? What are you? A fascist? You’ve just made your videos so useless now. The discussion with my fellow audiophiles about the subject at hand yields a heck of a lot of info. And gives opposing views, which are always good. I don’t want just your take on something. You’re far from perfect, like every other human on the planet, including myself. I want a group take on stuff. Maybe between us all. We can figure it all out better. In fact, I feel your take on many things, like your taste in music, sucks. But I still want your take, because it’s different from mine. Therefore useful in some way IMO. Apparently, in your arrogance, you fail to realize this. Either way, until you turn comments back on. Unsubbed! Peace out.

    PS No I don’t care about your BS whiney explanations either. Just ignore the trolls, and questions you can’t answer. Every other HiFi channel on YouTube has somehow managed to figure it out without just giving up on even trying. Your excuses are quite pathetic, I’m sorry to say. Quitters never win, and winners never quit. Grow a pair, and figure it out somehow.

    My reply…

    “Fascist”. “Sucks”. “BS Whiney”. Wow! This kind of self-entitled attitude expressed without an ounce of good manners is precisely why the internet discussion (about anything) is going backwards, not forwards. People like you – with your boorishly expressed opinions – think you are the solution when in fact you are the problem. Darko.Audio was never intended as a platform for groupthink. Your email offers a clear reminder as to why.


    As this Letters to the Editor column makes self-evident, my take on things hasn’t gone anywhere. And neither has yours.

    John Darko

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has also contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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