Some of YouTube’s greatest stars are revolting against the video platform, suspecting changes in its algorithm are siphoning viewers away from creators just getting by.
YouTube denied there were any changes to its algorithm after its most subscribed YouTuber Felix Kjellberg – known as Pewdiepie – announced he would delete his channel, according to BBC. In a series of videos, Pewdiepie pointed to declines in his viewership as evidence that YouTube had changed its algorithm and said the changes have hurt large and small creators across the board.
This isn’t the first time YouTube has had to deal with complaints from its users. Earlier this year, YouTube viewers complained that they were being automatically unsubscribed from channels. Here’s how creators are handling the latest news about changes to YouTube’s algorithm.
The 27-year-old Swedish YouTuber Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg accused YouTube of driving traffic to videos that have a high clickthrough rate. He suggested that unsavory and sexually explicit content were prioritized at the expense of recent uploads.
To back up his claim that YouTube had changed its algorithm, Kjellberg showed viewers how traffic from suggested videos -found in a sidebar or video player- had plummeted from about 30 percent to under 1 percent for recent videos. The famous YouTuber, who’s working with YouTube on a television series, said YouTube was promoting videos of a viral nature, especially those that have been around for a while. Named the top-earning YouTube star by Forbes, Kjellberg said the supposed algorithm changes wouldn’t affect him as much as it would smaller channels that are just getting by.
Pewdiepie’s fellow video gamer Seán William McLoughlin, whose YouTube moniker is Jacksepticeye, echoed the Swede’s allegations that Youtube was hurting creators who uploaded videos regularly. In a recent YouTube video, he said his fellow YouTube creators had seen, “huge crashes like 30 to 40 percent loss in about everything.” McLoughlin said that YouTube had boosted videos that promoted virality and used questionable tactics to drive up engagement such as giveaways or asking for more likes and comments. He predicted that the the push to promote, “absolutely insane clickbait” would backfire.
“It will create a mutiny within the actual youtube sphere itself and I’d really hate to see that happen,” said McLoughlin.
Not all YouTubers are upset about the perceived change though. YouTube instructor Roberto Blake, whose channel has about 170,000 subscribers, disputed the perception that YouTube’s algorithm change had hurt creators. Instead, he said he had seen a boost in engagement metrics resulting in more watch time, subscribers and ad revenue; he credited to his search engine optimization efforts. Blake said that creators need to learn how to, “engage with an audience outside of YouTube in the digital world.” He said one way to do so was optimizing titles and tags of videos to make them easy to find on the greater web. However, Blake acknowledged that YouTube had to be more transparent with its process.
Another smaller channel led by YouTube instructor Tim Schmoyer also challenged the perception from giant YouTubers that YouTube was hurting the creator community. Schmoyer said YouTube does not “heavily weigh” engagement metrics because they are too easy to game by creators fishing for likes or comments.
The YouTuber also recounted YouTube success stories even as large creators warned of the dire consequences of YouTube’s latest change. The key to growing your YouTube channel, Schmoyer said, is reinventing yourself because people get bored of watching the same content repeatedly. He pointed to filmmaker Casey Neistat’s decision to stop his daily vlog in November as one way to reinvent your channel.
Arts and Crafts YouTube creator Jackie A. chimed in that the YouTube algoirthm was flawed. She said that she feared that because her Monday uploads didn’t get enough views, it was hurting her main channel; Jackie said she would move the vlogs to her secondary channel. In a YouTube video, Jackie referenced a study that suggested a video with poor performance would hurt viewership for future videos and the entire channel.
A study published on TubeFilter by Matt Gielen and Jeremy Rosen also found a pattern that suggested the performance of the next video was correlated with the performance of the past two uploads. Jackie added there was a discrepancy in her subscriber count and the amount of views she was getting.
“In the last few months, my channel has been stagnant even though I have been getting more subscribers,” said Jackie.