Sunday, April 10, 2011

YTMND is Dead. Long Live YTMND! (Part 1)

I haven’t visited the YTMND web site in quite some time.  It used to be on my bookmarks, I would visit it daily.  I am ashamed/proud that I am still one of the users with the most “site votes”, I have rated a ton of the sites on YTMND even though I created very few (although the ones that I did create were successful!).  I was more of a content consumer than content creator on the site.  When I left, the site was dying a slow death.  It still is, and I think it’s an interesting case to examine.

Note: YTMND videos that I post here may not work for you.  Many of them did not work for me until I logged into my old YTMND account and then viewed them.  Your mileage may vary.

First I should explain what YTMND is.  It stands for “You’re the man, now dog!” a hilariously bad snippet of dialogue from Sean Connery in a movie called Finding Forrester.  Max Goldberg looped the audio and added an image of Connery, and the first YTMND was born:

In 2004, Max launched YTMND to allow other users to easily create sites of a similar nature.  Just a picture and repeated audio was referred to as a “classic” YTMND, such as

Similar to the original YTMND, this is a sound blurb and image that is absurd to begin with, which then becomes something else entirely when looped.  Listen to this thing for 10 minutes and you will begin to lose your mind.

Another classic YTMND example:

A more standard joke.

Video could be used but looked kinda crappy. At least it loaded decently fast.  The site quickly became a kind of pop culture compost pile.  A bunch a crap was piled on, and users mixed and matched, threw up the result, which was then voted on by other users.  Similar to YouTube, but the average YTMND is less than 10 seconds and is usually intended for comedic effect.  Also similar to YouTube, 99% of YTMNDs are pure, unadulterated shit.

The history of YTMND is probably best summed up by a YTMND,

Sites were rated on a 5 star scale, 5 being the best (this 5 star idea is incorporated in the YTMND logo).  The idea was that good sites would be “upvoted” with 4 and 5 stars, bad sites would be “downvoted” with 1 and 2 stars, and the rest would muddle in mediocrity.  Of course trolls abused the system but it worked for the most part.

Anyway, the site was hot.  Users were taking pop culture (or sometimes creating some of their own), and other users were repurposing those ideas, remixing it, and adding their own flavor.  This frequently led to “fads”, where an idea would be beaten to death.  Say Zidane goes nuts and headbuts someone in the World Cup.  YTMND users would also go nuts, creating hundreds of sites within hours.  Most would be crap.  Some would be gems:

Note: you’ve probably seen that video repurposed elsewhere, but I am certain that the original was a YTMND.

YTMND was becoming more and more popular.  Because the site ran on user-created content, some parties were bound to get offended.  Scientology was one of them.  They sent Max a cease and desist order in 2006 in response to a few YTMNDs.  Rather than shy away from the fight, Max made insulting Scientology a contest.  Users were rewarded for the most creative jabs.  Here’s my favorite:

However, something began happening in 2006.  YTMND was fading in popularity.  Look at this graph from Google trends, comparing YTMND to another site with a similar audience, the picture messageboard 4chan (and to be honest, YTMND users frequently stole content from 4chan).

(I would appreciate it if you'd tell me how to post that image inline as opposed to just the link.)

For 4chan, its popularity has gone onwards and upwards while YTMND began fading away to its relative obscurity today.  Why the difference?  I think it’s reasonably clear what happened, and will get to it next week.

For now, some more YTMNDs.

A perfect example of the juxtaposition of pop culture frequently employed by YTMND users.

Another example of said juxtaposition.

More of a commentary on the current state of religion in the United States than anything else, really. 

1 comment: