I’ve been using YouTube long enough now that the little niggly things about it really piss me off. The bottom line is that YouTube is a fantastic free service that was essentially inconceivable even two years ago. The idea that someone would provide a free service to let you host as many videos as you want that you can easily embed in practically any web page at no cost to you would have seemed laughable before the advent of YouTube. Now it seems everyone and their dog is begging you to upload videos for free. But this is the angry blog of Mr Angry, not the even-handed blog of Mr Reasonable. So I’m gonna rip them a new fundamental orifice.
First things first. Fix the fucking commenting system! Seriously, they can come up with a method to serve up a hundred million videos a day with very little technical hassles but they can’t manage a commenting system that works to the standard of, say, a dial-up bulletin board from the 80s? They make it next to impossible to develop a meaningful relationship with your audience because you can’t have a coherent “conversation” with anyone via YouTube. Replies to comments don’t stay linked to the original comment so the list of comments attached to a video make no sense more often than not.
And their response to comment spam was to limit the number of comments you can make. Even on your own videos. Yet again creating the situation where you can’t have a coherent conversation with your audience. This is such a fucked-up response to spam – it hurts the innocent and has no effect on spammers. Spammers will create dozens or hundreds of accounts to get around it but honest people are screwed. This is stupid. No sane person could think this is a good idea, yet the limitation remains.
Also, how the fuck do they pick their “feature videos”? These videos are selected seemingly at random to be featured on the front page of YouTube and being selected can easily result in hundreds of thousands of views. And they keep featuring these fucking kitty and bunny videos. Another annoying thing is when the same user had videos featured three times in about two weeks. This wasn’t the user in question’s “fault” – he had nothing to do with the selection process but from the feedback I saw it created a bad taste in the mouths of many users. And yes, I want my goddam videos to be featured. I’ll stop bitching instantly if they feature me (I’m shallow like that) but until then I’ll continue to get pissed off every time they feature a shitty video.
And it wouldn’t hurt if they were a bit less opaque in their decision making generally, not just about the feature videos. After all, it’s a fucking video blogging site. Why don’t they post a regular (at least weekly) blog saying what’s going on, issues they’re dealing with and giving some feedback. There’s always going to be some unreasonable jerks who’ll never be happy (stop looking at me like that) but they could at least try to show they’re listening.
The one thing I’m not pissed off about is their recent decision to feature paid promotional videos. The front page features various ads including movie trailers and shit from Paris Hilton. A lot of YouTubers got their knickers in a knot over this but in my opinion they’re either sanctimonious twits or simply don’t recognise a business model when they see one (you though they were going to support free video hosting with VC money and banner ads forever?) This business model makes perfect sense for YouTube – take advantage of those millions of eyeballs and give advertisers the biggest controlled test lab in all of history. As this develops they should make an absolute fortune. Until recently, this was the sort of feedback advertisers literally couldn’t buy – now that they can buy it, I expect you can charge them a metric shitload for the privilege.
And I’m sure Revver breathed a sigh of relief at this development. If I was a betting man, I’d lay money now that YouTube is not going to include ads directly in contributor videos a la Revver. Users will continue to make no money by posting to YouTube and I can’t see that hurting either side any time soon. It certainly hasn’t hurt growth up to this point. Each side continues to get something they want out of the relationship without it being explicitly commercial in nature. Contributors get exposure to potentially millions of viewers, the ego boost that goes along with that and a chance at fame of sorts and YouTube gets an endless stream of content and viewers to sell to advertisers.
Revver can continue to develop their niche – the best quality independent original content creators will definitely like the opportunity to make money from their work directly. Although I still have no fucking idea what Sony thinks they are gaining out of Grouper.