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YouTube Bans Award-Winning Short (cartoonbrew.com)
204 points by protomyth 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments

The case of this article is unfortunate, but it's actually missing what I think is the more serious problem with YouTube for independent artists right now.. This is just a problem of an unfortunate strike against a video - I imagine that it will be fixed under appeal. These things happen, as a great great number of videos need to be evaluated by staff against a complicated set of criteria and precedents. It doesn't actually speak very much about any kind of systemic bias against independent artists.

What DOES create a problem for artists is the tuning of the algorithms to be highly preferential to long form frequently posted content E.g video game commentary. This is a big problem for creators who work in short, high effort, highly polished media - E.g animators.

This really really bums me out. I was an employee at YouTube during their period of great growth and I absolutely loved the platform and potential for compensation that they gave to niche and indy animators and musicians, and had great hope for a future where the democratization of video distribution would lead to a flourishing of art and entertainment that caters to a higher common denominator than the over-polished, focus group approved, mass market creativity that passes for main-stream.

Sadly, it looks like the prime goal of increasing return visits and raw view time has lead to algorithmic optimization of that same mass-media race-to-the-bottom in quality and diversity in search of a broadly palatable and compulsively consumable product. It saddens me and I still feel that they could have it both ways if they took a more aware approach to niche content. YouTube offers monetization - the fact that artists even need Patreon means that GoogTube is ignoring a need, and thus a business opportunity. Just because a piece of work may only appeal to 50,000 people world wide doesn't necessarily mean that it has less value or merit than one that appeals to 10 million.

I support quite a few animators on Patreon, and the impression I get is that they are all struggling to keep working on it as a primary job.

"When you’re young, you look at television and think, 'There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down.' But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth."

--Steve Jobs

The algorithms are they way they are because YouTube has figured out what people actually want to watch. Surprise, most people still want to watch "lowest common denominator" content, just like they did before digital media.

Put another way by Terry Pratchett,

"And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people. As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up."

Please! It's Brecht:

  Would it not be easier
  In that case for the government
  To dissolve the people
  And elect another?
Poem in Die Welt (1959)

Ha, nice! Thanks, I love finding out about the origins of his aphorisms.

Aka The problem with humanity is all of the humans.

What you say is true, but there's another oracle of media that should be quoted in addition to Jobs:

"The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology."

--Marshall McLuhan

I evoke this point because I think it is crucial to remember that the content of a form of media is nowhere near as impactful as the medium itself. While TV as a medium was designed to cater to lowest-common-denominator values via video, YouTube and other digital video distribution services enable this same thing - but at enormous scale, brevity, and accuracy unknown to the TV medium.

This is not just like the era prior to digital media - this is a huge expansion of the era prior to digital media. And it isn't incorrect to point out how scary and dangerous that fact is.

It's sort of tautological to say that 'most people still want to watch "lowest common denominator" content'. I'm not really casting a judgement on the quality of the content, or of peoples' tastes - but I am lamenting the change to the system that tilts the scale further towards less distinctive media, at the expense of more distinctive. Especially since this used to not be the case. I'm also asserting that it need not be one way or the other. It's not a zero sum game. They could have multi-modal video relevance algorithms that don't leave niches to wither. They certainly have enough data to infer tastes. Do you want top 40 videos? You're in luck. Or do you want to hear some amateur Finnish death metal from a band that only posts 3 songs a year? The people that would be really jazzed about the latter are being under served, and the obscure Finnish death metal band is being under-compensated and under-promoted.

Not so much what they want to watch, but what they will watch the most of.

Indeed, this is an important point, and is more accurate than the way I phrased it.

I think it is really interesting, since people were already watching a lot of TV before the recent leap in quality. They were willing to watch those old school network dramas and sitcoms (and still are, see: Big Bang Theory) but when a few cable networks tried bumping the quality up significantly we saw how many people wanted to watch something better.

And youtube is a much better platform than television for evolving the cheapest, crappiest "content" that is just barely good enough to get people to continue to watch. Twitch is especially interesting in this regard.

Guilty pleasure: I love to indulge in YouTube fail video compilations when my brain is mush from a hard day.

I've often noted that these days you get the entire actual content of a "<insert country>'s Funniest Home Videos" TV show in 60 seconds or less.

