My job is all about conversation.  Having one with clients and peers, and helping them have one with their customers.  To a degree, my own book is about conversations so this may seem like a strange observation coming from me … but I don’t see any point in publishing a video on YouTube and allowing comments. 

In every other medium, from blogs to microsites to forums, comments are great.  They invite conversation and offer a chance for dialogue.  As a result, comments that are not relevant can usually be ignored and or caught by spam filters.  Look at most blogs, and the comments will likely add to the dialogue.  That’s not the case on YouTube, and I think we are all noticing it.  For example, watch this promotional video recently release by Google on YouTube:

Now click the link to go directly to YouTube and read some of the comments.  There are people posting racist views about kids, using swear words and having all kinds of useless, mean and idiotic "conversations."  Most other videos on YouTube generate similar comments that people would never say out loud.  The problem with YouTube is that it has become increasingly common for hundreds of these comments to come on just about every video.  I dare you to find any video with at least 25 comments that doesn’t have a significant number of these types of comments.  These are not just isolated dumb comments or spam … this is a plague that seems to affecting YouTube disproportionately.  For some reason, commenting on videos encourages stupidity.

Am I saying people shouldn’t be allowed to discuss videos that are posted on YouTube?  No.  But I think a far better solution right now is to either moderate comments on YouTube (which surprisingly few brands adding videos to YouTube seem to choose), or embed a video that is posted on YouTube on your blog and encourage comments there.  Comments on YouTube videos today are just a forum for people to share moronic comments anonymously.  Comments on YouTube should certainly not be any part of metrics to measure.  Having hundreds of comments on a video is meaningless.  For any brand putting videos on YouTube, if you are looking for conversation – my advice is to embed the video elsewhere and choose to moderate or remove comments on YouTube altogether.