07/17/09 - 9:43am
by Chas Danner

YouTube Chaos and Etiquette

Random vent: It’s fantastic to see everybody out in the street again today in Tehran. It’s also great to see to everybody then coming home with their 12-30 second cell phone videos, cranking up their anti-filter software, and uploading to YouTube. And it’s wonderful to see so many people on Twitter and Facebook and especially YouTube paying close attention.


When you are looking for new video like I often do on a day like today (and I’ve actually gotten exceptionally good at looking for new video) the unnecessary noise gets problematic when everybody with a YouTube channel and a downloader of some kind feels the need to rip and repost every single video they find on the site, like their 121 subscribers depend on them for all the footage they can find. Now this is not to discount the hard work that many Iran specific YouTube users put in compiling and reposting, etc. But I wish people would follow a guideline of *any* kind – for instance always copying over the source link from where you got the file, also copying over every detail included with the original video, and finally – just perhaps – maybe not ripping and reposting something that is already on YouTube with an accurate description, unless you have added to it somehow. There are now tons of videos up with no description, no context, and this makes it much much harder to tell the overall story when for all you know the video is two years old, and somebody got a little ambitious with a random link they found.

Now today I put up a compilation of seven videos in which I did not source each one in the description, so I’m a hypocrite – but I do feel like I added something to them by making it easier for one person to see seven videos of the same day and event, instead of weeding through the dozen duplicates of each of those seven videos to try and find out what happened. Or to save another blog some real estate when they want to post video from today.

People I think get a little too amped up “collecting” without context, without foresight, without an overall citizen-journalist sense of trying to present in a cohesive narrative. Cutting down the clutter makes my life and the lives of the other people trying to cover this story a lot easier too. And finally, what is also lost is that it’s easier for a video to go viral if there is only one copy of it and it rack up stats, favorites, and comments and can then climb the charts – even with news like Iran.