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Watch Out Google, YouTubers Are Unionizing (bloomberg.com)
189 points by pseudolus 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 240 comments
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YouTube does not employ creators; creators are utilizing YouTube's free service in order to broadcast their own content. Google demonetizes videos in order to be more appealing to advertisers, ultimately the problem these creators have is that advertisers are not willing to pay for their content. YouTube only makes money when the content creator does, so naturally they'd be happy to monetize anything they could.

> YouTube does not employ creators; creators are utilizing YouTube's free service in order to broadcast their own content.

Youtube doesn't create content. They utilize content provided to google for free by creators to drive traffic to their website. Google monetizes videos in order to be more appealing to content creators. The problem these creators have is that advertisers, corporations, competitors, and copyright trolls are easily able to game google's automated systems to get channels demonetized and content censored. It doesn't matter to youtube if a channel is demonetized because it still drives traffic to their website, it still provides google with a trove of user data (both from the person visiting youtube and the content creator's own content and usage of the site) and they will happily autoplay/suggest videos full of ads to get visitors away from the demonetized channels.

aggressive demonetization/censoring is far less expensive for google than properly moderating content, and it lets them show they are "doing something" which keeps advertisers happy and the copyright cartels at bay.


> Youtube doesn't create content. They utilize content provided to google for free by creators to drive traffic to their website.

This is a popular sentiment, but its not "for free". There's cost involved in storing, transcoding and service videos to millions/billions of users and in the development of those technologies.


User generated content is acquired 100% for free, but Google has costs to store/distribute that content. Google's expenses aren't trivial, but they also aren't paying creators whose content is the only reason anyone ever goes to youube.com

Imagine netflix telling movie/TV studios that they can let them stream their content for free because it's costing them money to store and distribute those works after all...


> Google's expenses aren't trivial, but they also aren't paying creators

Yes, they are, if the creators choose monetization. (If the creators choose to make content free, including choosing to supply content ineligible for monetization, sure, Google isn't paying for it, but they also aren't getting direct revenue from it.)

Now, the payment is contingent on the revenue Google receives tied to the content, so it's a low-risk/low-cost consignment model (because low-cost because the unit cost of nonproductive inventory is low) rather than a “buy and try to sell” model where content that Google couldn't monetize would leave Google out piles of money that they speculatively paid for the content, but they absolutely are paying creators.


monetization is the payment scheme at issue. Some creators get paid, some of the time, and a lot of content creators on youtube feel the whole system is unfair. That's why they are unionizing.

For what it's worth I'm not a big fan of monetization on youtube in general. I prefer content to be posted out of a passion to share than a profit motive and for supporters to support content creators directly, but I also object to the idea that Google owes nothing to youtubers who are simply mooching off of youtube, a company that is graciously providing youtubers a free platform, or that google doesn't gain anything from hosting videos that don't have ads all over them.

Without the content creators youtube is worthless and google has an interest in keeping them happy and using youtube. If creators have grievances with how google handles things, they are free to organize and try to apply pressure collectively.


> Without the content creators youtube is worthless

Without ads YouTube is worthless to Google. Nonmonetized content isn't bringing revenue to Google. Sure, it has an indirect benefit in making YouTube a more attractive place to post monetized content, by it's not like creators get nothing out of it (which is why they post to YouTube rather than arranging other hosting, which is certainly valuable if less likely to be free and also likely to have less reach.)


> Without ads YouTube is worthless to Google. Nonmonetized content isn't bringing revenue to Google. S

Google gets huge volumes of valuable data with nearly every video that's uploaded. Google knows things like who the uploader is, what kind of people are in their home and their approximate ages, what clothes they wear, what products they buy, what pets they own, what interests they have.

They also get data on every visitor who views those videos, such as what their interests are or where/when/how often they watched a video or channel. All of that data makes their non-youtube ads more valuable because they can offer the guy watching videos on how to train a puppy dog food ads instead of ads for horse saddles. Youtube doesn't need ads to be a powerful tool for surveillance and data collection capable of bringing google revenue.

I agree that youtubers are getting something out of it too, mostly easier exposure and very simple hosting, but google needs content more than it needs one more place to shove their ads in our faces since much of the rest of the internet is happy to let google put their ads on their own websites.


Too often, people reach towards some abstract methodology like data collection to explain Googles actions.

Why do it in this case? They directly make money from selling ad space. Any data on watching is used directly to sell more ad space and gain more money.

It’s a closed loop. This is how all Google properties operate. Not having ads would be a death knell for YouTube.


You're overestimating the value of this data. It is not worth that much.

You underestimate the value of data. Our personal data is what has allowed google to become what they are today. it's worth so much that companies are grabbing up as much as they possibly can and the data brokers who are selling and buying it are a multi-billion dollar industry

Are you in the programmatic advertising business? I am, and have been for about half a decade, and I'm confident you valuing this incorrectly. As a matter of fact, I was at one such data company until recently.

The decision to demonetize is Google's.

Wouldn't a free market allow everyone to be in the mix, but advertisers would make the choice?


> The decision to demonetize is Google's.

Yes, but the decision is based on feedback from advertisers. In YouTube's ideal world, every single video on the site would be monetized, but this isn't possible because advertisers do not want their brand associated with controversial topics, especially those that concern very heated political debates.

> Wouldn't a free market allow everyone to be in the mix, but advertisers would make the choice?

The creators and advertisers have no obligation to work through YouTube. In fact, all of the big creators work directly with advertisers that are friendly to their content by editing sponsored content directly into the video.


I don't believe there is enough evidence available to state what Google is making its decisions based on. I think its somewhat safe to assume the first major round of demonitization (the original adpocolypse) was likely based on advertiser feedback, since the major complaints being made involved extremely inappropriate ad placement/tone for the videos they were being played on.

The more recent demonitizations have appeared more and more "proactive" in protecting Google, but due to the comments being made by the CEO of youtube, and by the patterns in the demonitizations its not unreasonable to suspect there maybe other factors outside of keeping advertisers happy.


Perhaps, but as I already noted, every popular video that is demonetized costs YouTube a lot of money because they stream the video to millions of viewers but get no revenue to offset the costs of hosting and streaming. We all know the most important thing to every corporation, including YouTube, is to make as much money as possible, so barring some strong evidence to suggest otherwise, we need no other explanation than the obvious one: advertisers don't want to pay for ads in controversial videos.

Advertisers pay Google for the service of making sure their ads are next to content that maximizes sales and minimizes controversy. Whether or not Google achieves that is up for debate.

Advertisers can/do choose to bypass Google and just straight sponsor videos.


YouTube sets the rates it pays creators not the advertisers. A union would require YouTube doesn't arbitrarily change the rates it pays it's creators and also might be able to prevent them from instantly demonetizing videos. A union would create stability in the marketplace.

For example, if you're contracted to do a job, the client doesn't usually arbitrarily change the rates it's paying you unless you have some contractual agreement to do so(overtime, paid leave, etc.).

But that's built into the original contract during negotiations.

YouTube is just "here read this shit and do what we say and we can pay you or choose not to pay you or change what we pay you whenever we feel like it whether you like it or not"


Just to be clear, I am not opposed to the idea of creators banding together to negotiate collectively in order to get better terms from YouTube - I think if they can build a coalition powerful enough to accomplish this it'd be a good thing and I'd say more power to them!

My point is that YouTube does not employ creators, they offer a free service to creators without any guarantees. I'm also pointing out that YouTube does not want to demonetize videos because demonetizing a video costs YouTube money (they host and stream the video for free, but get no revenue in return) and any changes to YouTube's business operations that would reduce the amount of videos that get demonetized would very obviously benefit YouTube.

> if you're contracted to do a job, the client doesn't usually arbitrarily change the rates it's paying you unless you have some contractual agreement to do so(overtime, paid leave, etc.).

YouTube is not contracting creators to do a job, creators are uploading their content to YouTube at no cost to them, and in exchange, YouTube offers a cut of the ad revenue to the creators if YouTube can successfully monetize the video. Whenever a video is demonetized YouTube loses.


Point taken on that definition, but as tech companies create new markets (e.g. YouTube, Uber, etc.) I think the definition of employee will evolve as well

Perhaps. I'm curious how you might envision a future definition of "employee" that would cause YouTube creators to be considered employees of YouTube.

I feel like there is a line to be drawn somewhere around the points where you start referring to yourself as a "YouTuber" and where other people regularly describe you as one.

More broadly, this same line may exist for any site/company somewhere around the point where whatever awkward construction for "person who regularly posts on site X" or "person who regularly does gig work for company X" starts getting applied to you a lot.

I have no idea how to even begin to define this in legal terms. :)


> I feel like there is a line to be drawn somewhere around the points where you start referring to yourself as a "YouTuber" and where other people regularly describe you as one.

This seems pretty subjective, difficult to measure, and impractical to enforce.


Which is why I said "I have no idea how to define this in legal terms".

I would bet money that something can be nailed down in terms of what percentage of time goes into it, what percentage of total income comes from it, and other hard measures like that, if you feel like surveying a few hundred self-described You-Tubers and a few hundred non-You-Tubers. That sure sounds like work I don't feel like doing, though.


> what percentage of time goes into it

Who would verify the amount of time spent by private individuals recording videos using their own equipment in their own homes?

> what percentage of total income comes from it

Why would that matter? It seems odd that YouTube's employer status would depend on whether or not the would-be employee has other sources of income.

>other hard measures like that

This doesn't seem like a realistic "evolution" of employer status. I'm not saying the definition won't ever evolve but it just doesn't seem practical that a private business which offers a free service to consumers would suddenly become an employer of those consumers based on how they use the service.

I'll also add that turning YouTube into an employer would have problematic consequences for creators, e.g. as an employer, YouTube would be in a position to make editorial demands of creators which would put them right back where they started (create advertiser friendly videos or you don't get paid).


They perform work, their work is reviewed and subjected to standards and they expect return. Both work and compensation are subject to contractual terms.

> They perform work

At their own behest, not through any formal agreement or obligation from YouTube - YouTube only enters the picture after the producer decides to upload their content to YouTube and they don't have to do that.

> Their work is reviewed and subjected to standards and they expect return

Google offers creators a place to upload their videos for free, it does not offer any guarantees regarding returns.


Is this not true of most art?

Yet most galleries can't simply stop asking for payment with admission without also compensating the artist.


> YouTube sets the rates it pays creators not the advertisers.

