My channel is the third most watched Comedian channel on all of YouTube today! The two channels beating me out are WhatTheBuckShow and Nalts, two of my good friends on YouTube. After months of hard work and interaction on the site and even offline with the community, it feels great to finally start placing on the YouTube lists.

Most of the views can be attributed to my latest collaboration video, “Now That’s What I Call Emo“. The mock commercial features a voice over from DIY or DIE film director, Michael W. Dean, along with cameo appearances from numerous YouTube vloggers, including Speedy Con Kiwi, Ben Robot, Nalts, Mandarific and Lindsay Bradley.


YourTubeAdvocate 7.2

November 9, 2007

Oprah on the front page of youtube

This week Oprah created a YouTube channel. After only five days of having an account she was made the Guest Editor, taking over the front page features, including featuring three of her own videos. Unheard of for a Guest Editor. And the community took notice.

As the YourTubeAdvocate for the month of November, I created a video utilizing clips from numerous YouTube vloggers, ranging from popular partners to channels with under 500 subscribers. The video was to show a united voice among the active users of the community, and to celebrate YouTube eventually removing Oprah’s featured videos from the front page.

YouTube just spotlighted the video I made in the People & Blogs Category (as seen above). I wrote the category editor to thank him and he replied: “We wanted to acknowledge the community was reacting. I hope the Oprah situation will smooth out soon.” It’s good to know the community is still in control. Viva la resistance!

YourTubeAdvocate 7.1

November 6, 2007

YouTube users taking back the Most Discussed list! In my latest video for the YourTubeAdvocate channel, I discuss the Spam For Love Army, YouTube Staff listening to our suggestions and my plans to build a YouTube Glossary.

How To Improve YouTube Category Feature

The video I made two weeks ago entitled “How To Improve YouTube” is spotlighted for the next seven days in the HowTo & DIY Category on YouTube. The video, which includes suggestions compiled from over 100 different YouTubers, has received a bit of attention from both users and YouTube staff.

It’s time to make a few more video responses if you’re interested. You know now you’ll have the ear of YouTube. =) Thanks to both Sadia and Damien for making this happen.

YouTube Redesign

October 27, 2007 recently posted a blog entry about an upcoming redesign to their website. They believe the redesign will provide a better user experience. While I do like a lot of the changes they made to the functionality of the site, the new graphic design leaves a lot to be desired.

But that was the point, they posted a preview of the redesign to receive some feedback. So I sent an email addressing some of my biggest concerns. And because I know complaints without solutions or suggestions aren’t very helpful, I also sent along my own redesign of their redesign of the site:

fallofautumndistro's redesign of YouTube dot com

Click the image above for a full resolution version.

I created this image in Macromedia’s Fireworks MX 2004. It took about three hours.

Here’s the email I sent along with the redesign:

Good to see you plan on expanding the Categories into more specific topics, a number of users have been asking for this and I’m very happy to see that addressed, thanks! However, I do have two issues with the preview of the new Videos page.

First, by combining the Videos and Categories pages, the videos Featured in specific categories are now less visible. Category Features are one of the few ways smaller, talented channels are “seen.” Please reconsider, or redesign so that the Category Featured videos are the first to display when viewing this page.

Second, it appears the new Videos page design removed the Featured Channels in each Category. This is also disappointing, as it is yet one less avenue for new or smaller, talented channels.

The drop-down menus are good and they do clean up some of the clutter on the old page. Hope this helps.

If or when YouTube gets back to me about the suggestions/redesign, I will be sure to update this blog entry.

The First 48 Hours

October 16, 2007

So you may have noticed the recent trend of youtubers inserting title cards at the end of each video asking for ratings, favorites and comments. Everyone from WhatTheBuckShow to the vlogbrothers to that fallofautumndistro kid are doing it. But why? Why do they care so much if you think their video is worth four stars, or five?

It’s because YouTube has a few charts. One ranks the Most Discussed, while another ranks Top Favorites, another, Top Rated, and so on. The videos placed on these charts are done so by the YouTube community and their actions (rating, commenting, etc.) ((except in the unfortunate event of a cheater who creates hundreds of dummy accounts to favorite and rate his or her own videos – in which case, they should watch out for the YTwatchdog who will soon be biting them on their asses)).

Videos remain on these charts (and display their positions as “Honors” on their video page) for 48 hours after being uploaded. These first 48 hours are crucial exposure time for a new video. Unless later featured, most views and comments any given video receives happen in the first two days after being uploaded. After this time, the video falls off the charts, looses its Honors and, usually, its audience.

The only exceptions to the above are the videos which are so popular that they land on an All Time list. The All Time lists are similar to the above, only they rank Most Whatevered of, well, all time and don’t only focus on the last 48 hours.

I usually end up rating about half way through watching a video; by the center frame/thumbnail I know whether or not I’m enjoying it. I then usually wait to comment until the end, making sure I don’t miss anything. But I also only rate if I’m going to give the video five stars. A one star rating, when you don’t plan on leaving a constructive comment as to how to improve, just seems mean.

