Cyanide & Happiness Respond To YouTube Demonetisation With Hilarious Short

YouTube's continued ad-pocalypse shows no sign of abating, with a wide range of creators suddenly and surprisingly finding themselves in the demonetised dragnet. One of the latest additions is the internet cartoonists behind Cynaide & Happiness, and they've responded in cracking fashion.

Cyanide & Happiness has been one of the internet's favourite cartoons for years, and its popularity has allowed the creators to expand from the original webcomic into a series of podcasts, livestreams, merchandise, short animations, and the traditional panels which you can view through the official website.

C&H has been publishing animated shorts through YouTube for five years, and the ad revenue generated by the popularity of those shorts allowed the studio to fund production. Declining ad rates made that ongoing schedule difficult, and if that wasn't bad enough, a host of C&H videos were demonetised altogether.

"For some reason, advertisers and YouTube don’t want to run ads on racist superheros and guys eating plates of dicks," the group wrote.

So to fund the shortfall, the studio founded a separate Patreon to fund the shorts. In the interim, they also uploaded a "remix" episode, just to make sure everyone got the point.

Not all of the demonetised videos featured dick and butt jokes, highlighting the problem behind YouTube's recent changes to "protect creators". Back in April when the changes were first announced, full-time YouTubers complained that some of their videos were being demonetised without notification or an appeals process, and revenue from the videos that remained had tanked substantially.

YouTube's Latest Advertising Changes Have People Worried About Money

'.Last week, big advertisers such as AT&T pulled ads from YouTube, in reaction to being matched with content that was deemed racist or inappropriate. YouTube has since said they are fine-tuning how people make money on YouTube in general, but content creators on the platform say their channels are being unfairly affected by changes they do not understand..'

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YouTube has been routinely criticised over the last year for being vague and changing the platform without communicating properly, even to some of the major channels which have helped make YouTube the pop culture juggernaut that it is. And while the application of YouTube's changes remain inconsistent to creators on the platform, more and more will flee for avenues that are more easily understood, like Patreon.


Comments

    Back in the day, it was encouraged to whitelist favourite YouTubers from AdBlock.

    Today, will doing so actually make a difference?

      Yes. It will. Plenty of channels are having videos demonetised (note, it's rarely the whole channel) and while the vast majority of us idiots on YouTube will never make enough money on YT to pay the rent, feed ourselves or generally exist as human beings even a small amount of cash being kicked our way means a lot to us, and can help to improve the channel in future. That little bit of extra cash can justifiably be sunk into the channel - hey I made x amount from y video, I can now justify spending x amount on z video / the equipment to make it or simply justify the time spent on it.

      It makes a massive difference, please keep doing that (or better yet whitelist all of YouTube and only watch the stuff you're happy to sit through an ad for, not only will you spend less time on YouTube watching rubbish, but you'll also continue to support those creators you like).

        I just read your entire post in Daria's monotone.

          I just re-read the entire post in Daria's voice. Thanks mate.

    And you know what to blame for all this crap? The ELFs.

      No, blame the platform that doesn't communicate properly.

      "Elves"

      But yes, it's about time those pointy eared bastards took responsibility.

        Got that right.. They are evil and abuse squirrels

        I thought it was ELPs and was wondering what Emerson Lake Palmer had done.

      Am i missing something here? Why did you have to bring Mythical species racism into this dicussion!

    The biggest issue with the ad-apocalypse is that Youtube is NOT trying to find advertisers that would like to support this content. Your telling me no one would advertise on this show... the silution is to create advertising classifications or give content creators the right to negotiate their advertising spots to willing advertising partners...

    Playboy magazine never ever had an advertising problem, the most exclusive brands in the planet would lpay premium for a full page ad between the rude jokes, saucy ketters and nudity.

      It's not a fair comparison though, Playboy is dressed up porn and everyone knows it. There's no risk involved because the content of the magazine is always the same, and the demographic that reads the magazine is again very specific and easy to target ads towards.

      The same cannot be said for YouTube, if I were a theoretical advertiser I'd much rather advertise on soft porn than, say, a 14 year old atheist explaining why it's OK to hate women. Predictability is important here and YouTube is trying to promise that by reducing the amount of ads served on particular videos. Google doesn't need to look for advertisers that are happy to advertise on their services - they're all already using adwords - YouTube needs to demonstrate that YT ads are as valuable as the standard adwords ads are, and they've largely failed to do so, hence the sudden crack down.

        I still think Dirtyshado has a point, surely there's a way that advertisers can specifically link up with particular content providers rather than just using a single (or multiple) AI routine to decide what ads go where?

        C&H has got to be of value to a whole bunch of different companies so there is definitely a potential ad market there. I guess it's just too much hard work for Google to sell specific channels to specific advertisers rather than just throwing them ALL in a bucket and letting the AI routines do the work.

