To Hell With Comments

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Amir Kondori:

Personally I think Yahtzee is way off base here. There is a lot of garbage in comments sections here, on Youtube, anywhere people are allowed to make comments really. But there is also a lot of great communication and exchange of ideas going on as well.

There is.
A youtube user by the name of "MrBtongue" posted a video about the state of "gaming journalism" and the general lack of formal academia. In it, he mentioned a term I find very useful: "Signal to Noise Ratio".

With it, he described that forum posts etc while subject to Poe's Law, also contain a few genuine articles.
Those articles are the future "academia" that will dictate and steer true journalism for gaming when it becomes important enough for academic and historic analysis.

It's something to consider, because gaming, compared to all modern creative mediums, most closely rose in tandem with the Internet. I'd argue that more than any other medium (for better or worse) it has been transformed by the internet.
It only makes sense that its largest "academics" (future) would start there too.

So I cannot even begin to humor Mr. Crowshaw's attitude for attacking -all- online commentary.
(though I still do not want to deal with commentary as a mandatory game feature unless it's crucial to the gameplay; communication is not reading random crap left by random people; that stuff actually has more in common with actual bathroom graffiti than most posts on the web)

Atmos Duality:

Amir Kondori:

Personally I think Yahtzee is way off base here. There is a lot of garbage in comments sections here, on Youtube, anywhere people are allowed to make comments really. But there is also a lot of great communication and exchange of ideas going on as well.

There is.
A youtube user by the name of "MrBtongue" posted a video about the state of "gaming journalism" and the general lack of formal academia. In it, he mentioned a term I find very useful: "Signal to Noise Ratio".

With it, he described that forum posts etc while subject to Poe's Law, also contain a few genuine articles.
Those articles are the future "academia" that will dictate and steer true journalism for gaming when it becomes important enough for academic and historic analysis.

It's something to consider, because gaming, compared to all modern creative mediums, most closely rose in tandem with the Internet. I'd argue that more than any other medium (for better or worse) it has been transformed by the internet.
It only makes sense that its largest "academics" (future) would start there too.

So I cannot even begin to humor Mr. Crowshaw's attitude for attacking -all- online commentary.
(though I still do not want to deal with commentary as a mandatory game feature unless it's crucial to the gameplay; communication is not reading random crap left by random people; that stuff actually has more in common with actual bathroom graffiti than most posts on the web)

While my first instinct is to recoil at player comments showing up in my game I have learned at this point to keep an open mind to all things, because as much as something like this can go wrong, I think a good developer could find a way to integrate player messages in an engaging and interesting way. Who knows. No one until we try.

Amir Kondori:

While my first instinct is to recoil at player comments showing up in my game I have learned at this point to keep an open mind to all things, because as much as something like this can go wrong, I think a good developer could find a way to integrate player messages in an engaging and interesting way. Who knows. No one until we try.

A good developer could (I even allude to this way back on page 2 or wherever), but until that happens I'm not on board with that trend at all. Most companies are looking to implement social media in the most blunt manner possible because their market focus groups tell them that social media is hot right now. Not because it can or will inspire someone to do or say something meaningful.

And here I was thinking this will be the only article with 0 comments.

I've never gotten this. The sentiment all over this article and the broader opinion that Youtube comments in particular aren't worth shit. I definitely agree that the social media integration shit in videogames is detrimental. I hate it as much as anyone else. It distracts from the game and the majority of it is crap, and reminds you of the broader playerbase, most of whom you'd rather forget existed. But some comments do contain actual criticism, actual argument, actual feedback, and I don't feel like a twat saying it either. You have to wade through a lot of thoughtless shit and likewhoring to get to it in some places, and in others like games that display comments it is nowhere to be found, but in places like this where there is no upvoting and few dickheads it's plain to see and beneficial.

IceForce:
Since this thread is now up to page 7, would now be a good time to point out that Yahtzee doesn't even read his own comments threads?

What makes you think we're attempting to address "Yahtzee"?

Atmos Duality:

Amir Kondori:

Personally I think Yahtzee is way off base here. There is a lot of garbage in comments sections here, on Youtube, anywhere people are allowed to make comments really. But there is also a lot of great communication and exchange of ideas going on as well.

There is.
A youtube user by the name of "MrBtongue" posted a video about the state of "gaming journalism" and the general lack of formal academia. In it, he mentioned a term I find very useful: "Signal to Noise Ratio".

With it, he described that forum posts etc while subject to Poe's Law, also contain a few genuine articles.
Those articles are the future "academia" that will dictate and steer true journalism for gaming when it becomes important enough for academic and historic analysis.

It's something to consider, because gaming, compared to all modern creative mediums, most closely rose in tandem with the Internet. I'd argue that more than any other medium (for better or worse) it has been transformed by the internet.
It only makes sense that its largest "academics" (future) would start there too.

So I cannot even begin to humor Mr. Crowshaw's attitude for attacking -all- online commentary.
(though I still do not want to deal with commentary as a mandatory game feature unless it's crucial to the gameplay; communication is not reading random crap left by random people; that stuff actually has more in common with actual bathroom graffiti than most posts on the web)

Thank you for the introduction. You have enriched my day sir.

