Category Archives: 090721 – Online Predators

Category for the infamous episode.

Lesson Resources: Online Predators

We’re not just playing around in this episode: we checked our sources and did the math ourselves to be sure we were correctly representing the Help Delete Online Predators ads and their critics. You can check our sources too:

Livescience has a great writeup and review of the reports on online predators which were initially published by the Crimes Against Children Research Center in 2000 and 2005. The discrepancies between the report and the way these statistics were used in public service ads initially came to our attention through an interview with Bennet Haselton in Slashdot. Haselton runs Peacefire.org, an organization devoted to speaking out for the online free speech rights of people under 18.

For further reading, it’s worth considering Sahara Byrne’s talk on how parents and children give different reports about children’s online behavior. And if you’ve got a strong stomach, British online journal Spiked has a thought-provoking article about “dead baby porn,” which argues that graphic articles about child abuse are less about a collapsing society than they are about those of us who read them: these articles are written to titillate and pander to those of us who want to feel morally superior because we aren’t like “those people.”

Viral video: Amplification

As we’ve tried to get publicity for the show we’ve learned that 1) it’s seriously hard to get a video to “go viral,” and 2) each video spreads across the Internet in a different pattern.

Our two most successful videos are the Online Predators and Evil Interfaces videos. They’ve been seen by the most people, because they got picked up by sites with big audiences — Online Predators was featured on BoingBoing and Evil Interfaces was linked to by Slashdot. But those sites didn’t pick them up out of nowhere: they were re-posting them from smaller blogs. BoingBoing had apparently been watching the Free Range Kids blog — which had in turn been reading Mommy Mythbuster — while Slashdot picked up our video from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Simply submitting videos to BoingBoing itself has yet to be a successful strategy for us.
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Viral video: Titles and keywords

Right now, keywords are the meat and potatoes of finding videos online. Search engines right now only keep track of written words online — they cannot see patterns (like moving people, words, light and shadow, etc) in videos, like people can, and they’re mostly not searching for patterns in sounds or pictures, either. Because search engines are “stupider” than most people right now in that way, the only information that a search engine will find from a video is text you add when you upload it — the title, description, and keywords. If a video doesn’t have keywords, it’s less likely that people will find it using a search engine.

We use a LOT of keywords. The key elements of the script — ads or products we talk about, shows we refer to, events that happen, names of video styles like “parody” or “science fiction,” etc — get written in to the keywords. So do some keywords for shows we think our show is like — Mystery Science Theater 3000, the Muppet Show — because we hope people looking for those shows might find our show and like it as well. In general, though, search engines seem to rank titles more highly than keywords.

Some of our videos get more search engine traffic because of keywords than others. Take a look at the view statistics from a number of our videos. Which videos seem to be getting the most search engine traffic? Why do you think they are ranked so highly? (Hint: take a look at how many hits a search turns up on different engines.)

Do you think it is OK for a video to put up keywords about things which are not actually in the video? What keywords do you think The Media Show should include that it is not currently using? When you’ve thought of a few, do a search for those words on YouTube and other search engines. Try them in combination with a few words we are already using. Then respond: how effective do you think your search words would be in helping people find our videos?