If you’ve ever clicked on a “related video” link or been frustrated by your YouTube search results, chances are you’ve seen or heard of the now infamous Reply Girls on YouTube.
For those of you who haven’t: YouTube Reply Girls post video responses to popular (and often viral) videos and use the same search tags as the original clips. As a result, they show up in the “related videos” or “recommended videos” sections at the end of the video, in the same search results, and on the side bar of whichever video you’re likely actually trying to watch.
A lot of YouTube users, as well as administrators, aren’t happy with these videos because they’re taking away hits that actual related videos may get. For example, if you want to watch a video of, say, dogs on swings (or our own adorbs Lena Chen’s advice), and you realize how awesome it is and want to see more clips like it, the first place you’re likely to look is the “related videos” section. But because of Reply Girls and the amount of hits that they get, you’re less likely to find a corgi playing in the park and more likely to find a brunette with a low-cut top talking about dogs on swings. And that’s kinda pointless, isn’t it?
YouTube’s algorithms–the system they use to determine which videos show up in the “related videos” section–go by the number of views the videos get. The videos with the most hits show up at the top, which pushes some clips that may be more relevant further down the list, decreasing their amount of views. It’s sort of a vicious video cycle, and YouTube is trying to stop it.
YouTube’s admins recently posted an announcement that they’re using a new algorithm to determine what videos are related or recommended, and this will likely be detrimental to the traffic for YouTube Reply Girls. They’re going to start factoring in the time spent watching particular videos–that way if you click on a Reply Girl video by accident and close it out quickly, it won’t bump them up to the top of the recommended and related videos section. Fair enough, right?
That depends on how you look at it. This is making the YouTube Reply Girls upset, because a lot of them make money off of their videos: they have so many views that advertisers pay for space on their pages and to precede their clips. They’re saying it’s unfair for them to lose their profits, while other YouTube users think it’s unfair for the Reply Girls to make them lose their own profits by bumping other videos down.
While we agree that it’s frustrating to have YouTube essentially spammed by Reply Girl videos, we also think there’s an element of sexism at play that’s making these girls villains when they’re not the only guilty parties here. The amount of hate and flaming these girls have acquired is little short of astonishing, and the hatred people spew at them is pretty horrific to read: the original Reply Girl (her account is actually called TheReplyGirl), Alejandra Gaitan, is often called stupid and told to learn English (uh, she sounds okay to us–and how dumb can she be if she’s bilingual and making money off of YouTube haters?). She also gets told to commit suicide pretty often, and that’s not cool. You can learn more about her in this interview:
Part of why Reply Girls on YouTube garner so much hate is because they often show cleavage–especially in their thumbnails–and that drives a lot of traffic to their often irrelevant and pointless videos. While no one is forcing them to cut off their foreheads in order to better showcase their chests, no one is forcing pervs to click on their videos, either. A lot of guys make reply videos too, but they have fewer incentives for the typically straight male Internet trolls and mouthbreathers to click on their links. These women are sharp enough to exploit the very people who claim to detest them.
Do we think Reply Girls on YouTube are a little annoying when we’re searching for puppies or giggling babies or how to make our own bath salts? Of course. But do they deserve to be flamed as much as they are? We think not. While we wish they’d garner attention for making more substantial videos that place more value on their brains than on their breasts, at the same time, they’re profiting off of people who are too dumb to realize that there are plenty of other places on the Internet to stare at boobs. That said, the new YouTube playing field is still pretty fair, because now if you hate a video and stop watching it right away, you won’t be as likely to stumble upon it again.
What do you think of the Reply Girls on YouTube? Have you ever posted a YouTube reply video? Do you think the new rules are fair or unfair to YouTube users and to the YouTube Reply Girls? Sound off in the comments!