YouTube is ending 2006 with dozens of technical support problems, and customer service that is reminiscent of AOL when it had a virtual monopoly. In fact, YouTubers have organized a “Bed In” to bring the company’s attention to problems. Ironically many can’t participate because the site, for days, hasn’t accepting videos in a timely manner. My videos in the past 24 hours have been held in a cue despite confirmation messages. And YouTube’s “recent” section shows that there are gaps of time where very few videos made it live (relative to the massive amounts that are uploaded typically).
Technical problems in the past weeks have included:
- Severe problems with messages and comments
- Videos are encrypted beyond recognition. Look at this one.
- Loads of spam in YouTube mail
- Errors reporting the quantity of mail
- Several days of chronic bugs related to uploading videos
- And now, in the past 24 hours, the site confirms uploads but doesn’t post them. Most of mine have vanished, and others have appeared 10-14 hours later.
In recent months I’ve come to appreciate YouTube and the powerful community it has fostered. I’ve met people via YouTube and have collaborated with fellow YouTubers on The GooTube Conspiracy (which mocks the power accumulated by Google and YouTube).
But it’s perplexing how indifferent YouTube has appeared despite this technical fiasco. The response is less excusable than the technical snags:
- I’ve never received a response from a message sent to customer service or technical support. Not once.
- There have not been messages on YouTube that alert people to the problem, or plan to fix it. At best we’ll see occasional red error messages when certain functionality (like uploading) is down.
- YouTube’s technical support fails to alert YouTubers through their YouTube mail (or e-mail) when problems arise.
- There’s virtually no way to reach YouTube via phone
This is a stark contrast from the way other video sites handle problems. Revver has been one of the less stable sites, but uses its blogs and forums to update users. blip.tv’s founders answer problems via their cell phones at dinner.
YouTube has obviously been swarmed with users, videos and customer-support and technical inquiries. And there’s a certain amount of this that can be explained by rapid growth. But some of these issues can be addressed simply by communicating. But YouTube appears to be sweeping the issues under the carpet.
Here’s hoping the site has a New Year’s Resolution to stabilize its technology and improve its communication with users. The community is tight, but if there was a viable alternative I’d suspect an exile of many users in 2007. Especially since many of the traditional portal sites are beginning to recognize the power of community, and rapidly developing tools to foster it.