Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Yogscast vs The Reply Girls

I think these little internet micro-events are important to capture, because unless you write, vlog or talk about them, they will quickly get forgotten in the ever growing and changing digital landscape. The Reply Girls incident, is akin to Alki David’s ill-judged Suicide Event which I blogged about some time last year: a little microcosm of the trials and tribulations of getting on in a cyber world.

One of the side effects of the press-beta for Guild Wars 2 was that a number of gaming press YouTubers grabbed a LOT of views over a very short space of time. When you think that 1000000 people signed up to the Guild Wars 2 beta in just over 48 hours – you can just imagine how many people were watching these Guild Wars 2 beta videos from Yogscast and TotalBiscuit between the time the non-disclosure curtain was dropped at the start of last week and the opening of the beta signup shortly after.

Yogscast particularly seemed to drive up their viewings. I was already a subscriber (but, admittedly, was only introduced to them when Tasha announced out that she was squeeing in delight because she had the chance to harass them on the flight back from Gamescon last year). This parade of new viewers is extremely well deserved. Yogscast combine real light-hearted, almost Laurel and Hardy-esque, banter with proper gameplay analysis – a winning combination in my opinion. They seem to know their audience and have made a real effort to cover all aspects of the game which they could capture. Their tidal wave of new views has come at a cost, however: the Reply Girls have found them.

Firstly, “Reply girls” is a little misleading; they weren’t just busty Eastern-European ladies, I saw a couple of guys spattered here and there. But for the most part it was the females which dominated the reply stream; they drew your eye with low-cut tops, click-hither eyes and long dark hair. Working through a number of different accounts, armies of almost identical videos were posted as “Replies” to the video in question (usually a gameplay vid with very high views), with content exceedingly loosely related to the video (such that you got the impression that what they were saying was only really based on having read the video title) and the exact same “tags”. Similar videos were posted numerous times, such that they began to completely fill the reply feed. Some of these reply girls have also somehow managed to get YouTube partnership – so with every view their videos got, they received money.
Logically, swathes of angry YouTube viewers religiously “down-voted” these videos in order to push them off the main page. Unfortunately, the like/dislike buttons on YouTube don’t work like that: the like button will make the video pop up in your news feed as a video you’ve thumbed up, but the dislike button pretty much does nothing, so all the viewer had done by visiting the video was to add another point to the ReplyGirl’s view-count.

The guys at Yogscast, alongside a number of disgruntled YouTubers, took it upon themselves to advertise this problem (not that it needed much advertisement) imploring viewers to contact YouTube's owners through twitter and to mark each ReplyGirl video as spam using the in-service reporting system. As noted by TheWillofDC sometimes YouTube can move at glacial pace when getting coming up with a solution for a problem like this and as of yet (as far as I'm aware) they haven't acted in any substantial manner - certainly, if you go on a few of the higher-viewed Yogscast vids the sidebar is full of busty ladies talking crap.

1 comment:

  1. The Reply Girl phenomenon is one of the most bizarre things I've experienced in this brave new world wide web... and I've been doing this since Usenet. I mean, what is this I don't even.

    (see? I'm so baffled I can only respond in memes!)



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