NSGrendel:

IceForce:
Since this thread is now up to page 7, would now be a good time to point out that Yahtzee doesn't even read his own comments threads?

What makes you think we're attempting to address "Yahtzee"?

Plenty of people in this thread have directly insulted Yahtzee. So much so, that a mod has posted in this thread telling everyone off.

What's the point in posting insults at someone who's not actually going to read them?

Kanatatsu:
The absolute funniest/saddest thing about this article is that in this comments section, anyone who calls Yahtzee a name in response is being warned or banned by the moderators of the site ... even though the original article has this gem in it "Just try to think of how much of a twat you are. Here's a hint: You're a big twat."

Everything that is wrong with this site and the mods who lord over these comment sections is encapsulated by this idiocy.

A mod has pointed out to people posting in this thread, that there's apparently a clause in the forum rules that says that Yahtzee and other contributors are exempt from the rules in their articles.

I agree it's bullshit, but what can you do.

Dragonbums:

Except for the fact that we have no way of knowing if this article is satire or irony. When it comes to Zero Punctuation the video series, he's putting on an act. Yet when he's on Extra Punctuation, it's a lot more personal, real, and how he actually feels on the subject. Hence why him complaining about the comments in SM3DW on his video review didn't really bother anyone, yet him complaining about it here in conjunction with him lashing out at comments in general.

I have never assumed a single thing from his is 100% serious. His entire shtick appears to be satire/exaggeration/irony and his EP content has never appeared otherwise to me. The only difference is that he covers a looser topic instead of a specific game. He does not suddenly abandon his persona for EP.

A few comments out of the entire thread. It's the difference between a well thought discussion thread like MovieBob's "Pink is not the problem" video thread, and Yahtzee's thread right now. If the poster in question presented a good, calm, well mannered, discussion with reasonable points, you are bound to have a whole lot more interesting points brought up in the discussion then ad hominem attacks, and insults. As such, Yahtzee's article was negative, vile, insulting, and inflammatory. Expect your "discussion comments" to mirror that kind of post.
I honestly don't know where you have been if your seriously telling me you have rarely seen a thread where commentors are actually talking about the subject at hand.

Given Yahtzee's perceived character why would you assume that the 'discussion' would be 'calm and well mannered'? That's not the point of his style. Even if it reflects his true feeling perfectly, that's the style of his delivery, just because you don't like it does not mean there are not nuggets of truth to it. It's supposed to be played for laughs. If you take this particular article seriously you must assume all his material to be serious since there is nothing to indicate the difference in his content.

If inflammatory comments from both sides add nothing to the discussion, why the heck should Content Contributors be exempt from appropriate punishment of insults and flamebaiting that the other side would receive? It's a huge imbalance of power.

I would argue the opposite, giving into flamebaiting is just as bad as doing it in the first place, especially under the assumption that his persona is not supposed to be taken 100% seriously. Even if he was, the site supports it's content creators, that's their prerogative. They could have content you completely agree with that somebody else finds insulting, why is your contentment worth more than them? Because you're 'right'? Why isn't that just as wrong? If it is, then any content anyone disagrees with must be subject to 'punishment'.

Discussions are just that. Discussions. They will be filled with disagreements, agreements, insults (that are promptly dealt with anyway) and everything in between. When you hit the 7 page threshold, most people just get bored and move on. Others skip pages 1-6 and start at 7 because they want to see only recent comments. Often times new discussions and points arise from those late pages, and extend the thread maybe even 6 more pages.

Insults are not a discussion and rarely are they dealt with in my experience, at best they are ignored. Once anyone in a discussion falls to insults you have either admitted defeat or come to an impasse. If you assume a combative stance you validate the article's point, that seems like irony to me. It's very similar to dealing with trolls, you just have to continue acting like nothing is amiss. There is no sure way to tell the difference between a troll and the ignorant.

Yahtzee's posts do not leave any room for good comments because he even said that anyone who comments are basically self satisfying their own egos by posting opinions that will never mean a damn to him, to anyone on the Escapist, and to anyone else on the internet. So by me posting here according to his twitter rebuttal of the comments- I'm still a fucking "twat" because I commented.

The only good that came out of this article are that users that are once again praising Yahtzee for being a genius and that comments ARE dumb not realizing that they are equally stupid for so much as posting a stupid comment stating how stupid comments have become. Their own being nothing but a waste of miniscule kilobytes.

The first two paragraphs of the article are a meandering opinion that probably reflect his true feelings: Comments as a feature are overrated. The next paragraph contains the setup of the joke:

Yahtzee:

I despise the notion that everyone has something of value to contribute, because that's provably false. Just try to think of how much of a twat you are. Here's a hint: You're a big twat.

Open with a possibly controversial (in the context of what is being talked about) statement, then segue into the minor punchline, calling the audience a name. Alright, where is this random insult going?

