Revisiting The Verge PC Guide Fiasco w/Stefan Etienne

Linus Tech Tips had a surprising episode with special guest Stefan Etienne this week. If he looks familiar, Stefan hosted the infamous The Verge PC build guide video two years ago. Linus gave him the opportunity to tell his side of the story while fixing the mistakes he made in that video. I’m going to recap the PC guide fiasco, the copyright strikes that followed, and the new info from Stefan.

The Verge PC Guide Video

In September 2018, The Verge came out with a $2,000 USD gaming PC build. The build guide is a standard content piece for the tech community. Most people don’t think twice about build guides unless it’s totally screwed up. The video posted by The Verge had so many errors and misinformation that it became a meme.

The YouTube tech community dogpiled on The Verge with reaction and parody videos. The Verge turned off the comments and the likes on the video. Never a good sign when a video is under fire. After Stefan received a ton of racial abuse, The Verge took down the video. The written and corrected article is still up on The Verge.

The controversy was long forgotten by the tech community until five months later.

Copyright Strikes

In February 2019, The Verge copyright strike two popular reaction videos without warning. YouTube removed the videos by Bitwit and ReviewTechUSA. Both channels lost their ability to livestream. After a public outcry, YouTube reinstated both videos.

Kyle at Bitwit got singled out for his portrayal of his alter-ego, Lyle, as being racist. Kyle is half-Chinese. He can portray a Chinese cousin who knows everything and nothing about building PCs.

Richard at ReviewTechUSA speculated that the copyright strikes were trial balloons. If The Verge could take down the two reaction videos, they could go after all the other reaction videos. Only attorneys would think this was a great way to clean up a self-inflicted PR mess.

Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief at The Verge, double down in a statement on the controversy. That content creators should have asked permission to make reaction videos. That’s not how fair use works under the copyright law. Stefan got let go from The Verge several months later.

New Info

What new info did we learn from Stefan while he built a PC with Linus?

  • The build guide was Stefan’s fourth PC build but his first PC build on camera.
  • He had only an hour to record video because everyone wanted to go home early on a Friday afternoon.
  • There were no quality control checks before the video went live.

As Linus pointed out, building a PC always take longer to on camera. For his video with Stefan, he scheduled 3.5 hours to record video. If an inexperience person was building a PC, he would have an experienced person to supervise. Which was what he did while Stefan built the PC. Never mind that his PC building experience didn’t prevent him from dropping the CPU to the floor.

Nothing can change the fact that The Verge PC build guide was a poorly executed content piece that the editors totally screwed up.

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