Isn't the price the creator gets paid determined by advertisers bidding in an auction?


The issue is not demonetization.

It's that Google are twats that arrogantly think they can do as they please and offer no explanation for their actions.

You know, like any monopoly entity that is filled with people who depend on a paycheque to live their life.


Check out Joerg Sprave’s video [1] on this with him and the IG Metall lawyers. Joerg is the slingshot channel YouTuber who is helping lead the charge on this. In the video, they give a good breakdown on their demands and their strategy.

[1] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oZZ5Kouj_hQ


Definitely. I also came across that video via a shout-out from Forgotten Weapons:

https://youtu.be/EUxxLZz_2NU

I hope Dr. Richard Wolff interviews Youtube Union and IG Metall, because it's in his wheelhouse of workers organizing, co-ops and economics.

https://youtube.com/democracyatwrk


The false self employment concept seems fishy to me. I doubt they will succeed on that front.

Perhaps they will be able to get somewhere with GDPR, but, supposing that they are able to get the courts to classify the judgments about uploaded videos as personal data (a stretch), YouTube will just begin disclosing that information (or stop retaining it). If all YouTube retains is a bit that says how many raters rated a piece of content as "teen" or above, what recourse does the GDPR offer? Sure, you can have that information, but that doesn't mean that YouTube is required to disclose the mechanisms by which they made the determinations.

Their last option (collective action, like strikes or what have you) is just wishful thinking. Most YouTube watchers do not care that a guy who is getting paid shittons of money to make videos about slingshots is making slightly less shittons than he otherwise would.


I don't see how this would work. Creators are from all across the world and many of them have to deal with wildly different issues due to a differing legal system. Furthermore, being a youtuber isn't something that's clearly defined either, because there are many that create content for a bit and then never create content again.

This is a solved problem, many unions are international. The AFL-CIO is the largest federation of unions in the US and is international.

unions have a history of internationalism aswell, considering their close ties to ideologies which have internationalism as a core tenant. (social democracy, socialism, communism etc).

Did anyone ever thought of creating an external index of youtube videos so the recommendations are open source and aren't controlled by Youtube? Basically a table with links and other metadata

Doesn't seem like it would be easy without a firehose of metadata and I doubt Google would be amenable to providing that for a competing service.

At this point to enable that kind of competition would have to have legislative protection (e.g. a law similar to the UK one mandating banks/gas/electric companies have to provide APIs).


Selenium, click a video, store the suggested, verify what has been and hasn't been watched, move to the next, do the same etc... etc... Seems pretty easy to build a bot to do such a thing.

I suppose other search engines index YouTube all the time and they don't explicitly disallow it:

https://www.youtube.com/robots.txt


With the amount of raw footage coming from YouTube any given minute, I'm not sure there are many companies beyond Google that could do it.

The hardest part of that volume is is the footage itself. Sure archiving/serving footage may be hard, but if you just wanted to index all the titles/creators/metadata and maybe comments, I don't think it'd be that hard, in terms of volume at least.

Good clean access too it, especially if google is running any anti-scraping will be the harder part.


Most of that is in the HTML so one wouldn't even have to wait for JS execution on the page load. In fact, it's simple to download the entire page so you're not hitting up Google multiple times for each User. A few million hits over a few months and nobody will know right?

Fundamentally I think the problem is that these platforms are not neutral, when YouTube's algorithm hoists your video to the front page they are "manipulating" the system.

Personally, I would not be surprised to see Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act challenged on this notion and it as the basis for other challenges.

Internet providers just serve bits, any effort to "manipulate" those bits based on who is providing them is looked at with great aversion (net neutrality), tech platforms have done a good job so far distancing what they do to other times of platforms but I believe we are all awakening to the power that these obtuse algorithms have on us.


Here's an excellent video breaking down with extremely compelling data how the "trending" tab is very heavily manipulated in favor of mainstream media sources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDqBeXJ8Zx8

What's interesting is that extreme bias in the US is not seen in Canada. Though I'm not sure it's stated in the video, I think that Youtube has been propping up MSM sources so that they can make themselves seem more relevant in the eyes of the MSM. They're doing this so that they can partner with the MSM and expand their YoutubeTV service.

They desperately want some sort of service model to make money, and they're willing to destroy the goodwill of the community to achieve it.


It's hypocritical of YT to be selling the dream of ad based revenue for their content creators when YT themselves are trying to get away from it.

If YT is moving to subscription services, shouldn't the content creators be thinking like that too?

It's also ... unright to be moving toward MSM when they are supposed to be the people's way to share video content.

YT is becoming NBC or HBO, but without all the regulations those MSM distributors have to follow. I want real closed-captions on all my content for example, so I can listen to my own music during the video instead of whatever music the content creator preferred -- like I can with TV.

Of course YT would say, "There's too much content, we can't be expected to CC everything."


I think the reality is a lot less interesting than the conspiracy theory: mainstream media sources are far less likely to post dangerous, controversial or radicalising content. Given that YouTube has historically had a problem with that (and still does in countries like Brazil[1]) it's not so much a suspicious response as a very predictable business response.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/11/world/americas/youtube-br...


It's been obvious for years Google is moving in this direction of favoring "big brands". I mean I think they even said it out-loud about a decade ago when they made a Google search algorithm update.

Then the whole thing with AMP and them "partnering with big publishers" to show you carousels of big brand content at the top of the search page also happened.

And the same thing with YouTube happened the moment Google decided to turn it into "web TV", also many years ago.

There's also the trend of top of all these other trends of Google trying to do everything by itself, which the European Commission noticed a while ago and started investigating it in multiple antitrust lawsuits. But I fear even several multi-billion dollar fines won't be enough to actually stop Google from going down this path even more.


Google has just become "The Internet" on the internet. Youtube is what the internet was. Tumblr is what the internet was. Facebook is what the internet was.

All those together are "The new internet" which is really just the new main stream media. We grew up with ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS. Now it's facebook, twitter, and youtube. Those new internet bootstrapped itself off the hopes and dreams of individual content creators and now that they are big enough, they are disregarding the individual and moving back toward the "mass brain" corporations.

20 years ago, the internet was the dream that now individuals could create and have as much visibility as big corporations. It was liberating. It was democratizing!

But the internet has gone the way of the airwaves and sadly, the content has too -- for the most part. Yes, there's still good content out there, but if ABC, CBS, and NBC won't show it to you, you have to work harder as a consumer to find it. Like at the library or from your friends and family, or idk, ddg?

We need a search engine that refuses to index any content with Google Ads on it. Or any ad network on it.

We need to actively disengage from anything associated with Google.


Section 230 does the exact opposite of what you want (think?). The idea being that a platform's effort to curb hate/violence/porn/whatever should be applauded, and not open them up to endless liability.

The internet as we know it is not workable without Section 230. Youtube would have to decide between becoming Netflix or *(something-worse-than-)Pornhub.

HN wouldn't be possible, nor would reddit (both would become 4chan).


> Fundamentally I think the problem is that these platforms are not neutral

Why should these companies have an obligation to be neutral?

> I would not be surprised to see Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act challenged on this notion

Could you elaborate a little more on the details of the challenge? What aspects of section 230 would the challenger suggest are unconstitutional?

> Internet providers just serve bits, any effort to "manipulate" those bits based on who is providing them is looked at with great aversion (net neutrality)

Internet providers are not legally obligated to adhere to net neutrality, so why should website operators be obligated to do so?

> I believe we are all awakening to the power that these obtuse algorithms have on us.

Could you give some examples of the power they have over us, I don't believe any of google's algorithms have any power over me and I think that is true of most people, unlike, e.g. algorithms used by banks, credit bureaus and insurance companies to calculate risk with literal life and death consequences.


> I would not be surprised to see Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act challenged on this notion

I would also not be surprised, but I think it would be a mistake.

If YouTube's algorithm makes them ineligible for 230 protections, then it seems like the same rules should apply to DuckDuckGo -- after all, they're using algorithms to rank sites.

Not everything is a slippery slope of course, but absent some kind of consistent line it's not clear to me that the removal of 230 wouldn't very quickly lead to a world where very little user content was allowed online at all. The definition of an algorithm will be constantly evolving, and few small companies will want to risk running afoul of the law. This is probably not what people want when they talk about neutrality -- content gatekeepers aren't neutral.

I'd give the same warning to people coming from the opposite perspective -- that YouTube shouldn't get 230 protections because it's not moderating enough. If 230 goes away, there's another way that YouTube can avoid liability, and it's to stop moderating anything at all, regardless of how foul it is. This is also probably not what people want when they talk about moderation -- Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are pretty bad about removing hate speech, but at least they're not 8chan. They at least do some moderation.

The purpose of Section 230 is to avoid punishing platforms for moderation/curation attempts, and to let companies accept user content from diverse sources without needing to pre-vet all of it. Get rid of 230, and we'll end up with a smaller selection of services that are less eager to let users upload content; and the services we're left with won't be in a hurry to moderate or curate any of the content that users do upload.


Fundamentally I think the problem is that these platforms are not neutral, when YouTube's algorithm hoists your video to the front page they are "manipulating" the system.

Sure, and when someone puts weights on both sides of a scale, operating it correctly, they are still "manipulating" the scale. That's not what people get mad about. It's when someone puts their thumb on the scale, because they want it to read a certain way, that people get mad.

It should be fine if the YouTube algorithm finds things which go viral, then promotes them, so long as that's neutral. It's even fine when things which are clearly abuses of the system or people are squashed, so long as that's neutral. It's not fine when it gets to the level of pushing or squashing a political agenda, however. It's not going to be easy to draw the line, but in the case of pushing politics, it has clearly gone too far.


>It's not going to be easy to draw the line, but in the case of pushing politics, it has clearly gone too far.

In which way? I've seen a lot of arguments that YouTube pushes people into alt-right and ethnonationalist content way too easily.

I don't think there's an objective way to choose what videos to promote. Obviously they're going to try to come up with some right way to put the weights, and then if they subjectively think that results in the wrong thing, they're going to tweak the weights. Even if there is a weighting that objectively results in more views, it's a value judgment to choose to use that weighting. It could be that prioritizing outrage-bait content gets more views, but I wouldn't call prioritizing that neutral or beneficial.


There's way more than algorithm tweaking going on there. There are employees who are manually treating the same thing differently, depending on who and also subject to their own biases. The examples of this on YouTube are legion.