Now consider that, in any given large number of people, a significant percentage is going to be even bigger twats than you. And not just twats, but boring twats, and why on Earth would we want to listen to boring twats?

The next chunk states that I the reader am still a twat, but there are even bigger and boring-er twats out there than me, and who wants to listen to them. This statement implies that I am exempt from his statements as they are targeted at the even bigger and boring-er twats that are clearly not me.

And finally the point behind the initial joke:

I consider it an insult that material created by trained people with experience and qualifications and talent is forced to share space on my computer screen with the musings of uninvolved people with no qualifications bar a keyboard and bottomless twattiness.

The rest of the article goes on about specific cases where commentary was useless or insulting with some light deconstruction towards the end of about who the comments are really for in a particularly weird case. If you took those statements away from the context of the opening joke I don't think that many people would be complain about the article.

What I find interesting is that he never actually excludes himself from his opening, we've been inferring it. And since he doesn't comment it would mean he has the same opinion of his own comments. It's almost like his persona is cynical about everything, the value of his own work included.

IceForce:

Aardvaarkman:
Although they might want to help, these people are not only hurting themselves, they are hurting other employees in the web industry by undervaluing that position. If companies consider moderation to be a job that can be done with free labor, then why would they hire professional moderators? It's just as much a valid job as being a columnist, editor or content contributor.

I always assumed they were paid.

Just like how exam marker moderators are paid to moderate the marking of academic exams.

Nope, we're all Volunteers, really. As much as I would love to have it as a full job, it might be unfair to deny other people the opportunity to be Moderators in the future.

Plus, since we don't commute to the office, it's a lot harder to keep our working hours in check. =P

OT: I'm really tempted to ask permission to lock this thread just because of the amount of comments going downhill in here. Could people please try to reign in their anger for a little bit?

NSGrendel:

Thank you for the introduction. You have enriched my day sir.

You're welcome. But thank MrBtongue for at least trying to put some effort and research into his work, instead of just the usual snark rage and contempt that most of the internet does (like Mr. Crowshaw here).
As long as something decent resulted from this, it was worth it.

Duffy13:

And finally the point behind the initial joke:

I consider it an insult that material created by trained people with experience and qualifications and talent is forced to share space on my computer screen with the musings of uninvolved people with no qualifications bar a keyboard and bottomless twattiness.

...

What I find interesting is that he never actually excludes himself from his opening, we've been inferring it. And since he doesn't comment it would mean he has the same opinion of his own comments. It's almost like his persona is cynical about everything, the value of his own work included.

I thought the same initially, but then I saw his self-congratulatory message on Twitter and the article took a much darker turn.
So I re-evaluated the article.

First, his history with responding to user feedback is -VERY- negative.
Either he completely avoids it, or he uses it as a platform to directly insult his audience. (refer to his Mailbag video)

Second, that years old disclaimer about his work being implicitly "ironic/satire/comedy" doesn't mean shit.
For one, that's too convenient of an excuse.
Two, people change in the time since he said that line.
Three, it's just a disclaimer; it doesn't actually excuse him from criticism.
I don't turn my brain off just because a show tells me to, sorry.

Within the article, Yahtzee doesn't bluntly exclude himself from the commentary of the article, but he does so subtly.
It's hard to not think that when he follows this:

I consider it an insult that material created by trained people with experience and qualifications and talent is forced to share space on my computer screen with the musings of uninvolved people with no qualifications bar a keyboard and bottomless twattiness.

With this...

It particularly offends me as someone who works with comedy.

And this...

So the conclusion we reach is that commenting exists solely for the benefit of the person commenting.
...
They are the unregulated hecklers, smugly expressing their individuality to an audience who isn't listening and never asked them to pipe up.

...Given that he is an author and a creator of an extremely popular online show.

Also notice that the target of "comedy" here is always the vocal audience; which he repeatedly excludes himself.
Meaning he cannot be the target of ridicule within his own work because he isn't part of the audience he despises. The specific examples are not meant to distance US (his vocal audience) from his opening insult, it's to distance HIM from it, meaning he cannot be acting "ironically".

If there is a joke, WE, specifically, are the butt of that joke. Our reaction is the punchline.
There's no irony involved; it's just comedy (for others) based on direct contempt for our existence.

Well that was an interesting read. After such an angry explosion of spittle on one's very fanbase, I can only wonder how long it will be before Yahtzee winds up dead in a wretched Parisian bath tub a la Jim Morrison.

Well no one talks to me anymore, so i have to come to comments to try and desperately justify my own existence, hoping that someone will acknowledge me once more so that i dont have to take that noose out my draw again. I am indeed a twat but am surrounded by twats, so this is just hell with me clawing at possible fragments of denial.

CriticKitten:
This article is the most arrogant thing I've ever read from you. You've clearly let your internet infamy get to your head. So let's just reality check things here:

Yahtzee, you write brief comedy skits for a gaming website that, of late, has veered more and more towards sensationalist journalism in the vein of Kotaku (except less well known). You're roughly one step above a paid YouTube contributor yourself, in that now you're paid by someone else to make your YouTube videos on their site. Your co-worker, Jim Sterling, recently gave up a job that arguably held more credibility and weight than your current one does, at least from the perspective of a game developer.

