Controvery on Promotional Online Videos

I feel like I need to shed light on a recent controversy regarding my use of promotional videos. Feel free to comment and Digg this post if you like.

The vast majority who watch my videos are receptive to an occasional promotional video. Take my recent “Poor Man’s GPS” video I did for GPSManiac as an example. The video quickly became the second-highest rated “comedy of the day” on YouTube. And If you read the comments from viewers, they mostly found the video entertaining. I’m always transparent when I make a paid video.

As George Clooney recently said, ā€œIā€™m not going to apologize to you for trying to make a living every once in a while.”

Still, I’ve recently been attacked by some members of “The YouTube Underground.” Apparently this group is in the midst of an “operation” that targets me for what they see as perverse self promotion and manipulation. During SouthTube (a YouTube gathering last weekend in Atlanta) I met a former member of this bazaar group. Mike Skehan gave me some insights into these people, and helped me understand why they prefer not to be labeled as “Haters.”

Last week I made a parody of some of the outlandish comments I’ve received recently, and as a result of Skehan’s insights I changed the name from “Scripted by Haters” to “Scripted from Negative Comments.” You may want to watch it — it’s kinda funny when you hear some of their weird comments out of context.

Despite my initial instinct to parody their absurdity, I won’t deny the attack got to me. You’ll see my thoughts on this in this 10-minute reflection I posted on one of my alternative YouTube accounts (it’s rather dull). Most of my YouTube friends tell me to ignore this stuff, and not to let it bother me. They can’t understand why it gets to me or why I give it any attention.

But I’ve been thinking about the fact that most YouTubers who get attacked simply want the controversy to go away. Almost every “famous” YouTuber becomes the victim of some attack… Renetto, HappySlip, LisaNova. YouTube “weblebrities” get bashed, and sometimes they’re embarrassed so they ignore it. In fact it’s frightening when you become targeted by people full of anger even if it’s probably an inevitable part of “putting yourself out there.” Renetto once got literally stalked by a “hater” and ultimately had to get the FBI involved. You don’t know if they’re just being quirky or if they’re downright lunatics who could be a threat to you or your family.

In one video, a person who calls himself “TheeStranger” does an “expose” on me, and reveals private information like my real name and the appraisal value of my house. He later apologized for listing my real name (and made this response video), but it’s still freaky when someone has researched where you live. Will someone show up at my home and attack me or my family? Even more frightening than TheeStranger is Samtwist who has made several videos that attack me: Nalts Cheats, Nalts Whores, The Underground, and Naltsferatu.

What motivates these people?

Some of them will tell you they’re serving some important cause. Why else would they invest hours and days making videos that harass you? In some cases, I believe their cause is legitimate. They want YouTube to be a community not a website that has advertising and promotion. I feel like there’s a great role for entertaining promotion, and most YouTubers are happy about receiving free content and perfectly willing to see advertising to avoid paying for content.

Ironically, the group accuses me of self promotion, but many of their videos are simply designed to get attention for themselves. This, to me, is a greater crime than using YouTube to advertise a legitimate product or service. It’s sad when someone uses anger and attacks on others to get attention, instead of creating something interesting, educational, artistic or funny.

So this will be the last time I give this controversy any attention. Writing this post, in fact, arguably gives them more attention then I’d like for them to have, and I’m sure they’re thrilled to have it. But YouTube should be about entertainment, community and art. And there’s also a role for marketing — especially since I’m not compensated for the 30 hours I spend making comedic videos (except for a modest income I receive from YouTube’s “Partner Program,” in which I receive a small portion of the advertising that appears with my videos).

What are your thoughts? Positive or negative. Bring them on…

16 Replies to “Controvery on Promotional Online Videos”

  1. OMG… that was longer than a lot of my rambling voice mails.

    I understand why it gets to you. I enjoy the haters to a point, but it’s not funny when it gets to the point where someone crosses the line and threatens you or attacks your family.

    When it comes to making money from your videos all I have to say is “Fuckem if they don’t like it”. Most of the people are complaining because they are jealous. I am happy for someone that can earn some cash from their art. It takes time and creativity to make videos, so if you can get paid for it that’s great! Nothing wrong with being a whore… I like whores.

  2. You and Mr. Safety are two of my favorite YouTubers and I’ve seen lots of “exposes” and videos criticizing self promotion. They don’t bug me one bit. Most things they point out are already pretty obvious. Like branding. When I see videos that promote some product or brand, I just roll my eyes and enjoy the video. Why should it bother me? I get to watch free funny videos and find things that are more entertaining then the crap that’s on TV. Besides, a lot of good always comes from those trying to make a profit. UPS and Fed Ex beat the USPS, private schools are usually more successful then their public counterparts, and you’ll strive to make better videos then if you were to just be posting them for fun only.

