Since the inception of Youtube in 2005, the site has served up more than a billion videos for the entertainment and edification of the internet’s denizens.

Often, during the week, if I find myself with 20 or 30 minutes of spare time, I’ll turn to Youtube, and fill that time with videos of funny cats, or extreme sports, or (this week) a video of someone with large false buttocks attempting to dash between tables laden with glass and china without breaking anything.

Sometimes, as I’m watching these things, I question the entertainment value of what I’m seeing.  With the creation of a thoroughly user controlled video upload site, the floodgates have been thrown wide open for all manner of tripe to be uploaded, as well as a number of good quality videos, even pieces that could be considered high art.

It wasn’t until I started reading the comments on Youtube videos that I realized the true depths a site with a “comment” option could reach.  The internet has always been a place where people can say whatever they want (notwithstanding libel laws), and not be punished for it, no matter how reprehensible it may be.  But in reading some recent comments on Youtube videos, I came across statements that literally had no point!

For example:  in a video entitled “Zombie Kid Likes Turtles,”   one recent comment reads: “Haha..turtles…”

I am a proponent of free speech, and I think it is vital to have feedback systems in web sites, to make them more accountable to the community they serve, as well as more entertaining and interactive.  That said, I believe that a certain responsibility comes with the capability to respond to something one has seen online.  When the proprietor of a web site creates a specific forum in which users can respond to content, it is intended to lubricate communication, not to flood the servers with near incoherent babble.

To conclude, when using a comment feature online, make it count. Its the same situation as if you were making a comment to someone in real life.

Anonymity does not excuse stupidity.