Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back from Chicago

Another Jr Nationals is behind me, always one of my favorite shows. Got to work with some great ladies, hang out with old friends, and make a few new ones. I took some crappy cell phone pics to document a bit of the fan/photographer subculture I've been involved with for over a decade now, you can see them on my facebook page.

I've had a lot of bad luck with United Airlines over the years, but they offer non-stop flights between Norfolk and O'Hare, plus a good package with the Hyatt Regency through Orbitz so once a year I suck it up and pass up my beloved Southwest. But I have to give United credit for this trip. Roomy seats and cool cabins both ways, appreciated by this passenger of size. The trip home saw a 30 minute delay (poorly communicated) and a bumpy ride, but overall no complaints.

Time to start booking shoots for the Masters next month in Chicago. I am also looking forward to Lenda Murray's show here in Norfolk coming up soon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

More about my YouTube experience

I have a few more things to discuss now that I’ve had a chance to cool off.
One thing that remained unclear in my last post is why YouTube terminated the channel. The last messages I got from them were strong but indicated the channel would remain open and the clips available. First off, I want to discuss my observations about how YouTube responds to flagged clips, in order of severity:
1. In some cases, I imagine the flags are ignored. I sometimes got comments saying the content was flagged, with no changes noted.
2. I would sometimes see a popular clip suddenly vanish from most related/featured video lists and drop in daily views. The video still had advertising and wasn’t marked as inappropriate for some viewers, but was somehow put on a lower profile. I assumed that this might have been a low-level response to a flagging. Clips would sometimes recover from these drops and regain popularity, but usually not.
3. Marking as inappropriate for some views and advertising removed. Viewers had to be logged in and declared over 18 to see it after that, assuming they could find it after it was dropped from most related/featured lists. This was always permanent.
4. Toward the end I had a few clips removed for undescribed violations of community standards, but with no indication that it meant a strike against my account or that I was on any sort of probation.
5. A more significant clip removal sometimes came with a stern warning that it was a strike against the good standing of my channel and that I was on a six-month probation where I had to avoid a similar strike. These can be challenged, but I never followed up on that. This is the worst response I ever received, and will discuss it further below.
6. I have heard from other video producers that their entire channel was shut down without warning, YouTube deeming perhaps a single clip so disturbing this was the proper response.
When I wrote my last post I included the last formal message I got from YouTube, about a Barbara Fletcher clip, indicated it was my “second strike” in six months and my channel was disabled, but nothing about the total shut down.
When I tried to open my YouTube channel that last time I was given an option to click if I thought my account was deleted incorrectly, which I selected. I received this response a bit after my last blog post:
Hi TomNine,
Thanks for your email. Your "TomNine" account has been found to have violated our Community Guidelines. Your account has now been terminated. Please be aware that you are prohibited from accessing, possessing or creating any other YouTube accounts.
Penalty 1:
"Wanda Moore FBB '07" formerly at
Removed for violating our Terms of Use on 04/17/2009.
Please see http://www.youtube.com/t/terms and
Penalty 2:
"Sheila Bleck - FBB - 2009" formerly at
Removed for violating our Terms of Use on 03/28/2010.
Please see http://www.youtube.com/t/terms and
Penalty 3:
"Dena Westerfield - FBB - Christmas - 2009" formerly at
Removed for violating our Terms of Use on 12/23/2010.
Please see http://www.youtube.com/t/terms and
Penalty 4:
"Barbara Fletcher - FBB - 2008" formerly at
Removed for violating our Terms of Use on 01/15/2011.
Please see http://www.youtube.com/t/terms and
YouTube staff review flagged videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate our Community Guidelines. When a video or account is brought to our attention we investigate and take action if necessary.
We are unable to provide specific detail regarding your account suspension or your video's removal. For more information on our what we consider inappropriate content or conduct while using YouTube, please visit our Community Guidelines and Tips at
http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines and our Help Center article at http://help.youtube.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=92486.
The YouTube Team
I guess YouTube has a four strikes policy. People would be tickled to imagine most of these clips as remotely offensive. The Sheila Bleck clip is pretty much PG rated, bikini parts covered, nothing on a bed. In part of Wanda’s clip she wore a somewhat translucent top and careful scrutiny could reveal the outline of a nipple, and of course she has a sexy attitude and some bedroom posing. The Dena clip was from my Christmas collection, and though there was no nudity she was certainly posing in a sexy manner and enjoying her candy cane in a mildly provocative way. I would rate those two clips PG-13 at most. None of the “sexual content” would be out of place on network television.
This leaves the Barbara Fletcher clip. This was about as tame a clip you will find on the subject and I didn't notice at the time but if you clicked on a link to it this message came up: "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content." This clip was specifically targeted by the pirates, and their malicious flagging worked.
YouTube clearly has the responsibility to enforce community standards, I am not upset with them about that. I am upset with the way things went down, with no communications, no chance to dispute the decisions, or clear guidance on how to maintain good standing. I also believe they owe me at least a thousand bucks in unpaid advertising revenue, but I have no way to discuss this with anyone.
I didn’t get a chance to capture my final YouTube statistics, but they were captured on this page (most details gone now): http://vidstatsx.com/v/TomNine
Subscribers: 15,322, with about 25 new ones a day
Total views: 72,699,605. Ranking 514th among all channels with an average of 425,601 views per clip
Channel views: 2,615,987, ranking 802nd
A lot of people suggest I take my business to DailyMotion or another video sharing site. If simple video sharing was my only goal, that would be fine. But no other site delivers the web presence of YouTube, both in terms of building a brand and in reaching a broad audience.
I haven’t said much about the pirates who caused so much damage to our community on YouTube. The situation is evolving and I may write a future post about it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My wild YouTube ride

