YouTube adds “Read Comment Aloud” feature from xkcd

A couple weeks ago, xkcd ran this funny comic:

Read comments aloud on YouTube

Randall Monroe, the creator of xkcd, suggested that if YouTube commenters had to listen to their comments read back to them aloud, it might lead to better discussion on YouTube. Some Googlers thought that was a pretty fun suggestion, so they did it. YouTube now has an audio preview so you can listen to your comment before you post it. I love that Google had the sense of humor to add this feature. :)

Hat-tip to Fitz for pointing this out.

Completely unrelated other than it’s a cool piece of software on the web: Yahoo is revamping their web calendar software. It’s based on the Zimbra technology that Yahoo acquired last year. It looks like it can do several fun things (e.g. handling invites and to-do lists), but mostly I like it because it sounds like the new version supports open standards and can interoperate with other popular services like Google and Apple. Go Yahoo!

33 Responses to YouTube adds “Read Comment Aloud” feature from xkcd (Leave a comment)

  1. By the way, if you do an audio preview of “What are you doing, Dave?” it sounds pretty good. :)

  2. That’s really a very nice feature…. Also the comic is a good one

  3. Martin

    Again, we see this huge company called Google, listening to regular people requests and making them real.
    It can only teach us one thing, listening to your costumers is the key to success.
    IMO, the guys that created/implemented this feature on YouTube were not only thinking about “sense of humor” but they may have also realized that with better discussions videos would attract not only one time viewers but smarter people to comment on them generating more content translating into more ad revenue. Does it make sense?

  4. Martin, I think that makes perfect sense. It makes me more likely to participate in YouTube discussions in the future..

  5. Martin

    My point exactly, take a look at this promoted video (just an example): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1DBuFgt_Ug
    About monkeys waiting table, on the first page I could only find one comment that was “interesting”: “Thats amazing. Wish I could travel to Japan to witness it.” so travelling to Japan could be the subject of the discussion… All other posts have so many acronyms and f’s that it’s not even worth checking the second page of comments.
    Anyways, great post Matt and thumbs up for the youtube staff that created the feature.

  6. Great cartoon. I just noticed the audio readback feature on Youtube this evening. My comments sound much more stupid now thanks to this new gizmo. Matt, can you add one to your blog as well?

  7. If I was Mr Monroe, I’d be insanely pleased.

    What’s next? A pringles cantenna for 3rd world wireless access? Ahhh, xkcd, I love you!

  8. Please tell me it forces the commenter to listen to a 30 second laugh-track if they type “lol” in the comments box.

  9. Wow, what a great feature. It reads back to me what I typed. That’s great because I never type what I mean. When I type “Elephant” I always wish I’d typed “Muxterhubble”, and this great feature will let me hear my error! Oh wow!

    Is it April 1st yet?

  10. Dave (original)

    Matt, how about a spam clean-up on Google Groups? Search is often dominated with spammy Custom Groups with nonsencial scraped content from other sites.

    Googler Groups (up until 1 Year ago) was great for searching for code and Application answers, now-a-days it’s not worth the time.

  11. I so agree with you, Matt. I have never felt the need to comment on YouTube; most of the users *are* morons, or do just not care to write a decent comment.

    But this might change my mind. Now, let’s just hope I *will* have something important to contribute. ;)

  12. Przemek

    I actually I’m most likely to believe that there is no coincidence or spontanic move with the new feature and xkcd comic. It looks like starting from Chrome launch, Google will notify us about its new plans by comic stories. Leave it aside, I’d like to ask one important thing. Why not Gmail? Is it because of long text your machines would have to translate to audio streams comparing to short – even stupid YT comments? I think it would be much more useful and accessible feature in Gmail. If not whole email text, why not allowing people to select part of text and add click “read it” in context menu, or. That would be huge.

  13. Przemek

    lol, spontaneous. I wish you could enable this feature for your blog comments as well.

  14. It would be really funny if an user is using a public computer .:)

  15. This should be a universal policy across the Internet. Beautiful!

  16. Hilarious… and awesome… yet subtle in it’s own way…. How does it know?
    Ha-ha. honestly, that’s great way to listen to someone’s take on something, and keeping a great sense of humor at the same time!

  17. WOW, I can’t believe YouTube aka. Google did this.

    I had a blast just previewing funny remarks and showing friends. {Forget spelling}

    I think youtube’s traffic will increase just because people want to hear funny stuff.

    NOTE: the 30 seconds of laughter for an “lol” preview would be very comical.

  18. dr

    Hear, hear! I second adding this feature to Gmail as well. Who knows, if text-to-speech improves enough, I might never have to read my email again. I could start listening to webpages, too! Google might make some progress cranking hordes of text through some sort of machine learning text-to-speech analyzer… heck, it might even add a quick way for listeners to click a word to give feedback on a wrong pronunciation…

    Another peripheral benefit that might arise from this is people trying to use it to study foreign languages. I imagine there are many out there who would appreciate access to a quick “English voice” to pronounce something…

  19. Reason 546 to love the big G! =)

  20. Omar Khan

    Matt,

    Where does one bring up what seem to be mis-alignments in Google’s algorithm, places where things seem a bit out of whack? I have noticed some issues around an old site I have had up for a long time and though I know you are not into dealing with specific site issues, is there somewhere else to point something out? Thanks.

  21. This should be mandatory on all blog comments – would wear out the “nice post” recording!

  22. That comic is brilliant.

    I am not sure I would want text read to me personally, but for those who have disabilities it would certainly help.

  23. It is cool that Google would do this.

  24. wow that’s amazing.

  25. Roger Sikes

    I saw this in the comments of one of the featured videos on Youtube:

    “@Andrew

    Regarding the refusal of users to listen to their own comments…perhaps they can lookup how many comments a user has made that has been given a negative rating. A user with an average rating of -5 (or whatever) will initiate the playback of their comments automatically before it is posted.

    Once a user reaches another milestone of -10, a simple message indicating the user is a douchebag could be displayed so that they are self aware.”

    This is definitely a feature that should be implemented. :D

  26. Love automated robotic voice really brings things to life…. In the slang, other terminology of the hip subcultures and music sections of youtube.. Where some comments where hard enough to decipher in text terms.

  27. Can I use the comic on my own blog? It has a wonderful message sent across in a most effective way.

  28. Glad I came across your blog – it’s really informative and makes for very entertaining reading!

    This may sound harsh, especially for non-native speakers of English, but wouldn’t it be great if YouTube also included an obligatory spell-check on comments? No need for examples i’m sure but anyway: “hehe im the first hwo viwed this video but the panas are cute”. The video was about pandas in case you hadn’t guessed!

  29. Douglas Jardine

    Some would argue that had Monroe patented the idea instead of publishing it, we would all be better off. They’d be mistaken; this is a great example of an innovation that produces not only public value, but money as well. However, it would never see the light of day, or would only feed pointless lawsuits. It’s simply too good for people to leave it alone.

  30. Mike M

    I’d like it if have stupid internet comments had a playback feature in the soothing voice of Morgan Freeman. Maybe we could get Patrick Stewart or James Earl Jones?

    This would seriously help with incidents of “Internet rage” caused by reading idiotic comments.

  31. anonymous

    Could YouTube add a feature like on Twitter Search to refresh the comments without refreshing the page.

    Also do the “x more results since you started searching. Refresh to see them.” note if new comments are posted while watching the video…

    PS. Why is Google so inaccessable? I had to search all of YouTube and their blog and there is no way to comment anonymously…

  32. I thought that was great, plus the comic itself was hilarious. Great Job!

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