DIVORCING YouTube

I loved YouTube.  I really did.  It was always there for me, during thick and thin, and never once raised his voice.  But now, the bastard is beginning to piss me off.

Back in 2006 or 2007, I was invited by one of the founders or higher-ups at YouTube to become one of the first YouTube Partners.  As a YouTube Partner, I was suddenly able to post videos of unlimited length, and I was also able to monetize my videos by allowing advertising in them.  This was a fantastic opportunity, and I would receive checks from Google every now and again.

Then I was invited to showcase the feature-length documentary about me called “Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere” as one of the first YouTube Spotlight videos.  One of the founders or higher-ups was a fan of mine, and loved the doc, and was excited to share it.  I was a great and historical honor.

Life with YouTube went along fine until I realized a lot of other filmmakers were signing up with official channels and their brands were being used to name the channel.  When I signed up with YouTube, it had just started, so I used an email address I only engaged for online Christmas shopping.  So the name of my channel was called “pipistrello2004.”  There wasn’t an option to call it “Dikenga Films” at the time.

I contacted the Head Honcho YouTube guy who invited me to become a Partner and for the video Spotlight honor and he told me that there was no way I could just change the name of my channel.  That if I wanted to set up a new channel, I’d have to re-upload all my videos, lose the view count numbers, and all that.  I was bummed.  But, I decided to just keep the pipistrello2004 name as the Channel name and figured no one really cares anyway.

Life went on, new movies were made, new videos were uploaded, and then YouTube started fiddling around with Google, and then suddenly the whole site was different.  Google Adsense, links, emails, channels, names, networks, blah blah blah.  It was enough to confuse anyone, so I just stayed out of it.  (Sometimes its best to let your significant other just act like a brat so you can get on with dinner).

Recently, I realized that the Google checks had stopped coming.  And the other day, I noticed that some of my videos were not being monetized.  I went to the Video Manager, clicked “Claiming Options” (so I could claim copyright for my videos), and then selected the go-ahead for monetization.  And when I clicked “Save” I got a Server Error.  So my recent videos were not able to be copyright claimed or monetized.  Even though all my earlier videos from 2006-2008 were being monetized.

I went to my gmail account to search my history in order to locate the Head Honcho YouTube guy’s email address.  Then I noticed that YouTube’s owner, Google, for some reason, limits email history, and because I have so many messages going in/out each year, my gmail database does not go back far enough.  So I was unable to locate Head Honcho’s email address, which is why I can’t remember his name.

You might figure, as I did, that I could just call up YouTube customer service and tell them my issue and find a solution.  Well, guess again.  Being a special YouTube Partner might sound special, but it clearly doesn’t mean anything.

There is no such thing as YouTube customer service.  Not even for the Partners.  One has to post public messages on the help boards, or weed through endless, and totally worthless FAQ lists on the help pages.  And yes, while I can see that there is such a thing as a Frequently Asked Question, I’m pretty sure that my question isn’t frequent.  How often does YouTube get a question or concern from one of the original YouTube Partners who was able to monetize their videos BEFORE anyone else was able to?

I’ve tweeted @YouTube, and posted dozens of things to the Help Boards, and while certain people have been extremely nice – none of them work at YouTube and they can’t actually help me.

EVERY major company has a customer service phone line.  Well, EVERY company except YouTube and the stupid IMDB, which is owned by Amazon.

So it is with great sadness, I’m thinking about aborting YouTube all together and moving in with Vimeo, who has been very kind to me thus far.  I can post videos on Vimeo on demand and charge for them (brilliant!) and also there’s a thing called a “Tip Jar” that allows fans to donate something small to show their gratitude.  Plus, videos on Vimeo just look better.  She’s a real peach.

In this world of the new Black Market distribution of all things entertainment, I feel abandoned and betrayed by YouTube.  Perhaps one day I’ll get an email from a human being at YouTube who can help me.  But, until then, I’ll just be thankful I don’t work there.  Can you imagine how miserable the internal bureaucracy is in a conglomerate like that when its customers are going through it too?

2 thoughts on “DIVORCING YouTube

  1. Ahh, Steve. It goes without saying, dude, but in the end it’s really only about convenience and money. Theirs.

    People like me they hope click on their ads. I don’t – on purpose. People like you they use as a prostitute, one that they slap around, apparently.

    Fuck ’em.

  2. Your frustrations with the lack of service support on YouTube’s/Google’s end is understandable, given the experiences that you’ve had from the early days of their Partner program and the new layout and platform(s) that they’ve rolled out for YouTube channels in recent years.

    The consideration of divorce makes sense and you are one of the filmmakers who are in a position to do well no matter what platform you use. I don’t think the same applies to everyone, even those in similar cases of having to re-upload videos and not having their channel matters solved, etc. because even though YouTube/Google is a pain in the rear end to deal with on the (no)support end, their service is user-friendly whereas Vimeo is not. Although the latter has way better customer service, superior video quality and more attractive monetization options for filmmakers, the former is accessible on all media devices.

    I can attest to the fact that I have been able to watch YouTube videos on a computer and on my phone but the same cannot be said about Vimeo videos. Vimeo videos do not play on Android devices…or at the very least, on any of the Android devices that I’ve tried to play them on. Even if I’m reading a news article or visiting a website, if that website or article has a Vimeo video embedded on the site, it comes up as either a broken video square, a choppy video with playback issues to the point where it freezes in place or only plays for a few seconds before crashing or the video does not show up on the page at all. YouTube videos, on the other hand play smoothly without interruption and so….as a filmmaker, I myself would not want to have my content on a website that alienates a portion of my audience or makes it difficult for them to watch my videos due to playback or service issues.

    Customer service lines are (or at least, they should be) standard for all major companies but I’ve found that YouTube/Google’s non-existence customer service is not an isolated thing. Facebook does not offer customer service, from my understanding. I don’t know if it’s been implemented recently because I refused to use the service back when I tried to get some customer service help and they basically failed to provide a customer service solution that fit the needs of my issue with their website.

    It’s so annoying to have to bounce back and forth between all of these video/social services to try to find one that does a good job of maintaining a good relationship with their users and/or partners but I guess that’s the monster of new media that we’re finding we have to deal with. It all comes down to finding a service that works for you. Blip.TV is still in the game and Brightcove has delivered acceptable service from time to time, if you’re looking for alternatives to compare and contrast. One of the drawbacks from Brightcove, however, is that users have to pay for the video hosting whereas places like Blip.TV and Vimeo do not charge (generally speaking) their users to use their basic services.

    I hope that you and YouTube can get to the bottom of this issue in a way that puts the both of you back in good terms in your relationship.

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