Saturday, August 8, 2015

2016 and beyond

EDIT (9 August 2015): Funny Windows Errors will retain its season format should it return next year.

I created the Thunderbirds101 channel just over seven years ago on May 19, 2008. When I first began my YouTube channel, I had no idea what kind of videos I should create, if any at all. It took a month to decide I would make a silly video where a text-to-speech voice would read and react to funny signs from around the world, or what would later be known as Microsoft Sam reads Stupid and Weird Signs. That video remains my most popular to this day. No other video of mine has come close to achieving the viewership levels of my first video. A handful have reached six figure view counts, but still trail by hundreds of thousands of views.

YouTube has been an unstable experience, with highs and lows throughout the years. There have been times of great joy, like the time when my first video reached 1,000 views, or when my channel reached 1,000 subscribers. I'm sure there will be further joy when I reach 10,000 subscribers. Considering I'm only producing YouTube videos as a hobby, I thought - and still think - these were great achievements.

Regrettably, there have also been many lows, including moments I would never want to revisit. Some of the lowest points of my YouTube channel took place in 2009. Flame wars, Internet arguments over trivial subjects with no real benefits and many potential consequences, including but not limited to account suspension. Fortunately, I avoided suspension or any account strikes, so I endured. I continued producing videos, primarily my main series Microsoft Sam reads Funny Windows Errors. That series has kept my channel alive. Stupid and Weird Signs episodes provide much-needed adrenaline shots to my viewership counts, but pictures of signs aren't as plentiful as user-generated computer error messages.

I'm writing this post to explain the future of the Thunderbirds101 channel. My interest in text-to-speech has been diminishing for some time. I cannot monetize many of my videos due to copyright concerns. This concern leaves my channel stagnant and unable to provide any meaningful return on the effort I invest into videos aside from the positive feedback I receive.

My viewership has been on the decline since 2012. The logistical nightmares surrounding The Great Final War damaged my desire to make videos so severely that it's one of the reasons I create videos infrequently nowadays compared to years past. Changes made to YouTube, both to the website design and the search algorithms, have resulted in further hemorrhaging of my viewership. Fewer people are seeing my videos, despite that thousands of users are subscribed. Granted, many of those thousands of subscribers may no longer be active, but when analytics reports that only three hundred and six (!) of my subscribers have seen S17EP8 of Microsoft Sam reads Funny Windows Errors, the channel is in trouble.

For this reason, there will be changes in 2016.

Microsoft Sam reads Funny Windows Errors will go on an indefinite hiatus. Unfortunately, "indefinite hiatus" translates to: the Season 17 finale will be the series finale. It has been a great seven years, but the series must come to an end. However, it would be unwise to declare that I will never make another episode of Funny Windows Errors again.

If the series were to return, it would adopt a number of changes. The series will continue its season format. Further, at most one or two error requests will be used per episode. I have stated repetedly there was no guarantee a request would appear in an episode, and now that likelihood will be reduced to almost zero. Scrutinizing error requests will ensure quality control; accepting all error requests without scrutiny results in overall poor quality and excessively long videos. Quality over quantity, as the old saying goes. Finally, comment questions will be removed. The video is the main event, not the comment questions at the end. As a result of these changes to the main series, Microsoft Sam reads Funny Windows Errors EXPRESS will be canceled at the end of 2015.

Don't expect any videos with storylines in the foreseeable future. As I said earlier, The Great Final War was a nightmare to create. A series that was supposed to begin and finish in 2012 ended up sidelined due to hard drive failure, and then some well-meaning people decided to twist the trilogy's storyline in the form a prequel to The Great Final War. It did not help that the prequel was not completed before The Great Final War first began. The final series in the War Trilogy suffered from a plot that relied too heavily on that incomplete series and further suffered from an overambitious script too heavy on the drama and too light on the comic relief. The Great Final War went through at least four scripts, the fourth used for the completed version of the series in 2014.

What about the other videos, namely Microsoft Sam reads Stupid and Weird Signs, Microsoft Sam reads Funny Engrish, and Blue Screen of Death? Despite the popularity of Stupid and Weird Signs, signs are becoming a scarce resource after twenty installments. By contrast, I have an infinite supply of errors. Fortunately, I have a dedicated source for Funny Engrish, so that series will not face any serious problems. Blue Screen of Death will continue, albeit not on a fixed schedule.

Speaking of schedules, only Microsoft Sam reads Funny Windows Errors has ever had a schedule for uploads. It began as a weekly series, then a bi-weekly series, and now it is a monthly series. Should Microsoft Sam reads Funny Windows Errors return, it will likely be on weekends still, but not on any specific schedule. Work outside my YouTube channel takes priority over Microsoft Sam videos. Still, expect videos in 2016 - Errors, Signs, Engrish or otherwise - to be uploaded on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays.

Thank you for reading.