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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Why 4,000+ videos have comments & most ads disabled, but new ones don't

I've covered the fallout of the FTC vs. Google settlement for YouTube's flagrant violation of COPPA in three dedicated blog posts, five videos, and probably over a hundred smaller postings. Anyone concerned about the issue with regards to me and my channel should have no questions about where I stand on it all and why.  Yet, questions & confusions remain, so here we are again.  In my last video on the subject I very clearly explained that the real-world effects on me after YouTube's compliance update necessitated a significant and immediate change to my video style & approach, otherwise JANGBRiCKS as you all know it was all but done for. During 2 & 1/2 weeks of downtime that followed, I figured out a new plan, completely disassembled & eliminated my review studio setup, and built something entirely new.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Eleven years & 3,000 posts ago...

Above is the exact photo, pulled from its original upload location, that opened the very first post on my earliest LEGO-related blog, Zeyek's BIONICLE: Untold.  The in-character narratives of Zeyekti-Iiloptinous Mazzourel and a simultaneously-launched "Behind the Scenes" blog of custom creations would later give rise to my "Unofficial Hero Factory MOCs Blog," all three of which I would subsequently combine under the "LEGOJANG" banner, finally renamed in 2014 to "JANGBRiCKS." 

Good times, all, and still going like the Energizer Bunny! 

[Edit: Wait, is the Energizer Bunny still a thing?]
[Edit2: Yes, yes it is, whew.]

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A re-launch progress update

It's been two weeks since I was forced to yank the e-brake and put a full stop on the JANGBRiCKS channel on YouTube (and almost everything else, for that matter).  By the time I posted my video explaining how YouTube had killed nearly all value in nearly all of my work of the past 10 years, I had formed a mental image of what my primary content, LEGO reviews, could look like in the post-COPPAcalypse era.  Based on viewer feedback, I discarded that initial concept and eventually figured out something that would be less of a dramatic departure from the style many people had come to really enjoy.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Realizing what Patreon support could really mean

This evening while pursuing my usual modus operandus (research, brainstorm, plan, repeat) regarding Patreon & properly rewarding/supporting patrons, I had a mind-clearing epiphany.  A lot of my kindest and strongest supporters have insisted that if I accept their direct monetary support, the biggest & most important reward they'll receive in return is that I'll be able continue on doing what I've been doing up to now, making the best content I can.  I now realize this is incorrect.  I'll be able to do so much more, so much better.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Patreon preview & request for feedback

For years I've gotten a consistent stream of requests for a Patreon page, PayPal "tip jar," or other means of directly, tangibly supporting my work, and I've always pushed the idea away.  All that time, family & friends have tried to reason with me and explain why I should work past this holdup.  A lot of what they've argued makes perfect sense, but at the end of the day, there's always been a single point I've returned to: I didn't need the extra support, thus I couldn't bring myself to accept it.  Even through numerous YouTube maladies, I've always resolved to do whatever I can to keep my involvement in this hobby and contributions to this community self-sufficient through normal, reasonable ad placements.

Days into 2020, everything changed. The latest batch of YouTube changes utterly decimated residual ad income from nearly a decade of past work.  I finally accept that I need to decouple my ability to financially support my channels from YouTube's ever-shifting willingness to allow just that.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

What a difference... a day makes...

"Twenty-four little hours..."

Deep breath.

Right.  So, the video above explains it all.  Final data from YouTube's January changes arrived and the picture is extremely bleak for me, more than twice as bad as a supposedly accurate real-world test suggested it would be.  I really should be panicking right now, but somehow I'm not.

I need to make bigger changes than I have in the over 10 years I've been doing this whole LEGO thing (almost 7 of them full-time).  I'm up to the challenge, though!  In the coming days & weeks you're going to see me asking a lot of questions of fans across multiple media & communication platforms, including some with which I've never before engaged.  I have a lot of ideas swirling around and will need your direct input to help shape the best of them into a new reality.

