YouTube age restriction quagmire exposed by 78-minute Mega Man documentary [Updated]

YouTube age restriction quagmire exposed by 78-minute Mega Man documentary [Updated]

Aurich Lawson/Capcom

A YouTube creator has gone on the offensive after facing an increasingly common problem on the platform: moderation and enforcement that leaves creators confused by logic and short of earning potential from their videos.

The issue centers on a longtime YouTube video host whose content is popular among retro-gaming enthusiasts on the Ars Technica staff. The creator, who uses the online pseudonym “Summoning Salt”, tells the story of speedrunning world records from various classic games. His over-hour analyzes show how different players approach older games and exploit various bugs. The games in question are usually 2D cartoon fare instead of violent or M-rated titles.

Summoning Salt asks why his YouTube video was age restricted.

Summoning Salt took to social media on Friday to claim his latest 78-minute 1989s documentary Mega Man 2, which was uploaded in mid-September, has been “age-restricted” by YouTube’s moderation system. Oddly, the video had been age-restricted about a week ago, only for YouTube to give in to the creator’s appeal and claim the restriction was placed by mistake.

Thus, Summoning Salt was surprised to learn on Friday that the video had been re– age limit – which he says severely limits a creator’s ability to monetize content on YouTube. An age restriction flag works against content creators in two ways: it limits the pool of ads that could run in pre-roll and mid-view breaks, and it essentially slams the door on the YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, which might otherwise tease Summoning Salt’s content again. the viewers.

Remember, it’s Mega Man 2 we are talking about

Summoning Salt’s (age-limited) analysis of Mega Man 2 World record.

YouTube’s initial notice did not specify which moderation flag the latest Summoning Salt video, a video that documents the 18-year history of people playing and exploiting the NES game Mega Man 2, embedded above – had triggered. His appeal eventually teased a response from YouTube’s moderation team: “explicit language in some parts.” As Summoning Salt explained, the video includes a three-second blast of six F-words, taken straight from a Twitch streamer’s microphone during a passionate gaming moment.

Summoning Salt, a speedrunning creator, pushed his analytics tools to the microsecond level and searched for other unrestricted YouTube content in the games category to see if his video’s per capita curses percentage (0 .16%) had been exceeded. He immediately found an unrestricted example from another popular retro-minded channel, Angry Video Game Nerd, which had almost doubled the swear words in a video one-twelfth denser in script. (It’s unclear how many of AVGN’s videos, known to be full of swear words, are flagged with age restrictions.)

Ultimately, Summoning Salt points to YouTube’s unclear recommendations to content creators for content like curse words. According to YouTube’s own rules, the line between “moderate profanity” (allowed in unrestricted YouTube videos) and “heavy profanity” boils down not just to specific word choice, but also to frequency, and YouTube is simply suggesting that the line is crossed when a threshold is reached. of “used in every sentence” or have certain swear words appear in important moments like the first 30 seconds of a video or as text in a thumbnail.

Summoning Salt noted that the moderation team initially responded with a “full review” in about 40 minutes, less than the length of the entire video. Such a quick review process involved an automatic moderation system using voice analysis to log the number of swear words, and Summoning Salt told Ars via email that YouTube has tools in place to automatically disable this. that it detects as offensive content, but that YouTube does not enforce in age limit disputes. This leaves creators out of the revenue stream once YouTube raises such a flag. He also told Ars that his videos have only been restricted in the past by YouTube due to copyright on the included music, which he has no problem with.

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