Lisa Donovan, who gained notoriety posting her sketch comedy stylings on YouTube as LisaNova, has been accused of trying to inflate her numbers on the site. In a video posted by the notorious Trevor Rieger (reposted here), he shows dozens of ‘ghost’ accounts with no activity save for a subscription to LisaNova’s channel, as well as repeated generic comments on other YouTube user channels across the site. Neither Donovan nor YouTube responded to questions sent via email.
Of course, Rieger is busy promoting his own site, TVTalkShows.com, and has certainly leveraged attacks on other YouTube users and the site itself to become widely known as “the most banned person on YouTube.” What’s remarkable is that Donovan has managed to turn her YouTube show into work on MadTV — the thousands of comments from just a few days seem like a strange and unnecessary move.
YouTube’s terms of service expressly forbid using any automated software for gathering user names or submitting more requests to YouTube’s servers than realistic for a human user, though using ‘refreshers‘ to drive up views in order to get a higher ranking in search results is a common practice. Popular YouTuber Cory “Mr. Safety” Williams has admitted to doing this as late as April. Those who game YouTube or make naked appeals for popularity are known in the community as ‘cheaters’ or ‘chuds.’
This kind of drama on YouTube is nothing new, and creative talent going to any length to promote themselves and their work is a time-honored tradition. Technology is just making it easier or sleazier — whichever side of the debate you sit on.