Incentives and motivations

Rob shared a video with me the other day, The Copy and Paste Culture of YouTube, that was also linked in his newsletter which you should check out if you're interested in web design and adjacent topics.

The video itself is quite interesting, it's an exploration of the topic of plagiarism which is apparently rampant and also quite blatant to the point where people are ripping off each other's content word by word. Is that surprising? No. It isn't because, on a platform like YouTube, the users are split into probably two major camps. There's the camp of people who just love the creation process and they make videos to express their creativity and they don't care about the platform itself. Those are the people who'd make videos even if YouTube wasn't a thing. And then there's the camp of people who see YouTube as a career or a business opportunity. They're in the game to make money and if a path to that is to just copy other people's content and thumbnails so be it.

This to me isn't at all surprising. You see it everywhere. As soon as you add weird incentives—can be money, followers, likes, fame, whatever—people will inevitably spilt. Some will not care one bit about those incentives because they're driven by the creation process. They'll not stop doing what they do because they simply enjoy the process of creation. Those are the people who I personally like to follow because are the ones that usually make great and interesting content. Other people will just follow the trends. They'll make vlogs when vlogs are popular, they'll pivot to reaction content when reaction content becomes the new meta on the platform and they'll pivot again when a new trend comes up. To me, that is terribly uninspiring but to each their own.

Also, can we really blame people for stealing each other's content and chasing fame and money on YouTube? The internet is obsessed with money. Success stories are measured in dollars. We celebrate people who make fortunes. So why are we surprised if these people are ripping each other off in order to make money fast? They're just playing the game.

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