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please forgive your useless sister.

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"the algorithm" ruined everything

Posted by rtil - March 1st, 2020

Since returning to Newgrounds I realized I actually enjoy going to the front page rather than avoiding it - I believe it's because the content on the front page is largely curated by hand. While you can argue the pros and cons of this until you're blue in the face, and I may just be a web 1.0 boomer with nostalgia goggles who fears change and the never-ending march of iteration, I think it brings to light the frightening amount of content shoved in our faces is served to us by a cold, unfeeling mass of machine code that we've colloquially coined as "the algorithm".

Youtube, Google and similar social media juggernauts have shaped how creators behave - they learn how the machine thinks, and allow that knowledge to shape their content, their creativity, and even their personal image. True, humans have largely sought attention long before the dawn this phenomenon and the internet itself, but we appealed to humans first and foremost. The algorithm is not human, it is merely instructed to behave in a certain way, and does that until told otherwise. It doesn't make mistakes, it doesn't consider outliers. It doesn't care who you are or what you make, it cannot speak to you or empathize with you. It cannot laugh, cry or smile. All it has encouraged is uniformity while stifling creativity - and this is by design.

I could ramble on about how trash Youtube has become for hours, but I don't think I need to do that here. And it's obviously just not Youtube. I just think about how more automated the internet has become as the more people use it and wonder if the lack of human interaction between creators and the platforms they post on has had an overall negative impact on not only the people who consume the content, but moreso the people who create it. Because not only has the automation made creators become more desperate, but it's made the platforms less sympathetic to the plights of creators. Just look at Tumblr, once the world's most popular microblogging platform, getting cold feet from being removed from the Apple store. Its kneejerk reaction to stepping outside of Apple's walled garden was at the expense of millions of its users who did nothing wrong, and suddenly one of the few platforms left for adult artists was vaporized.

Realistically, these places are probably just too big for them to be curated by human hands. There are an increasing number of creators competing for a smaller and more valuable space. Maybe if Newgrounds was as big as these places, it would end up the same way. Maybe things would be better if the average internet user was visiting more than 3 or 4 sites a day, or maybe i'm just pining for the days when it wasn't almost utterly pointless for smaller communities to exist for no reason other than nostalgia.

Who knows what the internet will look like in another 20 years, but I hope that there's still a place where it doesn't feel like you're screaming into the void.


Comments (38)

Youtube really is terrible and the whole COPPA debacle has not made it better. As for twitter? Suspended from there just because a few mods & blue checkmarks had it out for me. Such places should be "impartial" and allow freedom of discussion and freedom of ideas. Sadly most social aps that come out of silicon valley are monitored by people whom are "very" politically bias and "very" censorship happy. But yeah, Newgrounds is still pretty darned chillax and cool! Thank goodness for that!

yep, it has the censorship bar beyond even what is required on cable TV in order for a video to be monetized now. they didn't go about it very elegantly and now that revenue model has shifted to the point where if you don't have a patreon, a merch store and a sponsor you're SOL.

and i really don't think Youtube cares because it's pretty obvious they are pushing MSM giants, talk shows and celebrities instead of actual independent creators. they want to be a Netflix competitor at the end of the day.


wow very insightful

The people in charge of these sites like Twitter, YouTube, etc. like to do what I call "setting it and forgetting it"

it's learning!

Great point we need to bring the humanity back to the technology.

The "in-culture" of Silicon Valley and its frankly cult-like dedication to machine learning has become a self perpetuating problem. All of these companies are buddy buddy with each other and continue to promote one another's platforms in one anothers' algorithms to slowly and deliberately choke out the competition until no other alternatives are left. I'm also not a fan of how they are using this as an opportunity to try and conform culture to their bidding and towards a very particular ideology (you know the one).

I do honestly think there are some improvements that can be made to Newgrounds by observing features of some of these other mainstream sites (its video player is severely lacking in terms of keyboard shortcut functionality for instance and the inability to upload full resolution albums in the Art Portal is a tad odd).

HOWEVER, I'm thankful for Newgrounds remaining this slice of old-school free spirit internet culture. Coming back years later long after its hayday and finding it has nearly the same sense of identity as when I fell off from checking it every day it kind of inspiring.

yeah, i was away from here for the better part of a decade - and i used to poke fun at sites that looked the same since "the old days", but now as everything is trending in this quasi-mobile, form over function uniformity i'm realizing how much better everything used to be. more crudely utilitarian, maybe, but a lot more exciting and ripe for discovery. in the same way that computers and phones have been designed to hold the users' hand and make everything in that "it just works" fashion that Apple made so trendy, it becomes 10x more frustrating when things don't work - especially if they're designed to only work one certain way and not necessarily the way you want them to.

and that goes back to what you were saying. all the people behind these social media giants think the same, and it's all just one big feedback loop. it doesn't help that they're totally out of touch, either.