In better times I'll turn to documentaries or TED talks, but yes, L.C.D. content is sometimes exactly what is needed.

I disagree. Paraphrasing filmmaker James Gray: "To say people want to see trash is totally elitist. If you feed people McDonald's every day for years and then give them sushi, there ain't no way they're going to say 'give me more of that wasabi, please'. No, they're going to say 'what the hell is this crap?'.

I personally agree with this. One piece of evidence is that thinking adults do go see Marvel movies instead of the Scorsese/Fellini/Antonioni/James Gray/Coppola/Fincher/etc. feature, when those are not options.

That's an interesting quote, but Steve Jobs was describing an industry with very little competition beyond its set format at the time. Look at the TV industry now: It's been declining for years, mostly because of rising prices and program line-ups that cater only to the lowest common denominator.

The internet media of today is a completely different industry from the television industry of the 1990's. Catering to the lowest common denominator isn't necessarily bad as long as it's not the only option. If, however, YouTube only monetizes crap and removes more thoughtful content, people will go elsewhere.

And TV itself has changed -- there are now networks that make serving higher-brow content a priority (HBO, AMC, etc).

Though I respect Jobs, I don't think he is completely correct here. We know that the networks sometime gives us what we don't want in order to push society into a certain direction. For example, the first interracial kiss in star trek caused a lot of pushback. The first gay theme in media also caused a lot of headaches for the networks. Even the Mary Tyler Moore Show, the first show about a career woman was met with resistance.

I don't think it is a conspiracy. It is just what the networks do. It influences society.

In other words, I think it's 50/50. Some times, the networks influence society and other times, society influences the networks.

So British people want better things than American people? BBC quality vs American?

The networks aren't in business to give people what they want. They're in business to make money, and doing what sells easily is the usual way to make that money. The BBC have a different business model, so they don't have to chase the money that way.

Jobs is talking as if people can afford the things they want - if he instead said that "the construction industry builds tons of cheap, shitty housing, because that's what people want! It's the truth!", it'd be immediately obvious that he was speaking blubbering nonsense.

Also, for such an important thing as broadcast media, you must factor in the cultural consequences of the content regardless of how many people would watch it (or, more accurately, use it as a recreational drug to calm down after a hard day off work, as stated somewhere above).

But that's what they do build, and a lot of times they wait until a customer asks them to build it... Seems like they are building exactly what people want.

I think describing it as a bias towards maximizing aggregate watch time is more accurate than a bias towards "long form" content.

It's definitely a balance. If a creator only pumps out high amounts of low quality content, they'll never gain a subscriber base. On the other hand, if the content is so short that subscribers only interact with their channel a minute per month, this isn't particularly useful to advertisers either.

I'm not convinced this bias is a bad thing though. My perspective has always been that a closer aligning of YouTube's financial incentives with the financial incentives of creators will definitely be a positive for the platform in the long run.

As more work is done on alternative methods of monetization (YTR, super chat, etc) that have different incentives than just watch time, the biases that come from ad based monetization might become less of a driving force for creators in the future.

What you might not be aware of is how the following claim by GP is implemented:

> What DOES create a problem for artists is the tuning of the algorithms to be highly preferential to long form frequently posted content

Disclaimer: I'm typing this on mobile so can't look up the sources as the same time, so this is from memory, might get some details wrong

A relatively recent change in YT policy is that you don't see every video you're subscribed to. They select among your subscriptions. How? Well, apparently one very important part of the algorithm is that you have to upload at least one long form video every week. If you break the streak, you're at the bottom of the priority queue.

Which is crazy, because if anything, one reason to subscribe is to not miss out the content of people who only very rarely upload!

Or what if you're a regular content uploader but just so happen to feel like you deserve a holiday for one or two weeks a year?

Now this might have changed since they first started doing it and youtubers rightfully complained about it, but the fact that this was implemented in the first place, and the big effect it has on content creators is pretty disturbing.

(aside: this is why I don't rely on YT subscriptions; NewsBlur has the ability to turn a channel into an RSS feed. Of course, that in turn means I don't show up in the YT subscription statistics, hurting the content creators I follow, so I symbolically subscribe but ignore the YT subscription service. How bonkers is that?)

> If a creator only pumps out high amounts of low quality content, they'll never gain a subscriber base.

