Become A Reviewer – Part 5: Vlogging vs Blogging 2

A month or so ago Pantophile Panic DM’d me via twitter, asking for advice on getting into sex toy reviewing. More specifically, vlogging and blogging, which lead to a 3 part series on the topic.

If you’d like to read the first part, composed of 9 Q&A’s, you can find it here.

Otherwise, read on.

YouTube Image Logo1.) For vlogging, since YouTube is still borderline sex negative, have you vlogged anywhere else?

Before answering I need to explain a few things about YouTube and the way it worked back in the day…

When I joined YouTube in 2007 the ‘Partner Program’ was just getting started, and because they were testing the waters, they were very picky with who got accepted. For the first few years only those with exceptionally high view counts, living in the USA, creating content that was either relatively ‘family friendly’ or “highly marketable” were allowed into the program. Yes, there were some spread around other countries, but they were few and far between, operating more like guinea pig channels than anything else. It was a great way to make a living if you could get it. Back then chances were you couldn’t.

To make matters even more challenging, YouTube/Google spent a lot of their attention on what I call ‘crafting views’; rather than allowing videos to go viral on their own, the company pushed certain channels (ones that were ‘Partnered’) to gain higher views by adding them to every home page, having the videos pop up in the ‘related videos’ section (even if they weren’t related), suggesting those channels for subscription TO EVERYONE, holding view counts so only a select few rose to the top, and granting certain permissions (swearing, questionable content etc) others weren’t afforded. If that wasn’t enough, the company actively worked toward building Multi-channel Networks of ‘YouTubers’ that created content together with funding and support from YouTube/Google, (i.e. Maker Studios and Machinma). Basically put, if you were anyone but the few ‘chosen ones’, and/or didn’t have a network to back you, the deck wasn’t stacked in your favor.

Unfortunately, in the list of checked boxes YouTube required back in the day, the only thing I had going was high video counts (in 2007, 100,000 views a viral video made). Even though the content I created veered on the side of professional (no swearing, nudity, graphic images etc), by YouTube’s standards it didn’t. Slowly one by one, my videos started  being removed from the site with no explanation, notification, or response to my emails.  It was a slap in the face considering some of the other content they allowed. Wanting a home for my removed videos I began hunting for a site that was more accepting, both in regard to ‘partnering’ and the content I was creating (as per my Blip.tv account).  Finally, sometime during October of 2011, YouTube killed my account in its entirety, forcing me to take ALL of my content elsewhere.

So to answer the question, yes I’ve vlogged on other sites… mostly because I had no other choice. To name a few Vimeo, Girls Teach Guys (which is now defunct), a few others I can’t even remember since it was so long ago, and finally Blip.tv – which is BY FAR my favorite (*update Blip.tv shut down in 2015 not long after it was bought out by one of the original Multi-channel Networks, Maker Studios – I mentioned them above).

Thankfully joining the YouTube Partner Program is now open to pretty much anyone making videos (at least as far as I can see), so if you’re thinking of applying you shouldn’t have any problems. However if you do, don’t give up; of the 31 times I applied, I was rejected 30, and acceptance only came when I got my original channel back this year. Fucked up, but a step in the right direction.

2.) Did you ever worry about anonymity or people finding out about your blog?

Not really. I made videos long before I started blogging, so any chance of maintaining my anonymity went out the window. Also, most of the people that found my blog did so through my videos, so it didn’t make any difference. Add to that the fact that I placed videos (reviews and sex ed) on my website/blog to accompany written content, my face was pretty much everywhere. Having said that, I have in the past refrained from telling some friends or family what I do online. To be honest, for as accepting and open minded as they are, I don’t know how comfortable they’d be reading about me stuffing a Baby Jesus Buttplug in my ass, among other things. If they were to find me on their own, which many have, so be it. But I haven’t been readily handing out info to everyone that crosses my path.

3.) Did you ever have any bad encounters with subscribers or people commenting?

The trolls. Oh, the trolls. Let’s just say that I’ve been called every name in the book whether it be in relation to my body, gender, sexual orientation, the way I speak, how I dress, or what I choose to talk about. No one on the internet is safe from ridicule and judgement, so if you have a thin skin you might want to think about putting on some extra layers. It’s cold out there.

Your best defense: become very good friends with the Block and Delete buttons.

4.) Do you think sex bloggers should remain anonymous for safety reasons? What about sex vloggers?

That’s a tough question. As someone who’s been stalked online, received more than her share of hate mail, trolling comments, and threats – my favorite being the following…

I’m going to find where you live, cut your head off, nail it to a cross, and parade you around town like the blasphemous sinning whore that you are.

… I can understand how ones safety can be a big issue, no matter if you’re blogging or vlogging.

Whether you remain anonymous or not, if someone wants to be a total dick or threaten your safety, they’re going to. Not knowing specifics about you won’t stop them. It never has and it never will. Though I’ll admit, having a face to go with the name/vlog/blog gives them a bit more ammo since your looks or mannerisms will likely become targets for ridicule or judgment.

Even having experienced all the negative backlash, I still wouldn’t worry too much. But that’s me. If your safety is something you feel you need to protect, do so. It’s like the old adage goes ‘better safe than sorry’.

*For the record I actually found where said troll lived and reported him. Hacker friends tend to come in handy from time to time.

5.) Have you ever had an issue in real life with someone recognizing you from a video/picture?

