"I go to the comments, and it's mainly spam, it's people self-advertising, people that are trying to provoke, people who reply to all these... just all this stuff that, to me, it doesn't mean anything." This is rockstar Let's Play-er PewDiePie explaining why he's removing comments from his insanely popular YouTube channel, which recently surpassed 30 million subscribers.
The utility and value of internet commenters has been a hot topic for debate recently, but let's be careful before we get carried away by the news that one of YouTube's biggest stars is abandoning one way of receiving feedback. PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg) has touched on some of the larger problems he's had with commenters in the past, such as in this video:
He explained his current predicament as a primarily functional problem. While that touches on some of the concerns he's had about mean-spirited comments, therefore, it's not the same issue. He hosts and operates one of the most popular YouTube channels in the world, after all. Having more than 30 million subscribers leaves him with a lot of spam and other unwanted material to sift through every single day. As he explains in the video up top, he returned from a personal vacation to find that almost all of the welcome feedback he usually looks forward to seeing was buried underneath piles of spam accounts, self-promotional ones, or just good old fashioned trolls. YouTube, meanwhile, hasn't put any meaningful changes into effect that would make his job any easier.
"I just want to connect with you bros," he says in the video, which went live last Friday. "That's all I care about. If you bros aren't with me, what's the point, really?" He likes to call his fans "bros" a lot.
To start, Kjellberg is trying to encourage his loyal fans to migrate from YouTube's comments section to another arena that would be better suited for a fruitful discussion. At the end of the video he posted last week, PewDiePie suggests Reddit and Twitter (using special hashtags) as two other options. But he also doesn't want to sound like he's figured everything out yet, as he on Twitter two days after announcing he was jettisoning YouTube comments for good:
Still trying to figure out best way to go forward with the comments. So glad to see you bros support me with all this, really means a lot!
— Felix Kjellberg (@pewdiepie) August 31, 2014
PewDiePie has touched on his frustrations with YouTube's commenting system before, but this is the first time he's insisted that the change is permanent. After making the shift at the end of last week, he briefly toyed with the idea of allowing fans to comment if they donate to charity. Soon after making that suggestion, however, he concluded that it's "probably too complicated to actually work."