The Rise And Fall Of YouTube Tutorials

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Tutorial channels were once an institution of the website, and are now almost completely defunct. This is a deep dive into what happened… and into one of the weirdest channels I’ve found. Visit and get thousands of exciting documentaries and access to my streaming service Nebula!

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Apple lover, ICT and LEAN consultant, MS Office lecturer My other website with video tutorials - Tutorials, guides and news for iPhones and iPads

24 thoughts on “The Rise And Fall Of YouTube Tutorials

    Dan Marshall

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    Hello. I think I can clear some of this up. I worked at VideoJug (UK) until 2009, and I feel like some of the stuff you're incredulously confused by is a result of VideoJug's .com site demise and the move to youTube.

    So, I was brought on board to film purely factual HowTo videos. Question and Answer sessions with experts. The 'pure knowledge' part of things. It was a fun job, and it was genuinely helpful content back circa 2007. I mean, a lot of it is-and-was better as text, but it was honest to the mandate of the "preserving knowledge" thing.

    As time went on, VJ realised they needed more stuff that would go do big numbers, to bring people into the site. Dry, pure facts presumably weren't enough to do that? I don't know, I wasn't privvy to those conversations. We as writers and producers were given a bit more free reign to make silly stuff amid all the factual content. That's why "How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse" exists on a factual channel. The execs gave us freer reign to make short, silly videos. We could make them, but the cost had to be basically zero – everything shot and edited in-house, filmed using VideoJug staff or a modest actor budget, filmed in-and-around the office. We barely spent a penny on videos (which, I'll point out, the 2-5 minute thing was bang on. They had acres of metrics on this stuff. Pre- YouTube allowing 10 min+ videos, people just didn't have the patience to sit through anything more than 2-5 minutes). This was the golden age of the site. Yes by today's standards some of the videos are ropily shot, but we were young and happy and doing something that no one else was doing and I think VJ deserves a lot of credit for that. Some of the videos we made did HUGE numbers (even by modern standards, let alone in 2007), which is why for a time we were allowed to continue. We'd have a suite of topics the SEO people had identified as needing making, but we were in a position to pitch some experimental stuff in-between. It was glorious, and exciting.

    We'd also get the call to make videos based on trends. New Harry Potter movide coming out next month? We need a video with "Hogwarts" in the title. That's why that stuff exists. Again, all zero budget, all made in good spirit by genuinely talented and lovely people.

    Anyway, more and more of the production staff got made redundant, as presumably the videos didn't bring in the money needed. This is where things got a lot less fun, and we started making corporate videos dressed up as Hot Tos. So, Microsoft would pay for us to make 20 videos about "How to use Powerpoint", or whatever. This is where your Zune content presumably came from. The "fun" stuff fell by the wayside, it wasn't an option.

    This is also where VideoJug decided to go User Generated Content, and vetted submissions. That's why those videos are in there.

    I was one of the last 3 people to be made redundant. The production staff had dwindled from 50 or so(?). Every 3 months or so there'd be another round of redundancy. Eventually, and this is the critical moment: VideoJug decided it was going to just embed youTube videos directly into the site, and production staff were no longer required.

    Some time later, I noticed that they'd just plain set up over at youTube. That's probably why it's impossible to link videos together, it'll have been an automated process. It's also why a lot of the videos will have insanely low video counts- had its own custom player with its own custom view count. Thet data will have been lost in the move to yt, many years later when the subject matter (Choice Awards/ ComicCon etc) is no longer current.

    So there you go. That's why when you look at the site after 10 years it's an odd collection of stuff. Working there was some of the best years of my life, we had great people who were funny and talented and fun to be around. It was the best office environment I've ever worked in, and I look back on my time there extremely fondly. It's a shame you think some of the videos were cheap and daft. It's because they were. You're right that they had genuinely taleneted staff, and that the higher-ups didn't know how best to use them, but that's just because we were being asked to fit round pegs in square holes. We fought and fought to make stuff that was of interest to us, but it needed to fit the site's ethos and business model, and unfortunately that doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with expressive, creative video content. Not everyone's sense of humour was to my taste, but that's one of the glorious things about it. Some of us were making comedy shorts, some people used their free reign to make fascinating stuff on topics they were passionate about.

    To clear up one point: I obviously can't speak to anything that happened after 2009, but nothing after then was made or produced as the same people as the earlier dafter stuff, to my knowledge.

    So there you go. VideoJug was an odd place doing stuff that when you look back on it 13 years later doesn't quite seem to hang together.


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    Just realized Sarah and Eric Sophia from Curio look a bit like twins


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    The one sip you show you spill it on yourself
    I guess that's to establish continuity with the stain on your shirt
    10/10 very good story telling


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    "You wanted the My Immortal Author reveal? Very well, now you have VideoJug. Learn how to appreciate the cereal box price already, goddamit".

    ~Sarah Z

    Ambient Pizza

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    Something about videojug’s name feels off

    Frances Gardner

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    I feel like people (including me) prefer to skim wikihow rather than watch a 5 minute video when they don’t even know if it will be helpful


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    I mean…have you seen the Beauty Community recently?
    It's kinda in shambles lol

    miranda f

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    wait, people clicking off a video when the sound quality isn't good isn't a thing??? I definitely do that, I thought everyone did ???

    Bea Kind

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    How to kiss videos were LIFESAVERS for awkward middle schoolers with family computers

    Eli Suryana

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    Old youtube was such a weird place

    Karen anime otaku

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    Me seeing Shallon Lester in the HowCast Twilight kiss tutorial: I thinked I will never see that woman again…

    Cinnabar Analytics

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    Learn how to read a script without sounding scared sweetheart


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    I still watch a lot of "slime tutorials". The one about a ham is really good


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    Actually the audio thing is true. Audience forgives bad image a lot more than bad audio. Bad audio is something our ears can't quite forgive as easily.


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    The only tutorial channel we really need is Alantutorial

    Milan Brezovsky

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    lovely hair


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    i think how to basic is losing views because they aren’t funny and redo the same joke over and over

    Clara Noggle

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    why would you insinuate that "how to clown about while being pursued" is not a serious nor useful tutorial? Many, a time, I have been pursued, whilst the only thought in my head has been "if only I could clown about" , I believe you severely underestimate the true knowledge and prowess of videojug.

    Top Hat Turtle

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    So videojug is the ancestor of troomtroom and 5 minute crafts?

    i lack knowledge in the art of naming

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    I actually wanna check out the “9 Shakespeare Insults We Should All Use” video at 22:09 I know enough about that guy to know that he’s got some good insults in his plays

    Rawal Shadab

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    Olly has become the official voiceover artist of our little swathe little corner of the Internet, and I'm loving it. He's the Morgan Freeman of bread tube (without all the sexual harassment allegations, of course)

    Bushzilla fishMLG

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    How did they fall? Minecraft tutorials are still around

    Kayleigh Brown

    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    If you were going for a posh English accent and wounded up sounding Like Walace and Gromet, you may have found a not so great acting coach.


    (September 4, 2020 - 1:44 am)

    sarah you were moving your hand so much my cat tried to catch it

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