As for the recent trend of actually visually asking for ratings and comments, etc, I can only guess that we do it as a reminder.

YouTube Viewers EXPOSED!

October 12, 2007

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about “thumbnail cheaters” on YouTube. Each video’s default thumbnail is chosen based on its center most frame. Thumbnail Cheating is the practice of inserting a provocative image at that halfway point of your video. This image could be a half-naked attractive female, an image depicting a violent act about to happen (such as someone standing in front of a moving bus) or any other prepared image inserted only to attract views.

This practice violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines, which state, “Don’t try to cheat the system. No gamed thumbnails, spamming tags, or creating dummy accounts…”

Some users attempt to get around violating the Guidelines by mentioning the particular celebrity being shown for the thumbnail at that point in the video. Probably the most popular example of this is utilized almost daily by YouTube Partner, sxephil.

As part-experiment, part-joke, I decided to mention sxephil and his gamed thumbnails in one of my recent videos, while utilizing his trick and one of his recent provocative images. I did so in Episode Six of a YouTube series I’ve created called “Channel Surfing”. The series highlights three YouTube content creators each week that I personally enjoy.

The first five episodes were now the control group, having similar tags, similar running lengths and consistent titles/descriptions. For the experiment to work, the sixth episode, the video utilizing the gamed thumbnail, would have to be titled, tagged and described in a similar fashion. And it was. The only notable difference between the first five episodes, and the latest sixth episode, was the use of the thumbnail image.

Forty-eight hours after uploading Episode Six, here are the results of the experiment:

Cumulative views per episode:
Ep. One: 549 views (uploaded over two weeks ago)
Ep. Two: 431 views
Ep. Three: 356 views
Ep. Four: 136 views
Ep. Five: 515 views (episode mentioned on YourTubeNews)
Ep. Six: 5,981 views (after only 48 hours)

Episode Six, with its intentionally provocative thumbnail, had more than three times the views of all previous episodes combined, in just over two days. While it may be stating the obvious, an attractive thumbnail will land you more views. However, the episode had no more comments or ratings than any of the previous episodes. Proving that views alone won’t help you build an involved audience.

As an interesting side note, during the time Episode Six and all its hottness were on the Most Viewed list, I gained just over thirty new subscribers, a forty-eight hour record for my channel. Those viewers may have clicked for the cleavage, but stayed for the content.

The most frequent private message I receive on YouTube asks, “How did you get ________ to appear in your video?” After writing and appearing in numerous collaborations with some of the most popular viral video makers on YouTube, I’ve formed a bit of a stock answer to these PMs. When I’m feeling coy, I simply reply, “I asked nicely.” But when I have time to write a proper answer, I explain much of what follows:

  • ALWAYS have a solid idea for a video before contacting anyone about collaborating. YouTubers spend enough time as it is writing and creating their own videos; they will be much more likely to work on a collab with you if you have a plot/story/concept that you can easily explain to them.
  • ALWAYS set a deadline for when their footage should be in your e-hands. If two different subs contact me about making a video with them, one who wants the footage by next Friday and the other who wants it “whenever I get a chance,” it’ll probably be a while before the second person gets anything from me.
  • SOMETIMES it helps if your collab concept fits into a plot thread the other video maker has already commented on. When I asked Spricket24 and Nalts to appear in my prank calling video, the two of them had a faux e-fight raging on YouTube and I was able to work it into the script, making it more relevant and fun for both of them to participate.
  • NEVER be demanding. You’ll need to be persistent; people are generally busy and forget things. Sending occasional follow-up or reminder emails is okay. But, accept that it’s also okay for whomever you’re contacting to say “no,” or to not reply at all. Not everyone wants to participate in the community or collaboration videos. Always be polite when contacting people – don’t burn bridges.

Of course, there are a few technical issues you should keep in mind as well. Make sure you ask for file formats and compression codecs your video-editing program can open. If you’re on a Mac, you may not be able to use .wmv files, for instance. What about the aspect ratio? Videos look more cohesive if they remain in one aspect ratio (4:3 (fullscreen) or 16:9 (widescreen)) throughout. If these are details you’re concerned with, make sure you mention that up front.

Finally, be kind in your editing. Some will send more than one take so you can choose which best fits the scene. Others will pre-edit their material before sending it; you should respect those edits and not chop up the footage any further. Large video files can be sent easily using host sites/programs such as or Pando if you don’t have your own server.

Remember to have fun with it. Collaborating is a great way to work with the viral video makers whose work you enjoy. Collaborations can also expose your audience to new channels or personalities, and in return, their subscribers will have the opportunity to see you. If you have any questions or other suggestions, contact me on YouTube:

fallofautumndistro has written for and/or co-starred in his videos with IanCrossland, MikeSkehan, MysteryGuitarMan, Nalts, Mr. Safety, Spricket24, sxephil, vlogbrothers, WhatTheBuckShow, Woody and Greg from HBO’s Man In The Box and many others.