Also, there are people who gained viral notoriety, but were going against YouTube/Google politics, then had their whole Google account disappear, then get restored, or remain disappeared. There's some thumbs on the scale over there.


> It's not fine when it gets to the level of pushing or squashing a political agenda

Why not? What's wrong with pushing a political agenda?


Exactly - Freedom of Association - its a private company, why should the government regulate that they need to be politically neutral.

1 - They are a platform, not a publisher. Otherwise, they don't merit the safe harbor.

2 - Freedom of Speech is more important than property rights.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_v._Alabama


The US Government telling Google what to post/recommend on the platform they run and pay for can be a violation of Google's first amendment right to Freedom of Speech.

"[Marsh] iwas raised in the somewhat high-profile 1996 cyberlaw case, Cyber Promotions v. America Online, 948 F. Supp. 436, 442 (E.D. Pa. 1996).[1] Cyber Promotions wished to send out "mass email advertisements" to AOL customers. AOL installed software to block those emails. Cyber Promotions sued on free speech grounds and cited the Marsh case as authority for the proposition that even though AOL's servers were private property, AOL had opened them to the public to a degree sufficient that constitutional free speech protections could be applied. The federal district court disagreed, thereby paving the way for spam filters at the Internet service provider level."


You fundamentally misunderstand Section 230.

Also, as a private company, Google/Youtube should be free to moderate what content is on their platform, and I am free to use it or use a competitor. Freedom of speech includes freedom of association.


It is pretty obvious that things like search results are manipulated to fit an agenda. Search Google Images for "white american family" and "black american family" and compare the results. You can replace "black american family" with indian or any other group and the results are similar.

There are many interracial couples under "white american family" and none under "black american family". The only way I can explain this is there is manipulation of the algorithm to fit a certain perspective.

I don't think there is anything wrong with interracial families but I do think it is concerning that our search results are being subtly manipulated like this without most people knowing.


Taken from a Reddit thread:

"If you're talking about this picture, it is tagged as "white" because of the background colour."

As usual, Occam's Razor applies here. Just imagine for a second that Google sent out a specific instruction to employees that they wanted to alter the algorithm so that a search for "white american family" returns mixed-race couples. Imagine the number of employees that would see a code commit like that, or otherwise be involved in the decision. Do you really think that not a single person would have blown the whistle?


Not related to OP's specific example, but very recently a Google employee came forward and blew the whistle on Google intentionally biasing their algorithms to sway public opinion : https://www.theblaze.com/newsletters/wtf-msm-google-whistleb...

He hasn't actually presented any meaningful evidence and is a kook that believes in QAnon. So excuse me if I'm more than a little dubious of his claims.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/james-okeefes-google-whistlebl...


Well he handed over 950 pages of docs and a laptop to the Department of Justice so we just might find out.

The 950 pages were posted to Project Veritas. I read each single doc. It was a load of nothing. Not a single piece of evidence that points to his claims.

He handed them to Project Veritas, which is maybe even more of a joke than he is. Have you actually read any of the documents are you relying on right wing media to interpret them for you?

I read all of the docs. Every last one of them. There is nothing there. This whole thing is ridiculous.

> The only way I can explain this is there is manipulation of the algorithm to fit a certain perspective.

Unless... the two search terms have different distributions in their raw, unbiased results which seems completely plausible to me.


Out of curiousity I did just that. And aside from skin tone, I got identical sets of people in khakis and button-downs hugging in front of houses, white picket fences, and couches. And found interracial families under black, but not white.

Something something anecdote not data.



This is weird also, why would you be shown different results than me? If search was unbiased wouldn't we all be getting the same results?

That's the only way you can explain this? Really?

This is a popular exercise on the internet, but there are any number of explanations for this that are satisfied entirely by understanding how any search index works.


Another subtle manipulation you might unknowingly be exposed to is the word "interracial" itself and the notion of using it to classify people. Growing up in Europe, I have only ever heard of this concept from Americans and it continues to baffle me why it would be a useful distinction to make. The word seems to imply the segregation of people of different "races".

America has a history of defining "black" as being as little as 1/8 African blood. You can be 7/8 white European heritage and be "black" in America.

Historically, it was illegal in much of the US for a white person and black person to marry.

It's just a raft load of nonsense rooted in the detail that America imported slaves from Africa, then used skin color to distinguish free from slave. It hasn't really fully died. We are still living with a lot of those mental models in new guises.


This is happening all over American society

Project veritas leaked a candid, hidden camera chat with Google's Head of Responsible Innovation, Jen Gennai, where, essentially, she and an engineer shamelessly describe using ML to manipulate search results to better align them with the reality that they would like society to adopt, i.e., a strongly left leaning agenda. Among other topics, she specifically mentioned that Google is working against "another 2016 situation" (regarding the election of Trump). The clips in this video stand on their own-there is no context which mitigates the fact that Google is injecting political bias into its search results. In an interview with a whistleblower in the same video[1], claims of blacklisted autocomplete terms are also implied to be part of search curation.

Given Google's status as the defacto gateway to information for the majority of the first world, this kind of meddling with queries and query results should be cause for concern, regardless of one's political leaning. Ironically, the video was taken down from YouTube.

Note: I don't appreciate the bias of the following source either, but the content is damning on its own.

1.https://www.projectveritas.com/2019/06/24/insider-blows-whis...


The content is not damning at all and the "2016 situation" is clearly taken out of context - it is referring to Russian manipulation and fake news.

The Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act makes no guarantee of "neutrality" nor does it prevent sites from "manipulating" the things they display.

Isn't this kind of good for youtube? They've been struggling with better organization and would probably like to deal with one collective than many small youtubers. It would probably help with things like better overall quality, better understanding of legal issues like parodies, better communication, etc.

In a worst case scenario, how much can a union even hurt youtube? If they decided to go on strike, the barrier to entry is so low that people would easily fill up the void until the issue got resolved. Not to mention a lot of videos are things from tv shows and music videos that probably wouldn't be part of this union.


Power structures see other power structures as a threat. Google would like to be able to do what they want, whenever they want, without having to negotiate with another entity, or even worse, getting sued by another entity.

What they should do is collectively take their content somewhere else.

As an aside, I'm seeing the same pattern at Amazon. People thought they were opening a business on amazon selling retail. Then amazon started selling the profitable products themselves, storing the products themselves, ... basically doing more and more of the work and taking more control and taking money from the people who helped them become powerful. Businesses there are now devolving into repackaging jobs.

Now Youtube is doing the same. They used focus on being a search and distribution mechanism. Now they produce content, allow sponsorships, have more ads per minute of viewing then television, ... jobs there are again, repackaging jobs. Repackage scenes from movies, previews, upload documentaries, sports clips...

They both grew through the expansion of the long tail. The reality is: where are people in the long tail going to go to sell their repackaged stuff?

Nowhere. There's no other amazon. Ebay? The flea market of the internet? That's where people who wanted to sell to wal-mart go.

The only place for them to go would be to create their own online store, or their own website where people can watch their movies. Then you have to be found through...

... that's right, Google. Nope. That won't work either, because only AdWords sponsored content appears in Google searches anymore. Google wants you adding data snippets to google.com so people won't even visit your website.

The internet has turned to garbage. You're better off going to the library like the old days.

The internet has been ruined by the mainstream and the money grubbers.

It's just gross. So sad.


> What they should do is collectively take their content somewhere else.

The problem is the economics won't be any better anywhere else. Youtube is the way it is because of all the many stakeholders (viewers responding to clickbait, politicians, copyright holders, bad actors etc). Any other platform would eventually have the same problems and either cave into them, or be sued into oblivion.

As for the ad-related issues Youtube isn't profitable, and it's clear people aren't yet willing to pay for it.

The reason for "Repackage scenes from movies, previews, upload documentaries, sports clips" is because that's what people want to view quite simply. Those videos have millions of views.

Youtube certainly could do a lot better, but you have to at least understand the factors that pour into why it's struggling. Managing communities is hard. Managing a platform where 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute is very hard.


It's the particular revenue model of the marketplace that causes the problem—the one where cashflow all fans-in from advertisers to YouTube itself, and then from there back out to content creators according to view metrics.

YouTube content creators have responded to the flaws in this model by choosing a better one: one where advertisers pay them directly; they put the ad directly into the video; and YouTube isn't involved.

The production side of this alternate relationship is a big hassle, though; it's like it's the 1930s again, when the actors in soap operas would stop to advertise soap.

It'd be very easy to build a "middle way" where the platform handles inserting the ad creative into the video, and handles payment processing between the advertiser and the content-creator, and even captures view metrics to allow the advertiser visibility into their spend—but where the platform doesn't decide which advertisements run on which videos (with that instead being entirely up to the advertiser and the content creator to schedule between themselves.)

Yes, insofar as Google is an ad-tech company, that distributed-ad-auction is their business model's secret sauce/moat, and I'm suggesting they just throw it away. But in this case, the "tech" part of ad-tech is precisely what's killing YouTube as a monetizable platform. Content creators just need ads, not ad-tech.


Who pays for the hosting costs then? It is very expensive for YouTube to host all of the videos that they do, and they way they pay for that is taking a portion of advertising revenue. Small YouTubers are subsidized by larger ones, since larger creators give YouTube the ad revenue they need to pay for the costs of hosting all of the videos that don't get much ad revenue. If YouTubers stop using YouTube ads entirely, I think it will be increasingly unprofitable for YouTube to allow smaller YouTubers, and casual people, to post videos on the platform.

And I don't see how this middle way is any better for most YouTubers anyways. The reason some YouTubers get demonetized is that advertisers don't want to show ads on certain types of content. If advertisers don't want to show ads on a video through YouTube, they probably won't want to do that through this third party service either. For large YouTubers it can certainly help (which is why they are already doing it) since advertisers can seek out large YouTubers who have a fanbase matching their requirements, but I don't see how it helps in general.


In such an alternative approach, YouTube would still be taking a cut of the fees as the payment-processor interceding between advertisers and content-creators. Their business model would be equivalent to that of Patreon's, in the sense that when the content-creator gets paid, they get paid.

With current YouTube, any fees paid in by advertisers are theirs to do with as they like, and payment-of-content-creators is just a nice thing that YouTube happens to do, but can not-do on a whim with no ill effects. "Revenue from advertisers" and "expenses paying out content-creators" are two entirely independent lines on their balance sheet.