        Even without specific targeted ads I'd much rather see monetized advertising remain in place unless certain *visible* criteria are hit. From what I've read the whole reason people are getting demonetized is still somewhat of a black box where they're guessing at the reasons. First of all that needs to be visible and understandable, eg: "you got 3000 complaints about having dicks in your movies and the limit written in the T&Cs is 10".

        I think there also needs to be proportionate action, if for example you are getting a million satisfied views then a handful of complaints shouldn't be enough to demonetize you. It should require a fairly hefty proportion of the viewers finding it offensive.

        Finally, if the advertisers themselves are complaining, then there should be a way to divorce the advertisers from that particular content provider - blacklist them somehow. Apple doesn't want to have their ads shown on C&H? Fine they no longer appear, but other ads do.

    The whole thing sucks. I know many SFX makeup artists who were making a pretty decent go of it on YT - they weren't raking it in but they were able to supplement a great deal of every day living expenses or put it towards new gear for their jobs. Now? They're fcked. YT has demonetized zombie makeup videos, FFS. Glam & Gore is a brilliant channel who has done pretty well up until now - they've started pulling her ad revenue from most of her SFX videos.

    I know folks who have been vlogging for years and documented their IVF stories and because a death and sadness and mental health is mentioned in one (because baby foetus died), that video was demonetized. Then you've got the plus-size girls doing their clothing hauls being demonetized for the obvious.

    Frankly it's just a way for Google to get the money without having to work for it or having to pay out to those who actually make the content to earn it, and to silence those who upset the apple cart.

      Frankly it's just a way for Google to get the money without having to work for it or having to pay out to those who actually make the content to earn it, and to silence those who upset the apple cart. I'm not a shill for YouTube, and as a creator that's seen some of my videos demonetised I do have sympathy for those that have had the same happen to their content, but it's definitely not a case of Google raking in all the advertising money - if a video has no ads YouTube gets no money from it either.

      A lot of what a YouTuber will say immediately after something happens to their content is fueled by emotion, by fear, and while Google seem like the evil overlords of a platform that crushes the souls of its creators it's important to note YouTube has only ever lost money for Google, it's a massive cost that almost no other company could support. Google sucks and all, but without Google YouTube wouldn't exist as it does today and no-one would be earning any money from it.

    So I'm going to sound a little like I'm defending Google / YouTube here, but as someone that uses the platform I think I've got perspective many people lack when discussing this sort of thing - I guess it's just too much hard work for Google to sell specific channels to specific advertisers rather than just throwing them ALL in a bucket and letting the AI routines do the work. Yeah, by its very design it's a platform that cannot be monitored by human oversight. It's not possible. Letting the AI do the work sounds like a bad option, but it's the only one for a platform that lets anyone upload, it's not Google / YouTube being lazy.

    Even without specific targeted ads I'd much rather see monetized advertising remain in place unless certain *visible* criteria are hit. From what I've read the whole reason people are getting demonetized is still somewhat of a black box where they're guessing at the reasons. First of all that needs to be visible and understandable, eg: "you got 3000 complaints about having dicks in your movies and the limit written in the T&Cs is 10".
    The T&Cs actually haven't changed though and No-one on YouTube follows them. The reason people get so upset over the whole thing is that Google / YouTube suddenly started enforcing those T&Cs. YouTube is a platform that has to be open to everyone, but allow for everything, so their T&Cs always required people to ensure potentially innapropriate videos are age restricted, but I'm willing to bet half of the people on YouTube don't even know that's a feature of the website because videos of R rated videogames are frequently uploaded, unrestricted, by popular YouTubers with, in the past, zero consequences. That Google / YouTube suddenly remove revenue streams from its creators without warning absolutely sucks, but in every case I'm aware of (and I follow this sort of news pretty closely) the channels can be seen to have broken the ToS, and if they don't realise that then it's at least partially their own fault.

    I think there also needs to be proportionate action, if for example you are getting a million satisfied views then a handful of complaints shouldn't be enough to demonetize you. It should require a fairly hefty proportion of the viewers finding it offensive. This isn't how channels end up demonetised, and if your suggestion was implemented the system would be ripe for abuse (for example, any give feminist YouTuber would suddenly see co-ordinated flagging of their videos). YouTube don't tell people how their systems work because if people knew they'd exploit them but also because the algorithm is at this stage so large that no individual employee could actually understand it in the first place. YouTube's employees by nature of their work have implement something potentially broken and then fix it because there's no way to actually test these algorithms.