How do you explain the youtuber phenomenon, then? Unfortunately there seems to be very little in terms of content rather than commentary, as the latter is so much cheaper to throw together with no money.

I have witnessed a group of people that watch youtube together, in the living room, via Chromecast. They employ auto-play (I mean the recommendation feature), lists, channels, etc.

The result is HOURS of "user attention". Which is specifically not the correct term... :) Sometimes they ignore a video and just chat.

But the point is, they use it as some people use a television. It's just "on".

Because of this, I've seen a lot of "top ten list of..." and "Did you know that...?" videos. Not to mention compilations of traffic mishaps and skateboarding fails.

Quality absolutely doesn't matter. Just ask Budweiser!

Dude, its so great for when you and your friends are stoned!

Exactly this. Quality is rarely a selling point when the product is cheap. People are happy to accept very poor stuff if the price is seeing an advert or entering an email address. Thinking you need to make a good video in order to get subscribers is very wrong; you need to make an entertaining video, and that's not the same thing at all.

People like different things. There are definitely some things on YouTube that are objectively low quality, but I think the genres/channels you're describing are just things that people other than yourself enjoy. The demographics of YouTube are no doubt different than the demographics of Hacker News.

It all goes down to definition of "quality" used.

Maybe food analogy is good? If you put on the table: potato chips and a green salad with grilled chicken which one would most people choose? Could people agree on the definition of "quality" in this case?

> I think describing it as a bias towards maximizing aggregate watch time is more accurate than a bias towards "long form" content. > It's definitely a balance. If a creator only pumps out high amounts of low quality content, they'll never gain a subscriber base. On the other hand, if the content is so short that subscribers only interact with their channel a minute per month, this isn't particularly useful to advertisers.

I agree that the objective is definitely to maximize aggregate watch time, but, the practical implication that I've been hearing about is that longer more frequent uploads are key to getting a video to rise in search and recommendation rankings, and thus become discoverable. It's been a while since I've had any inside information, but this guide mentions as much http://techtipswithtea.com/youtube-tips/youtube-changes-algo...

The thing is, what they're doing is clearly working as far as optimizing the key metrics that they're looking for. It's also not necessarily to call high volume game commentary low quality - it's a lot of fun, it just ignores the many dimensions of great videos that may account for the long tail of viewed minutes, but are still a big part of the soul of independent art. Those videos may never reach the critical mass to become viral and make money for their creators, where before, the algorithm gave them a better shot of being seen and shared until they take off under their own momentum.

To make an unnecessary food analogy, it's like a marketplace that rewards a creator that can pump out $1 cheeseburgers at a huge rate - they're tasty and they're good enough to keep people coming back. Bigtime profits. Win! But it's sad, then ,if the marketplace is no longer viable for the artisan who can only make one fancy, excellent, but unconventionally flavored, cake per day. Hosting the cake maker may be a loss for a long time, but, if they never had a chance they'll never be around to have their innovative, challenging, masterwork (viral video) take the world by storm some day.

Mr.Weebl, the animator who made the ubiquitous early-internet viral flash movie about badgers, mushrooms, and snakes was recently talking about the issues he's seeing. It doesn't seem like any of the early viral animations could have gotten featured and taken off in the current environment.

Who knows, maybe everyone will go back to newgrounds?

algorithmic optimization of that same mass-media race-to-the-bottom in quality and diversity in search of a broadly palatable and compulsively consumable product.

How's this for a solution? We just return this stuff to the web. How about a service that lets you host and create embeddable video links for a small fee? There would be an API that lets people automatically tip creators per view. Discovery would be through search and through blogs.

At the very least, this would solve most of the censorship issues.

They still give that "platform and potential for compemsation" to the long tail, since it's effecively zero-cost to them... it's promotion that is zero-sum. As an advertising company, that attention is all google has to sell. So while they do lose some money from that 50,000 piece of work, they gain much more from the 10 million.

They could have an independent artists section, like the indy corner on their android app store, but which they don't really promote... presumably for the above reason.

It's ironic that YouTube, named in ironic allusion to the denigrating slang term "boob tube" for TV, has become just that, after all.

I think it's entirely possible that youtube is still in a growth phase (or they are treating it as that phase), where they see the goal as convincing people it's a real platform to visit for content, and recurring content (such as a network channel, or Netflix now), and not just that place hosting videos that you get links to.