In this alternate model, the money they would receive from advertisers would now be a liability on their balance-sheet, something owed (except for the fraction taken as fee) to the content creator, just as if it was money in a savings account they were holding for the content-creator.


But...why?

Because then YouTube has no incentive (or ability, really) to prevent what it thinks of as “advertiser-unfriendly” content-creators from being monetized. As long as there are advertisers making deals with a content creator, that content creator is, by definition, advertiser friendly.

It's not profitable but they should put more focus on the people bringing in the majority of their views, meaning pay them more than the clown who just came along and got lucky on one or two videos (most likely copying someone else with a bigger following).

Most large video makers these days get pathetic amounts of ad revenue (less than $100 for a video with a few million views) and instead are making a vast amount more on patreon or similar sites.

Its those creators that have the most to gain at an alternate site, the restrictions of youtube are all downsides, and they receive no money directly from it, the only real upside youtube offers is audience reach.


Off by an order of magnitude on ad revenue, more like several thousand $ per million views.

If you look up "how much I make on youtube" videos you can see creator's dashboards to give you some evidence. The answer is that it varies vastly depending on audience, county, topic and advertiser's interest.

"$0.25 to $4" $ per thousand views -- https://techwiser.com/how-much-can-you-make-from-youtube/


So for a few million views (==3m?), that translates to $600-$12,000?

huh, I would not have guessed that. But I also have no concept of how much a few million views is for a typical content creator.


A typical full time content creator creates a new video per day. To go full time you'd need a couple of thousand per month, lets say $2,000. With these numbers that is 500k to 8 million views a month, or around 15k to 350k views a video. That might not sound like a lot, but given that it is for the entire world you can fit basically any niche within those numbers.

Go full time crushing things with an hydraulic press? Yes! Go full time discussing medieval weapons? Yes! Go full time building things with no tools from scratch in the woods? Yes! Go full time trying to beat Super Mario as fast as possible? Double yes! And so on.

My point is, this revenue is more than enough for interesting content to be produced, content that would never exist without this kind of monetization scheme. It might not be the best model for high end documentaries or movies, but it works for a different set of content which is still highly sought after.


> That might not sound like a lot, but given that it is for the entire world you can fit basically any niche within those numbers.

A common fallacy in business.

> Go full time crushing things with an hydraulic press? Yes! Go full time discussing medieval weapons? Yes! Go full time building things with no tools from scratch in the woods? Yes! Go full time trying to beat Super Mario as fast as possible? Double yes! And so on.

They're not that much a weird niche really. Go to any large university and there's probably a club full of people who discuss medieval weapons full time. Actually there's probably at least two (one that's more purist in terms of historical accuracy, and another that's more focused on fun), then there's probably also a fencing club, a kendo club, maybe a HEMA club, dozens of gaming groups.

And it's not like it's not niche that isn't served by TV. There's plenty of documentary / infotainment series on medieval weapons and combat. There's serious series. There's Deadliest Warrior. Youtube often gets viewers because it's a different format, not because it's serving a very weird niche. Cheap, regular content (and often the comment box keeps creators a bit more honest), suggested next episode, more talky, short episodes.

As for those other examples, there's Mythbusters (smash stuff!), survival shows (primitive technology in a different format). Gaming is the only really odd one - it just isn't shown on TV much.


He's mentioning each of a few very successful YouTubers. I'm sure all of these competitors exist but the YouTubers are killing it.

Just like in SERPs, some keywords (video verticals?) are more valuable than others to advertisers, so views monetize differently per vertical. You can bet that a video about e.g. high-end fashion or jewellery gets huge CPMs; and that a video about e.g. software piracy gets basically nil CPMs (because the viewers are the least likely audience to pay for anything!)

I had a video with 1.4 million views. I took it down. It didn't pay jack and wasn't inline with my content anyways. That said, 1.4 million views, maybe 4 to 500 tops.

I'd be interested to see a source for either of these claims. I've always wondered what the revenue was like for varying amounts of views.

That was true perhaps a few years ago, it isn't anymore.

> The internet has turned to garbage.

The ad-supported internet has turned to garbage. The academic and hobbyist internet is fine, and not that much different from the old days. The governmental internet depends a lot on where you are, but .gov.uk is really rather good, and vastly better at what it does than snailmail and Post Offices were in the old days.


> The academic and hobbyist internet is fine, and not that much different from the old days.

YouTube, and dreams of monetization, have infected the hobbyist internet too. I am active in some niche travel hobbies. It used to be that people in this subculture would write detailed text blogs with tips about various routes and definitions. Now, people think video is the default medium for sharing one’s information, and so they make YT videos that have lots of whizbang effects and GoPro shots but aren’t very information-dense. You have to sit through many minutes (or up to an hour) of a guy stuttering “Uh... So...” to eventually glean details that might help you. It sucks. For a while the people who made these videos would also spam Reddit and specialist forums with links, clearly interested in the prospect of monetizing, but now everyone seems to understand that YT is not a reliable path to financial success.

The decline of text blogging is also partly Google’s fault, in that lots of hobbyist blogs are now excluded from search results even if you try to search for the exact terms you know are found in the blog entry.


People just go to where the audience is. I've considered both starting a blog and starting a YouTube channel, and realized that if I actually want people to see my content then only YouTube makes sense. After all, I don't even follow any blogs myself!

Maybe one day there will be a platform that makes following blogs as convenient as following youtubers


> Maybe one day there will be a platform that makes following blogs as convenient as following youtubers

There was such a platform: the RSS ecosystem. Unfortunately, Google managed to attract something like 80% of the market to its offering, Google Reader, and then it shut Google Reader down, which basically killed off RSS. RSS does remain today, but it is a shadow of what it once was.


> The decline of text blogging is also partly Google’s fault, in that lots of hobbyist blogs are now excluded from search results even if you try to search for the exact terms you know are found in the blog entry.

Interesting; I wasn't aware of that. Do you know whether alternative search engines like DDG have the same problem?


> Now, people think video is the default medium for sharing one’s information

How people decided to default on the absolutely least effective medium for doing this is beyond me, but oh yeah, I’ve seen this.

For me it’s a clear sign of worthless content not worth my time.

If it’s not text, I’m not going to consume it. EOT.


I have the same impression.

Old days: random cool stuff, sea of garbage, impossible to find anything.

Middling days: random cool stuff, sea of garbage, Google!

Now: random cool stuff, sea of garbage, impossible to find anything.

It’s still gotten easier to put things on the Internet than ever before. There are still even more hobbyist sites than ever. Google hasn’t actively rolled those things back, it’s just taken us back to the garbage fire of the old days.


I went to a government website the other day. 5 pages of forms I filled out several times. Each time on the final page, "system error, cannot proceed."

I called the agency, they said, "You should print out the PDF, fill that out and bring it to our office."

Can you believe that?? There aren't enough programmers to make the .gov stuff work right because FAANG is buying them all. So, I'm not sure you are right on that.


> Can you believe that?? There aren't enough programmers to make the .gov stuff work right because FAANG is buying them all. So, I'm not sure you are right on that.

There are enough. There certainly are in the US and likely so other places. It's that government often pays peanuts compared to private sector and adds poor management and poor advancement prospects on top.

If people aren't willing to work for you because your working conditions suck, it might be worth considering better ones.


Being a contractor is where it's at, it's just hard to win the contracts sometimes because you gotta know people. Once you do, it's not unusual to see a $3 million budget to build a basic website.

The government might also have a lot of trouble finding programmers that have never done any illegal drugs, which probably doesn't help. Although that might only really be something the three letter agencies care about, I'm not sure.

Your assumption that this is happening because those engineers are less skilled is completely wrong. I've worked at both private and govt. the problem in Govt is that resources just go towards the wrong projects. and things that could be fixed never do get fixed due to bureaucracy and regulations. engineers working for gov sometimes are forced to use the worst tools imaginable: often due to regulations (the tools/software used needs to be licensed or some other bs regulations).

Believe me when I say there is a lot of money to be made making it easier for people to package information to give to the government. Yes, the government should spend more money on IT.

I agree with you. This is just a huge side conversation.

Also, there is a TON of great educational content on youtube produced by governments. Google won't show me those videos on web pages at the government website, but they'll show me the youtube video with ads on it.


Is this in the US? As I said, I was talking about the UK.

Government offices don't just lose on salary, but also on working conditions.

Secondhand anecdotes recount fistfights in the office and the unfireable-until-the-election official viewing porn during working hours and continually infecting their desktop and the intranet with malware.


This sounds outrageous. Would be awesome if that video is going to end up on yt.

Unfortunately, that was from before smartphone ubiquity. Possibly the story is also from before YouTube, but the recounting of it was not.

You should have a look at the work that the USDS is doing.

You should also look at volunteering with Code for America.


I've also seen a number of .gov sites that require googleapis or use google and other trackers. .gov is very much involved with monetization and tracking

It’s due to the government not being able to compete on salary due to federal salary schedule limitations.

The joke is they can easily pay a contractor 150$/hour though. But can’t pay an employee hourly wage of 100$/hour


I believe employee wage ceiling is something more like $75/hr, and that would be for a job description like "you run the department of commerce"

> Ebay? The flea market of the internet?

You disregard ebay but ebay actually has economic alignment with its sellers. The buyer experience isn't as good as Amazon's, but the seller experience is better in that you can control your destiny more.

But this apparently makes it a flea market?

There's going to be a tradeoff between curation and producer freedom. You can't have your cake and eat it too.


I used to sell auto accessories in my spare time (around 5 years ago). I used both eBay and Amazon, but left Amazon.

First, Amazon's fees were higher (not sure if that's still the case). When you're selling low margin items, like I was, it was nearly not worth it. Second, the way I was grouped with similar sellers was madness. I had multiple returns because my item didn't match the picture. Well, considering Amazon used someone else's image and description on the listing, that makes sense.

eBay was many times better for selling items. I was able to use my images, customize descriptions, and ultimately pay less fees.


Apparently you took the flea market comparison as disparaging and it was intended that way. Why? What's wrong with flea markets? I shop there regularly and have sold there many times. I usually get great deals there on either side of the transaction. I can say the same about Ebay. For Ebay to be a kind of vast internet flea market seems like a good thing.

> Why? What's wrong with flea markets?

Low-quality goods and the increased possibility of scams.


I get plenty of low quality goods at Walmart and Amazon too, and plenty of scams as well. Sometimes it's the cheap goods I'm there for, and I don't expect high quality for that. Caveat emptor applies everywhere.