So, you are not better than the rest of us in the eyes of most developers. Your opinion (in the sea of gaming journalism) holds less weight than any major gaming journalism website. Most of them probably don't know you exist. Your "reviews" likely wouldn't even show up on Metacritic (if they even had numerical value that is). So as far as they're concerned, you're still some guy on YouTube.

So you can go right ahead and hop off your high horse, and join us down here in the pit of useless, wrong comments that you so despise.

I don't mean to disrespect anyone here. I like this website and most of the people who work on it. But seriously, to a major AAA developer, you hold only slightly more weight than those comments sections that you hate so much. If even that. The Escapist isn't even a blip on most of their radars. So who are you to lecture about how useless comments are?

I won't disagree that the comments sections of some places are bad, but your opinions as stated here are no less ridiculous. Everyone does have something to say, and I hate to point it out, but oftentimes I've seen far more educated users of this forum deliver better opinion pieces than you do. So you've really got no leg to stand on. In the great sea of "big twats", as you put it, you are perhaps the best known of all the twats....but hardly the most correct or most intelligent.

I guess that's the real irony here. Someone who made a name for themselves by being somewhat of an internet heckler himself shitting all over the people who helped him make a profession out of it by giving him their support.

Fair enough Yahtzee. I'm fine with the idea you don't find our contributions of any value. However if that is the case I also see little reason to offer you any support at all. So I guess from now on the most amicable of relationships will be that I don't listen to anything you say as you don't see any value in my reaction to your ideas. So while I agree that for a comedian the worst bottom feeder of all is a heckler, I also imagine telling your jokes into an empty vacuum, empty of any reaction at all, is quite a bit worse. I'm going to do my part to help you learn this lesson as this will be the last article or video by you I ever read or watch.

Enjoy chewing that bit of the hand that feeds you, as judging by the responses I'm seeing here, I feel you are in for some pretty lean times in the future.

Atmos Duality:

Amir Kondori:

While my first instinct is to recoil at player comments showing up in my game I have learned at this point to keep an open mind to all things, because as much as something like this can go wrong, I think a good developer could find a way to integrate player messages in an engaging and interesting way. Who knows. No one until we try.

A good developer could (I even allude to this way back on page 2 or wherever), but until that happens I'm not on board with that trend at all. Most companies are looking to implement social media in the most blunt manner possible because their market focus groups tell them that social media is hot right now. Not because it can or will inspire someone to do or say something meaningful.

Man, I look at us, proving Yahtzee's thesis right with our vapid comments and discussion, which are akin to toilet scrawling. Pretend that period is a sarcmark. Because the sarcmark is good and needed. (imagine another sarcmark).

O rly? Well, allow me to refute your entire argument/rant with a well-poised, pointed rebuttal that will most likely knock your socks off and have you eating your words so fast that you vomit them out and will be so ashamed and embarrassed that you will be left with no choice but to turn them into an appetising dish so as not to ensnare yourself in an unending vortex of eating, rejecting and re-eating word-vomit!

WHO PISSED ON YOUR CHEERIOS, TODAY!!!????

Now give me my upvotes, quote me, compliment me, high-five me, gimme the internets, name your cat after me, all in the name of fuelling my EGO!!!

...anyone? Oh well, I guess I'll have to turn this into a "removed" post in order to repair my shattered self-esteem.

/satire of people that tooootally aren't me...

Amir Kondori:

Man, I look at us, proving Yahtzee's thesis right with our vapid comments and discussion, which are akin to toilet scrawling. Pretend that period is a sarcmark. Because the sarcmark is good and needed. (imagine another sarcmark).

Oh shit! You're right, we've been doing it wrong!
Gotta get back in character, quick, before we bring his flimsy preconceptions crashing down...

*ahem*

"Lulz, yo! MEME! I hatez teh justin barber"

(Am I doing this right?)

The essence of comedy is to take a joke to the peak of humor and then move quickly on. That's why it's called a "punchline." You treat it like a punch: you deliver it, and then you run away. But the world is full of desperate spods who want to leech off the success of others, and so they endeavor to draw out the joke by adding to it, therefore feeling like they have become a part of the joke we all just enjoyed.
Read more at http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/10857-To-Hell-With-Comments#Q5eP2x8x8GHS2zJu.99

Ladies and gentlemen, the single reason I have hated the entirety of "Call me Maybe." It was never funny or catchy to begin with, and people- because some snot kid tweeted "this is the catchiest song ever lol" that just so happened to be famous/infamous -bought it, ate it up, retweeted, made parodies, images, all for this thing that they pretended was funny/memetic but really wasn't. It was fucking idiotic, the internet equivalent of being at work during the holiday season and all the same songs being played again and again like sandpaper mercilessly grinding against the bedrock of your sanity. My Little Pony at least shook up the formula and has hours upon hours of source material to make fan iterations fresh.