Once there's enough people that see it as a network of content that they can spend time on, they can then start encouraging and optimizing for specific, high-impact items instead of recurring content. Right now they are in the "let's pump out as many sitcoms as possible" phase, and hopefully they'll progress towards a "let's release a couple mini-series and made-for-TV movies" phase (allowing that they aren't generating the content in either case, just encouraging it's production and dissemination by offering cheap hosting and monetization).

PEWDIEPIE said that same thing about his "high school" videos. He said it took like half a day to make one because he actually had to make something and that was a long time for one his videos "it was not doing as well as my other videos so I stopped doing that set".

It's impossible to believe that Youtube blocks this video, but can't tell that the copies are the same video.

Which means they have provisions to block a providers video. Not the content of a video. They're happy to publish other copies of the same "inappropriate" content, and to monetize it.

But they won't let the original author monetize it.

If this is something other than "being evil", I don't know what it is.

Is there a tipping point where the independent content creators tire of this? Patreon seems to have some traction and just seems a good fit for artistic endeavours, the fact that you need $100 in income from YouTube before they pay out must mean there are a lot of people with a lot of viewers whose income they hold in perpetuity. Same with Spotify, is there a point at which creators withhold their content, or is the lure of large viewer numbers irresistible ?

For some things, like churned out entertainment for children, tweens and teens, YouTube probably has a lock. Those groups don't care about any of this. For The rest, fragmentation seems inevitable to me.

I'm kind of surprised that Patreon hasn't made a spinoff platform to compete with YouTube for all the YouTubers flocking to their donation service.

I wouldn't be surprised if they're playing with one; they're regularly sending out "how to grow your audience" suggestions to creators that want everyone to make video content, regardless of how appropriate it is to their craft and/or personality.

That said: making a YouTube is a hell of a lot of work and a huge investment. Yes I'm sure you can kludge up a simple clone of the basics in Your Favorite Language in six hours, but can you build the infrastructure to deal with the inevitable copyright infringement, avoid falling foul to widely varying obscenity laws across the globe, hire people to screen for that sort of thing, there's a whole bunch of stuff above and beyond "managing some AWS virtual storage for video files".

>That said: making a YouTube is a hell of a lot of work and a huge investment. Yes I'm sure you can kludge up a simple clone of the basics in Your Favorite Language in six hours, but can you build the infrastructure to deal with the inevitable copyright infringement, avoid falling foul to widely varying obscenity laws across the globe, hire people to screen for that sort of thing, there's a whole bunch of stuff above and beyond "

As I know, current Patreon's stance on what to do with it when they reach that stage, is to focus on English speaking speaking audience, and have no legal presence outside of US.

As the US is the only paying off market for 9 out of 10 of any online media businesses, it makes sense.

Same thing with CDN, if they go that way, they only have to deal with much smaller loads, and have no need for multi-dc replication.

If they only have to deal with the most creative and valuable share of makers that they will skim from yt, the will not have to deal with exabytes of cat videos and other garbage content.

Same on the legal from, for as long as most content is original, the only issue will most likely be music, but there is already a thriving industry of RIAA-free music licensing specifically for makers thanks to YT yielding to requests for automated takedowns/DeMo/and revenue divertions.

Maker relationships? Very straight, steal top 10% makers from YT, depriving it of majority of genuine creative content. Here YT can't counter that with pretty much anything: Google sells ads, Patreon sells makers themselves. Google stays with cat videos, while Patreoners take the tasty stuff.

Predicament looks rather dim for YT unless they will have the willpower to make a U-turn in their relationship with the creative community

Why? It's really convenient to offload bandwidth and DMCA etc. to YouTube, and that lets creators double-dip if their content can be monetized there.

It's so expensive, though. Video streaming bandwidth costs serious money.

And that's apt to get worse with paid prioritization; large incumbent players can already use these kinds of money sinks as loss leaders for other products, but adding reduced negotiating leverage to the massive capital barriers is just the nail in any prospective startup's coffin.

It is in making, they don't even hide it that much. For now, it seems, they will hold strategy to "let Youtube do the hard stuff"

Deciding whether nudity (or anything, really) is "artistic" is hard, and probably doesn't scale. There may not be a good solution for this problem in the general case.

