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"Haters gonna hate": characterizing hater comments on YouTube thanks to impoliteness theories


Previous studies have shown that comments on YouTube tend to show a “low degree of neutral stance” (Sindoni, 2014: 203). Comments are often either strongly positive or negative. Negative comments themselves commonly display all forms of aggressive and impolite behaviour (sarcasm, name-calling, hostility, ad personam attacks and a whole variety of other deliberate face-threatening acts). The epitome of this behaviour is the so-called “hater”, a commenter that deliberately posts abusive comments (“you suck”, “”Miranda sings is shit”, “fuck you Miranda sings”), generally unconnected to the content of the video and/or not constructive (see definitions in Lange: 2007). Even though their exact proportion, as is the case with other negative figures of the Internet such as trolls and flamers, is still debated, haters are a commonplace of YouTube culture and a common figure on the website. This study intends to try and locate hater comments within the framework of impoliteness theories to better understand what hating means, what haters do, and how they do it. What faces do haters attack? How do their messages fall into the classification of impoliteness strategies devised for face to face interaction by Culpeper (1996, 2005) and Bousfield (2008)? Those are the questions this talk will try to investigate through a quantitative and qualitative study of hater comments in the comment section of a popular video, “Miranda Sings goes to the park” (posted on 14 December 2015, more than 4 million views as of May 2017), from the famous channel Miranda Sings (7.6 million subscribers as of May 2017). This video combines different characteristics which are needed for the study to be relevant and yield significant results: it has a lot of comments (7760 comments at the moment when the sample was constituted). There seem to be few censored comments (not many comments which reply to erased posts), there is interaction between users, and the video is rather neutral in terms of content (no controversy, no shocking images or language) and not addressed to a specialized or restricted audience.The study will use a discursive approach to hating and mainly rely on Derek Bousfield and Jonathan Culpeper’s theoretical descriptions (and typologies) of impoliteness (Bousfield: 2008, Culpeper: 1996 and Culpeper: 2011). It will also be placed within the scope of an ongoing series of studies on impoliteness and the new media.
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hal-01567569 , version 1 (24-07-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01567569 , version 1


Célia Schneebeli. "Haters gonna hate": characterizing hater comments on YouTube thanks to impoliteness theories. 15th International Pragmatics Conference, "The new normal: (im)politeness, conflict and identity in digital communication)" panel, Ipra (panel organizers: Kristy Beers Fägersten & Sage Lambert Graham), Jul 2017, Belfast, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-01567569⟩


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