YouTube Comment Snob hides badly spelled, profane, poorly capitalized YouTube comments

Here's an idea whose time has come: YouTube Comment Snob is a Firefox plugin that nukes comments with too many spelling mistakes, weird capitalization or punctuation, and too much cussin'. It works pretty damned well, too. As XKCD has pointed out in the past, YouTube has the worst, just the worst comment-areas on the Internet. YouTube Comment Snob (via Making Light)


  1. Wow.

    Which silently-uttered wish of mine will be fulfilled next?

    Will it be ‘a button that slaps people across the internet’? Because while this widget certainly is cool, but tele-slap would be amazing.

    Seriously, this may buy me years of healthy (while, at least aneurysm-free) life.

  2. How about youtube incorporating the filter? That would quickly make commenters ‘clean up’ their language, as nobody would be able to read their comments, including they themselves.

  3. it kind of makes me sad that my inability to commit to capitalization would by default filter me out. then again i can’t think of the last time i felt compelled to comment on a youtube video; since i’ve graduated from high school i don’t think youtube would let me comment anyway.

  4. If there was ever a plugin that I wished could be implemented on the real world, man, this is it.

  5. Well so far 2 of the 4 comments posted would have been filtered by this delightful add-on… Where can I find one for boingboing!

  6. Now if we could just get it to translate the bad comments into Morgan Freeman, we’d be set.

  7. alethea, I want one for the whole web too. Maybe something that attaches a MS-Word like ‘grade level’ to a comment. A single scatalogical reference is a first warning for 3rd grade ranking. A second will be pure fail. I’d have a hard time wanting to use it here though. The really terrible nonsense gets moderated.

    amylink, my idea means you’d always lose 2 grade levels for your antics. don’t be sad. capitalization is over-rated.

    also, I think the comments at LiveLeak are far more toxic than those at YouTube.

  8. This is excellent. I already give a thumbs down every time I see these things (aside from the non-capitalized entries). Now my I can just relax and enjoy the comments!

  9. Although I really like the idea of this gimmick and may even implement it, we have to remember that most of the kids on you tube don’t even speak English as a first language and this is when it becomes important to regard English as an open source user modifiable utility so communication can transcend all countries and cultures.
    The best example i can think of is the diversity in Shakespeare, The Wire and Deadwood and to some extent English spoken in the UK in comparison to the US.
    Plus sometimes should we not listen to the wisdom of fools, there are far more important things to get arsey about that rough cut English.

  10. Words could raise a learned typhoon
    But with no grammar spelling or punctuation
    You may appear a buffoon.
    I don’t mean to be heretical
    But the filter should filter offensive salutation
    As well as all comments non-poetical.

  11. Though the video has been removed from youtube for a while, I remember a 30 second long clip of Radiohead covering “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (not the 20 second clip currently up). The comments for that one (which included someone threatening to kill someone else’s dog in their first post) prompted my friends and I to start a contest of sorts looking for the worst comments that we could find. They certainly aren’t pretty.

  12. Now all we need is a filter that knows the difference between “its” and “it’s,” and “your” and “you’re,” and it’ll be smarter than 85-90% of the commenters on any Internet forum.

  13. Uh, why would you want to do that? The comments are the real entertainment. That’s like drinking non-alcoholic beer.

  14. How about a filter that automagically adds punctuation, maybe capitalization. I agree that English is not a static language and is a ‘user modifiable utility’, but absence of punctuation and (deliberate?) misspelling of words make it much much harder to read. By the way, English is not my first or even second language, and I do manage to write intellegibly (albeit with the occasional mistake), so that’s not an excuse for omitting anything that helps people read your comments.

    I think it is actually a non-verbal way of saying that you don’t care about readers, you’re too lazy to bother making things easy for them. Just as making people wait is telling them your time is more important than theirs.

  15. Right! ESL speakers (or writers) have no business commenting on YouTube videos. If they can’t spell, their ideas have no value.


  16. where am I going to post my impulsive, drunken spleen-ventings if I can’t do it on Youtube? Please don’t take away one of the few pleasures I have left.

    on another note, I’ve noticed comments on The Economist’s site to be far lower down the quality scale than their “Dear Sir” letters section would suggest they should be. Makes me wonder if anyone actually reads that magazine, or just tucks it under their arm to look intelligent.

  17. I wrote a Greasemonkey Script that removes everything from a YouTube page except the video. I think it’s broken again as YouTube keeps renaming their divs, but I will look into it again.

  18. #23, absolutely. Depending on context I can sometimes find myself without proper capitalisation or grammar. But in an environment where you are expecting others to read any significant amount of text you have produced, you should always try to make it as readable as possible. Proper punctuation, spelling etc. just improve legibility.