It's really nice to hear one of my favorite artists feels the same way I do. I've honestly considered just not using any social media in the past but it sucks in a way it's like either you accept how it is or you just arent a part of it at all.. and the later just bums me out because I really do want to be a part of a community on the internet that doesnt feel like this big pre programmed algorithm based site where everyone is funneled into the same place and all competing in the exact same mindless way. I only joined newgrounds a few months ago now and it's been the most refreshing and fun internet experience I've had in years! And like you mentioned, the front page is actually so good to check on each day I'm constantly finding really awesome creators! I am so scared newgrounds will change one day for the worse.. really hope at least we will always have newgrounds lol.

Sorry for rambling I'm not great at making points lol. Love your art by he way thanks for sharing all your back logged art it's amazing! And I only am just discovering all these great artists now I feel like I've missed out ?✌

The social media game is a damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of scenario. I was reluctant to join Twitter and Instagram for years, and while it has expanded my base significantly since i did, keeping up with it exhausting. And i have to actively tune out a lot of it. The nice thing about Twitter at least is that it's still possible to have some control over what you want to see, and a lot of talented artists all over the world use it.

Newgrounds has been independently run for longer than most website can boast and i think as long as Tom is around and the support is there, the status quo will remain.

Thanks for the compliments, appreciate it.

@nightsavior @rtil "Eventually" youtube is going to sink itself. I know when I'm there it's to watch independent content creators. I'm not there for actual celebrities or mainstream news feeds. "Many" are the same as me. Once the rules get so abrasive independent creators are forced to 100% migrate to bitchute and similar places youtube is "dead".

a real threat to Youtube couldn't come soon enough.

I hate what a lot of the mainstream internet has become as of late. You are especially right about how awful YouTube is.

You kind of forget how much you hate the setup of a website until you take a short break from it and really give it some thought.

I think the absolute worst thing has to be the hypocrisy. They let large (corporate) channels break a lot of the rules that smaller channels would get removed from the platform entirely.

As per usual, it's all about the pull of that money.

that "rules for thee but not for me" policy Youtube has is so biased, they're not even trying to hide it. it's sad because a company like Google has the money and power to stand up for its users, but they instead choose to bend the knee to big media.

Apple and Google have ruined the free web, restricting it to whatever they allow in their app store. Doesn't help when other websites like Reddit constantly bombard you with pop ups and notices to "DOWNLOAD THE REDDIT APP!!" when using the browser version on your phone. People used to search for what they wanted, that was the free web, but now people have gotten used to being hand fed content instead. The worst thing about algorithms is not an AI showing you content you think you'd like, it's when the corporation steps in to hide what you want to see and instead force what they want you to see.

I have numerous complaints about Newgrounds, but it still is a bastion of freedom of expression, and while the entire site relies on the whims of a single man, at least he has the interest of the community to heart, unlike Big Tech.

The only way I see this stopping is if the government steps in, but they're even more out of touch and cause more harm than good.

i can see Reddit going the way of Digg if they force that new garbage layout on its users. of course, Digg died before the days of mobile apps, so maybe it will still live on as a mobile social media platform for a different audience.

i'm a bit spoiled by the desktop experience of browsing the web thanks to ad blockers. browsing on my phone, apps or even streaming sticks like Roku i forget how littered the web is with garbage ads and promoted content.

Oh hey, it's Rtil. I didn't even realise you were on here mate.

Thanks for all the Katawa content.

I also wholeheartedly think the worst thing you can do to any creative process is automating it. Wholeheartedly sticking to a planned out structure or tropes in pursuit of sucess is just as bad as having to censor, create a certain type of content for success.

It results in samey, uninspired and ultimately soulless bullshit.

i was here a long time ago. then i wasn't here for a long time. but now i'm back!

it's really disheartening to see some creators who used to follow the beat of their own drum chase the youtube algorithm. i mean, i get why they do it - you have to pay the bills and all that. but i think the people who stand out and do what they really want end up getting rewarded for their hard work through support from fans, rather than a payout from adsense. idk, maybe i'm wrong - but there's got to be something hollow in making content that's indecipherable from so many other things.