My primary YouTube video style in particular needs a significant adjustment to overcome the latest round of major obstacles, restoring the ability of viewers to comment on videos (at least new ones), add them to playlists, and possibly most importantly, use the "mini-player" in the YouTube app.  This may be a bit disruptive at first, but I'm not fundamentally going to change who I am or what I do, I'm just going to make what changes are necessitated by factors well beyond my control.

It's a good thing I work well under pressure!  I'm actually feeling more than a little tinge of excitement over all this.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Where did YouTube comments go, and what now?

It's a little late, but YouTube today completed the second round of implementation of their changes to comply with the COPPA lawsuit settlement (that I've talked about quite a bit in the past) as well as some questionable add-ons they've bundled along.  The settlement was announced in September 2019 and in November we learned a lot of the specifics of what would be changing.  Now comments & end screens are completely disabled from most of my videos, and you will generally not get subscription notifications when I upload new content (not that many of you got these anyhow).  Some other features will be impacted as well.  All of this is because these videos count as "mixed audience" content according to YouTube's own definitions and had to be marked as "for kids" and restricted as such. The actual COPPA rule that YouTube flagrantly broke and is now forcing us creators to follow on their behalf actually allows "mixed audience" videos to be marked as "not for kids" since, by definition, "children are not the primary audience."  However, this requires a small extra step to be implemented by YouTube, and guess what YouTube didn't do?  It's pretty messed up.

At the time of this writing, my plan remains unchanged from last year.  I'm going to continue publishing my real-time Pure Builds, time lapse speed builds, and reviews & MOCs as I've done up to now.  Those of you who are aged 13 or older are welcomed & encouraged to continue commenting on my Pure Builds videos as those are very clearly aimed at a more patient, mature crowd and I've not seen any evidence that younger kids are interested in that content.  I have also been thinking up more ways to make videos on my main JangBricks channel that can be easily and honestly marked as "not for kids" per COPPA definitions, so you'll be able to comment on those.  You can also comment here on the blog, or on these other social media accounts:
As for the loss of subscription notifications, there's not much I personally can do, though you as a viewer can still work around this.  You know I upload regularly (averaging once/day over the long term), so just check the main channel any time you want to see what's new, especially during busy release seasons like we're in right now!  I decided not to spam up all of my social media accounts with "Hey I just posted a new video, go check it out!" posts every day, though I will do some occasional updates and I'm experimenting with posting videos natively on Facebook as well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

What Am I Doing? Part 2!

Hi all!  I've continued to be a bit quieter on YouTube than usual in this between-releases season, but I've also continued to use this time for important behind-the-scenes work that will pay dividends in 2020.  The four major groups of tasks I mentioned previously have all been wrapped up, but a bunch of new stuff, some completely unexpected, some long overdue, has been keeping me busy.  Time for another update list!

LEGO Marvel Avengers Hulk Helicopter Rescue review & thoughts! 76144

With subscription notifications going away on YouTube for a lot of content (including much of my own), I'm going to experiment with a return to posting up about my new videos here on the blog.  I'll be playing around a bit with different ways to do this over the coming months. Right now I don't have any fully-formed clever ideas, but I'll at the very least share some link updates on a fairly regular basis, most likely in groups rather than with a new post for every single video.  I'm open to suggestions, so let me know what you'd like to see.

Friday, November 8, 2019

What Am I Doing?!

I may seem a bit quiet on the content front at the moment, but don't worry, all is well.  I'm not in a motivational rut and there's no other problem behind the scenes, but at the same time there's no big-bang MOC I'm secretly working on or anything.  This is the most dramatic new product release lull of the year, with the trans-holiday rush looming over the horizon, and I always use this time to work on mundane chores that nobody else cares about.  Most of these "between" seasons have delayed starts as normal work goes overtime, and that has resulted in a significant backlog against which I'm now making as much progress as I can, while I can.  For those curious, here are some of the major groups of chores currently underway: