Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Toxic YouTube Fandom

So I came across a web series "retrospective" on various personalities from now known as Channel Awesome. It's a hate-watch. I will not link to it. And it's a hate-watch for a couple of reasons. Most of the personalities he's talking about as "cautionary tales" have actually done alright or about as alright as a  professional YouTuber could reasonably expect to do.  But the more I watched the more I realized that wasn't it.

This guy is THE toxic fan.

Let me be clear. Channel Awesome was not and is not immune to the growing pains of internet content creation. There are plenty of things to criticize. It had trouble with the shift from enthusiast content creators to a more professional business.A lot the video producers couldn't keep up with the production schedule the managers wanted especially since a lot of them were working for the site part-time along with other jobs or school.  A lot of its early humor went for shocking and hasn't aged well. A lot of the creators didn't interact with each other very often and that led to a clash of personalities when they did. There was an exodus of talent. It has always been difficult to monetize internet content and that made a lot of the aforementioned talent unhappy, especially when Blip was bought by Maker and then later shut down.

While it's not the same, and I don't visit the site, in the same way, I used to, I don't think Channel Awesome is dead but if you want to do an enlightened post-mortem you could. Moreover, a lot of the creators who are the focus of his retrospectives like I said are doing alright for themselves producing content very much in the spirit of what they made for Chanel Awesome.


Apart from the speculation, the series uses questionable sources and moreover delves into the waters of personal hit job bringing up any information that it can dig up to personally embarrass these figures in a way that at best is a massive invasion of privacy and at worst skirts the line with libel.

It is not the enlightening deconstruction of the difficulties of online content production and internet persona management it purports to be.

And I find it absolutely repugnant.

Moreover throughout it has a tone of absolute entitlement. I don't want to give this guy traffic and the creators involved have been around long enough that they have tough skin and can handle it but these videos are emblematic of the entitlement of a lot of internet audiences and it won't leave my brain.

First off even the most well-funded internet videoes tend to have budgets dwarfed by their Holywood counterparts.

Profesional work costs professional money.  A lot of the fans expect these web series to be THE priority of the creators and if they were being directly paid by the fans I agree but most of the time that's just not how this works.

The point I'm getting at is a lot of these fans act as if they OWN the series in a way they really don't. 

Patreon and crowdfunding complicate the point I'm trying to make. But most of these videos are experienced for free by the audience and net the video makers relatively little money. There is very little obligation on either party to deliver something to the other. Viewing YouYube videos, or really any form of media as a transaction in which a particular experience has been promised is ... unhelpful

Moreover since as established money isn't often the prime motivator for YouTube creators there has to be some room for them to get what they want out of it. And


A lot of YouTube creators are held hostage. It's not just the fans fault. But it's a bad situation that their behavior doesn't help.

 Alright if your sole or even primary source of revenue on YouTube is advertising the numbers matter. The sheer number of eyeballs required to make even a few hundred dollars is hard to wrap my brain around. So the million dollar question on everybody's mind is how do you get enough eyeballs to break even in YouTubeland. And the answer is to get signal boosted by YouTube itself.

For the user one of the most challenging things about YouTube is finding the content you'll like especially if you don't already know what you're looking for. YouTube has a vested interest in connecting eyeballs to content. While there are bots and algorithms personalizing content they still tend to skew towards a relative few reliable creators.  Most YouTubers who want to make a living at it work their butts off to become one of those relative few reliable creators.

Three of the biggest things YouTube uses to determine who gets featured and who doesn't are the frequency of content, subscriber count and the number of views already obtained. And this incentivizes creators to create in a way that is... less than healthy in fear of gaining or more often than not losing their featured spots.

They have to create a lot of content in a very small amount of time and make sure it has enough mass appeal to go viral. NOBODY LIKES THAT SYSTEM!

First off as much as people dispute it internet content creation is hard work.

I'm not saying YouTube creators are coal miners.  But managing to keep a regular schedule that has the frequency YouTube wants can be fairly hectic, at least more hectic than all the comments about how easy the job is would make it seem.

They have to:

  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Research those ideas
  • Script Everything Out
  • Cast Any Actors or Cameos
  • Buy Any Needed Video or Audio Equipment
  • Make/Buy Any Costumes or Necessary Props
  • Film
  • Edit
  • Make Thumbnails
  • Write Descriptions
  • Manage Social Media
  • Manage Advertising and Crowdfunding
  • And Manage Self-Employment Taxes and Other Business Stuff

And remember because of how little money they make most video creators even if they make money off of their videos probably also have to have another source of income and do YouTube stuff as a side gig.

Again the system itself isn't the audience's fault. But it is a toxic system. The bots are merciless when the number of subscribers of viewers goes down on a channel. And this leads to a situation where the creators can't take breaks or even really experiment with content. And if you're someone who started doing this to have fun and express yourself, you're in for a world of disappointment. 

What is the audience's fault is their complicity in the system, when they don't recognize that these video creators are human beings with human lives and human needs, and just expect them to be content farms. 

It seems like anytime creators bring this stuff up and ask fans for a little understanding they get mobbed. They can't ask to experiment with content. They can't ask for a break. Heck, they can't even ask for money to help support the content the fans want in the first place.

And God help you if you're so jaded you just want or, let's be honest, need out to do something else entirely.

They will never let you live it down.

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