    #25, I read the Guardian (UK newspaper)’s online site every day, and the commentary there is often similarly poor.

  19. I have this weird addiction to youtube comments. I’ll watch a 3 minute video and spend 10 minutes reading all the stupid comments, giving them thumbs-up and thumbs-down as appropriate. It makes me feel strangely powerful. For some reason I love when they devolve into hateful, pointless racism.

  20. I’d prefer a plugin that corrects comments with too many spelling mistakes, weird capitalization or punctuation, and too much cussin’.

    And Youtube has nothing on usenet.

  21. 1) The filtering method would punish non native speakers and dyslexics disproportionally.

    2) YouTube merely shows you how a culture looks in which everybody, including the people who a few years ago merely yelled at their own TV, participates. Participatory culture is not a necessarily a good idea.

  22. i almost find this offensive…. i’m dyslexic….. i understand that want and need for something like this… i understand the joke….


    Just because someone knows grammar and the English language doesn’t make then smart….. Some of the dumbest people i know are masters at the language.

    “Oh my they must be smart! They can write!”

  23. I’ve got a great YouTube filter: I don’t read the damn comments at all. Not sure why I would care what random bozos think about the Gary Numan video I just watched, unless they can definitively answer the question as to whether friends are, indeed, electric.

  24. I know that most of you probably realize this, but for those who don’t: The Onion’s AV Club has the most consistently entertaining comments section I’ve come across. They even value their trolls, as long as they’re sufficiently amusing.

  25. Bill the Burger’s right on. Anyboody who wants to can use English. It’s not the property of American or UK spelling police.

    Vive la open source!

  26. How about filtering excessive whitespace (many spam comments use a whole bunch of carriage returns to make them appear longer) or numbers (many spam comments use numbers to fool spam filters).

  27. A simple solution that youtube could implement would be a “click to see comments” button as the default setting, I think it’s an option now. That way you have to seek out the comments as opposed to simple glancing and seeing some racist jibbering or cussing.

    One thing that I’ve noticed on youtube is how some of the most vile and idiotic ramblings will come from people who, if you click into their profile, are putting a lot of personal information out there. I specifically recall a kid who commented on a friend’s video with racial epiphets who listed his myspace page in his profile, which in turn his school, hometown and pages of photos. Three clicks in and this little bigot’s whole life was sitting right there.

    I’m stunned we haven’t seen more altercations off-line as a result of these antics.

  28. Anybody who thinks YouTube comments are the worst has never seen the comments on a MySpace video. They put YouTube to shame.

  29. 33 & 34 over the years I have grown very tired of the ‘dyslexia’ or ‘foreign tongue’ excuse, be it on a forum or in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

    The vast majority of the people I would choose to ignore are not dyslexic, they are simply those who disdain even basic punctuation, take joy in the use of ‘hilarious’ meme based misspelling or find themselves unable to express even the simplest of thoughts without reverting to leet and all that it entails.

    If you have something of import to say then passing it through a spelling and grammar checker will sort out most of the problems in anything you write. Observing stricter rules on grammar and spelling on such boards would be of significant benefit to those wishing to practice or develop their usage of the English language… to allow the proliferation of gibberish is to do them a disservice.

    If you are incapable of expressing yourself using a reasonable level of English then chances are that:

    1. I have no interest in what you have to say.

    2. I would be unable to understand what you have to say in your mother tongue.

    Oh, and in the UK at least dyslexia is usually just a parent friendly excuse for a child being lazy and stupid or a home situation where the primary care giver is more interested in coronation street and Oprah than their offspring’s development.

    Unless you actually wish to believe that 80% of 600 bottom set pupils in the schools I have taught are now classified as dyslexic.


    (You generally find the real dyslexic pupils in the middle and upper sets as they are usually more determined not to let it set them back and their parents do everything they can to help them).

  30. I’m downloading this and adding “lol” to the list of inane stuff I won’t have to see anymore.

  31. @#29 Talia
    Perhaps this is the link you are looking for.
    Yahoo Answers may have good intentions, but 80% of it is a wasteland of unintelligible responses.

    I agree with Alethea and Rajio:
    I think all websites with heavy user-comment traffic should offer their own variation of this this wonderful filter.

    However, just for a laugh from time to time, it would be nice to turn it off.

  32. I think the last time I actually read some YouTube comments, I landed right on one that simply repeated the word “nggr” about a dozen times, in caps, accompanied by nothing else. This was in the context of a video depicting, if I recall, someone’s cat.