Maybe this isn't a problem we should be trying to solve with computers right now, then. We've managed to survive as a species and as a western society for years making these kinds of determinations using people, maybe we should continue to do that.

Part of the failure here was in the human organization attempting to determine "artistic merit". The definition of art has been debated for centuries. Contractors aren't always going to make the right call, even if they do have a better rate than a computer.

I don't know why everyone seems to think I'm only talking about technical solutions. Human solutions have to scale, too.

The problem is then that the only possible way to implement that is crowdsourced voting/flagging, and enough people out there don't get some kinds of art that they would flag it that way. I think most controversial modern art would not survive on a platform like Youtube where everyday people make a determination on the palatability of it.

That's just plainly false. It's entirely possible to implement it using employees that are human reviewers.

If that's not profitable then they should rework their business model until it is profitable.

It is entirely possible that the numbers don't work. From a business point of view if the only downside is that some art videos get incorrectly categorized then correctly categorized after a manual review then reworking their business model doesn't make much sense.

This is bad PR for sure but I don't think the system is failing that badly. The rate at which video is uploaded is truly stagerring, and that's assuming that the successes of the automation deters many bad actors.

You are wrong. You do not understand how much media is being uploaded to Youtube. All of Mechanical Turk working together simultaneously could not filter all the stuff being uploaded. 300 hours of video is being uploaded to Youtube every minute. [0]

[0] http://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+much+content+is+uploaded+to+youtube...

Or maybe people should grow up and realize that the human body isn't something that should be shocking. Especially since nobody seems to complain about bloodshed and decapitations on videos.

Google Maps is crowd sourcing business and location data. I wonder if YouTube couldn't do the same, rewarding (like Maps does) YouTube Red subscriptions for enough effort.

Then they could have more granular controls in clients, like saying "Block videos where at least half of the crowd say there is sexual content".

I'm starting to like this idea better. It's at least an approach that isn't yet a proven failure. You can probably get some mileage out of weighting reliable users more heavily than randos, being smart about what thresholds constitute sufficient evidence, etc. Existing systems are definitely good at that sort of thing.

I was thinking the users could set their own thresholds, just like they do when searching with date and resolution ranges.

The problem you might have is that most who search for terms that would bring up similiar results will have a vested interest in sexual content and will produce false flags

Not to mention when you can crowdsource banning content, competitors will intentionally flag content that competes.

I didn't say banning content. I suggested categorization. Like the categories in the detailed MPAA breakdowns ("violence", "sexual content", "language", etc.).

Maps asks more opinionated questions as well. YouTube alternatives would include "Good for kids", "Funny", "Good on a small screen", and things like that.

What do you do when people flag random things they don't like as "sexual content", solely so that they would be less visible?

Same things you do if someone puts the wrong business hours in the Google maps databases.

> There may not be a good solution for this problem in the general case.

Surely the good solution is: decide whether you want to be 'family-friendly' at the expense of suppressing valid but possibly offensive art, or 'expression-friendly' at the expense of losing easily offended parents, and then do that. No technical solutions to identifying nudity involved. (I'd say YouTube's decision is "don't offend anybody", which is, of course, not really a decision.)

Neither of those are really good options, despite your attempt to spin it. Do you think a parent is merely being "easily offended" if they don't want their kids watching "Fifty Shades of Grey" or the equivalent on YouTube? I agree that the other extreme isn't much good either. That's why it's hard.

Note that no one said anything about a technical solution. Google's human review process is what failed here, and that's what I'm saying is likely to continue.

If a parent doesn't want their child watching certain types of content the parent needs to monitor the child and not rely on youtube filters.

If you do not approve of 50 shades it is up to you to police that. Another parent might be offended by religious vidoes. Another by non religious. Some may not allow Trump in the home while others might burn any Hilary comeback book.

There isn't a technical solution to parenting.

> If a parent doesn't want their child watching certain types of content the parent needs to monitor the child

Why is this so hard for people to grasp? It's not the job of other people to raise your kid(s) for you.

The problem is the connected and omnipresent nature of the web means there's a constant, loud sea of voices and content you have to war against, one that's really hard to control or stop. In the old days, you worried about dirty magazines under the bed, but the net has an infinite supply of the dirtiest content that's more or less trivial to find.