Yes, and every time I’m left baffled but amused.

The most recent was 2 months ago at my best friends wedding, someone was at the bar and said I looked familiar but that he couldn’t place it. Soon after he found me and blurted out ‘this is going to sound really weird, and I don’t want to freak you out if I’m wrong, but are you that girl that made sex videos online?” I looked at him a little confused, puppy sideways head kinda deal, and asked “sex videos?”, to which he replied frantically ‘SEX ED! I MEANT SEX ED! NOT PORN, I DIDN’T MEAN PORN! ON YOUTUBE, THE VIDEOS ARE ON YOUTUBE!“. I live for moments like that. A week before I was recognized in a mall by a girl who thanked me for helping her learn how to express herself in the bedroom. A month or so before that I was recognized while waiting in line for overpriced beers at a concert. And just before that one of my co-workers asked if I made a video on dental dams, which she found while searching for some online. Even though all the experiences I’ve had have been amazing it’s still really weird to be ‘known’ by someone you’ve never met before.

6.) Have you ever had a video flagged/removed just for the sex toys?

YUP! In fact, MANY of the videos that were removed had sex toys in them. Even if the video was about kegels and showing products that could help strengthen them, or rounding up items that would be great for g-spot stimulation, or highlighting the importance of Eco-Friendly sex toys, it didn’t make much of a difference. They got flagged and/or removed. Not all of course, but many did.

*Update: after fighting YouTube for 2 years, eventually leading to threatening legal action, I managed to get the videos reinstated (which is how they’re on the site today!)

7.) Is there a way to avoid that by putting an 18+ only filter on each video?

Personally I suggest doing anything you can to avoid video’s being flagged or removed, be it adding an 18+ filter, limiting viewership to only those that have the link, placing an audio warning before the video, or uploading videos and embedding them on your site (without making them searchable in YouTubes filter). Sadly you likely won’t get the same viewership (in numbers) as you would if you left it open for the world to find, but if it means you get to keep your content I think it’s a good enough trade.

8.) What IS YouTubes policy about sex toys or things of a sexual nature?

Though you’ll likely find MANY videos of people reviewing sex toys, there is apparently an ‘unspoken rule’ that sex toys, even in review form, are a big no-no. Sex ed is fine. Sex positive content is fine. Even graphic depictions of genitals are fine (as per the number of gynecologist exams you’ll see on the site). However, finding evidence of this in writing is difficult, but can be found so long as you know where to look…

From the YouTube Community Guidelines;

We Review Videos Flagged As Inappropriate

Okay, this one is more about us than you. When a video gets flagged as inappropriate, we review the video to determine whether it violates our Terms of Use—flagged videos are not automatically taken down by the system. If we remove your video after reviewing it, you can assume that we removed it purposefully, and you should take our warning notification seriously. Take a deep breath, read our Terms of Use and try to see it from our perspective. If you find other videos on YouTube with the same violations, please flag them so we can review them as well!”

This, taken from their YouTube blog back in 2008:

Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favourited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

And finally this, which was added sometime in the last month or so from their Help – Policy Center:

Nudity and sexual content

If a video is intended to be sexually provocative, it is less likely to be acceptable for YouTube.

What is and isn’t allowed

Sexually explicit content like pornography is not allowed. Videos containing fetish content will be removed or age-restricted depending on the severity of the act in question. In most cases, violent, graphic, or humiliating fetishes are not allowed to be shown on YouTube.

A video that contains nudity or other sexual content may be allowed if the primary purpose is educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic, and it isn’t gratuitously graphic. For example, a documentary on breast cancer would be appropriate, but posting clips out of context from the same documentary might not be. Remember that providing context in the title and description will help us and your viewers determine the primary purpose of the video.

– read the rest here.

Why some people get shut down over others is anyone’s guess; maybe the person in the review panel was in a shitty mood and decided to take it out on you. Maybe you got trolled hard by some group, or person, with too much free time and decided it would be best spent flagging your content. Maybe your videos had a large number of hits in a short span of time giving you the opportunity to go viral and someone at the company didn’t think it was ‘appropriate’. Maybe there was a glitch in the system and your video got removed instead of just ‘limited’ (I had this happen a few times, sending a letter to inquire is always a good idea). Maybe someone put a copyright claim against the music in your video (be it by your own doing or because it was audible in the background). Maybe you’ve just got shitty luck. Or maybe your content really does go against their Guidelines and Terms of Service. Everything considered, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of videos removed or flagged on the site everyday. Do your best not to take it personally, because most likely it’s not. Easier said than done, I know.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that YouTube is run buy a bunch of marketing geniuses and loose cannons, both of which have too much control. If the content you created doesn’t offer them anything to advertise against or proves questionable, by anyone, for any reason, they’ll nix it without batting an eyelash. At the end of the day YouTube/Google, the Multi-channel networks it supports, advertisers, and everyone else involved, is it in it make a buck, and so long as their efforts are proving prosperous, your success or demise doesn’t really matter to them.

Like I said before, it’s always a good idea to have backups just in case their sights get set on you.

end rant.

So that’s it for the second part of the Vlogging vs Blogging Q&A! Thanks to Pantophile Panic for getting in touch and asking such thought provoking questions, you can find her website here. If you still haven’t read it, I suggest you hit up her post on the dangers of toxic jelly sex toys. It’ll likely make you think twice about that questionable toy hiding in one of your drawers.

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