How To Mess Up a YouTube Tech Rankings Video

Jack Herrington
6 min readMay 29, 2024


Recently I released a video ranking seventeen different React component libraries. Four hours later I pulled the video, dropped all postings about it, and Tweeted a heartfelt apology.

Let me give you a little backstory and tell you where I went wrong. But before that; there is no conspiracy here. There was no “big component lib” consortium breathing down my neck. I got some legitimate reasonable feedback that I agreed with, had a good think about it, and pulled the video. Simple as that.

Thumbnail from a video that clearly wasn’t my finest hour

If you don’t know me, my YouTube channel is about fullstack development. I started the channel with the intention on teaching folks the joy of coding. I’m not sure I’ve been successful at that, but regardless, I always try to create positive content. I’m not here to make anyone feel bad. And for the most part I’ve been successful with that, even though there is always a temptation because it’s pretty clear that negative content does better on YouTube (and any social media in general).

Back to the video at hand; this was a pretty easy video to make because in the course of researching good NextJS App Router compatible component libraries for my upcoming course I had a ton of data on what worked and what didn’t.

Now, for context, I don’t have a content team. It’s just me. Researching, writing, production, editing, it’s all just me. So I grab for easy valuable content when I can. And this was a slam dunk. Potentially engaging content, check. Most of the work already done? Check. Promote the course? Check. Winning!

One critical decision in a making a video is how to present it. And YouTube is entertainment, so I’m always looking to try new formats for YouTube videos to try and juice them up a little. Good data is fine, but good data presented in a fun and compelling way is potentially viral awesomeness.

In this case I decided to go with the A-F ranking thing I’d seen so many creators use. I don’t recall using it myself, so I figured what the heck. But I thought I’d put a different spin on it by giving my objective criteria for each rank before I talked about the libraries. Anything that didn’t work with the App Router or SSR applications was getting an F, and anything that worked perfectly was going to get an A. Simple enough!

Where It All Went Wrong

In hindsight it was precisely that objectivity that was my downfall. Rankings are easy to justify when they are just subjective opinion. If it’s just my opinion that X is better than Y, then who cares. You may agree with me or not, but we’re all entitled to our opinions.

What I did was subtly, but fundamentally, different. I stated very clearly that these libraries worked, and these libraries didn’t, period. As a statement of fact. When in reality. It was at best a statement of very recent experience that was colored by my own skill as an engineer. If I didn’t get something to work as intended, it was more likely an error on my part than on the library.

And that was the feedback I got; you stated X as fact, and you are wrong. Which is not just fair, but also logical and totally reasonable. If I’d stated as opinion that I liked X over Y then some person, even one connected to the library, telling me that I was wrong, wouldn’t be as big of a deal. But I was stating as fact that their library didn’t work as intended, when I was on shakey ground at best on that assessment.

At the end of the day, when presenting finding as facts, especially in the negative, you have to be really sure you know what you are saying is verifiably true.

Which Way You Are Wrong Matters

Hypothetically, if I only talked about libraries that worked with the App Router, would it be ok if I was wrong in my findings? In my opinion, that would be fine. Worst case scenario I’m giving a project credit where none is deserved.

The opposite is not true. If I say something can’t do something, when it’s advertised that it can. Then I better have my facts on that triple straight because it could cause a lot of issues for folks. They’d have to spend time dispelling my mistake. And I really don’t want folks to have to do that. I’m very conscious of wasting peoples time. It’s a thing with me.

That’s why I pulled the video. I can’t guarantee that the hour or so that I spent with any particular library, where I didn’t get it to work, it wasn’t just me not following the instructions right, or making some other dumb mistake.

What You Can Take Away From This

Besides the inherent difference between subjective and objective reviews, I think before you publish negative content you should run an empathy check; what would it be like to be on the other end of this?

If I’d done that I never would have made this mistake in the first place.

Please Don’t Take Sides On This

I just made a mistake in judgement here. Plain and simple. Let’s not make it out to be something more than it was.

To the folks that think I’m bowing to pressure, or that opinions aren’t ok online anymore. I’m not bowing to pressure, and opinions are fine. But I wasn’t offering opinions. I was offering facts, and I got called out on it, realized I couldn’t stand behind a negative finding of fact, and I pulled the video. It was as simple as that. Nothing to see here beyond me getting caught out. Seriously.

And to the folks that think my apology is great and all. Thanks for that. But what would have been better is not making the wrong decision in the first place. (I will give myself some credit for the apology because it was a 100% full credit taking apology, not some “if you were offended” nonsense.)

For anyone who watched the video. As with all the information you get from the series of tubes we call the Internet; check for yourself. Particularly on the libraries where I said they weren’t compatible with the App Router. I could have been wrong, and probably was in some cases.

What I’m Doing From Now On

Will I publish objective content in the future? Of course. Because I think it’s critical and I feel a lot more comfortable publishing that anyway. If I can show my work, that’s a good day. But what I’m going to do is error on the sticking with the side of stuff that works. So I’d rather mess up and say that something works when it doesn’t, because in the worst case I’m giving someone undeserved credit.

FWIW, I probably will still publish these findings, but I’ll just leave out what I can’t get working because, IMHO, what folks really want is to know what does work. I can just as easily say; “I tried a bunch of libraries, here are the best I found.” And then we can have a debate about any that didn’t make the list. And the worst damage that can do is libraries being left off the list. Which isn’t great. But I’m not Gartner or Consumer Reports, so… I’m ok with that.

In the meantime, I hope this lands on some ears and eyes that can benefit from my experience. And now I have a URL I can send all the folks looking to use this whole thing as proof that of some conspiracy or freedom of speech issue. It’s not a conspiracy. Seriously. It’s not.