The culture before often affected your kids a lot, but in the 70s or 80s it was local and controllable. Now its distributed and universal, while parenting is more or less the same. The old rules and chestnuts no longer apply.

Do you really wanna say the internet is part of your village in the context of raising a child?

No, I was just giving a possible reason as to why people might act like its the role of others to raise their children. I neither support it, nor wish it extended to the Internet.

I'm not actually sure why you'd think I was supporting it? I'm merely showing why it may be that way.

In my experience, it became fairly popular to say/believe such in the early 70s, after the hippies took their clothes off and moved into the woods for a short while.

Unless there's some kind of technical tool, that amounts to standing over the kid's shoulder any time they're touching a computer and stopping them from tapping the wrong buttons. Besides being difficult, this sort of thing causes its own problems from a parenting standpoint. So yeah, still not a good solution.

I say it again and again: it's time to finally regulate the big social media/tech giants (Amazon, FB, Youtube, Twitter, but also big email providers like Gmail, AOL).

Account closures and content removals must have a way to appeal operator decisions in a court of law. My telco provider is legally barred from shutting down my account unless I'm 3 months behind in payments - so why isn't the same valid for the tech giants? In fact, the services of Facebook and Whatsapp are something I more depend on than having a landline, but I'm straight outta luck if either service decides to ban me.

And no, "choose another provider" is not a valid option, as there is no alternative because no service allows me to transfer my identity (e.g. email address) so old contacts can reach me, unlike with phone numbers.

> And no, "choose another provider" is not a valid option, as there is no alternative because no service allows me to transfer my identity (e.g. email address) so old contacts can reach me, unlike with phone numbers.

With a bit of foresight there certainly is, your own domain pointing at gmail?

gmail removes your account, your email still works you just have to point it at a different backend.

But therein lies the rub right? It costs money and people won't pay it, they'll take the free option every time.

Personally I find it hard to see how these companies can be regulated in the way that you want for services that they give away for free.

> With a bit of foresight there certainly is, your own domain pointing at gmail?

That costs money for the Google Apps Enterprise suite, and you're still dealing with a company that isn't known for customer service - you may point your MX records somewhere else but still can't access old emails when they terminate you for whatever stupid reason.

(Yes, backups are a solution but many people blindly trust the cloud)

Fundamentally companies are not obligated to give you their services for free, which seems to be what you're demanding?

Now if you were to argue that companies must give you the opportunity to download your data before they close your account, that I would agree with. I'd even say a grace period of a few days so you can practically change your email might be worth considering, but I don't see how you can possibly argue that companies must give their services away for free just because they're good at what they do.

> Fundamentally companies are not obligated to give you their services for free, which seems to be what you're demanding?

No, what I demand is that there must be a right to due process in an independent court of law for services deemed essential for modern social life. Right now, an underpaid person, who does nothing but watch the most vile content imaginable, can close my account because he has no time to properly assess art, political commentary or historically significant imagery (Napalm Girl), and I have no way at all to actually talk to a human to appeal - even if I'm a real customer who has paid for both Twitter and FB ads. All I have (at least for FB) is a "reply" box but no matter what you type in there you get canned responses back but definitely no human.

Then have government provide an "official" email/youtube platform or hell roll your own, which with email at least is perfectly possible.

Using these services is literally a choice, it is in many ways the best choice, but it's not the only choice available.

> Then have government provide an "official" email/youtube platform

Lol I won't ever hand that level of personal data to a government institution. Having a private company as a custodian of the data at least protects me/my data from government snooping (okay, does not apply to the US with their NSLs).

> or hell roll your own, which with email at least is perfectly possible.

No it's not, good luck setting up your own mail server - even with DKIM, SPF and whatnot configured the major mail providers will classify you as potential spammer. Thanks to greedy Viagra sellers and casinos, email is all but ruined for small-ish or even single-person operations.

>Lol I won't ever hand that level of personal data to a government institution.

But you would to a private one? Why?

That only redirects the problem to a different level: you've got to rely on a domain registrar, a business ... similarly not recognised for its attentiveness to small-player customer service. And for which loss of control poses a whole higher level of problems.

There are legal processes laid down for losing a domain, arbitration e.t.c., (for US domains that is, non US domains couldn't be regulated anyway). So unless you miss your payment then I don't see how at the domain level it's much different to your phone service?

