A group of early YouTube videobloggers has split off from the site in the last month in an attempt to convene a more intimate community they are calling VloggerHeads. With a leadership that seems to be comprised of all middle-aged men — though they’re up to nearly 700 members already — the project seems driven by fear of persecution, commercialization and the mass market.
The point of VloggerHeads, which requires that users be at least 18 but doesn’t seem to be about naughty content, is plain old videoblogging — talking through a camera to other people about your life and issues you care about. That’s something the members feel has been crowded out as YouTube has grown. As VloggerHeads founder/early member Tom Guarriello (aka YouTube user tig847, with 270 videos on the site to his credit over the last two years) put it in a video from last week, “There’s millions of people in the audience on YouTube; there’s 500 people over on VloggerHeads just making boring videos to one another, talking about nonsense — nothing anybody cares about except us.”
The vloggers claim their new community is already “under attack” by bullies from YouTube, and considering the urgency with which they address the camera, you almost expect to hear bombs in the background — but then you remember that middle-aged men who spend all their time making videos on YouTube might also take all sorts of things more seriously than most people.
VloggerHeads, which is for now a Ning community, is indeed exclusive. (Ning said it had no special involvement in the site’s creation; its tools are open to the public.) For a VloggerHeads invite, you must email the address listed on YouTube videos made by its founders. Then they send you an invite, then you fill out some information about yourself, and only after you’re approved can you actually join. I’m still waiting to hear back if I’ll be approved.
To put this into perspective, though, the most popular video I’ve seen on YouTube about the VloggerHeads mutiny has only 19,000 views, and is by VloggingHeads founder Paul Robinett (a.k.a. YouTube user Renetto, an early presence and vocal member on the site who as recently as a couple weeks ago I heard a YouTube exec mention on stage as an example of a user-turned-YouTube partner. See more background on Renetto in Kevin “Nalts” Nalty’s recent blog post on the matter.)
For VloggerHeads, being a small community may be the point after all. As for YouTube, it’s significant that its early members are peeling off, but as the site grows, its initial audience will naturally have a smaller presence. Still, YouTube served a valuable purpose in connecting these creative, extremely talkative and, well, paranoid people to one another.
See also: Kent Nichols of Ask a Ninja‘s take:
Now some other early pioneers on the site are looking for greener pastures. This is a natural part of the cycle. New things become old. Cool places to hang out become corporate institutions. Successful people become outdated and unneeded.