It seems to me that the argument was against the current comment system, not comments in general. YouTube-like comments hinder one's ability to express a detailed opinion while promoting meaningless remarks. And meaningless talk isn't harmless, not more so than street littering.

As to the heated reaction the article provoked, I believe the reason is that Yahtzee is in an odd position between two personae, an entertainer and a journalist, who appeal to different audiences; it takes much finesse to cater to their tastes simultaneously.

Areloch:

MaddKossack115:

Well true, and I think Yahtzee shot himself in the foot when he basically admitted "I could have turned off the comments, but then I wouldn't have gotten to complain about it". What, he couldn't just take the option to turn them off, and then complain that we should really turn the comment option off first chance we get?

I can't say I'm fond of this line of reasoning, even if most of the time it's completely correct. There's lots of stuff where it makes sense to just 'turn it off', but that shouldn't excuse completely flawed designs.
There are very few situations I can think of where letting players throw down commentary on the level/game IN the level/game where it not only doesn't destroy immersion into the game, but actually makes sense.

The only one that comes to mind is Dark Souls, which restricted user comments to semi-predetermined phrases, all of which were oriented towards the gameplay as it happened. Turning it off didn't really lose you much, but you'd sometimes get useful hints or at least some amusing comments about what's happening as you experience it yourself.

But If you were to try and drop user comments into most other games, it doesn't make nearly as much sense. Mario, Zelda, Unreal Tournament, Mass Effect, and so on.
Sure, you could turn off the feature, but if it adds exactly nothing, and likely directly inhibits the game experience, why is it there at all?

As for the article, I can't say I was bothered by it. It was, as I read it, intentionally overzealous to get a rise out of people that think they were being insulted - but as others pointed out, he's directly asked for comments on stuff he makes before, like his games.

I think it's less 'no one should ever talk other than content creators' and more 'if the comments aren't, or even CANNOT be relevant, why would we even allow it?'
Rules on the forums here keep things from being snap comments, and as on-topic as possible. Random facebook comments, or basically anything on youtube will never have that, and so it makes you question why you would want that garbage to share space with the content you put effort into producing.

While I do admit the ingame comments section isn't the brightest move from the gaming industry, there are lots of other gaming industry trends (making games more linear with less gameplay, stripping narratives down to cliched bones, forcing the customers to not just pay $60 upfront, but also lay down hundreds of more dollars in microtransactions in order to get content that should've been part of the game in the first fucking place, etc.) that are more prevalent and far more threatening to the wellbeing of games that they dwarf whatever threat ingame comments would have.

To put this in perspective, if turning every game into a "spunkgargleweewee" (overly linear, greyish brown, and boring as hell) and charging ludicrous microtransactions are the video game industry equivalent to grand larceny, ingame comments sections barely rank above spray-painting graffiti on a bathroom wall.

Duffy13:

And finally the point behind the initial joke:

I consider it an insult that material created by trained people with experience and qualifications and talent is forced to share space on my computer screen with the musings of uninvolved people with no qualifications bar a keyboard and bottomless twattiness.

The rest of the article goes on about specific cases where commentary was useless or insulting with some light deconstruction towards the end of about who the comments are really for in a particularly weird case. If you took those statements away from the context of the opening joke I don't think that many people would be complain about the article.

So, how is any of that funny?

Jokes are supposed to be funny, and I don't see any punchline, or any humorous content in the article - it's all just unfunny whining. I mean, "comments suck" - wow, what an original and edgy position to take. Nobody has ever had that thought before.

It is all about moderation. If you have a clearly defined and enforced set of rules and guidelines to follow then it filters out a lot of the unwanted stuff. By the way, you can disable the Facebook comments in your Forum and Notification options of your profile just in case anyone wants to get rid of them.

IceForce:
Since this thread is now up to page 7, would now be a good time to point out that Yahtzee doesn't even read his own comments threads?

Yes although I would argue that this thread is for the viewers to discuss in rather than the content creator. You still have a point though and it is good of you to inform people who may not know that so we can avoid messages aimed directly at Yahtzee. The curious thing though is how does he know about the reactions to his videos and articles if he doesn't read the feedback? I would assume other people tell him or that he gets direct emails and letters.

Mad World:
You make some very valid points. Seeing as how this is not a non-profit website (I assume that you're correct in that), it doesn't seem right in having volunteer moderators.

I've always wondered how often moderators are paid. I used to frequent Bethesda's forums, and wondered if their mods were paid or not. And EA's forums (specifically, Battlefield's)... knowing EA, nope (found one example of a moderator on their Need For Speed forum, and they were not paid).

I was moderator at "mlparena" (My little pony collector's forum) for a while in 2009 and 2010, and they didn't pay back then. When they updated the site and got all pro they offered to pay, but I didn't live anywhere near their office. I forgot how much they payed though =S

Aardvaarkman:

EvilRoy:
They don't need to be careful of their words, they need to have a backlog against which we can qualify future opinions. They can be as biased or rude as they want, but having a face and a name guarantees that those things stay on the record rather than dying with each avatar and handle.