The problem comes when you don't realize you're digging through crap looking for pearls and imagine that it's all pearls.


It reads even more disparaging with context:

> Nowhere. There's no other amazon. Ebay? The flea market of the internet? That's where people who wanted to sell to wal-mart go.

If I wanted to make it sound good I'd call it a bazaar or something.


There's going to be a tradeoff between curation and producer freedom. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I think the above is one of the key takeaways from the collective experience of the 20-teens! In a way, it's a summary of the whole history of the Internet.


People thought they were opening a business on amazon selling retail. Then amazon started selling the profitable products themselves, storing the products themselves, ... basically doing more and more of the work and taking more control and taking money from the people who helped them become powerful.

Isn't this a pattern with big tech companies and their walled gardens? "App devs thought they were starting a business on the bigco app store, selling direct to users. Then bigco started making their in-built versions of the popular apps themselves... basically doing more and more of the work and taking more control and taking money from the people who helped them become powerful."


This is a pattern with every such environment I can think of. Most people are unlikely to stop at a random house on a street with a sign out front saying "Stuff for sale," and will instead meet that same seller with that same stuff at a flea market, because the flea market provides some small aura of respectability. But not a ton, so even more people will only shop at a "real store." The marginal cost of selling out of your house is essentially zero, but your market size is tiny. The flea market costs a little bit, but gives you a little bigger potential market. Getting into a retail store or a big online store like Amazon costs even more, but gives your a much bigger potential market. So as a seller, you do it, but of course all such outlets eventually try to maximize their own profits at the expense of the sellers, and so it continues.

You know, a lot of the amazing parts of the internet that people reminisce about are still there. The things that _have_ disappeared are often not technically complex or expensive to reproduce. Defeatism is boring, start building things and telling your friends about them.

I think the biggest change is that you can't easily find the good parts of the internet through Google anymore.

That's exactly right! It's like the only stuff I can find anymore are ehow.com, pinterest, houzz, etc. I feel more and more like searching through google is like perusing the covers of the magazines at the checkout aisle. Lots of low quality recycled content, filled with ads and referencing other content also filled with ads.

It's a huge drink the google kool-aid cult.

If you want to be on Google, you need to have adwords bringing people to your site, ads on your content, popups for the ad-targeters, click-bait at the bottom, tons of overlays.

Why is that all there is anymore, I don't get it.

What happened to the good content? Why can't I find it anymore?


Some of us predate Google.

Come, lovely summer child, we will teach you to survive the winter.


What is also both gross and sad is your contemptuous description of YouTube videos as being “Repackage scenes from movies, previews, upload documentaries, sport clips”

Setting aside derivative works, which it sounds like you are attacking the value of, there is shit tons of purely original content on YouTube that carries a lot of negotiating power.


Repackaged content a huge part of yt's bread and butter. I acknowledge there are excellent content creators at youtube making their own stuff. That's who I was talking about in the first sentence of my OP. They should go somewhere else.

It's the same thing with Uber and airbnb, etc. Big corporations are making billions while those doing the real work that is valuable to the consumer are making pennies.

Sharecropping. This is not a new concept. It wasn't ever an equitable model and yet, here we are right back in it.

It feels like a lot of big corporations are taking advantage of a lot of people who hope to change their lives. It's a fraud. It's not ... right.

I want it to be right. It takes hours of filming, lots of equipment, courage, etc.

Each one of the content creators -- those creating original content -- are taking as much risk as the founders of YouTube, even more really in the big scheme of things and yet they and now Google are making billions, while the people they make those billions off of are making pennies.

Why does it work this way? I don't know why it works this way.

I might be having a philosophical break down atm or something, idk, but it feels like there's a huge fraud being perpetrated out there in internet land and I don't like it one bit.


> What they should do is collectively take their content somewhere else.

This will have almost no effect. YouTube does not have a quantity problem. They have enough content that every YouTube user could watch YouTube 24 hours a day for the rest of their lives and never see the same video twice. They wouldn't even have to go deep into their back catalog.

Worse, viewers have relatively little attachment to any particular content producer. They obviously love some YouTube celebrities, but if a given artist disappeared, people would get over it quickly. It's not, like, say books where people really want access to the last Harry Potter book.


People ... or at least, the demographic attractive to advertisers, won't watch endless hours of dreck. That's what's streaming on OTA broadcast now, and the audience and advertisers are in an ever accelerating race to the bottom. YouTube knows network effects and virtual and vicious feedback cycles.

There is a wealth of content on YouTube, including a surprising amount of niche content. But there are a limited number of very high value creators -- a circumstance that's always the case. High-level creativity takes talent, time, some degree of money, and a network that's conducive to it -- which has an audience that can, will, and does find and view it.

Right now, that dynamic plays strongly to YouTube's benefit, though there are some extant alternatives -- Vimeo specialises in higher-quality content, Facebook and Reddit offer social "friends-and-family" or short-content platforms, and there are emerging platforms such as PeerTube which offer federated hosting options.

Mind: PeerTube presently has significant limitations, and I was discussing the issue with a video producer earlier this week:

https://mastodon.social/@unfa/102599106680590597


By that logic who needs YouTube when we can stare at the endless content of clouds moving in the sky.

This doesn't match the original statement, and doesn't reflect reality.

People leave YouTube all the time, and crowds don't tend to follow them anywhere. They just watch different YouTubers who fill a similar niche.

It's as if the cloud you were really enjoying blew away, but there were plenty of new clouds, so you didn't get into a car to follow the old ones.


You are arguing that there is anything resembling a perfect market for YouTube video content. Talk about a departure from reality.

No, I'm certainly not. YouTube isn't anything like a conventional market:

* Consumers do not pay money for each transaction of content they consume. Instead, they pay with their attention. But that doesn't work like a currency because their goal is not to minimize the attention they spend. It's burning a hole in their pocket and they want to give their time to YouTube.

* YouTube spends next to no money on each unit of product they deliver. After they show a user a video, they still have it.

So looking at this as any kind of supply and demand situation is going to just completely muddle the economics. The supply is nearly infinite and the "demand" is hard to even define.


Fair enough. I mean to say that YouTubers have followings that are very strong and they have never had a coalition to test a mass strike or exodus. They have a unique product that can’t just be supplanted with an analog as if they are simply interchangeable.

Like, “oh we don’t have John Oliver anymore but here’s Redacted Tonight with Lee Camp! Everyone’s happy, right?”


I'm not sure why this is hard for you to understand. Is your contention that nobody popular has ever stopped making videos on YouTube? Or that YouTube has already lost a large chunk of viewers due to popular former-YouTubers no longer making videos?

Neither of those statements are true, but you seem to be commenting as if one or the other are.

I'm not arguing that the YouTube market is perfect, but that the gap between the average and most popular channels isn't so wide that the loss of some of the latter has a dramatic impact on their viewership. This is so manifestly and obviously true that I'm puzzled about any counter-examples you're envisioning.


The reason top YouTube content is so good is because creators have spent many years honing their skill and building relationships. That can’t be easily replaced and I also must say that the revenue of College Humors’s Dropout service is an indication of a lost opportunity for YouTube. If done in larger amounts, it could be death by a thousand cuts. Plenty of reason to come to the negotiating table.

Okay, I think you are now making what seems like a different argument, and I agree to an extent, but only an extent.

Top brands -- like College Humor -- are never going to be happy on YouTube forever. The cream of the crop cannot be kept happy forever. If CH decides they'd rather keep 100% of X ad revenue instead of smaller-percentage of Y ad revenue, and that the math will work out in their favor, they're gone, and there is nothing YouTube could do to keep them. After all, why should CH work as serfs on YouTube's property when they can be lords of their own?

There are very, very few people who can make the math work, given the expense of supplying streaming video (which fortunately, CH has been doing themselves for a very long time already) and building/keeping an audience, etc, but there will always be some.

And yet, to my point, YouTube doesn't seem to be suffering. There's no way for YouTube to keep 100% of all video revenue, and it's possible that enough popular YouTubers acting in concert via collective action might figure out how to extract slightly more from YouTube, but most popular YouTubers are making more money from Patreon than YouTube themselves, and YouTube is still a big enough player that they can afford to wait out quite a few high-profile defectors, most of whom will come limping back after things turn out to be harder elsewhere than they expect.

Google knows what percentage of time is spent on big high-profile YouTubers vs mid-range and lower. I suspect the long tail is very, very long indeed. A Logan Paul might want to believe he's crucial to YouTube's success, but I don't think he's more than a tiny blip.


But the content creators don’t use Youtube for engagement (except for some cases where video comments are used). The problem is that they aren’t sysadmins, and they have no idea if any change would lead to a long-term improvement (which won’t be hard since Google takes 45% (?) of ad revenues).

> only AdWords sponsored content appears in Google searches anymore.

Wrong, AdWords sponsored results are promoted (just in a less obvious manner than before), but other websites also appear.


In normal web searches.

For product searches, there's also Google Shopping-- this started out (as Froogle and Google Product Search) indexing any shopping sites Google found, but, as of the rebranding to Google Shopping in 2012, exclusively shows paid listings.

Google Shopping also gets more prominent placing in web searches for products than the actual web results do.


What I meant was that only websites that have google adwords embedded in their content show up in Google results. If you aren't generating revenue through google advertising blocks on your content, google doesn't show the content.

Google things new, updated content on large sites is more relevant, but it's not. That content is recreated from older content on the web that doesn't have ads on it.

I'm sure it's just that google requires more and more work from webmasters to easily find searchable content, meta tags, modern HTML, etc, but the way new content is being produced now is under the guise of ultimately getting the content reader to buy a product.

The old internet was, "Omg, I can share my knowledge with people." Now it's, "Omg, I can make money with ads."


I have been running an ad-free web site about a niche hobby since 2002. I've never attempted to do any optimization for search. My site still shows up in the first page of Google results for relevant search terms.

For you because you click on your links a lot. Your first page of relevancy is totally different for someone else -- from a different country, or county... or even just prior click history.

Google knows you want to click on that link. If your niche hobby had an ehow article how to do it, that'd be first for me I bet, unfortunately.


I tested again just now using the TOR browser bundle. After some tedious captcha-solving, the same search term again brings up my site in the first page of Google results.

> What they should do is collectively take their content somewhere else.