I honestly can't believe i'm seeing this from you lol
what a absolute paradigm shift

I remember back at the birth of youtube, it pulled away all the animators and allowed them to make a decent living, making the stuff they wanted too. Then they changed it from number of views to time watch. Animator couldn't sustain themselves and the only viable channels where story time ones. Then you had Elsa Gate, the adpocalypse, and now coppa. Youtube use to be a place where independent creaters had a platform to rival traditional publication, but do to all its tomfuckery it's a barren wastland of mostly shit. Where vloggers, reaction channels and big media can thrive. So, thank you Newgrounds for being one of the final bastions for creativity, passion and freedom of speech. The world needs you!

I remember that as well. One of the biggest things that killed animation on Youtube was the video length requirements, when everyone started making videos 10 minutes long. As we all know, making 10 minutes of animation on a consistent schedule is infeasible, especially when you are competing against people who just sit in front of a webcam and talk about old memes and "the tea" all day.

Google even tried to start a health program to get ahold of your info


As long as you keep drawing dicks getting tittyfucked I'll follow you till the end of the world, no matter the platform.
Hell, I'd make a TickTock for you. <3

is this how i reach the zoomers?

That's a profound thought.

I guess that algorithm makes it easier for the casual users of the internet, but the more serious commissioners and entrepreneurs understand that close-knit communities based inside a common culture are the best places to discover uniquely creative aspects. Because the front page here is hand-picked, it generates authenticity--a user is recognized for their accomplishments and breach-of-style instead of their appeal to the general masses. Personally, this makes it more viable for me to commission and offer praise to users here because it's on a more personal level. I understand that a Newgrounds user is posting content here because they want to share their heart through their content, not just because they want to be trendy. They want a deeper connection with their audience and a safe-haven where they're accepted no matter what it is that they're posting as long as it's what they love. Being chosen by actual people instead of an algorithm is an extension of that love.

Thanks for the take, rtil. People forget how impersonal an algorithm can be.

i think communities have come closer together mostly thanks to user-generated tags and such, but sites like instagram and twitter are pretty good at figuring out what you might be interested in based on those things. maybe too good. especially facebook, which just gets creepy at times. same with google

rtil, a long time ago you live streamed one of your animations called "the lighthouse girl", and i just wanted to say it was lovely.

when i logged into an old account of mine, i saw that i made an angry newspost deriding the stream, if you remember ever coming across something like that, im sorry. i was still very much a kid. thanks for sharing your work, users like you made newgrounds legendary.

reading this made me remember just now and prompted me to comment

i don't, but thank you for the comment.

i got muted on my youtube account, even though i literally didnt use it for anything other than commenting once a year or less or replying to some stupid crap. at first it was like "shadowbanning" where my comment only appeared to myself, when i was logged in, now it just doesnt appear at all. i logged in and made a channel with an other gmail account, and couldnt comment either, still cant. so they probably globally muted me, most likely becouse of my un-logged-in searches and browsing history (you know... about ""them"").
just saying that they can do this, and people will just complain and put up with it becouse they dont realize that there are alternatives.

also, its "smart""phones" aka spying devices which ruined the internet. every website that caters to them looks like shit and is functionally shit. smartphones caused the minimalism outbreak on the internet, which in turn causes peoples' minds to be minimalist too.

not to mention Twitter, which is an absolute unfunctional and harmful piece of shit, and i dont get why anyone would use it. it's motto should be "Don't have a thought longer than 280 characters!"

deplatforming is a serious issue now that only a few sites control most of the social media space. they can decide to kick you off their platform and once they do that there's little recourse for the user.

when it comes to Twitter i promised people who followed me there i would only post art or things related to art. any conversations people attempt to have there are pointless because of the character limit. you can hardly say anything meaningful. and to think it used to be 140 characters, lol.

I just hope the internet doesn't consolidate to even fewer websites and services, I'd hate to see a future where YouTube/Twitter/Facebook/whatever is all one site.

that would be the ultimate nightmare

This is why I don't pay attention the the The algorithm suggestions because pretty much all suggestions are trash, and I tend to focus on Niche type of content

it made me miss Newgrounds so much that me came back

I can't speak for Twitter since I don't have one, nor have no interest for one, but I often just focus on Subscriptions on TY (though sometimes I find myself in situations that I gotta resub) than the main page

huge art community on twitter and honestly the last bastion for nsfw artists on a major platform so it is important to me but outside of that bubble it's a very toxic place.

tumblr ruined some parts of the internet.

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