I can't possibly conceive of any circumstance in which the typical American might possibly miss a payment. Or find themselves unable to launch a legal challenge.

Your phone number is unlikely to be distributed to another person immediately on expiry, or before expiring. Not so Internet domains.



40 million results for a Google search on lost Internet domains:


The rules are very clear and very simple, you pay for the domain it's yours unless there is some form of trademark dispute. You can pay in advance, you can pay 10 years in advance, you'll receive numerous reminders that your domain is going to expire.

At a certain point there is an element of personal responsibility involved, if you can't manage to pay $10 for a domain every year or so then that's kinda on you.

Without wanting to stand up for YouTube—I don't—this complaint:

> While Villa Antropoff contains a few short scenes of cartoon nudity, Youtube makes clear exceptions in its policies for works that are presented in “artistic contexts.” The fact that a Youtube employee could have reviewed this film and not recognized the film’s artistic context illustrates a serious breakdown in the company’s ability to police content based on its own policies.

seems a bridge slightly too far. To be sure, it would have been nice if the YouTube reviewer had recognised the artistic context to the piece, but the failure of one reviewer to do so seems to be evidence of a mistake, or at worst of misapplication of policies, not of a company run amok (although there is plenty of evidence of that elsewhere). Since there is a process for appeal, that seems like the step that should be taken before, or at least in parallel with, public complaint (although the author mentions that Lunohod has decided not to appeal).

The idea that everyone who is a reviewer will have exactly the same appraisal of what's obscene, extremist, hateful, or even pornography, is ludicrous. No one even agrees on what art is.

Why doesn't Youtube have a few formally trained filmmakers or film theorists on staff that they can kick these sorts of edge cases up to? Someone with a filmmaking or film theory education would instantly classify this short as art that should be available on Youtube. I could see this video being given an age restriction, but never banned.

According to google, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube... every minute.

There's just no way to have humans moderate that. And if we assume they'd only decide on films where the ban was appealed, I'd bet it's still too much to do.

Weirdly, the creator of the film in question said they wouldn't appeal the ruling.

I disagree there's "too much to do" when it comes to having humans moderate reported or detected cases of terms violations.

We have a near crisis with people having a harder and harder time finding jobs that don't require college degrees. A lot of older job fields machines can do just as well, so a lot of old jobs are going away. The people are there.

Google is sitting on many billions of dollars it just doesn't want to spend (like $100B or so, I believe?). The money to pay for people is there.

However, Google would not be nearly as profitable if it wasn't automating away jobs that as we've continually seen, automation is pretty bad at doing. This is a business decision, plain and simple. New jobs for humans aren't opening up because tech companies are insisting on using automation to do things automation isn't good at.

At 300 hours/minute they'd need 18,000 pairs of eyes judging videos constantly (not all videos need to be judged immediately, but that's fine). Assuming a normal employee works 50 weeks of 40 hours a year, that means that each employee is only working about 23% of the time. In the end they'd need about 80,000 employees to judge everything that gets uploaded. Wikipedia says they had 57,100 employees in 2015. With inefficiency (HR, payroll, managers, manager-managers, devs to write video audit software, etc), they'd need to triple their workforce solely to keep up with youtube.

As both I and the parent suggested, you'd only need humans reviewing content that is reported or automatically flagged. And you'd have a second level set of people for appeals handling.

Right but if, like is happening in this case, the owner of the video intentionally does not appeal... then what?

Money in the bank is not the same as cash flow positive. If YouTube had to spend money in the bank to verify videos, such that the whole enterprise was net cashflow negative, eventually the bank account would be depleted, why the hell would anyone run such a business?

If human curation has to work, it has to work and still generate profits, otherwise you're running a charity on its way to bankruptcy, not a business.

As to your other claims, it's based on assumptions. The feasibility is based on how often things are flagged. 300 hours per minute, if every minute of every video had to checked manually, would require 18,000 people continuously watching video 24 hours a day, or 54,000 if you consider an 8 hour workday. However it is unlikely that handling a video simply requires the duration of watching it, as there are gaps in between as well as "stalls" when you actually come across something questionable. I'd say it takes 5 minutes per 1 minute of view if you want to be conservative. That raises it more to like 250,000 people required for 100% curation.

