I’ve never been one to complain about online changes. Some people get overly upset when Facebook gets a new layout, and I just think “hey, there’s nothing I can do about it, let’s just move on with our lives”, so when YouTube switched over to the Cosmic Panda format and everyone freaked out a little, I moved past it easily. It didn’t really affect me directly anyway. But slowly, I started to realize just how much this change really mattered.
Yesterday Greg Onision posted this article entitled “YouTube Is Killing Us”. It’s an insightful article, backed up with real data, about how YouTube’s changes are effecting not only how the site works, but also what effect that has had on the content creators. It provides a great perspective from those people who rely on the site for their livelihood and the people who have made YouTube what it is today. You should read it before you continue with this blog, he tells it way better than I do, and the rest of this blog will make a lot more sense.
In response to Greg’s blog, Margaret Healy, a YouTube employee, started this discussion on Google+. This is the first time I’ve seen anyone from Google or YouTube respond to the negative attention that the site has been getting since the switch to Cosmic Panda, and I don’t think this interaction was instigated by “the powers that be”. This seems to be an act by a YouTube employee who truly cares about the site and its users. Since then, a lot of YouTubers that I respect and admire have put in their two cents. Corey Vidal of ApprenticeA (and sub-channels) made realistic suggestions in his ever diplomatic manner, and Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers made realistic and understandable comparisons of YouTube vs. television. I suggest you take a look at the discussion and search out these two responses in particular to get a grasp on the situation. (I’d link to Hank’s if I could but it hasn’t been posted anywhere else.)
Here’s my perspective. It’s not the perspective of a prominent, or even a starting YouTuber. This is the perspective of a viewer; someone who participates in and appreciates the community(ies) that thrive through YouTube. Here’s what it comes down to for me: I want to be able to follow the people I like. You can do whatever you want with your algorithms, your advertisements, your Google+ ad-ons that Onision seems to hate so much, you can make the whole site a grey box, I don’t care. What I care about is the content. That’s what YouTube has always been about. Over the past few months I have unsubscribed from channels that I value and find entertaining simply for the fact that I can’t keep up with them anymore. I’ve had to search down new videos from YouTubers that I know have gotten lost (or simply not shown up) in my ever-changing subscription feed. That isn’t the fault of content creators. That’s the fault of YouTube. It saddens me to see creators that I love see a loss in subscriptions an views even though their content is as entertaining and consistent as ever. These are people that I care about, even though I’ve never met them. These people are a part of my daily life because I’ve chosen for them to be there. And these changes are taking that away from me. Please stop.