    Finally, if the advertisers themselves are complaining, then there should be a way to divorce the advertisers from that particular content provider - blacklist them somehow. Apple doesn't want to have their ads shown on C&H? Fine they no longer appear, but other ads do. It's just not worth it. Any given YouTuber could turn out to be a racist prick, no matter how nice their content has been previously, and worse still, as much as I hate to think of the Paul brothers as colleagues, the faces of YouTube are absolute assholes. YouTube is collectively perceived as a place for cat videos, let's plays and a platform for idiots to show off their wealth and write crappy rap music. No matter how morally upstanding an individual YT personality is it's not worth the negative press some individual creators can generate. The ethical argument of death of the author really doesn't hold water when most YT channels are one man shows.

    What I'm trying to say is that the way YouTube has been run sucks, but there's no way in hell I could figure out how to fix the problems, and a lot of what's been reported on the topic has come from the mouths of people fearing for their income - people who I sympathize with, but will blame anyone else other than themselves and who rarely have a fair or even informed opinion on the matter. The video linked in this article for example isn't saying "here's what's wrong with YouTube" like some people think it is, rather it's saying "the platform that supported us financially is now retracting some of that support and we're unhappy about it even if we knew perfectly well that we were toeing the line with a lot of our work". The first gets clicks on articles like this one, and thus people are more familiar with that argument, but the second is more accurate and the one most YouTubers don't like to admit to. YouTube has problems, but a lot of channels invited the issues they now face, and that is not entirely YouTube's fault.

      Yeah, by its very design it's a platform that cannot be monitored by human oversight. It's not possible.

      Ok, this isn't quite true. It's just very difficult, and expensive. Maybe it's time to rethink some of the core of youtube. Have a curated by humans section and a bot controlled bit. Of course, how you manage that becomes an issue. If you base it on popularity then it becomes a haves and have nots situation where the top sites get preferential treatment and the little guys get screwed.

      This isn't how channels end up demonetised, and if your suggestion was implemented the system would be ripe for abuse (for example, any give feminist YouTuber would suddenly see co-ordinated flagging of their videos).

      And if the videos were popular they'd require a tremendous amount of flagging. If there are a million "happy" views then you'd need a huge amount of negative views. Think of it like ebay feedback. A seller may have a 1000 negative reviews but a million positive ones so they're still a good seller. I'd also think regardless of whether the systems are changed or not any demonetization decision shouldn't be automated. Maybe it's flagged automatically but the final decision to demonetize should be human reviewed. If that means hiring more staff then so be it.

      It's just not worth it. Any given YouTuber could turn out to be a racist prick, no matter how nice their content has been previously, and worse still, as much as I hate to think of the Paul brothers as colleagues, the faces of YouTube are absolute assholes.

      How is this different to any other form of advertising attached to a "personality"? Look at all the companies that dropped Steven Smith and David Warner after the Newlands cheating debacle. That's the benefit of allowing advertisers to choose whether to advertise or not. Hell provide three options, whitelist, blacklist and standard algorithm and let the companies change if they want.

      I think a big part of the problem is there doesn't seem to be consistency and a lot of the people complaining are still not really sure why they've been demonetized apart from a vague "you don't comply with the T&C" type communication. Maybe they're skipping over details when they complain to us (the viewers) and they do in fact get told "during video XYZ at time 23:15 there is a racist comment". But if so we're not being told that, and from everything I've read it doesn't seem to be the case.

