For the last week, I’ve been scouring YouTube for high-quality videos to add to our Socratica.com website. This will be a destination for people searching for high-quality, information-dense educational videos. It’s possible to search YouTube, of course, but you get a lot more misses than hits. I saw this a lot when I was teaching – my students would want a quick video about mitosis, or photosynthesis, or balancing chemical equations – and there are some good videos out there, but it’s hard to find them mixed in with the ones that are too long, full of mistakes, or just don’t have the information you need to actually learn the material. My students would get page after page of hits, and not have time to watch all of the results to find the little nuggets of information they were searching for.
It’s actually been getting a little worse – the more “edutainment” videos that are being made, the greater the need for some kind of rating of the videos. On our Socratica site, we’ll be able to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.
…And then there’s the other drawback of going to YouTube. The comments.
A fair number of the videos I’m adding to our database are made by female scientists – and almost to a one, the comments mention their appearance. Sometimes the commenters think they are being nice. “Wow, you’re so pretty.” “You’re smart AND hot.”
(I haven’t seen any comments about the male performers’ appearance yet.)
And then there are the really disturbing ones. On Open University’s Economics Lecture series, there is a bright female professor Mariana Mazzucato, giving a succinct lecture about the “Economics of Innovation.” She is clearly a very valuable source of information. There are 6 comments to this video, two of which should be flagged and removed. One says:
can someone tell me why all these female
professors on these OU vids are so damn sexy ?
yum yum yum !
i gotta get into education !
The other from a blatant misogynist says:
Someone should shove their d*** in her mouth to make her shut the f*** up.
(I have censored the latter most disturbing comment, but it’s pretty clear how he thinks.)
We at Socratica have taken steps to protect our actors and our viewers from this kind of senseless harassment. Every time we get a comment on a video, we review it. If it is sexist, racist, or just plain mean, we remove it and ban that user. We are reluctant to do away with comments altogether, because it is such a good way to connect with our users. Why doesn’t YouTube (Google) do something about this?
- Will a new comments policy help clean up YouTube? (The Christian Science Monitor)