You're doing it wrong.

A person's writing should be judged on the content of that writing, not their track record or their status. You should judge things on their facts and merits, or in the case of opinion, how well thought-out and supported the opinion is, not who is comes from. It is entirely possible for person with status and a good track record to write something stupid and wrong, just as it is for someone antonymous to come out of nowhere and write something brilliant and true.

Got busy last week so I couldn't even log on until now. I wasn't going to respond since the conversation was left behind some time ago, but since the thread is apparently still alive I decided to go ahead anyway.

I think you're misunderstanding what I mean when I say "qualification". A better way for me to put it would be "the basis on which the work is judged." You've said that a work needs to be judged on its own merits rather than the character of the author - which is fine, and not necessarily contrary to my claims - but the question becomes, on what basis is that content judged?

So starting with your first example, we have a technical paper having been written on, say, the resulting impact loads from sudden column removal on standard connections. So lets assume that you don't know much about this topic, how are you able to determine if what is written in this paper falls under "stupid and wrong" or "brilliant and true?" As a person with no expert knowledge on the topic, you can't reasonably confirm the validity of the statements within. You might defer to the review board that OKed the paper for publishing, but how do you know those guys can be trusted?

Popping over to your second example, we have an opinion piece reviewing a very popular and much enjoyed game, Annoying Stick, on a technical and personal level. Assuming again that you have yet to play this game, how might you determine if the review is a good one? As a player of games you may be better suited to confirming the technical information conveyed in the review from an outside perspective, but how do you determine if the ultimate recommendation and authors praise of the game aligns with your personal taste? Can you, without having actually played the game, determine if the opinions are well thought out, or supported at all?

In both cases you can depend only on a knowledge of the writers and editors past work to determine if you would find the conclusions reached to be comparable to those you would reach yourself given the necessary background in each field.

In the case of the technical paper you are depending on both the author and the review board to have the necessary experience and good judgement to produce a valid final product. You essentially assume that, based on their current position in life, the review board is qualified through experience to judge the validity of the authors work, and both the author and review board are kept honest only by the threat to reputation that having a face and name provides. You can't be sued for drawing a bad conclusion in a technical paper, no matter how many people it ends up killing.

In the case of the game review, you can only base a decision on whether or not the authors recommendation applies to you on their track record of having preferences that do or do not align with your own. Bar playing the game there is no other way to determine whether the opinions presented in the work are in any way valid from your own perspective. You may be tempted to aggregate a consensus on the game by polling various works on the same topic, but in addition to not always being an option, this typically produces results that are only useful on a technical level as individual opinions are too varied to collect and categorize in such a manner.

If the author and editor/review board of each of those works was anonymous, there would be no way for you to reasonably determine their quality, bar performing the experiments or playing the game yourself. One might produce excellent arguments or well formed opinions, but if they are based on false axioms or backed by false evidence then they are still wrong. Without the threat to reputation in either case there isn't even a reason for the authors to ensure the quality of their work beyond "looking good" or "seeming about right."

EvilRoy:

If the author and editor/review board of each of those works was anonymous, there would be no way for you to reasonably determine their quality, bar performing the experiments or playing the game yourself. One might produce excellent arguments or well formed opinions, but if they are based on false axioms or backed by false evidence then they are still wrong. Without the threat to reputation in either case there isn't even a reason for the authors to ensure the quality of their work beyond "looking good" or "seeming about right."

Well, we had better delete every hobbyist and technical help board off the Internet immediately, because the majority of guides, technical manuals, and discussions are done so anonymously under screen names and therefore aren't held to any form of accountability (internal or otherwise) to ensure their accuracy and validity.

How could such information possibly help anyone? Especially in "the real world".

Lets start with GameFAQs and work our way up to, say, ArsTechnica then perhaps onward to the wikia series.

It's fascinating how everyone was a fan of Yahtzee's character-assassinations... until they're the character in question.

Atmos Duality:

EvilRoy:

If the author and editor/review board of each of those works was anonymous, there would be no way for you to reasonably determine their quality, bar performing the experiments or playing the game yourself. One might produce excellent arguments or well formed opinions, but if they are based on false axioms or backed by false evidence then they are still wrong. Without the threat to reputation in either case there isn't even a reason for the authors to ensure the quality of their work beyond "looking good" or "seeming about right."

Well, we had better delete every hobbyist and technical help board off the Internet immediately, because the majority of guides, technical manuals, and discussions are done so anonymously under screen names and therefore aren't held to any form of accountability (internal or otherwise) to ensure their accuracy and validity.

How could such information possibly help anyone? Especially in "the real world".

Lets start with GameFAQs and work our way up to, say, ArsTechnica then perhaps onward to the wikia series.

Most of those websites have posted disclaimers explaining how anything bad that happens as a result of following the hosted guides is not their fault as well. Not surprising considering the disturbingly high number of guides available that may result in damage to property or loss of life should there be an error in the execution or the guide itself.

Use at your own risk, no complaining if anything goes wrong. Another advantage to using resources that have faces and names attached. Which is what the conversation was about.

