Ramblings of a Nutbar

You’ll probably regret this.

How YouTube Plans to Self-Destruct

I’ve long suspected that somewhere deep down inside the central heart of YouTube Corporate HQ, Chad Hurley has a little room, 10′ x 10′, completely empty save a marble pedestal with a Magic 8-Ball Sitting upon it. And I imagine that every morning he walks into this room, shakes up the Magic 8-Ball, and whispers “Today can I drive it all into the ground?”

Yesterday, the 8-Ball said “Yes”

So Chad rolled up his sleeves, and called together all of his top programmers, including Melvin, the guy who insisted on programming a 500 Internal Server Error into every 6th time you click on your Inbox, and they went to work.

A few moments ago, I happened to spot that Nalts wrote a blog entry pointing to YouTube’s Blog. In a release dated Yesterday, YouTube made the following announcement:

As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with: 

  • Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

  • Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

  • Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

  • More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us. 

At first this sounds like a great attempt to clean up YouTube. I would fully support making illicit and profane content harder for minors to get their hands on. I also hate dishonest thumbnails. But when one takes a moment to stop and think about these changes, one can see (even in a state of total sleep deprivation) that the changes are going to hurt more than they help.

First, and what I see as the biggest problem, is the issue of no longer taking the 25/50/75 points in a video for thumbnails. Now, as I demonstrated in my test video, the thumbnails were not falling on the exact 25/50/100 points anyway, but they were close enough that one could aim to make sure a clip was placed that properly represented the video. This is called branding folks! It’s putting a pretty wrapping on your box that shows you the best part of what’s inside.

Yes, people do sometimes abuse the system, but why punish the 95% of people who don’t regularly commit this dastardly deed, just to force the 5% of abusers to figure out a new way to cheat the system (which they will). I lose branding control, and the scum just have to try a little harder to get what they want. Nice. This hurts, especially considering how many content creators wanted MORE choice in picking thumbnails, not less.

Really, the whole article reeks of “Quick! Somebody’s planning to sue us! Let’s do a super quick fix to make it all better!”. It doesn’t look like a lot of time and planning went into this.

My sincere hope is that it’s something that after a few days YouTube will realize their error and correct their mistake, but I do sometimes wonder if there really is a room at YouTube HQ with nothing in it but a marble pedestal and a Magic 8-Ball…

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December 3, 2008 - Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. The bots (be they software or carbon-based) who run YT can’t distinguish between a diaper-wearing baby with no top (shirt) and a topless babe. Let the sweepout of ‘pornographic’ grandmothers disgusting us with videos of their diapered grandbabbies begin! The purge will be good for the collective (i.e advertisers’) experience.

    Comment by marquisdejolie | December 3, 2008

  2. I’m totally terrified of “What’s Coming Next” on Youtube… I’m having nightmares that they’ll start randomly assigning unrelated thumbnails like ponies and rainbows to EVERY video. Sxephil will have to change his name to “Chaste&Good-HeartedPhillip”. 😉

    Comment by JadenNation | December 8, 2008


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