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Why I’m switching off YouTube comments

  • The last word on YouTube comments can be read here.

    Srajan Ebaen’s take on the matter can be read here.

    Shit? Reader feedback runs here.


    The video below is the first of its kind but also the last of its kind. The first because it was birthed by the Darko.Audio YouTube channel’s comments section and the last because it marks the end – for now – of the YouTube channel’s comments section. It’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly. In fact, I’ve been mulling it for the best part of a year. Let’s call it an experiment. A step into the unknown.

    One of YouTube’s clearest benefits to hi-fi publishers is the platform’s larger and more mainstream reach. If you want to reach more new people, you get busy with videos on YouTube. And I am extremely grateful to anyone who has taken the time to submit a comment of encouragement or,  better still (but far less common), pen a comment that informs us of something hitherto unknown.

    However, YouTube’s more mainstream reach has a darker side: a steady flow of racist, misogynistic and more broadly offensive comments. This is why comment moderation has been turned on since day one: my channel isn’t a platform for hate speech or self-aggrandising asshattery. Neither is it a platform for whackjob thinking. My comments section is not there to amplify the voices of conspiracy theorists who, in 2020, present in greater numbers than in years past. They are yet another reason to moderate. Every comment is read and digested and deleting the crazy/offensive/self-entitled ones I liken to emptying a bagful of stones from one’s shoe. Even though you’re disposing of the irritant, it still puts you off your stride.

    As the channel has grown, so have the number of comments following each video’s publication. More comments mean more stones, which has obliged me to dedicate more and more time to removing shoe stones. What used to take a couple of hours now takes a full day. I logged the number of hours spent handling comments resulting from the LS50 Wireless II video: in total, ten. That’s ten hours that could otherwise be spent on playing with more gear and making more videos — which would ultimately benefit a far greater percentage of the Darko.Audio audience. Comments are for the few. Videos are for the many.

    Of course, we’ve been here before. In 2017, the opportunity cost of this website’s comments section became too heavy to bear. (And it had nowhere near the hate comment ratio of YouTube). Closing off comments on these pages caused a few pinched egos (“It’s my right to comment!”) but the long term benefits of that action speak for themselves. The hours reclaimed gave me the time to start making pro-shot videos with Olaf and Jana. What irony! And it doesn’t take a genius to observe that our videos aren’t made in a hurry. We count the time spent in days, not hours.

    Time is in short supply for yours truly; and it’s sometimes hard for YouTube viewers to see the forest for the trees: that I run a fully-fledged review website (and a podcast) alongside my YouTube channel.

    One upside of turning off YouTube comments is that it makes the description box instantly more visible on laptop/desktop web browsers. This is where I link to a good deal of extra information not covered in the video and where I cover off frequently asked Groundhog Day questions.

    For viewers wondering what’s in it for them, there will be no more of me imploring you to “check out the links in the description box below”. No more of me reminding you that I’ve not done anything more with the product than is covered in the video. No more explaining – yet again – that my access to gear is limited to a few per cent of all that comes to market. All of which feature in this KEF LS50 Wireless vs. Buchardt A500 video for one final farewell:

    And if this experiment fails – if viewer numbers take such a hit that I’m forced to reactivate viewer comments to appease the YouTube algorithm gods – know that my replies won’t be coming with them. I’ll be too busy making the next video with Olaf and Jana.

    Further information: Buchardt Audio | KEF

    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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