I'll admit it is hard to tell so many quotes later, but the discussion was originally with regards to why something produced by a person with a face and a name (thus long lasting accountability) inherently has more value/validity than something produced by an anonymous individual. Not, as I interpret your statement to mean, why nobody should ever listen to anonymous people. If you want to then go ahead, but as I mentioned above, no complaints if it doesn't work out.

I'm okay with comments, actually. I've seen plenty of videos where the comments correctly point out some glaring issue in the original video. Or call out the video maker for being a tosser when he genuinely is. I'll take the ability for that to happen even though it means a lot of bullshit comments will also be posted.

EvilRoy:

Most of those websites have posted disclaimers explaining how anything bad that happens as a result of following the hosted guides is not their fault as well. Not surprising considering the disturbingly high number of guides available that may result in damage to property or loss of life should there be an error in the execution or the guide itself.

...

Use at your own risk, no complaining if anything goes wrong. Another advantage to using resources that have faces and names attached. Which is what the conversation was about.

*chuckles*
Guess I'd best keep a close eye on my computer next time I use a guide from GameFAQs.

Of course, if we assume what you say is true, I don't know why they would even bother with a disclaimer since by your own assertion, an anonymous source cannot be held accountable for anything. But that's just nitpicking, I confess.

In the case of the technical paper you are depending on both the author and the review board to have the necessary experience and good judgement to produce a valid final product. You essentially assume that, based on their current position in life, the review board is qualified through experience to judge the validity of the authors work, and both the author and review board are kept honest only by the threat to reputation that having a face and name provides. You can't be sued for drawing a bad conclusion in a technical paper, no matter how many people it ends up killing.

Use at your own risk indeed.

I'll admit it is hard to tell so many quotes later, but the discussion was originally with regards to why something a person with a face and a name (thus long lasting accountability) inherently has more value/validity than something produced by an anonymous individual. Not, as I interpret your statement to mean, why nobody should ever listen to anonymous people. If you want to then go ahead, but as I mentioned above, no complaints if it doesn't work out.

That's fair enough. I agree that accountability provides the potential for additional validity.
It just doesn't ensure it. (which is why Appeal to Authority is a fallacy)

Experts are called experts presumably because they demonstrate provable understanding in finding and interpreting valid evidence. Not because they have some title from having spent X amount of time doing Y.

So towards that end, I will gladly take valid evidence over just someone's word any time; even that of an expert.
It's the standard my own work is held to scientifically (I am a meteorologist, if that matters) so it's the standard I have to accept both professionally and personally. Also, it's why I don't agree with Mr. Croshaw's little rant over anonymous comments either, as I have made very practical use of information provided anonymously (both for my own amusement and professionally).
I just need to exercise an extra bit of caution is all.

lacktheknack:
It's fascinating how everyone was a fan of Yahtzee's character-assassinations... until they're the character in question.

There's a difference between "comedy" and "contempt".

Metaphorically, it's the difference between how Blazing Saddles uses racism and how the Klan uses racism.

And nothing in the article suggests that Yahtzee is being ironic here.

This article reminds me of when Bob Dylan released the album 'self portrait' in the 1960s at the height of his fame attempting to make his own fans dislike him and his music and get them off his back by releasing something so bad. If that's your tactic for whatever reason Yahztee then its probably going to work on me as I really don't feel like giving you the time of day now after being called a twat for writing this right now, as if only being paid as a professional makes your opinion worthwhile and valid whilst all other commentators are just twats.

The fact that I can comment here defeat the purpose of your article Yahtzee. It would have been quite fun if you closed the possibility to comment on this. That I would like. I would imagine the build up of pressure from the readers who had so much to say about what they just read, but were unable to.

Would put a smile on my face.

Atmos Duality:

EvilRoy:

Most of those websites have posted disclaimers explaining how anything bad that happens as a result of following the hosted guides is not their fault as well. Not surprising considering the disturbingly high number of guides available that may result in damage to property or loss of life should there be an error in the execution or the guide itself.

...

Use at your own risk, no complaining if anything goes wrong. Another advantage to using resources that have faces and names attached. Which is what the conversation was about.

*chuckles*
Guess I'd best keep a close eye on my computer next time I use a guide from GameFAQs.

Of course, if we assume what you say is true, I don't know why they would even bother with a disclaimer since by your own assertion, an anonymous source cannot be held accountable for anything. But that's just nitpicking, I confess.

The disclaimer protects the host, not the author - although in the case of a named author the disclaimer may be extended to the author. I'm surprised you don't know this, it's pretty standard. If you check wikiHow they have a full section in their Terms of Use explaining in detail how users are not supposed to post things that could get someone killed, and how even if it does it isn't their fault. They also have a wikiHow on how to write a Terms of use section.

Game walkthoughs have and continue to contain exploits or directions to known glitches that could result in loss or corruption of data. It might not be as bad as your monitor falling over and smashing your fingers, but it is still your fault for trusting anonymous information.