    While I was momentarily entertained by seeing the practical result of the thought experiment “what would happen if you could go back in time and teach an early hominid to type?” I ultimately decided there were better forms of entertainment than YouTube comments, and promptly returned to reading Something Awful’s Weekend Web.

  33. @ 52

    This isn’t Caesar burning the library of Alexandria. You can turn the filter off if you’re running short on juvenalia.

    Oh Juvenal.. what hast thy name become.

  34. Wasn’t there a post on Neato or a Competitor Site about some (“some”?) who move to allow spelling to settle on what’s most popular? Comment Snob, if applied widely (calling all developers), is just the force we (“we”?) need to protect Proper English Grammar and Spelling. Vive L’Academie… um… Anglaise!

  35. #52 posted by Takuan

    filters remove data.

    Not anymore than unpublishing deletes data.

    The data is still there!

  36. Am I the only one who enjoys the comments??

    (No joke) I once watched a video of a rather obese lady riding a dirtbike which she promptly flipped over the top of. Only mildly humorous/mostly horrifying. Scroll down to the comments and what do I see but, “Too many cream puffs, bitch!” HA! Hilarious!

    And now I’ve shared my youtube anecdote for the day.

  37. #60

    You will note that the poster in question makes correct use of capitalization, the word ‘too’ and that the comment is relevant to the content of the page.

    While the comma is questionable such a comment would probably be allowed by the filter, providing the profanity filter was not active.

    I agree with #29 entirely, it would be interesting to see how the trolls and spammers would adapt if this filter was used to determine if a comment could be posted in the first place.

  38. #61

    There is a profound difference between creating a new word to express yourself or define a concept and spouting complete and utter gibberish.

    If you want to go writing comments in your own little made up language which nobody but you understands then that is your prerogative, though I would wonder why you would wish to put this on a forum for others to see.

    Capital letters used correctly make a text easier and faster to read, it also helps the reader to mentally break up the page as they scan the page.

    They are a valuable tool, the only reason not to use them is to alienate your audience or as a cry for attention (possibly trying to indicate how unique, artistic, rebellious or flighty you are).

    Good grammar is simply good manners.

    Anyhow, were one to follow your suggestion Cherry then any post which was even remotely comprehensible would by default be following some dictatorial propriety.

    Perhaps mashing random buttons with your forehead is fine if you want to post on YouTube but I would prefer people put a little more constructive thought into their posts.

  39. Buddy 66: Sir Alec Guiness, as King Faisal, reading Sir Robert Bolt’s lines in Sir David Lean’s film Lawrence of Arabia – right?
    “for some a passion, for others merely good manners…”

  40. good manners is making every effort to understand the other party in good faith and giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to communicate with you in their own best manner.

  41. Sir CANUCK,

    I believe it was …”For Lawrence, mercy is a passion….”

    One of THOSE movies, man, where the language rises to the level of the highest visuals. Pretty rare category.

  42. ”And he cited the Moses of Michelangelo in the Vatican.

    He said of it: ‘that stony effigy in frozen music, horned and terrible, of the human form divine, that eternal symbol of wisdom and prophecy which if aught that the imagination or the hand of sculptor has wrought in marble of soultransfigured and of soultransfiguring deserves to live, deserves to live.’

    You like it? J.J. O’Molloy asked Stephen.

    Stephen, his blood wooed by grace of language and gesture, blushed.”

    …his blood wooed by grace of language….

    What else is there to say?

  43. How about a filter that removes posts by people correcting the grammar in other people’s posts?

  44. Indeed it is literature, but not with a capial L.

    How much do you figure that little roach weighed? I mean, that was before electric typewriters. You had to really pound those big ugly monsters.

  45. #80 Arkizzle

    I didn’t filter you based on content — I filtered everyone. I singled you out for a screenshot that cold February day because your comment was thick with formatting which my filter preserves.

    I block youtube comments because they are always terrible. I boing boingboing comments because it keeps me from being a wiseass.

    That reminds me: I should install greasemonkey at my new job to reduce my urge to comment on Boing Boing. :)

  46. Alethea, dyslexia is a very real problem.

    JMullan, why did you bother?

    The point of filtering authors who don’t care about capitalization, punctuation, spelling, or other readability issues is that there’s a strong correlation with authors who don’t care about communication in general.

  47. Teresa,

    I have yet to read a useful YouTube comment, so I obscured all of them. I filter Boing Boing comments as a joke. Boing Boing already filters out the vile and nauseating comments that infest YouTube. Not reading the comments usually keeps me from being a wiseass here, which is to everyone’s benefit.

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