• I think your coleague Jon Udell would agree with you. Creating metadata is something we should all get better at so that everyone can find and consume/re-use our content. Check out: Heds, Deks and ledes


  • @Eric: You’re absolutely right (and I know that piece well!). Thanks for calling that one out. I’m going to add it to the related links section.

  • I’m one of the creators of Showyou, and I’d disagree with you a little.

    We also happen to run another web video service, one that’s pretty popular, called Vodpod.com. It’s all about the metadata. We push our users to enter title, tags, description every time they collect a video. So it’s full of very rich metadata. We probably have aggregated at Vodpod the most metadata on the biggest set of videos from the web.

    But we see even much higher levels of engagement (and, indeed, joy) from Showyou where as you point out we don’t provide a ton of metadata. Why? Because one of the biggest and most important pieces of metadata is social — “who” shared the video? Indeed, I’d argue that’s more more important than the title, tags or description. Second most important piece of information is the thumbnail — video is a visual medium after all. The thumbnail tells us quite a bit about what we’re going to see.

    The title is definitely the biggest area where there is room for improvement. Titles entered on the original sites can often be useless, or cryptic. That’s an area where I think we can make some improvement going forward.

    Also, on a practical note, another reason we didn’t require or provide metadata on the screen? It makes the interface far more cluttered, and less easy to read, and starts to feel like work. We wanted to build something fun — and jamming metadata in their started to make it feel like work.

  • Mac Slocum

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the comment.

    To clarify — and this applies beyond just ShowYou — I put the onus on the content *creators*. Folks like yourself have the ability to aggregate and display all that content in great and innovative ways, but without metadata you won’t have the information needed to display it in even *greater* ways. You can’t use what isn’t there.

    The metadata has to come from the people who create this stuff. I don’t think you guys should have to require anything for people to fully take advantage of your platform. That’s not on you. That’s on the content creators.

    Put another way: Most people wouldn’t publish a blog post without a headline because how the heck would anyone find it? Yet, many people post video without any consideration of *how* or *why* someone would take the time to watch that clip.

    (And to quibble with one thing you wrote — while I do think the “who” is a very important signal, the “why should I watch this?” is also valuable.)

    Finally, it’s not the amount of metadata that I think is important. It’s the utility and value *of* the metadata. Too often the metadata that’s present is hastily assembled. It’s a chore that people look to zip past. But in doing that they’re undermining potential opportunities — i.e. someone who really wants their content to be discovered through your platform and others should put extra effort into crafting engaging titles. Otherwise, they’re missing the opportunity.

  • Mac-
    That’s extremely helpful context. I completely agree with you.

    The biggest issue we see — and this is a particularly acute problem with many, many YouTube videos — is poor choice of titles for the video.

    Second biggest issue is lack of a compelling or very useful description.

    With content and programming increasingly atomized — a video on YouTube can appear on 1000s of sites or in dozens of apps like Showyou — providing clear, meaningful titles and descriptions is critical. Which, as I reread your post and your comment, is your point. Great post.

  • Mac,

    You say “I put the onus on the content *creators*.” (for populating the metadata fields)

    How about a model where *other users who need royalty-free pictures are required to describe the metadata of a couple of newly uploaded pictures in return for being able to download the free picture for their use?