arvana's Sift Talk Posts

Vaporlock is a master thumbnailer!

I just noticed that @vaporlock has his Thumbnailer Level 19 badge -- I don't know how many thumbnails it takes to get each level, but by my calculations he has fixed exactly, um... a LOT of thumbnails!

There are lots of people who do a lot of work to make the Sift great, so here's to all of them! Thanks guys!!!

PQueue Cleanup

Hi all -- I've just gone through my PQueue and killed off about a hundred of my babies that didn't make it -- I figure it's time to free them up for other people to submit.  Each and every one of them is a video that I thought would do well on the Sift -- and maybe if YOU submit some of them with a different title and description, they will.  If you'd like to browse through them, click here and see if there's anything there that you like.  I look forward to seeing them again!

Oh, and there were a few that I just couldn't part with.  If you wouldn't mind, have a peek at my (now tiny) PQueue and see if you can find it in your heart to help some of them to get published too.

Thanks and good luck!

[EDIT] And if you do post any of them, please let me know -- I guarantee you an upvote!

NFB releases its entire film archive online for free

The National Film Board of Canada just released its entire archive of 700+ films online for free:

And they're embeddable!

Some of my favourites are already sifted:

...but there are many many more that are worthy of adding.

A few little tweaks I think VideoSift needs...

Not sure if or when there's going to be a VideoSift 3.2 or 4.0, but I thought I'd mention a few things that I'd love to see on the site — some minor, others more significant.
  • This is a minor one, but it would sure be nice if there was the option to auto-select the 'Email me when...' checkboxes when submitting a video. I always select those.

  • After submitting a video, the 'Possible duplicates' page shows five existing videos on the site. I think this number needs to be increased now that there are so many videos in the database — it's getting harder to find the dupes.

  • The '< Modify' button on that page takes you back to the Submit page, but all of the previous data is gone (at least in my browser).

  • I'd love to see more done on the site with playlists. It would be great to see which playlists a video is in right in the expanda-playlist box under the video, rather than way down at the bottom of the page. Also maybe a playlist could be featured on the Hot page, based on which has received the highest number of recent votes?

  • It would also be great to have more listing options on the Channels page — I miss the days of being able to see all the channels listed by popularity.

  • The Unsifted Videos 'newest queue date' sorting is still broken.

  • I think the queue time should be shortened down to 2 days again. Videos never get any votes on the 'in between' day after they've dropped off the first few pages of the queue and before they appear in the Top Unsifted Expiring Soon. They just sit there taking up valuable space in our personal queue.

  • I know this has been raised before and shot down, but I think it might be time to reopen the idea of having some more 'social' features on the site. The reality of any large community is that certain personalities gravitate towards one another, while others gravitate in other directions. I think it would be nice to have a way for social groups to form within the site. Not sure exactly what form that would take, but I'd like to reopen the discussion.

Thoughts? Other ideas? Leave your comments here.

Help needed...

Friends, sifters, netizens -- lend me your ears.

The time has come for all good parties to aid in the promotion and publication of a fine and wonderful video -- a video which has failed not once but THREE TIMES to appear in the annals of siftdom.

It is a somewhat slower-paced and longer short film than much of the usual fare here, and yet I assure you that it is well worth spending some time to slow down and appreciate.

This short film won an Academy award, beating out such greats as Lifted, which currently stands at 80 votes here; and A Gentleman's Duel, which has 157 votes.

So I beseech you: relax, have a cup of tea, and enjoy The Danish Poet, the fruit of some of Denmark and Canada's finest talent.

Thank you.

Can we raise the queue limit, already?

It would be really nice to eliminate so many mediocre sifts clogging up the front page all the time.

Let's raise the queue limit to 20, shorten the queue time to 2 days, and set a maximum of one requeue allowed per week. That oughtta do it.

Oh, and the queue needs to go back to being sorted by submission date by default.

[EDIT] Seems I jumped the gun here by just a few hours!

Login unstuck

Since the server upgrade, I have to login to VS every time I reopen my browser. Is there a cookie coming from a different location that I need to allow? Is anyone else experiencing this?

Arvana's Guide to Successful Sifting

To celebrate being the only — and probably last — sifter in the Top 15 who doesn't have a diamond, I've decided to share with you some of my secrets to sifting success. Hopefully some of the other prolific sifters will chime in with some of their tips as well.

