User-generated bias: Why Jessica Simpson’s dog gets 5 stars on YouTube

Ever watched a lame video on YouTube? Odds are you didn’t rate it. Today, the Google-owned video sharing website released the following graph on its blog that supports this quite convincingly:


As you can see, any video with less than a score of awesome (5 stars) garners almost no rating action at all. Are YouTubers that nice?

Personally, I’d argue they are lazy. Why spend the time to express an opinion about something that does not make a strong impression?

Using this thesis, it should follow that almost every oft-rated video on YouTube is totally awesome. But if you spend a little time browsing their popular categories, you’ll soon discover this is not the case.

There are lots of what I’d deem lame videos on YouTube’s most popular pages. Here are I found this evening:




What do you notice about these lame videos? Yes, they all get nearly a perfect 5-star rating!


I think the answer is simple: people have different tastes. And therein lays the problem. If only 5% of the population thinks 10-year-old Suzie’s sleeping goldfish is cute, it will still get 5 stars because the others will not rate it.

As a result of this, a lot of YouTube video ratings are misleading because they capture only the positive sentiment of very niche audiences. If you think about it, almost any user generated review could result in this kind of bias.

Maybe Roger Ebert will still be relevant after his newspaper goes bankrupt?

2 thoughts on “User-generated bias: Why Jessica Simpson’s dog gets 5 stars on YouTube

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