    I’m sorry you have to go through that crap. Those people who get into your personal life like that are way over the line.

  3. Yeay!!!!!! You tell em nalts!! I’m glad you finally decided to tell it like it really is and stop giving these guys attention that they do not deserve. I agree with nutcheese – fuck ’em if they don’t like what you do!

    And I do agree that publishing private information is going wayyyyyy too far. When that happens, you have to take action to protect your privacy and your family (if need be). Hopefully that won’t happen again.

  4. It’s said that you should just ignore haters and detractors but I think that’s rude. Use the opportunity to spread the love that is obviously lacking in their lives. Be sure to tell your critics that any time they need someone to waste three-five minutes of their lives you’ll be right there, just for them. Be sure to add a smiley face too.

    I really don’t know why people have such a problem with promotional videos. If they’re still in line with your non promotional stuff… i.e. the kind of video you’d make anyway. I don’t see the harm.

    Though I will say… the Nalts Coffee mug seems to be becoming something of an attention whore. You may want to renegotiate its contract to a little less screen time. šŸ˜‰

  5. Envy — How many negative-Nancies would change their song-n-dance if someone offered THEM dollars for their videos?

    Community — YouTube is a “community” by definition because there are several different people in it, saying and doing several different things. And yes, every community, real and virtual, has people in it who are *gasp!* making money! As I’ve said ever since I logged on my very first day, YouTube is here for EVERYONE… I’ll use it how I choose, and you use it how you choose — as long as I’m not hurting anyone, why should you care if I’m trying to earn a few extra bucks? Matter of fact, why AREN’T you? “Because that’s not what YouTube is for?” Tell that to the guys who are holding all that newfound Google stock.

    Self-Promotion — People who criticize nalts for self-promotion should ask themselves: Why do you appear in your videos? Aren’t you saying, “Look at me?” YouTube’s slogan itself invites people to self-promote: “Broadcast Yourself.” Right?

    How to Handle It — I say, ignore. It’s like anything else in the media… If you want it to go away, then don’t listen/watch… Ratings go down, sponsorship dollars dry up, and shows get cancelled… Complaining [“hating”] just calls attention to it. So, bottom line? If you don’t like, don’t watch. YouTube is plenty big enough for everyone without getting personal and nasty.

    This comment has been brought to you by a corporate sponsor, who paid me handsomely to post it.

  6. Nalts,

    The most telling aspect of this post to me is just how little discussion it has produced. That indicates to me that they had their 15 minutes and everyone is bored with them. Until they can come up with some creative, original content to help them gain popularity rather than to generate a phony “controversy” regarding things which you’ve always been upfront about, then they’re through.

    “Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.”
    – General George Patton Jr

  7. these guys were preaching to the bully choir, they won’t, can’t, and haven’t made a difference in any way,shape or form on youtbe. The fact that they decided to use and pick on you rather than have an open and honest dialog just proves that they are really nothing more than bullies.

    If you feel threats were made or they were trying to intimidate you or your family, document, report them to you tube and the authorities and post it all here publicly. Actually, I think this blog post serves as that. As this form of communication spreads I think these types of issues will continue to crop up. If they can’t approach their topics in an above board and civil manner, unless it is stated clear that what they are creating is a parody, they really aren’t worth the time. Some people enjoy being unhappy and discontent all the time.

    I did enjoy your response and I am also glad you are letting it go šŸ™‚

  8. Since when is trying to make money for your time and talent a bad thing? And how can this be done without some sort of promotion?

    I’m promoting myself right now with this comment. I’ve added my Metacafe channel in the URL section of this comment!

    PLEASE! Subscribe to my channel! I beg of you! Subscribe! And watch my videos… I have dogs to feed.

    Just kidding!

  9. I think it looks like you have spent a lot of time thinking about this topic, and you have come to some very sound conclusions. I could go in to a long diatribe about what I think motivates people like them, but they’re really not worth the time or effort.

    The fact is, when a venture gets as big/popular as YouTube, in the world we live in there are always going to be people who will want to capitalize on the opportunities for profit that exist whether it be online or in the brick and mortar realm.

    I most certainly can’t begrudge you for wishing you could make a living doing something you love to do. Shouldn’t that be a goal that all of us strive for?

  10. Are you aware that 2 people can completely disagree, but neither side is wrong? I believe the issue is due to different moral compasses, and not due to an overt hatred. One group sees occassional promotional videos as an acceptable subsidy for entertainment, whilst the other group sees users cynically treated as ‘consumers’ by media manipulation.

    Its a shame that people are rarely able to see past there own point of view.

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