I started posting clips to YouTube innocently enough, maybe as far back as 2005. YouTube offered a pretty low quality image back then, but then again so did I. I kept plugging away, as did YouTube, being absorbed by the Google collective. Video quality improved, at least on YouTube's end. More people started watching my clips, which was cool.

In December 2007 I was surprised to get an e-mail from YouTube, inviting me to join their partnership program. This meant I could make some money off advertising on my channel. I figured what the hell and gave it a try, though I never expected to make much money off it. Maybe enough to cover a nice new lens some day. I expected it would take a while to earn the $100 minimum to get a payment, so I didn't even bother setting up in my Adsense account or "monetizing" all my clips for the first few months.

I was in the Navy for 20 years, much of which I didn't enjoy a lot but I stuck it out for that pension. After one year as a partner I found my little hobby generating more income than my pension. I have a pretty good paying job with the Navy as a civilian now, but for the last half of 2010 I was making more from YouTube.

Yep, I was lucky. If I thought the money was reliable I would have quit my day job, as some successful partners did. But that was a big "if." My audience grew, but largely because YouTube was constantly thrusting my clips in front of people who didn't want to see muscular women. Negative comments, thumbs down, and flaggings for inappropriate content increased with my viewership. I also got more aggressive about asking YouTube to take down my clips when they were copied by scammers and thieves, knowing they could retaliate in cowardly ways I was vulnerable to. The bigger the audience and checks got, the shakier it felt.

Anticipating this post a few weeks ago I captured the above image from my statistics page, showing the steady increase in views over time. The lower chart features 2010, as my daily views staggered up from about 80,000, then leveled off around 120k for a bit, then a sudden surge close to 200k... and a sharp descent to under 80k again.

So, what happened? This past December 1 I came home from work and checked YouTube out. Cleaned up the comments, checked my daily ad income and started uploading a new clip as I did every two days. As I edited the clip info I noticed there was no place to adjust the advertising settings. No big deal, that happened now and then, it would be ready to edit after the clip uploaded. Only it wasn't, and there was no advertising on any of my clips. After a day I e-mailed customer support, and I wrote back every few days after that. Nothing back.

On 16 December I received the following:
I write on behalf of Google to inform you that we are exercising our contractual right to terminate your Content License Agreement (“CLA”) with 30 days written notice. We have determined that the videos associated with your YouTube account are not suitable for advertising. This email serves as written termination notice that the CLA will terminate thirty days from December 16, 2010. After termination of the CLA, your “Tomnine” account and all of the videos in that account will remain on the YouTube site subject to the YouTube Terms of Service, including the applicable license provisions.
I replied with some questions, and received a prompt answer that this decision would not be reversed. There was no clarification about what would happen thirty days after December 16.

When the ads were dropped, my views actually went UP for a while. I had pre-roll ads on my most popular clips, and I assume some people never made it to the clip. My single most popular clip, an interview with Dawnice Beckley from 2007, soared to over 100k views a day by itself, eventually getting well over 21 million views. Then it was flagged for adult content, that is the big drop at the end of the graph.

A few more clips were flagged, including many that were totally G rated. While I was a partner I think I was protected from random flaggings and real people reviewed the complaints, but no more. Attacks from the parasites increase, bolstered by their earlier victory in getting Mike from HerBiceps knocked off YouTube. I was also curious about what would happen "thirty days from December 16" A few hours ago I got this e-mail:
The following video(s) from your account have been disabled for violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines:
  • Barbara Fletcher - FBB - 2008 - (TomNine)
This is the second Community Guidelines warning strike your account has received within six months. Accordingly, the ability to post new content to YouTube from this account has been disabled and will not return until two weeks after you acknowledge this message. Please review the YouTube Community Guidelines and refrain from further violations, which may result in the termination of your account(s).
This was a very vanilla clip that no one could object to. I went to log onto my YouTube account to acknowledge receipt so I could get the two weeks suspension over with, only to find more trouble.

Oh well, easy come, easy go. I always viewed my success with YouTube as a happy accident, but was also proud about it. Muscular women are rarely seen in the media, so I was glad to present what I thought was a positive image to folks who would never see it otherwise. It was also nice to give back a little cash to the ladies, along with the publicity.

I have lost much of my zeal for YouTube, and for "do no evil" Google in general. I may start a new channel some day, or maybe not. I will absolutely continue to remove my content from the parasite's pages.

I plan to keep puttering along with what I'm doing, just with a smaller presence of the interwebs, and certainly paying the models less than I would if the cash was still pouring in. Maybe there are some new wild rides waiting for me.