Why Not YouTube?

I do not publish my content on YouTube.

I do not have a particular problem with YouTube as a site, company or concept. In fact, I’m a huge fan of YouTube (and Google) as a company. Like Google, however, YouTube has become synonymous with Internet-posted video. It’s the video that I have a problem with.

Anyone with a GoPro — or even just a phone — and some video editing software can make a video and post it online. Here’s where I disagree with this as a concept:

  • There is a lot of senseless narrative. I’m not even talking about advertisements. I’m talking about the 22 minutes of a 23-minute video where they’re not showing you how to do what you wanted to see. It’s the acting, the kitschy gimmicks and the fill content. Some people who make videos do it more or less. Do I want to watch your background on why you’re doing this?
  • The content is edited to show the, “happy path.” Everything works well and no mistakes are made. You don’t learn from this as well because learning to do something is fraught with mistakes.
  • I’ve seen videos where mistakes are made. Usually they’re glossed over. When they’re not, we’re wasting time. I once watched a guy in a video show the process of pulling a stripped screw during a video on how to fix a car door. I wanted to see a few small details: the order to remove interior panels, which piece to pull out and how to tune the installation after replacing parts. Instead, most of the video was about how to use an angle grinder on your car.
  • Videos aren’t indexed. Maybe YouTube allows you to add labeled chapters but I haven’t seen it done. You can skip ahead but where do you skip to? To be effective, how-to videos have to allow you to go at your pace, not the contrived pace of the video’s creator.

Ultimately, watching videos online is a time suck. I like watching funny, cute or amazing things and sometimes I do. That gets classified in my leisure time and for this YouTube is entirely fulfilling. On my learning time though, I try to use online videos as a last resort only.

Here are some features of my site that aim to make articles more useful than videos:

  • Headings and bullet points. Jump to the content that you need.
  • TL;DR where appropriate (in beta as of March 2019). That’s, “too long; didn’t read.” It’s an abstract, executive summary and similar, all rolled into one.
  • Editing. I edit my content. It’s really easy in words. It’s hard to go back and change some scenes from a video you made a year ago.
  • News-style writing. Start with the point. The first paragraph of an article lets you know if it’s something you may be interested in. The first sentence of a paragraph tells you if you care about that content or not.