18 June, 2009
The Ringtone Wars
First it was roflcopter. Then chain comments. Then just yelling meaninglessly. There is a new virus in YouTube comment boards: ringtone ads. Practically any music video you go to will have comments that are ads for a ringtone site. These comments are all posted by the same sets of users (usually with standard given names in all caps then a long string of numbers), all come from the same list of standard comments (though it appears to be different every time, this is not the case, and they all refer to "this song"), and all refer to a website that appears to me to be some subsidiary of ringtones.com. This appears to be the new wave in annoying, useless, invasive ads, along the line of spam-mail and popups. Unfortunately for the companies, unless they have found a way to write a program to bypass captchas, this is probably not cost-effective, because, though YouTube accounts are free, the majority of these comments get marked as spam (image), and they still need to pay people to make these comments. Unfortunately for us YouTubers, if the companies have made a technological breakthrough that was just around the corner anyway, then this probably is cost-effective (their expenses would be practically zero), and will also probably continue to clog the comment fields unless Google can find a way to bypass it.
My suggestion to Google: apply Gmail's amazing spam-filter to comments on YouTube. This should fairly effectively make these spam-comments impossible. Unfortunately, this will probably also filter out some perfectly legitimate comments, but you know what they say about desperate times...