Can You Re-train You Tube’s Suggestions to Help Improve You?

In programming there is an expression, Garbage in, Garbage out (or GIGO for short). What it means, if you haven’t already guessed is that if you give bad input (bad data for an analysis, or bad code algorithms in your code) then you will get bad software.

Its simple, but rarely do we think about that in terms of our lives. Our time, and how we choose to spend it are our inputs. And some (but admittedly not all*) of the outputs are based on that.

Photo by ThisIsEngineering on

In the spirit of controlling what we can control, lets begin with the smallest of changes to our leisure time. Yes, we should probably be watching less and doing more things with our free time, but all good changes come in small steps.

So today, I’m wondering if we can use You Tube to our advantage? Truth is, most people watch what the algorithm shows them. They don’t go deep searching. So we can modify our inputs by adjusting what is suggests.

My feed is a mixed bag, as you can see. Some of it is better content, but a lot is juts random whatever they think I will click on. Before we can modify what the system shows us, we have acknowledge some of the things that the system uses as its inputs:

  • What we already watch
  • How much we watch it
  • How often we watch it
  • What we choose to tell it we want to see more of
  • What people who watch this channel also watch
  • What content people are watching the most overall

Well, we can control 2/3rds of those. So that means we have a few things we can do.

  1. Activity seek out the content that we want (use searches and look for content creators who have better quality
  2. Subscribe and turn on notifications for good content
  3. Do not open/view (and never let run) the junk content.
  4. Choose ‘Don’t show this again’ when you get bad recommendations

That’s all basic. But you’re going to have to be persistent. Your early rounds of revisions will be bad, but you will have to keep at it if you want a chance.

Not Better At All

At least I hope so. I’ll update when I have more news, but hopefully once all of the frustration and redundancy is done, there is some good to be had. If there isn’t then sadly, I may have to do something about reducing my consumption sooner than I anticipated.

*Consider this requite notice that yes I am aware racism, sexism, classism and a myriad of other general structural inequalities mean that most of us are not on a level playing field. We should all be working to address these, and create a fairer society, but that is a long term project and I am addressing but a small part of the individual level in this post. This isn’t some Lean In bullshit.

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