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Summary:

YouTube, in an effort to tame and restrict some of the naughtier bits of content that make it onto the site, announced new community guidelines today. –Sniffle– Our little YouTube is getting all growed up. Accordng to a YouTube Blog post, the new rules are: Tightened […]

YouTube, in an effort to tame and restrict some of the naughtier bits of content that make it onto the site, announced new community guidelines today. –Sniffle– Our little YouTube is getting all growed up.

Accordng to a YouTube Blog post, the new rules are:

  • Tightened standards for what is “sexually suggestive.” Anything deemed as such will be not viewable by those under 18 (good luck with that).
  • Sexually suggestive videos and videos that contain swearing will be “algorithmically demoted” on the Most Viewed, Top Favorite and other browse pages.
  • Thumbnails will now be selected algorithmically. You can choose from three different options, but the images will not be automatically picked from the quarter-way, halfway, and three-quarter-way points in the video.
  • Stricter enforcement of video information. No more gaming views by creating misleading video description, tags or other metadata.

From the copious use of the term “algorithmically,” it looks like YouTube is using its copyright ID system to analyze other forms of content on the site, though it’s not going so far as to remove offending content, just demoting it. Ironically enough, actively monitoring what goes up on the site and removing what’s deemed to be objectionable sounds an awful lot like what YouTube, in its ongoing legal battle with Viacom, is saying it can’t and/or won’t do.

Like the pimply-faced teen wearing his first tux for prom, YouTube is also cleaning up its act to persuade Madison Ave. that the site is advertiser-friendly. After all, the company needs to start monetizing those 344 million global uniques. The vestiges of the Wild, Wild West, video free-for-all that YouTube once was are disappearing, making room for professional content such as that of networks, full-length films, and a even a high-falutin’ classical music contest. Even the YouTube L!ve event a couple weeks back was a slickly produced event that was just as much (if not more) about Katy Perry as it was about Michael Buckley.

  1. While I applaud a lot of this, some of it confuses me.

    I love the fact that they’re changing the ultra-exploitable “1/4, 1/2 and 3/4-way” screen grab, and, if it works, I’m also way into the “stricter enforcement of video information”. As a creator of what I think is pretty good content, I’ve been extremely frustrated by some of these exploits…exploits that I’ve never had the time or desire to use.

    However, the demotion of videos with “swearing” and “sexually suggestive” content seems odd. What does this mean for creators like The Angry Video Game Nerd (most subscribed #16), whose entire shtick revolves around endless streams of swearing and fart jokes? He’s great; he has a lot of talent as a director, but he’s also been able to connect directly with the imagination of YouTube’s largest audience: teen-aged boys. And as for sexually suggestive content, isn’t that the bread and butter of the YouTube experience.

    Don’t get me wrong. My videos rarely have swearing OR sex and I’ve often deplored the fact that they’re not more popular because of it. But at the end of the day I realize that Online Video is a new medium, which needs time to grow. As Tim Street points out, people used to watch movies of trains coming into stations, and cars driving down the road. That was enough to keep them entertained. As the medium evolved, it became more sophisticated. It happened naturally over time. The same thing is happening right now with video games, actually. But it’s happened over a period of 30 years. Online video just needs time to grow. YouTube shouldn’t force it.

    I was at YouTube Live!. It was WEIRD. The whole thing felt schizophrenic. From second-rate YouTubers like Juan “The Hug Man” Mann (who was accompanied by the band “Sick Puppies” who were really quite awful) and that Ukulele girl (she’s very nice and her songs are great but this was NOT her venue), to Katy Perry and…Akon? It was completely incongruous. In talking with my friends The Spinto Band, I found that YouTube had given them strict wardrobe guidelines. I spoke with Four Eyed Monsters after the show. They were supposed to speak, but upon reading their “subversive” speech, YouTube pulled the plug. Ugh! Stop turning into MTV. Stop it now. You’re YouTube. Stop trying to make yourself over into some respectable video distribution portal. That’s not what’s made you what you are.

    Your audience is almost entirely comprised of 13 year-olds. Get over it. They’re not that hard to market to. It shouldn’t take a complete overhaul of everything that’s made YouTube what it is to monetize the damn thing. By the time they squeeze a dime out, the entire ship will look completely different.

    Eh. Sorry for the rant. The whole thing just seems so unnecessarily silly to me. Maybe I’m just naive and don’t understand all the market forces at work or something. Probably. But from where I sit, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There’s got to be other ways to monetize. Be patient. Give it time. Don’t grow up too quickly or you’ll end up like Tom Hanks in Big: out of your element, awkward, and confused by the sexual advances of a very attractive Elizabeth Perkins.

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  2. You had me until the Big reference. :)

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  3. Will this drive creators off YouTube and encourage them put up their own self-hosted videoblogs? Now that would be growing up.

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  4. The only videos on youtube that doesn’t have swearing are the ones of girls dancing in underwear. Seriously, you are youtube, not Hulu, and will never be it. Don’t move into a Disney portal…

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  5. [...] YouTube lays down the law (with a new set of rules restricting sexually suggestive content) [...]

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  6. You point is well stated. Unfortunately, Yahoo turned into MTV the minute Google bought it – for better or for worse. No matter how “cool” the corporate parent is, they don’t spend a gazillion dollars acquiring something if they can’t figure out how to “squeeze a dime out.” We can only have faith that the cool corporate parent in this case will help with the evolution of online video.

    “Be patient… Don’t grow too quickly”…?… how much bigger can the kid need to get before it grows up.

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  7. You point is well stated. Unfortunately, Yahoo turned into MTV the minute Google bought it – for better or for worse. No matter how “cool” the corporate parent is, they don’t spend a gazillion dollars acquiring something if they can’t figure out how to “squeeze a dime out.” We can only have faith that the cool corporate parent in this case will help with the evolution of online video.

    “Be patient… Don’t grow too quickly”…?… how much bigger can the kid get before it grows up.

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  8. [...] for example, to find those full episodes from CBS. Recent moves such as widescreen players and tougher policies on “sexually suggestive” content are starting points, but the site needs to radically redesign how it exposes and promotes [...]

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  9. [...] for a while now. It signed traditional media players such as CBS and MGM, it altered its rules to tame some of the naughtier content and design tweaks like ordered playlists have made the site more premium content [...]

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