The wonderful world of Youtube comments

I recently discovered this particular learning resource, which I haven’t specifically heard mentioned before by anyone else, but which has a few interesting aspects to it. Watching yt videos is a no brainer mainstay activity for many learners, but I haven’t seen a mention of the comments section as a full-fledged resource yet.

Maybe this is obvious and there are people purposefully going through the comments anyway, but slow me, I only got this idea recently. And I’m having so much fun with it, that I wanted to share the idea.

There are normal, nice videos, and controversial, explosive videos. Depending on the kind, I found the following benefits of lingqing comments.

Firstly, the vocabulary of the video’s subject matter, or even specific phrases, are often going to be repeated in the comments. I often found lingqing the comment section to clear up hazy parts of the video, when I watch it again afterwards.

Secondly, the youtube comment section is notorious as the insane abyss of human psychosis, a lair of hate-filled trolls and other twisted-minded unknown creatures and a hotbed of uncensored, brutal battles of differing extremists.

And as Nate says here: What’s better than raw, unfiltered negativity? ;PP

You will get:

  1. Dialogue discussions that are arguably even realer than any proper podcast or dialogue, where prepared topics and guidelines prevail. And being close to real, natural, unscripted content I see as a plus.

  2. Very recent and uncensored slang and all sorts of interesting, rude and intense vocabulary and expressions. Can’t think of a place where this is more densely and conveniently lingqable.

  3. A sense of eavesdropping on at least certain expressive elements of ground level public opinion on the subject at hand

  4. As stated, vocabulary of the video’s subject matter will show up in the comments, reinforcing each other for more exposure

If you find any of this troubling or offensive though, then this is obviously not your thing. I guess you can choose controversies that you have some distance to. I’m actually someone who is fundamentally positive and mindful about not exposing my brain to much negative, cortisol raising, shocking, traumatizing content. The hater/troll type comments are still the lesser part though and I found them to be so silly and ridiculous mostly, as to provide good comedy rather than serious despair about humanity. And for every, let’s say, racist you have ten people coming back at them, telling them off. It’s all jolly good fun.

Well-mannered ladies and gentlemen that we are around here, we will hardly get around to actively using the ‘intense vocabulary’, but we are all about understanding, and I at least about understanding basically everything. So I personally find comprehending this type of language interesting as well.

There are typos, wrong grammar and lots of junk, but there’s even more fun stuff in between. Overall I’m finding it very comfortable lingqing through a litany of comment battles.

Probably this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, or others are already lingqing this. I just wanted to bring up this maybe overlooked, source of real colloquial dialogue and handy reinforcement of the vocabulary in the video.

I’m really enjoying it.

Couple of things that may be tricky when importing a comment section. In most cases it seems to work better to import it, since the chrome extension doesn’t work at all for some languages. (fingers crossed for lingq 4.0)

To get everything that’s there you’d have to scroll down through the section clicking on all the “X responses” headers to unfold them, otherwise they’re not copied. Also the “show more” button at the bottom, obviously.

On the other hand you don’t have to unfold the “show more” of long comments. That’s just visually hidden but still get’s copied.

Then it’s just mark all, copy and paste into the import page. Some stuff that’s on the youtube page but is not comments gets also copied as blocks of text before and after the main text body of comments. That’s just two quick swipes of highlighting and deleting.

So this takes a minute especially with massive battlefields of comments, but since this is a brainless task, I just put on something to listen to, while I import a dozen comment sections.


It’s my favourite thing to do, I sometimes reply to the nicer comments in the target language but I don’t get many conversations going… I think my Spanish is probably incomprehensible still lol. The best part is, you can find videos about your favourite subjects easily and then read the opinions of like-minded people. It’s the ultimate resource for those seeking material of interest. Plus it’s fun to lingq the slang. :slight_smile:

“Secondly, the youtube comment section is notorious as the insane abyss of human psychosis, a lair of hate-filled trolls and other twisted-minded unknown creatures and a hotbed of uncensored, brutal battles of differing extremists.”

Wow dude, that’s some deep dark stuff right there haha.

1 Like

Wonderful piece of advice! This is an example of a more general phenomenon: content that you would hate in a known language, becomes precious when learning a new one.

I’m doing Chinese right now.

First got the idea at the unexpected appearance of a Japanese guest on a show I’m watching. Before that the only foreign guests on Chinese shows were Westerners and a preponderance of Koreans, with a conspicuous absence of any Japanese.

Some background here for those whose history class was as eurocentric as mine:

The appearance of the Japanese guest had a noticeable taste of the TV channels stage direction somewhat awkwardly trying to make the best of a bad job, with their laudable attempt at advancing Chinese consciousness in accepting Japanese people.

So I got the idea of going through the complete comments to get a sense of what the Chinese kidz are saying about this. How much open-minded, pleasantly surprised comments vs. Jap-dog-devil go home comments. Basically how much the younger ones are still brainwashed on this one.

Then I got the idea of looking at all the comments of that foreigner-summit show 世界青年说 to get a sense of what the kidz are gossiping about western foreigners, as well as all the foreign contestants on the dating game show 非诚勿扰.

Among these comments there is a constant minority of comments:

  1. Lamenting that Chinese women do 崇洋媚外 (worship everything foreign, pander to foreign powers and swoon over foreigners)

  2. Claiming foreigners can’t tell which Chinese women are attractive and which not, and mostly choose the ugly ones.

  3. Lamenting that ‘every’ foreign guy is called handsome and gets good reactions from everyone and many of the girls.

  4. Claiming the foreigners appearing are not really handsome and are average or ugly for western standards (even when the guy in question actually is handsome by any measure).

  5. Lamenting that Chinese people have an inferiority complex, and just worship the white god.

  6. Bashing any foreigner who lives in Asia as a weird ‘yellow fever’ guy

  7. The odd ‘we must stand together and keep the race pure’

THEN all of this reminded me, that somewhere else I remembered they mentioned reports of one or two western pick-up artists sweeping through Asia, doing a lot of “damage”

I found the videos of a guy snatching away girls from the local dudes they were with (as sensationalized by the local media), and bathing in attention and admiration.

So this again obviously triggered a lot of the same comments and the whole “they’re stealing our women” stuff from the insecure little guys.

Lots of very very colorful cursing, insults, graphic vocabulary, but also many well-spoken people using lots of chengyus.

It’s not as prevalent as it may sound here though. For every one of those there are ten people coming back at them saying: you’re an idiot, you have issues, etc.

Overall a nice way to get a sense of some small parts of the public opinion/psyche.

And lots of fun comedy.

When I’m through I’ll think of the next controversial topics:)

:slight_smile: I do a lot in languages I’m learning, that I wouldn’t really do in German or English. Like watching chick-flicks and all sorts of women’s shows, because there is more talking :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Yeah i do this too. I tried to find decent forums for reading/writing in French but the comments section of YT is just easier.

I also use Twitter for this purpose - Twitter i find is great for getting quick, written dialogues going with natives.