Finding Great Videos
Some of the videos I sift are things that interest me personally, and I just hope there are at least 9 other people who agree. For the most part, though, I'm a popularity whore and tend to submit vids that are likely to have universal appeal.

It does take some practise to know what videos might or might not make it to the Top 15, but one thing that really helps is having somebody else's validation first. Personally I receive that by mainly posting vids that others have already recommended; usually on other social networking sites, blogs and occasionally via email. If you aren't plugged in to any of those sources, I recommend following your interests on or and see where that leads you.

Getting Votes for your Vids
With any video, only a certain percentage of viewers are going to vote for it, so the key is getting lots of people to watch it in the first place — the more views, the more votes, unless it's really a bad video, in which case go back to Step 1.

I've found the #1 most important factor in getting views is the title. You can find online tutorials in headline writing that can help build your skills in this area, but in general, a good title:
  • is as short as possible

  • is as descriptive as possible

  • creates a sense of urgency — it makes people feel that they have to learn more.
I've had good success with a one-word title as well as quite long titles. Sometimes I mix things up by putting one word in all-caps as well. Alliteration or interesting punctuation can also help.

Apart from the title, a description can also be helpful, especially if the subject matter is obscure or needs some background for people to understand the video. Tags also help, both in searches and to appear in the tag cloud.

Other Ways to Promote Your Vids
Apart from shameless self-promotion of your videos in a Sift Talk post, there are lots of other ways to attract more viewers:
  • Make some interesting playlists, and update them often so they appear in the "most recently updated" list. I even created my own Greatest Hits playlist (an idea I stole from karaidl).

  • If it's genuinely helpful, you can link to your playlists from individual videos. For example, whenever somebody submits a Whose Line is it Anyway video, I add it to that playlist and link to the playlist in the video comments.

  • If relevant and appropriate, you can cross-link to a video in another vid's comments.

  • I always find that my queue always clears really fast when I post a quality Sift Talk. Not sure why, but I guess more people visit my profile.

  • You can also attract people to your profile and/or individual sifts from offsite. If you regularly participate in any online forums, add them to your sig. Or spam them in YouTube comments! (j/k ) This is not only good for you, it's good for VideoSift in general.

That's all I can think of right now; I'll add any other thoughts that occur to me in the comments. I hope that helps, and I look forward to being bumped out of the Top 15!

Why I hate having the queue sorted by votes-to-views

I know it took Lucky some time to get it working properly, and the intention was to get the best videos fastest out of the queue. I like the concept in principle, but I don't think it's working.

  1. Many of the best vids don't make it quickly out of the queue. The current Top 15 has six videos that had to be requeued to be published, which seems common.

  2. The first pages of the queue favour videos with low views, because that's when the ratio is most likely to be skewed by chance. If the first few viewers happen to vote a video up, that gives it an unnaturally high ratio.

  3. By the same token, if a video happens not to get votes on its first few views, it goes to the bottom of the pile, and all hope is lost.

  4. The result is that the vast majority of submissions get between 4 and 7 votes and then languish for days.

  5. Pagination doesn't work well, as the order bounces around a lot between page views.

It might be possible to fix some of these issues with a time-weighted ratio. But personally I'd like to see a return to sorting by queue date by default.

1stTube Channel up for grabs

If you are a Gold Star (or above) member who would like to manage your own channel, I am offering up the 1stTube Channel manager's position.

It was a pleasure creating and giving life to this increasingly popular channel, but I have decided to give it up, so that I can move on to give the Nature channel some much-needed luvin'.

Nature just happens to be closer to my heart than television is. So this one-time-only opportunity is now available to get a channel of your own, long before having earned 250 star points!

If you're into television, send me a note and let's talk!

Ten complete movies online

If you've been through all of the sifted and unsifted videos, read all of the SiftTalk posts, and still have time on your hands, The List Universe has a listing of their Top 10 picks of complete movies available free online.

  1. M, 1931, Fritz Lang

  2. The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer

  3. Nosferatu, 1922, F.W. Murnau

  4. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939, Frank Capra

  5. It Happened One Night, 1934, Frank Capra

  6. The General, 1929, Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton

  7. Begotten, 1991, E. Elias Merhige

  8. The Gold Rush, 1925, Charles Chaplin

  9. It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946, Frank Capra

  10. All Quiet on the Western Front, 1930, Lewis Milestone

  11. 1984, 1984, Michael Radford

There are even more listed in the blog comments as well.

