Youtubers with millions of followers are dropping out, citing stress and burnout from algorithm kremlinology

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/06/02/algorithm-grade.html

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Am I missing the downside of this phenomenon?

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I’ve noticed that some YouSpuds :wink: have turned instead to Patreon or other crowdfunding solutions rather than rely on Google’s black box.

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Apart from a multinational corporation that refuses to contract with content creators, most of whom are under the age of 25, forcing them to work longer and longer hours for a fleeting promise of fame and maybe making a living from their work?

No, no downside.

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Any performer will “burn out” if not properly managed. In a way, Youtubers will succumb to it far more often because they don’t have the background or the training for managing the stress along with it, being amateurs. Professional performers have managers and staff to help them through, and even being children of those performers would have, at least in some aspects, prepared them for the “fame” and the ancillary problems that arrived with the fame. Amateurs don’t have that kind of support network.

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When I was 19, my job involved things like sorting out maggot-infested potatoes and rebagging the good ones. For minimum wage. Pardon me if I’m not especially sympathetic.

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But YouTube wants amateurs to upload videos, right? It should be up to them to provide this support network. And it’s pretty easy - just be consistent and open as to what it takes to be successful.

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Freelancers and self-publishers in other media seem to be doing ok, even without managers and agents. You have to be mindful of your work as a business, and move towards ways you can own your audience instead of counting on platforms. YouTube is very low-friction for getting your work out there, but the amount of revenue per viewer is low, and you don’t know who you are. However, if you have 1000 fans that are willing to buy $100 of your content or merchandise a year, you can make a good living, so the goal is to cultivate your real fans and give them opportunities to pay you. And yeah, those efforts will come at the expense of volume of work you can create.

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I’m sorry… forcing?

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internet fame based on hollow stunting turns out to be fickle? How horrid for them. 18th century socialites feel their pain.what woukd eat at me would be not knowing if it was a mistake of an algorithm that killed my work, or that created its success…

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Yes, there’s many creators who do actually put out great thoughtful content are burning out. If you don’t care that’s fine but you do have to realize that the people benefiting from Youtube’s current system are people that don’t care to put out good content, just gimmicky, click bait and easy content. Youtube’s system currently punished creators that don’t upload constantly, the more the better… every day or more than once a day. Often creators are incentivized to create multiple channels. That’s not even bringing into play monetization and their completely opaque criteria for many of the criteria Youtube uses to determine what’s allowed and whats not.

Right now Youtube is prioritizing quantity vs quality, and the effects are obvious. A lot the creators i watch have burned out within the past year, some have stopped making content altogether.

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Youtube expects creators to churn out content quickly and constantly, all while also lowering the amount they have been able to earn with monetization, and having terrible documentation as to what’s ad friendly. A professional would not be able to keep up the work these creators are doing either if they were barely able to make a living and being required to work 24/7 to stay on the top of the algorithm, the second someone starts to produce less videos Youtube recommends their videos to less people.

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Always grimly amusing to see people who fancy themselves as “makers” and creative types sneer at those who try to survive by making things and being creative. I’ve worked bad jobs for very little pay too; but that doesn’t mean that other kinds of working conditions can’t also be crappy.

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Indeed. Google/YouTube are mental junk food pushers. You can market thoughtful, useful content with substance on them, but odds are it will wind up here…

High School never ends. Glittery slogans on the walls. The library is deserted. And occasionally some deranged coward comes in and shoots the place up…

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Boingboing posted a Youtube video (catching mice in a bowl of oil) a few weeks ago by a guy who runs a page testing mousetraps. He’s now no longer able to show the trap actually “function” when it kills a mouse. Which at first might seem cruel, but is in fact necessary when choosing a humane trap that kills instantly.

Some of this is YouTube squeezing content producers and some of it is advertising and weirdo complaints deeming certain content unworthy of ad revenue. According to the mousetrap guy, most of his problems stem from complaints from people who thought he should be rescuing the Norway rats in his barn instead of killing them.

I can’t say I’d mind seeing the stunting idiots or the the weird Eastern European dolly videos (which my 5 year old has been banned from watching) go away

But yeah, I was unloading tractor trailers 12-14 hours a day for $4.25/hr when I was 18 in the Florida heat to pay for college. So my sympathy is somewhat tempered…

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They’re not really being forced to do anything. There are other job options available to them than becoming YouTube “celebrities”. That’s pretty much a mug’s game, anyhow.

We all learn life lessons like this when we’re young (e.g. human resources is looking out for the company, not you). It sucks, but it usually inspires intelligent and creative people to find workarounds.

I’ve found that those creators use YouTube as a side-gig: e.g. as a promotional channel for their work/hobby or as an easy way to post videos. They’re not relying on YouTube for their entire income or sense of self-worth.

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No, you’re right. Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything.

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I learned to throw adobe brick at the age of 16. By 22 I was climbing into septic tanks to unblock drains. Magnitude doesn’t change the fact that this is still exploitation.

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I think your making a semantic argument if you don’t get his meaning. Like how the grocery store ‘forces’ you to give them money if you want their merchandise. You’re right, nobody ‘forces’ you to spend money in the grocery store, but if getting food is your goal then yes you are forced to give them money.

Your point being likely that they don’t need “fame and maybe making a living from their work” from youtube. Yes there are alternate roads in life, though if I offer a job opportunity, then after you’ve devoted months or in most cases years of your life into it then I suddenly say “I don’t feel like paying you for this anymore but you’re free to keep giving me labor, who knows I might still pay you once in a while if you work even harder.” it’s kind of a dick move, and if you want to keep this thing you’ve now worked so hard for, you are essentially ‘forced’ to work harder or lose everything you’ve put into it.

I think like squatter’s rights if a human puts X amount of time into something you shouldn’t be allowed to just take it away from them arbitrarily. It’s one thing if you work hard and you build a pile of crap yeah nobody is going to pay for that but these people built something that actually was paying them, meaning they were doing something of value even if making videos seems frivolous to us hard working Joe’s.

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