But not even video is flagged, if you have to sample even 1% of those videos, you're talking 2500 full time employees. That's going to cost about $500mil a year with pay and benefits.

And even then, you will have false positives, lots of them. Because reviewers have subjective evaluation of things like hate speech, racism, or pornography. I've seen political channels I follow like the Young Turks or Secular Talk get flagged and punished by human curators who considered some of their videos to cross the line.

So if you really really want to be sure, you can't actually depend on a single reviewer. Flagged videos need to be peer reviewed by a panel of people, and those people usually have to know the CONTEXT of the video they're reviewing, because satire can go undetected, and say, a video designed to expose extremist by parodying it can be falsely seen by some as extremist without context.

This is no where near as simple as you flippantly make it out to be. It would be extremely expensive and still end up with many false positives, and even one or two high level VIP false positives gets you the same negative PR.

I personally think it's better to just tag videos, and let people filter them on their own, than banning it. Let porn be hosted on YouTube, but just tag it, and make the tag filtered by default, which you can remove with a safe search filter removable.

In other words, it should work the same way porn works on Google.com. I mean, if you let your kids surf Youtube because Google bans porn, but don't ban them from using regular Google search, you really think they can't find porn?

As I said, I definitely don't see humans manually reviewing all uploads, just flagged content. I don't have the statistics, but I'm guessing it's less than 1%. (Assuming you don't count the deluge of DMCA requests.)

Your $500 mil figure suggests paying people a lot more than I would pay people to watch YouTube videos. :P

It is not simple, I agree, but it is also not unreasonable: Google makes a significant amount of money operating these platforms, it's reasonable to expect them to build reasonable management practices in that formula.

I agree with you, however, that an ideal case would simply be to not moderate content on YouTube beyond a SafeSearch filter type behavior. Although that would invite a whole additional set of complex problems.

Right now, one of the big ways YouTube moderates content is to demonetize certain videos if they contain objectionable content their advertising customers do not want to be associated with. I believe Google currently takes a loss on the content that falls into this category.

But if porn was on YouTube, there would be a LOT of porn on YouTube. A truly unholy amount of porn. If there can be porn on something, there is a lot of it. So presumably this means Google would need to start selling adult content ads as well.

The only public statistics available are 90 million unique people have flagged videos, and 1/3 of those have flagged multiple videos. It's hard to generalize from there because you don't know how many of these watchers are disjoint, but in the worst case, 60 million unique flags would be able 0.5-1% of all YouTube videos.

> Google is sitting on many billions of dollars it just doesn't want to spend (like $100B or so, I believe?). The money to pay for people is there.

So now you are saying that the only companies that should host video are those that can afford to lose billions by manually checking every upload?

Would this rule have applied to youtube before they became part of Google and had a few billion spare in the bank?

OTOH the regulations around video hosting probably already make it almost impossible for a serious competitor to emerge

A good chunk of that is duplicate videos.

e.g. FTA, many duplicates of this video exist, each of which are ranked higher than the original, and each of which are monetized when the original isn't.

There's just no way that Youtube isn't able to detect this duplication.


If you run a fitness-channel on YouTube (I do) and your thumbnail contains a topless body, the video will not be monetized. No more sixpack tutorials I guess...

Yet, you could probably do six pack tutorials if the six pack was beer. You could probably drink it right on camera and give drunken reviews.

But nudity is problematic...

Why not just create a static title card for your thumbnail?

Because that doesn't attract viewers like nudity does. How many times have you seen a half naked chick as the thumbnail, yet never appears in the video?

Remember when YT immediately counted every view regardless of how long someone watched, and there was this plague of clickbait? For example headless women showing their cleavage in the thumbnail, because there were enough horny idiots dumb enough to click the thumbnail.

That's why they switched to 30 seconds initially, and now to something more percentage based i think

(Funny enough it is practically impossible to Google the articles that described these changes when they first happened; I read them bs k then and I've been looking for them for ten minutes to no avail)

I honestly wouldn't know - I don't usually watch videos with half-naked chicks in the thumbnails. Basically, when I'm watching on YouTube and not directed there from another video site, I only watch Takeshi's Castle, Cinemassacre, Channel Awesome, TheStrawHatNO!, newfiebangaa, World of Longplays, Playable Passion (sensing a theme?), Guru Larry, and a few other channels along that same theme.

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