        if the videos were popular they'd require a tremendous amount of flagging. If there are a million "happy" views then you'd need a huge amount of negative views. I'd also think regardless of whether the systems are changed or not any demonetization decision shouldn't be automated. Maybe it's flagged automatically but the final decision to demonetize should be human reviewed. If that means hiring more staff then so be it.
        In a perfect world, sure, but there's already a problem with creators sending subscribers to harass others they disagree with and no amount of human oversight could ever reliably guarantee that videos aren't demonetised because of an edgy title or massive backlash in the comments. Especially in a politically charged discussion (the type that most often seems to garner cries of censorship on YouTube) the bias of the algorithm would be replaced by the bias of a human, at which point any reversals of these decisions would come as a result of whichever creators could inflict the most damage via their negative press - again it would be a popularity contest, just one that involves much more work and costs YouTube a lot more.
        How is this different to any other form of advertising attached to a "personality"? Look at all the companies that dropped Steven Smith and David Warner after the Newlands cheating debacle. That's the benefit of allowing advertisers to choose whether to advertise or not. Hell provide three options, whitelist, blacklist and standard algorithm and let the companies change if they want.
        Again, in a perfect world it shouldn't be different, but if you make videos on YouTube you're not just a personality anymore, you're an employee of YouTube and YouTube as a whole is consistently harmed by the actions of its biggest names. Even on YouTube there's a prevailing distaste for professional YouTubers, to make enough money to support themselves many of them hire themselves out the highest bidder and their content is frequently little more than veiled advertising as a result. YouTube is kind of gross, and advertisers know that. Hell, there are very serious ethical concerns about posting videos where you have no idea what sort of ads are going to be pushed on your audience that I and a lot of creators think about quite seriously.
        I think a big part of the problem is there doesn't seem to be consistency and a lot of the people complaining are still not really sure why they've been demonetized apart from a vague "you don't comply with the T&C" type communication. Maybe they're skipping over details when they complain to us (the viewers) and they do in fact get told "during video XYZ at time 23:15 there is a racist comment". But if so we're not being told that, and from everything I've read it doesn't seem to be the case.
        I do agree here, but the algorithm is inevitably going to make mistakes, so it sucks, but there's nothing that we can do but hope it will improve. If someone doesn't understand how they've broken the T&Cs though I'm inclined not to believe they've actually read them. The severity of the action does tend to differ more than it should, but I'm still yet to see an instance where it really doesn't make sense that it would have happened. Although the three videos of mine that were demonetised were in my opinion 'rated' m at most they were quite obviously less safe as topics for discussion and did in every case have a justifiable reason within the T&Cs to see them demonetised, even if I might disagree with the particular interpretation that lead to such demonetisation. (If you're wondering the three videos are titled Art, Porn and Commercialisation: Kill La Kill and Cashback, Killing and Dying: a quick review and Violence as a feature: Hotline Miami, Doom and Hatred, so you can probably guess why those three were flagged. I don't want to sound like I'm defending Google's algorithm because it's implementation is less than stellar, but it does need to be there logistically.)
        As far as timestamps with a reason given that would be great, but if YouTube hasn't done it yet there's guaranteed to be a reason - maybe the algorithm might pick up on a word but not its context and thus be unable to give a reason, maybe the algorith judges based on the entirety of the video and timestamps wouldn't help or perhaps revealing times would reveal ways to trick the system - I can't say why they haven't done it, but given it's the thing that annoys most creators more than anything else and YT are very aware of that we have to assume there's a reason.
        All that said it's not difficult to look at your own video next to the T&Cs and figure it out, the T&Cs, ToS and guidelines are fairly clear and unambiguous and the triggers are pretty obvious at a glance in most cases. As disappointed as I might be to see a favourite YouTuber of mine lose out on money they used to receive that is the reality of working under YouTube and we all signed up under the same T&Cs when we joined the partner program. I don't like how they're enforcing them, I hate to see talented people screwed over, but that's YouTube's right and even the most bitter of creators knows it (or should know it anyway).

          What you said in the final section really highlights the problem though. If a system is to be trusted it needs to be transparent. You can't hide your information to try to keep the system secret and stop people gaming it. If it's not able to resist people gaming the system then the system is inherently flawed and needs fixing.

          At the moment it's just punishing people who maybe made some sort of mistake and then can't even fix it because they don't know what they need to change in order to fix it.

            At the moment it's just punishing people who maybe made some sort of mistake and then can't even fix it because they don't know what they need to change in order to fix it.
            Ultimately it comes down this argument for me - YouTube are enforcing what they've always said they wanted from their users - I haven't seen any more of my videos flagged for demonetisation since I looked at what was flagged, what I was doing and looked at the T&Cs again. I figured out pretty quickly how to keep my stuff above board and I refuse to believe others can't as well.

            I have a ton of problems with YouTube - the watchtime focused algorithm favours quantity over quality, often outright punishing higher effort content, there is no context under which any but the biggest channels can contest a copyright id strike when the use of a clip meets the conditions of fair use (fair use laws don't actually exist in Australia, so my stuff is technically all illegal, but ethically I'm OK with how I use the clips I use) and YouTube's T&Cs are pretty far removed from how people actually use the platform - BUT a lot of YouTubers are either straight up lying or don't know what they're talking about when they complain about the issues YouTube has. I spent a week or two researching copyright law, the ToS, T&Cs and Guidelines for YouTube and best practice for ethical use of media clips before I made my first video. If no one else is willing to do the same to keep a hold of their revenue then I don't think they deserve it.

            If Someone wants to be paid they should be held accountable to the rules YouTube operates by even if those rules aren't to said person's taste. Believe me I'm not a fan of the direction YouTube's been heading, but people who make content that wouldn't traditionally be supported by ads on other platforms shouldn't complain that YouTube follows those same rules in order to serve those same advertisers. I often hear people complain that YouTube used to be creative, about sharing something for the sake of sharing it, and the thing is they're all remembering what YouTube was before people tried to make jobs out of it. You're still welcome to upload anything you want (within reason any way) but it's the users who changed with the widening of the partner program more than the platform itself. Half of the reason people complain about these changes in the first place is to announce or advertise their patreon (as pointed out in this C&H clip), so I think these complaints should all be taken with a grain of salt. There are certainly problems on YouTube's side, but creators that are unwilling to admit any fault bear some of the blame as well.

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