Everyone would have to coordinate it at the same time, and a massive capital outlay would be needed to create a service everyone could switch to at once. If it is done piecemeal Youtube's strong lock-in though things like driving traffic through recommendations on other videos etc. would win out and punish the early switchers too much.


> What they should do is collectively take their content somewhere else.

That's the only "strike action" they have, in fact; if they just stop producing, others will rise and they'll be forgotten. If they move, they might shed some audience but they have a chance at keeping enough to impact Google and making a non-YouTube platform a success.


>The internet has been ruined by the mainstream and the money grubbers.

Predatory practical monopolies and outdated labor laws functioning as intended.

This is one of the under-appreciated aspects of capitalism: the profit motive encourages the unscrupulous to surface ethical holes in the market. If only we were principled enough to do something with this information.


Yes! That's what I'm getting at! The reality of Youtube is that it made it easier to upload videos. The amount of time it takes to learn how to do that and build your own content distribution mechanism isn't really that hard. Most of us around here could do it in a day or two using FFMPEG and amazon buckets.

It actually does in fact take less time to build something to share your own content than it does to create the content itself.

That's why I don't understand why does airbnb take 10% of the transaction? They are just a website. Why does Apple take 30%? They are just a search engine.

And google makes something like $1.2 million per employee. How much of that on average does the google employee get to keep? Is it more or less than content creators?


> Now Youtube is doing the same. They used focus on being a search and distribution mechanism. Now they produce content, allow sponsorships, have more ads per minute of viewing then television, ... jobs there are again, repackaging jobs. Repackage scenes from movies, previews, upload documentaries, sports clips...

This. I remember when getting a single ad in YouTube was news. Or an unstoppable ad. Now I've bumped into videos that have close to an ad a minute.

Moreover, you can feel how in order to keep up with the algorithm YouTubers have forsaken creativity and landed in just clickbaity thumbnails and repeating their formulas. I know YouTubers have been saying this for years, but it finally hit me like cold water recently. There used to be so much clever, creative content on YouTube but now so much of what I see in my home page is content that's shallow and uninspired at best from channels I'm not subscribed to.

And YouTubers have to make this sort of content! If your lively-hood and/or relevance depends on putting videos out every day, you're just gonna find an idea that worked "well enough" and repeat it for weeks.

> They both grew through the expansion of the long tail. The reality is: where are people in the long tail going to go to sell their repackaged stuff?

I wish other platforms like IGTV or Vimeo had taken off. I think there's things Snapchat and Twitter could try for video. Snapchat could experiment with longer-form, edited content for blogs, as a compliment to stories. Twitter is already where personalities are and there's already plenty of video content uploaded there. Facebook seems to want to have a solid go at video, but it feels like they're completely lost. What is Facebook Watch? It has random content from pages but also shows trying to compete with Netflix?

> The internet has turned to garbage. You're better off going to the library like the old days. The internet has been ruined by the mainstream and the money grubbers.

As much as I dislike a lot of what the internet has become, I still don't think this is the case. I don't remember the time of old as better days, TV was (and kinda still is) pretty terrible. The internet is also for much more than just entertainment. Sure, read a book instead of going on YouTube, I agree with that. I'm also very thankful that I am not limited to what's in a library to learn about random topics because I can just click through science sites or Wikipedia.

Though there's certainly a lot the ambition for money and building empires has changed for the worse.


> This. I remember when getting a single ad in YouTube was news. Or an unstoppable ad. Now I've bumped into videos that have close to an ad a minute.

If it bothers you so much, just pay up for Youtube Premium and the problem goes away.

These days paying for ad-free actually is an option. So if what you want is ad-free youtube either pay up or admit to being a hypocrite.


> What they should do is collectively take their content somewhere else.

You can post digital content on multiple platforms at the same time.


But that doesn't do as much to put pressure on YouTube.

I wonder why the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) hasn't weighed in on this whole sector at all. The exploitation of entertainers is not exactly a new issue, and it has been tackled by existing unions before.

They are probably on the other side of the issue. YouTube independent creators are in competition with Hollywood and big media.

SAG-AFTRA has weighed in on this issue, both to the press[1] and on their website[2].

From their site:

> Do you create your own content on YouTube or other social media platforms?

> If a brand reaches out to promote their product (paid or product trade) on your platform, that is a commercial and SAG-AFTRA can have your back.

> SAG-AFTRA covers advertisements on all platforms. Get fair compensation, access to health insurance and a team of experts making sure you are PAID!

[1] https://www.tubefilter.com/2018/08/15/sag-aftra-content-crea...

[2] https://www.sagaftra.org/get-involved/ads-go-union/creators-...


So what you're saying is there already is a union for content creators, they just need to join it.

That seems like a way better approach. All content creators on the internet should join the same union -- preferably one that already exists -- rather than recreate a wheel that will water down their message.


Competition is a good thing, perhaps other unions can meet the needs of content creators better than this one.

Probably because they're contemptuous of YouTubers. Can't blame them either, because they're basically competition.

Can youtubers go on strike and take the content down for a limited time? If such an option is available and they do it, it would be a relevant strike. But since those who are joining the Union are the one demonetized provides that Youtube isn't making as much profit from their presence as those who are still running ads. In such case, the former ones will need a way to engage those who make profit align with their doctrine, so the strike can be a blow to youtube. Bottom line to me; Not Gonna Happen (NGH).

A better option would be to start publishing content to another platform enmasse. Not only could they hold out longer, it would strike right at the heart of YouTube's main advantage, which is to be the defacto video platform.

> Can youtubers go on strike and take the content down for a limited time?

In order for that to be effective, a strike needs to remove enough capability from the other party to materially affect them. In this case, with so many videos online, I'd bet creators would need to get perhaps 95%-99% of recent videos taken down. They won't get anywhere close.

Right out of the gate, news and music won't join in the strike. Also the rewards to defect get higher, the more other creators join the strike.


I feel like a very strong effect could be had if popular creators move their content to other providers. While they might not be able to take down a huge percentage of all recent videos on YouTube, they could redirect the attention of enough users to have a very strong impact on YouTube's ad revenue.

Say someone is a die-hard fan of Pewdiepie--he's the reason that user opens YouTube on a daily basis. This user watches his daily video, but might also watch some news and music from their recommendations after the video ends. If Pewdiepie moves his content somewhere else, that user might not end up viewing that related content on YouTube anymore.

I'm really interested to see how these shared groups of fans cooperate with union efforts. Given how close of a connection many popular creators have with their fans, a call for a boycott could impact a lot more than just those creators.


> I feel like a very strong effect could be had if popular creators move their content to other providers.

That could work. There's no exclusivity clauses for video hosts, though, so I'm not sure why they wouldn't already be on those other platforms unless it isn't worth the work. I'm forced to conclude that youtube's competitors have few enough viewers and/or pay so poorly that it would require a truly organized and massive move to make that work.

All I can say is: good luck. I won't be holding my breath.


You can easily make your videos private for the duration of the strike.

Lets be honest about the problem. If 20 million people watch me, how much did I make off Google? Depending on the market you're in this fluctuates but typically at most, maybe 50k. That's a lot of views and people watching for such chump change. Viral videos are something most creators will never experience and viral does not pay nearly as well as a specific niche. How many people watch the Super Bowl and how much is spent on ads? YouTubers with millions of views are wickedly underpaid. My children have cared more about YouTube than Hulu, Netflix and Cable combined. They will be devastated with a large scale strike. Google should be worried since they do whatever they can to screw over the content creators on the regular.


> YouTubers with millions of views are wickedly underpaid.

You seem to be under the delusion that Youtube has an obligation to provide creators some level of income. They aren't even obligated to provide free hosting.

> My children have cared more about YouTube than Hulu, Netflix and Cable combined. They will be devastated with a large scale strike.

Maybe. If I was an exec, I'd be willing to bet there'd be enough videos left on the platform that they wouldn't care that much.


> I'd bet creators would need to get perhaps 95%-99% of recent videos taken down

These are not factory workers or hotel cleaners. Videos are not fungible.

Hard to scab, especially in the short-term.


Youtube is like a free Gallery, where anyone can display there artwork. The content which can be supported by advertisement (for benefit of the artist and the gallery management), surely is to be decided by the gallery management, ie, Youtube, as they're not 'employing' content creators - they're just allowing free posting of content and allowing revenue generation through ad as an extra cream.

Content creators 'use' Youtube, they don't 'work for' Youtube... This is what people are confusing these days. (For eg. They can use affiliate marketing with a video, without any intervention from Google, and sharing the video on youtube)

Should Instagram pay for most viral posts? No right? - the user posted it for sharing. If, Instagram paid, as a 'Thank you and win-win' strategy to such posts - people would've lost it if some posts were demonetized.

Also, if anyone wants to showcase in a gallery where they are paid for it, Youtube provides the 'Youtube Premium' option.


I wonder how this plays out.

Youtubers are very competitive, and the high profile YouTuber crowd very much asks for special benefits for themselves ... not for the collective.


We can take a look at SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild, to see how it will play out.

Turns out that every movie star alive today is a union member, and they have no problem asking for special benefits and receiving them.


It will be interesting to see if that is in fact how it plays out.

A lot of the unions that are tied to trying to make progress in tech related fields are not at all like the screen actors guild. They often operate in a way where benefits are tied to simple things like seniority or prescribed certifications and etc.


Which unions in particular?

> every movie star

Is SAG-AFTRA prominent outside of the US?


The headline is misleading - nobody is unionizing.

A German union is maybe going to sue Google, on behalf of some youtubers, based on European laws, that's all.


Quote from the article:

> The German union is inviting YouTubers to become members and is running a campaign called FairTube to press for better terms


Did we read the same article?

> A strike in the traditional sense would achieve little. Even in the extreme unlikelihood that every YouTuber in Germany boycotts the platform and stops uploading videos, it would have a limited impact on the site’s profitability. While a localized strike by Uber drivers can cripple the ridehailing service for its duration, YouTube has unparalleled cross-border scale – 450 hours of video are uploaded every minute – and an almost bottomless library of existing content.

> So what exactly can IG Metall do? A lawsuit is the most likely next step. The union claims that decisions made to de-monetize a video with no explanation contravene the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.

They clearly admit the traditional power-move of a union to strike would fail and that their only recourse, would be to file a lawsuit.


I wonder if this means that amateurs who casually make videos are going to be considered Scabs?

Tweeters are next. Mark my words

Good. It's about time.