Journey to the Stars

I've seen quite a bit of talk about how much easier it is for 'popular' members to get their videos published, and how 'cliquey' VideoSift is. That has not been my experience, so I thought I'd write up a little about my own perspective on submitting videos.

It took me a long time to get my first video published — that 'P' is a real detractor. But it wasn't much easier with the next 9 either, until I got a bronze star, which seemed to smooth out the process. I actually found it harder to get published with a silver star than bronze, maybe because a bronze star looks a bit like gold, whereas silver is a little more dull. After going gold, it has been relatively easier to get published, but that doesn't mean that I don't still have a lot of discards that don't make it out of the queue.

I think it's natural for videos submitted by starred members to more easily get votes — not because of any cliques, but because there is an implicit level of public acceptance already built in. Somebody who has had 50 videos published is much more likely to have a good feel for what will make a popular submission, than somebody who has only submitted a few. I have never had the impression that people are upvoting my videos just because they like me (assuming anyone does ) — my sense is simply that people notice the star value of the submitter and are more likely to view the video if it has a higher star endorsement.

VideoSift has been really great at teaching me the value of strong headlines. Far more important than star colour is the video's title, tags and description. I often have a video languish in the queue for a while, then I change the title or add a description and it gets published in no time. That would be my #1 piece of advice for people having trouble getting videos published — keep honing your writing skills and make the title snappy and interesting. You only have about half a second to grab people's attention and get them to watch.

I laugh at myself sometimes for how attached I am to the success of my submissions — especially since I had absolutely nothing to do with creating the videos in the first place. But it's still a thrill to get into the Top 15, and especially the top 3 or 1, or to have a video get 100 votes or more. I also keep an eye on my member rating, and enjoy seeing it creep up in the rankings. Still, I don't feel particularly competitive about it, I'm just doing it for fun. If it ever stops being fun, it will be time to quit.

Truthfully, I never really expected to be around the Sift for as long as I have, but it's been so fun and rewarding, and I've enjoyed the other people on here so much, that it has become one of my favourite places on the net to be.

Bookmark notifications

Just noticed something, maybe others can confirm or deny it.

I've been wondering why sometimes I get notifications for my bookmarks being commented on, and sometimes not. I just came up with a guess that maybe it's because if I expand the comments without visiting the post's main page, it isn't resetting the "don't notify until viewed again" counter.

Anyone else experiencing this?

VideoSift 3.0 Review

OK, I may be a bit on the late side, but now that the dust has settled and I've had a chance to play around with all of the great new features of VS3, I thought I'd write up a review of everything I like and dislike about it. Just to give Lucky something to do

Everyone else is welcome to shoot me down and/or add your 2¢ as well.

Things to love
  • The many new ways of customizing VS

  • All of the great new functionality, AJAXey goodness, and streamlined user experience

  • It's great that anyone can fix dead vids

  • All the extra sidebar blocks

  • LOVE being able to play with channel CSS

  • The "Validate Embed Code" button is fantastic

Things I love "not so much"
  • I personally find the overall look of VS3 a bit flat and blocky. I understand the desire to eliminate images, but just a coupla kB of background gradients couldn't hurt that much, could they?

  • For me at least (Firefox 2, XP SP2) the site's rounded corners take a long time to load (~5sec), and I can't scroll or click until they do. It's even longer on pages with custom CSS.

  • It has always felt a bit uncomfortable to me that *quality has added to the published post count -- I would have preferred a separate "karma" designation so that published posts are published posts. Now that fixing dead videos and applause can also add to post count, it seems even more out of whack. Probably too late to change now. Regardless, as others have already mentioned, I also think there needs to be a bit more of an even balance between the value of these different endorsements.

  • Also mentioned elsewhere, but it would be very nice if the preferences for queue sort order would be retained between visits.

  • For me, if I visit a channel via the 'Channels' tab, I am logged out, and can't log in. If I go back to the main site, I'm logged in again. Weird.

"Nice to see" features
  • It's been mentioned before, but it would be great if the tag cloud in each channel was for that channel's videos

  • Would it make sense for playlists to take on their user profile's CSS?

That's it for now.... overall, a HUGE thank you to the VS team, especially Lucky, for making this such a great site!

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