In the case of the technical paper you are depending on both the author and the review board to have the necessary experience and good judgement to produce a valid final product. You essentially assume that, based on their current position in life, the review board is qualified through experience to judge the validity of the authors work, and both the author and review board are kept honest only by the threat to reputation that having a face and name provides. You can't be sued for drawing a bad conclusion in a technical paper, no matter how many people it ends up killing.

Use at your own risk indeed.

Yup. I mean, there may be an issue of conscience in there as well but people have slept off worse. In order to actually be held accountable for such a thing I believe they would need to prove intent, gross incompetence or gross negligence. If that's ever actually happened in my field then nobody talked about it.

I'll admit it is hard to tell so many quotes later, but the discussion was originally with regards to why something a person with a face and a name (thus long lasting accountability) inherently has more value/validity than something produced by an anonymous individual. Not, as I interpret your statement to mean, why nobody should ever listen to anonymous people. If you want to then go ahead, but as I mentioned above, no complaints if it doesn't work out.

Experts are called experts presumably because they demonstrate provable understanding in finding and interpreting valid evidence. Not because they have some title from having spent X amount of time doing Y.

Actually either of those two options are acceptable routes to becoming an expert. Being an expert requires either substantial skill or substantial knowledge. You can gain either of those things by doing X for Y, and there probably won't be a test at the end.

So towards that end, I will gladly take valid evidence over just someone's word any time; even that of an expert.
It's the standard my own work is held to scientifically (I am a meteorologist, if that matters) so it's the standard I have to accept both professionally and personally. Also, it's why I don't agree with Mr. Croshaw's little rant over anonymous comments either, as I have made very practical use of information provided anonymously (both for my own amusement and professionally).
I just need to exercise an extra bit of caution is all.

Right, but that falls into the problem of "are you qualified to decide what is valid" that I got into earlier. If you lack the expertise to determine if a work is correct, reasonable or accurate, on what basis are you accepting this evidence? Its great that you've found anonymous information that has helped you, I have as well, but I, and I assume you if you've used this information professionally, have fact checked the information as thoroughly as possible before using it. That is, I found someone with a face and a name that I trust a bit more to confirm the theory, or confirmed it independently myself.

The idea being, at one point or another you are going to have to take someones word for it, because there aren't enough hours in a lifetime for you to learn everything you need to know to do otherwise. And if you have to take a persons word for it, its a safer bet to take it from a guy with a face you can punch should the occasion demand it.

EvilRoy:

The disclaimer protects the host, not the author - although in the case of a named author the disclaimer may be extended to the author. I'm surprised you don't know this, it's pretty standard.

Fucking EVERYTHING has a disclaimer on it.
They are so overblown as to be completely meaningless.

Just yesterday, I read a tag on a blanket that had a list of disclaimers and warnings starting with the words "Do not wash with <x>" where <x> was every conceivable method of washing a cloth from cold scrubbing to washing machine to fucking DRY CLEANING.

And it's not because the material is impossible to wash, but because the manufacturer is terrified of being sued by someone who screwed up and injured themselves while washing it.

Game walkthoughs have and continue to contain exploits or directions to known glitches that could result in loss or corruption of data. It might not be as bad as your monitor falling over and smashing your fingers, but it is still your fault for trusting anonymous information.

That's not even remotely consistent enough to claim as normal.
As in, what you described applies to a tiny fraction of all guides posted there.

Yup. I mean, there may be an issue of conscience in there as well but people have slept off worse. In order to actually be held accountable for such a thing I believe they would need to prove intent, gross incompetence or gross negligence. If that's ever actually happened in my field then nobody talked about it.

Bankers and lawyers rule the world. They just allow us to live in it.

Actually either of those two options are acceptable routes to becoming an expert.
Being an expert requires either substantial skill or substantial knowledge. You can gain either of those things by doing X for Y, and there probably won't be a test at the end.

There's a world of difference between spending time within a subject and actually comprehending it to any useful degree.
An expert's value is directly related to their comprehension of relevant information.

Right, but that falls into the problem of "are you qualified to decide what is valid" that I got into earlier. If you lack the expertise to determine if a work is correct, reasonable or accurate, on what basis are you accepting this evidence?

If you lack the expertise, then you look for consistency and do a bit of research.
It obviously doesn't work for every problem, but it's stunning how many issues you can understand and solve just by learning the basics. Especially today with so much information readily available.

The idea being, at one point or another you are going to have to take someones word for it, because there aren't enough hours in a lifetime for you to learn everything you need to know to do otherwise. And if you have to take a persons word for it, its a safer bet to take it from a guy with a face you can punch should the occasion demand it.

Agreed. But that doesn't really justify Yahtzee's contempt for comments, which is kinda the issue people are taking with him here.
He thinks the world would be better if it were run only by qualified individuals and fuck everyone else.
I'll do him one better; I think the world would be better if it were run by COMPETENT individuals, not just those with the title of "expert" or self proclaimed "qualifications".

(I've met plenty of incompetent "experts" who were "qualified" in their field, especially in health care. So pardon me if I sound a tad jaded here.)

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