This is mostly just people like Jörg Sprave and Taofledermaus types, that are angry their videos of making improvised weapons and improvised ammunition, getting demonetized or removed. This started early last year when Jörg got fed up with losing money and getting strikes against videos on his channel.

For context he was most famous for his fantastically powerful homemade slingshots, he then started doing stuff like trying to defeat riot shields, stab resistant armor, etc by launching spears/metal rods/knives/swords/metal 'missile' projectiles etc out of homemade weapons that look like something Leonardo would have made if he went on a psychotic break after everyone he loved was killed in an alley to become Renaissance-Vigilanteman. He started posting rant after rant to his channel and ultimately started a union.

He, and channels like Taofledermaus started claiming they were being censored, their videos were unjustly being demonetized, yadda yadda and outright ignoring the fact that YouTube is a FREE platform and that YouTube primarily exists as an advertising company, not as a video hosting company. If you pointed this out in their video comment sections you would have rabid fans telling you "freedom of speech is a right!" "this is censorship!" "this is unconstitutional!" and ignoring the fact that serving tens of millions of video views costs money and that the content creators never paid a single cent in hosting fees to Google.

Most advertisers don't want to touch a guy showing how to defeat riot shields with homemade crossbows or a channel that packs shotgun shells with random crap from their junk drawer and shoots it at barbie dolls claiming they're shooting at Taylor Swift (seriously, Taylor Swift is mentioned in a TON of Taofledermaus videos while they shoot nails, ball bearings, legos, marbles, exotic commercial ammunition etc at dolls and other random Goodwill finds).

YouTube has nothing to fear and Content Creators need to wake up. If a content creator that gets 100,000 views per video on average in the first month had to pay for hosting on one 10 minute video they are looking at something like 25 gigabytes of data transfer at 1080p or something like 130 gigabytes of data at 4k, at a video a week you're looking at the better part of 7 terabytes of data transfer and assuming 10 minute videos with 4k upload quality and at least 800 gigabytes of storage.

Now consider some of those videos easily hit millions of views, especially if they go viral, and that many YouTubers that are actually doing this for a significant portion of their income have hundreds of videos, benefit wildly from the recommendation algorithms and trending feature of YouTube and what that sort of exposure would cost them to achieve on their own domain and...

I mean, imagine if PSY had to host Gangnam Style, it currently has 3.4 billion views... at YouTube HD (1080p) toolstud.io' video file size calculator puts it at 219 MB... that's 744,600 petabytes of data transfer... I can't imagine PSY could afford that bill.

They're making out like bandits and whining that YouTube isn't giving them enough of the ad revenue. Yet there are tons of creators on YouTube making a living purely off of Patreon subscriptions, YouTube has a competing supporting method and you can always sell merch and/or do sponsored videos occasionally.


> ost advertisers don't want to touch a guy showing how to defeat riot shields with homemade crossbows

I 'm not sure anymore if "advertisers" dont want to advertise on non-mainstream or adult sites, or if it's just google imposing arbitrary standards on both their advertisers AND publishers. In the old times of TV there were brands that catered to specific, non-family friendly audiences (e.g. cigarettes, alcohol). With google's current policies, and monopoly on advertising, that section of advertisers and publishers is completely excluded.

I also don't get the point that "youtube is advertising, not video hosting" - they depend on both very much. By that reasoning TV should stop paying its anchors too.

> what that sort of exposure would cost them to achieve on their own domain and

They don't need to pay for hosting. There are already distributed platforms like bitchute. Each of them just needs to add one node to the system and the collective benefit would be huge.


Go check out the ads on some non-mainstream or adult sites. They're the epitome of This is why we use ad blockers.

Exactly. There is no way for these sites to reach mainstream advertisers who might be interested. Google has the keys to all of them

Similar with payment processors. Nudity or even porn is increasingly accepted today, yet paypal won't touch it, so these sites have to deal with subpar and expensive payment providers


I think the major advertisers, that is those that bring in lots of money, generally want family friendly, uncontroversial, middle of the road. They don't want war, violence, crime, extreme politics, mental illness etc associated with their brand. Google is likely just making the decision that niches aren't worth the (potential, legal) trouble.

> Google is likely just making the decision

Google should not be making the decision, advertisers should


Meh, that's like saying you shouldn't be in charge of business decisions, your customers should be.

Advertisers can react to Google's decisions by taking their business elsewhere, but it's up to Google to decide what does and does not make them money and to not engage in what doesn't.


... no actually, not just people making weapons are getting demonetized. Everyone, across the board, is getting demonetized seemingly at random and with no explanation. A video can be demonetized if the cellphone of someone in that video's ringtone is a popular song. Even worse, they don't get demonetized and become the property of the person who wrote the song...

> not just people making weapons are getting demonetized.

I didn't state that, I gave context as to how this union thing started. One specific user was upset his videos showing him defeating law enforcement armor with homemade projectile weapons was demonetized and took offense.

Some of the channels that immediately started supporting him were channels like Taofledermaus (as I said above, along with why they were getting demonetized) and pepole like Cody of Cody's Lab (that had federal agents search his property after some of his videos involving his handling and piss-poor storage of radioactive materials, the poisons literally on a shelf with his canned garden produce and him nearly blowing his own finger/hand off smacking home-made nitro with a knife), months after he quickly walked through an airport recording himself with his phone literally talking about blowing himself up) that also had videos demonetized.

Besides, it is entirely YouTube's right to demonetize videos and entire accounts. YouTube is NOT a hosting provider, content creators are NOT customers. YouTube is an advertising platform and the advertisers are the customers.

If I want to advertise my widget, maybe I don't want it being uploaded to people that crush things with a hydraulic press or people that are overly political or people that are making weapons or people that are editing movie trailers together to be other genres.

There are gobs and gobs of content creators that receive their funding via Patreon/YouTube's Patreon clone/selling merch etc.

These creators have never paid YouTube a single cent to store and host their videos, not one. When you create an account, YouTube does not promise to make you rich by sending you truckloads of money for people watching you and your boyfriend record you talking about your rescue dog or having a 'muckbang' or painting (Jenna Marbles and Julien).

No one is forcing content creators to upload to YouTube, they are more than welcome to PAY another service to host their videos.

YouTube is not some inherent right, YouTube servers don't grow in the wild, if YouTube wants to take 99.99% of the money the top creator's videos make, that's their right especially given there are millions and millions of people uploading hundreds of hours of video per MINUTE that are costing YouTube more to store and host than they'll likely ever recover from the bulk of creators.


> content creators are NOT customers

Sure they are customers, i 'm sure if you search their Tos they will even call them customers. If they don't then they have to consider them employees, pay benefits etc. (Similarly to how Uber's clients are its drivers)

> YouTube servers don't grow in the wild

They do, youtube is losing money and is only kept alive because google pays for it. They make money indirectly even when demonetized videos are viewed, since they keep users returning to the site. Google has an anti-competitive interest to keep running youtube, they are not doing charity.


what is it about collective action that triggers contempt so quickly and automatically for those attempting to organize? many comments in this thread show contempt for the organizers in a way that is readily visible.

Old days people ascribe many businesses imploding because of union intransigence, some of which was true. These days those in the know of the fleecing of the taxpayer by government employee unions at state, county, and city, levels. The very same groups betting on a Federal Bailout to their bloated and grandiose pension plans.

Using Illinois as an example [1] but understand that Chicago is in bad shape with the inability to pay their required money by 2021 and many other towns and even states have similar issues.

the real one percent... earned all on the backs of mom and pa and betting they can keep up the 100k per year gravy trains

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamandrzejewski/2018/10/26/ill...


Your 'real one percent' are people earning 100k? What an interesting viewpoint.

Because the resuls of collective action isn't always fair for society. Many countries have an HDD/CD/DVD tax, because of (basically) collective action by artists. I don't see this as being fair. Why do I have to pay more when buying a HDD so that artists I'm never ever going to listen to can get more money?

I understand that collective action is often beneficial, but these bad examples are enough to make me annoyed at it.


Then unionize against this tax with other fellow HDD buyers?

The difference between you and the artists are that they organized. You came on HN to complain.


This is a weak argument. Copyright collection agencies don't represent artists. Occasionally they have a few extremely high earning media personalities (notably Metalica back in the Napster days), but these kind of organisations don't represent musicians. Organisations of movie producers / TV producers like the MPAA have even less of a claim to any kind of artist representation. They're large media conglomerates, not artists unions.

Contempt isn't fair, but neither is calling this effort "collective action". The impetus for Youtube to care isn't that the organizers represent lots of people producing lots of value for Google. It's that they run an unrelated metalworkers union, so they have "deep pockets and army of lawyers", and they'll use those resources to hurt Youtube if their demands aren't met.

>many comments in this thread show contempt for the organizers

Go watch videos Jörg and channels like Taofledermaus made a year and a half ago that started this whole thing. Jörg was making videos on how to make extremely powerful crossbows that could defeat riot shields, stab-resistant armor etc and then got outraged when he got a strike and had some videos demonetized.

Same with Taofledermaus, a channel that makes improvized ammunition (firing nails, ball bearings, coins, etc out of shotguns towards dolls they refer to as Taylor Swift and other random objects). Taofledermaus flat out claimed YouTube was deleting views and likes and even uploaded a video trying to show 'proof' of the 'conspiracy'.

Those two channels, two of the first people fighting this fight, were demonetized because they were making dangerous improvised projectiles that advertisers didn't want to be a part of and then tried to claim it was a conspiracy and YouTube was trying to punish them.

Now these guys are getting a few bigger names on board after a year and a half of trying and making a big fuss about it.


Personally I think a lot of it is just because of their choice of the term 'union' for it. It has significant negative connotations at least in the US and they would do well to use different terminology (eg. guild or like).

Hacker News in particular has a very strong libertarian streak where many people here believe all problems can be solved by a sufficiently motivated individual without any support or coordination with other humans.

That's not correct. As a libertarian i support unions (as long as they re not coercive of course). Collective bargaining is a fair and square free market mechanism. Instead it's Corporate lobbying of the government and regulatory capture that is unfair.

> what is it about collective action that triggers contempt so quickly and automatically for those attempting to organize?

One part "unions are evil mafia fronts", one part "if you organize you're no 10x $job_description, because otherwise you'd be interested in getting your 10x salary", one part "socialism", one part envy (that people actually try something to improve their situation).


