YouTube is the internet’s home for videos, but it had rather a rough 2017.
After a scare concerning their ads being seen before inappropriate content, advertisers removed their commercials from videos en masse. This was known as the “adpocalypse” and meant that creators everywhere lost money. Loads of videos are now flagged as ineligible for monetization for seemingly no reason.
The YouTube Kids app has been inundated with creepy videos masquerading as children’s cartoons. What start out as videos featuring characters from Peppa Pig, Frozen, and other popular kid shows turn into violent, inappropriate, and terrifying scenes.
And many YouTube stars came under fire in 2017 for various stupid actions. In fact, 2018 started on the wrong foot for this very reason. Popular YouTuber Logan Paul filmed himself exploring Japan’s infamous Sea of Trees, and captured video footage of a man who had just taken his own life.
Add these to transparency problems with YouTube and content creators, like not letting subscribers know about new videos, and you’ve got a troubling set of issues. Thankfully, you, as an everyday, ordinary user, can make YouTube better in 2018.
1. Stop Watching Videos From Creators You Dislike
This is an important one, because views are everything on YouTube. As much as you might hate a channel, the worst thing you can do is share it with a comment like “Can you believe how terrible this is?” Not only are you increasing the view count for the video, but anyone who watches it because you shared it is also providing the creator with more money via ads.
A view is a view, no matter if you’re happy to watch a video or are watching it in disgust. So if you hate what the Fine Brothers tried to do, don’t watch their videos. Completely ignore them, and you’ll be doing all you can to decrease their YouTube presence.
2. Report Videos You Think Have Broken the Rules
YouTube has general policies that guide what you can include in videos. Videos containing nudity, graphic violence, child endangerment, or scams are against the rules, and you should do your part to report them when you come across them.
On any video, you can click the three-dot Menu button and choose Report. Then select what criteria it violates, and a YouTube staff member will review the flag to determine if it’s legitimate.
It’s important to note that reporting isn’t for videos you disagree with. You should not report a video just because you don’t like the channel or the creator’s opinions. Only use reporting for videos that actually break YouTube’s rules.
3. Vote With the Thumbs-Up/Down Button All the Time
YouTube uses a simple thumbs-up/thumbs-down voting system. If you like the video, take a moment to give it a thumbs-up. When you dislike one, give it a thumbs-down. Contrary to reporting, upvoting/downvoting is an appropriate way to voice your opinion.
Did the video make you laugh, answer your question, or pique your interest? Give it a like. Couldn’t follow the instructions, thought the creator’s argument was poor, or weren’t even interested in watching until the end? Click the thumbs-down.
Videos with lots of thumbs-up votes are more likely to show up in suggestion lists and appear earlier in searches. Plus, if you click a video and see it has tons of dislikes, you can assume that others are warning you it’s not worth watching.
4. Avoid Mainstream Channels, Find YouTube Originals
For the past several years, YouTube has released a Rewind video in December. It’s intended to recap the year’s events, viral videos, and memes, and features many YouTube stars.
Who did 2017’s video start with? Well of course, it’s everyone’s favorite YouTuber, Stephen Colbert!
Stephen Colbert is a TV host, and owes zero credit to YouTube for his success. He should not be in a video featuring the biggest YouTube moments of the year.
This is only one of several problems with this video, and YouTube at large. Many YouTube fans criticized it for glossing over the creators that make YouTube great. The video also ignores the issues YouTube had in 2017, instead playing it safe and featuring a bunch of cookie-cutter faces.
So we recommend avoiding the “big” channels that didn’t get their start on YouTube. VEVO music video channels don’t make YouTube great, nor do late night TV hosts. Ignore them, and find channels that only YouTube could have made possible. We’ve discussed some rather unique YouTube channels if you’re looking for some fresh new content.
Even worse, YouTube displays its double standards with these major channels.
YouTube removed ads from a video raising money for victims of the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting, while it allowed ads to run on Jimmy Kimmel’s video about it.
Your response is bullshit. It's not true. People are tired this. Be better. pic.twitter.com/XWh6eMVQWG
— Philip DeVeryStableGenius (@PhillyD) October 6, 2017
And popular music videos that feature explicit sexual content and language, like Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”, continue to receive ads. All the while, normal channels see videos demonetized for trivial reasons. It’s shameful.
And then there’s the case of Jon Drinks Water, which we featured in our list of bizarre channels. The creator regularly uploaded videos of himself drinking a bottle of water and had a decent following. In December 2016, YouTube decided to suspend his channel because it “violated the spam policy.” He appealed the claim and received an automated response three minutes later confirming it.
What a way to treat a creator who spent thousands of hours making content for your website, huh?
5. Share Videos and Follow Creators on Social Media
Remember when we said you should ignore videos you don’t like? Do the exact opposite for videos you do like. Make sure to thumbs-up videos from your favorite channels. Whenever you find a great new channel, spread their content around with your friends and on social platforms. Getting the word out helps content creators, especially newcomers, reach a larger audience.
Thank you for making 2017 far and away the best professional year I've ever had. Thanks to all of you, I actually get to use the word "professional" somewhat non-ironically.
Seriously, Happy New Year, everyone. Thanks to all your geekin', I'm still critiquin' in 2018!
— Geek Critique (@TGCritique) January 1, 2018
Additionally, it’s a good idea to follow your favorite YouTubers on social sites if they use them. Not only will this clue you in to what they’re working on, but YouTube has had issues with alerting subscribers to new videos in the past. Following your favorite channel on Twitter means you have a better chance of catching new videos right away.
6. Consider Paying for YouTube Red
We’ve expressed some concerns about YouTube Red in the past, but it does help creators out. Creators make money from ads when you watch their videos, but with Red you can support creators even without sitting through ads.
In fact, popular YouTuber TotalBiscuit estimated that he receives up to 20 times the revenue from a Red user watching a video than a standard user. YouTube distributes the money from Red fees based on how many subscribers watch a channel. So if a Red subscriber watches a channel often, they’re providing more money than ads would.
7. Support Creators via Direct Methods
If you don’t want to use YouTube Red, then you have other options for supporting your favorite channels.
Liking and sharing helps out content creators greatly. But if you really want to support your favorite channels, giving a few dollars would make their day. Many YouTubers have Patreon accounts, a service that lets you donate a small amount per month. In exchange, most YouTubers offer exclusive updates, early access to videos, and similar perks.
If your favorite channels often livestream on YouTube, the Super Chat feature lets you donate some money to promote your comments. Not only is your question more likely to receive acknowledgment during the stream, you’re supporting the creator financially. And check the description under videos to see if that creator has a merchandise store. Buying a shirt or mug helps.
You’ve probably watched your favorite channels for hours, so donating just $5 or $10 is a small token of your appreciation. It will mean the world to them, especially in uncertain times with video demonetization happening regularly.
We Can Help Save YouTube!
YouTube has lots of problems that only the company can solve. But we, the regular users who watch a billion hours of YouTube every day, can make a difference too. By supporting the awesome creators who give YouTube life, reporting inappropriate content to make YouTube safer, and making your voice heard, you significantly contribute to the YouTube environment.
Hopefully, this time next year, we’ll look back and have a much more positive discussion about the year that was in YouTube.
Do you support any YouTube channels financially? If so, how? What are your favorite channels that more people should know about? Please share your suggestions in the comments below!
Image Credit: gearstd/Depositphotos