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Would you please follow the site guidelines when posting here?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


If all the content creators stopped...I'd have a lot of YouTube content to watch still.

It's not like when the factory stops because the workers strike, or there are no sports game because the players walked out. There's more youtube than I know what to do with no matter what.


There is probably a demographic of YouTube viewers who skew towards watching fresh content from their favorite content creators. YouTube would probably see reduced engagement from them due to a strike. I'm not sure what percent of total views they account for though.

Their algorithm change really killed the recommendation engine for me. I don't mind new content for channels I'm subscribed to. I don't mind similar content to channels I'm subscribed to. I don't like revisiting YouTube after 3, 5, and 10 days later to see the same 3 videos recommended at the top. I don't want to watch a single video of prolific channel and then have their uploads clog my feed.

I want to explore. I want stuff that's familiar, similar and also unrelated that I would potentially like. Their "related" stuff is always so similar that it falls into "more of the same". You used to be able to explore without entering search terms via trending and categories, but the same channels and types of videos dominate those avenues. If you don't like the type of stuff there, you'll spend a lot of time being disappointed for maybe one video that was alright.

It's ok to recommend more of the same, but give me a way to see stuff that isn't the same.


Yeah, I think if a substantial group of popular personalities all announced they were moving to a different site, they would be able to move a pretty large audience with them.

I'm not sure the reduced engagement would move the needle that much. I suspect many of the most loyal fans would reduce their (current and future) engagement with the striking YouTubers' channels rather than YouTube as a whole.

Since the purpose of a strike is fundamentally to prove the employer needs its employees [nearly] as much as the employees need their salary, a strike which proves the opposite would be really self-defeating...


However, viewers don't identify themselves with YouTube. If five channels I want to watch are off to another platform, I'll spend a half hour over there a week to watch them. It doesn't hurt me. Maybe I will still go to YouTube for other content.

The brand loyalty isn't there. It isn't that YouTube has anything magic other than quantity.


If that platform doesn't have an app on my TV it's going to hurt a little bit

That's my point. I spend at the very least an hour a day watching new content from ~50 channels.

But there is so much out there I could watch if they all got hit by a bus one day.


Definitely a large portion of the high-value advertising content, whatever the viewership is overall.

If Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter shut down, there'd still be a lot things on the net and ways to share stuff with people. But I'm sure many users wouldn't know what to do on the internet.

They might be hoping for something similar: their content is not easy to find a substitute for.


why the contempt?

i suspect you might brush it off as humor, but your statements belie a contempt for the group. why, in this context?


Is it ? Or just have differing stance and opinion ?

"preening narcissists" isn't exactly a respectful, discussion-engendering term.

is it reasonable readers might notice “preening narcissists”?

Presumed personality traits aside, there's more to it than ability to strike.

Google makes money from advertisers who are buying screen time with certain viewers.

If multiple high profile creators acted in a coordinated way it absolutely could disrupt the flow of dollars to Google and necessitate fairer policies in order to retain the creators who make them money.


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How..?

[flagged]


is this sentient spam?

If that's the case, 99% will be booted off the platform and they will have to meet certain numbers of visitors and engagement every month, or lose their job..which is what unionizing means.

If I were google, I would also get control of their users (they would now be the companys) and youtubers will no longer be able move to any other platform while working for Google.

You can't expect the freedom of running your own business with none of the restrictions of a job.

I never understood the need to take away the ability for someone to truly run their own business and have freedoms and restrict it down to a corporate job, by law.


If you run a business and your solvency depends on the existence of another, larger business, you're not as independent as the title of 'business owner' alludes.

How many HN posts have we seen over the years of businesses based on Amazon, Twitter, Apple getting blown the fuck up because the mothership restricted an API, copied their project or changed a ToS?

I'm not putting in an opinion on anything else in your post except the supposed 'freedom' of youtubers et al. Okay maybe one more thing. I like seeing alternative viewpoints, and yours is a rare one on HN. I like to champion alternative viewpoints whenever I see them, especially when they're voted white for no reason. It's hard to go to bat for you on this though, since you're for retaliation against a bunch of people who dare try and organize around their shared pain points. I just can't do it this time!

Unionizing is like a mini revolution. I was always confused about anti unionism when I was in school, because unions seem as american as it gets (in the 7th grade social studies definition of 'America).

Democracy in the workplace? Hell yeah! Fighting against a power that exploits you without representation? That's boston-tea-party as shit. Shame there's no way to talk about things like this with someone who disagrees without it devolving into 'modern discourse'.


"If you run a business and your solvency depends on the existence of another, larger business, you're not as independent as the title of 'business owner' alludes."

My point is that Youtubers can start their own sites and go elsewhere if they get tired of a large company controlling their content.

Unionization usually means they will now need to be paid a 'fair wage' and benefits..and your relationship changes to more of an employee..with more restrictions on what you can do.

Youtube also won't pay everyone as an employee and less people will be able to actually make money on the platform due to these restrictions.

"I like seeing alternative viewpoints"

This is is kind of crazy when you think about it: Independent business is now considered an 'alternative viewpoint' here on HN..a site dedicated to hackers, startups, and the tech business.

My guess is that the majority here work for large companies and really don't care about (or have even tried) running a business/startup.

"Since you're for retaliation against a bunch of people who dare try and organize around their shared pain points. I just can't do it this time!"

I'm not for retaliation, I'm just pointing out the unintended consequences.

"Fighting against a power that exploits you without representation? That's boston-tea-party as shit"

Everything isn't deserving of a 'revolution'. If so, I would have started a revolution against HN years ago. I can't even have intellectual discussions, without scared users down voting my comments..because someone might be convinced of a different view point.


Hey thank you for your reply.

"My point is that Youtubers can start their own sites and go elsewhere if they get tired of a large company controlling their content."

I don't fault people who try that, nor do I fault anyone who tries to stay and fight. In many ways, Google "owns the well". It makes sense to me that the economics of the situation for some makes staying and organizing the easier course of action. Taking on Youtube as a competitor.. building a website, attracting advertisers, etc. Especially doing all this while making cat videos, now for no money, seems like a tough play.

You'd have to have some systemic luxuries, and lots of grit to take on the risk of such a feat. I wish anyone who tries the best of luck.

"Unionization usually means they will now need to be paid a 'fair wage' and benefits..and your relationship changes to more of an employee..with more restrictions on what you can do."

You're already restricted to whatever rules of the road Google sets, by fiat. 99.999% of Content creators who work with google have ZERO negotiating power right now. They can, and do change the rules at anytime. Companies can submit fraudulent DMCA takedowns depriving these small business owners their revenue during its most important period. You can appeal, but it doesn't undo the damage to your revenue even if you win.

These are dirty tricks! Those affected should maximize their voice to do something about it, in my opinion.

"This is is kind of crazy when you think about it: Independent business is now considered an 'alternative viewpoint' here on HN..a site dedicated to hackers, startups, and the tech business."

It's alternative to put 'independent business' contingent on employees never organizing. Businesses can make partnerships, why not employees?

"My guess is that the majority here work for large companies and really don't care about (or have even tried) running a business/startup."

I've worked for a few startups. We weren't aggrieved anywhere close enough to consider Unionization. We were all well paid, treated well, and close enough to management that they listened to concerns as we brought them up.

I wish I had some stats on how many startups are brought low by unions, I bet it's a vanishingly small number. If you consider unions to be a response to be corrective feedback from aggrieved employees, some of these hypothetical blown up startups probably should have gone under.

Honestly, I've only ever associated unions as responses against sufficiently-large-to-be-dehumanizing companies. Maybe it is a problem? I'm open to the possibility even though I would be surprised.

"Everything isn't deserving of a 'revolution'."

Those rebels decide what deserves rebellion, power dynamics decide if they succeed, I bet most don't. Treat your people better to make it harder for them to justify the risks of unionizing, imo.

Thanks for the chat!


> If you run a business and your solvency depends on the existence of another, larger business, you're not as independent as the title of 'business owner' alludes.

99.9% of businesses in the United States depend on the existence of their power utility to operate.

I guess they aren't independent businesses, either.

But the rest of your point is salient. I too, am baffled by how many of the greatest advocates of democracy seem to have been brainwashed into resisting democracy in the workplace.


That's one of the reasons power utilities are regulated by the government.

Yes, every organization is dependent on other organizations. That's why it's so important to be thoughtful about how those organizations are structured and what their incentives are. It's not the being dependent on an organization that's a problem, it's being dependent on an organization that has little regulation, whose goal is to make as much money as possible, and who thinks of your organization as a cost sink.

People tend to get into this mindset that businesses and government are fundamentally different, but their both just social institutions with their sometimes different sometimes similar rules and incentives.

> I too, am baffled by how many of the greatest advocates of democracy seem to have been brainwashed into resisting democracy in the workplace.

The owners of those workplaces have spent decades and millions of dollars creating propandanda to do that brainwashing.


> If that's the case, 99% will be booted off the platform and they will have to meet certain numbers of visitors and engagement every month, or lose their job..which is what unionizing means.

Youtube already does this to some degree in the form of changing their monetization requirements over time.

I'm all for giving more collective bargaining power to the creators. Youtube provides the infrastructure to connect creators to users, but I think over time we've seen them begin to take advantage of this in a way that is not fair to individual creators.


I would rather liken this to running a soap making company, but the governmental society where you do your soap making keeps changing what ingredients are legal on an arbitrary basis, causing you to need to recreate your product constantly, much to the chagrin of your customers. It makes much more sense for you and your fellow bath products producers to bind together and have a sit down with the government on everyone's behalf.

>I never understood the need to take away the ability for someone to truly run their own business and have freedoms and restrict it down to a corporate job, by law.

They obviously feel that it balances in their favor, in the sense that as of right now they are unable to "truly run their own business" while they are at the whims of monetization and censorship policies that seemingly change on a dime, with no recourse. On top of the copyright issues plaguing creators - they must think that unionizing will give them bargaining power to start to rectify these issues.


The important question, which according to the article the union won't disclose, is how many people are included in "they". Is this something that Youtubers in general are rallying behind, or is IG Metall just trying to bully Youtube and advance its own interests?

All unions bully large corporations to advance their own interests. The auto unions, for instance, had leaders that were getting multi-million dollar bonuses for decades..and probably still to this day.

your statements are somewhat reductive. collective action is possible outside of employment.

Google always already had the users. They're on Google's platform and won't move. That's why the YouTubers have to fight Google rather than just move.



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