General Concerns Regarding IMDB's Mission:

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Greetings,

I hope Col Needham is able to review these thoughts, as I believe they echo many sentiments of the community at large.

As a filmmaker in 2009, I attempted to get a project listed on IMDB that I was passionate about and in the process of submitting to festivals, etc.  At the time, I remember reading that until accepted to an accredited festival, the title could NOT be listed. I felt that this barrier, although challenging, affirmed IMDB as a legitimate and credible source for movies of importance and achievement.  If you were listed on IMDB, it meant that you were "the real deal", and thus, garnered a reputation as a trustworthy website amongst professionals and fans alike.

Over the course of the past few years, I've seen many posts here on Get Satisfaction from both non-filmmakers and serious filmmakers pleading for their name to be removed from throwaway projects, student films, and nonsense internet uploads that have been entered into the database with zero resistance to an overwhelming degree.  In many cases, the projects never played for an audience, weren't screened outside of an educational or private setting, or exist on the internet with insignificant views or relevance.

IMDB's current policy that anything "factual" must be listed is terrific policy if it existed in concert with the original framework of being a database for legitimate filmmaking.  

My question is this:  When did "factual" become more important than "noteworthy"?

Is IMDB's current and future mission to be a "factual" storehouse of anything visual with or without sound that has credits attached to it?  In the contemporary age of digital media creation (and if the internet at large is considered an audience), then Instagram or Snapchat videos, for example, can and will be entered into the database with the same ease as YouTube and Vimeo videos.  Anything can be argued to be art.

What is most troubling, is IMDB's stubborn determination to display information on the site and therefore at the top of Google search results, against a creator's will.  I've noticed that many times, a producer, director, etc. will petition the forum in agreement that a project does not belong on IMDB and a forum member simply pastes a prewritten statement pointing back to the information being "factual".  Yes, it exists.  Is it a legitimate film?  No.

There should be flexibility that encompasses the truth that not every title belongs on IMDB, especially when voiced from the creators.  This undermines actual titles that deserve to be in the database and only adds confusion.

The same manpower that is utilized to comb for whether or not a title is "factual" simply because it exists, should instead go towards deciphering whether or not it belongs.

IMDB rose to prominence as a reliable collection of information documenting aired television and films that had played in theaters and festivals.  I fear that it has become a dustbin for anything that's touched the web.

Does IMDB foresee a change in policy in the near or distant future regarding what information "must" be preserved?

Thank you for reading and I look forward to upcoming improvements.

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T

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Posted 1 year ago

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T

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It would behoove IMDB to re-implement requisite parameters for inclusion and be open to the database being cleaned, beginning with heeding the cries of many creators and affiliates justified in their concerns regarding their own namesakes being linked to trivial entries.  A project may even very-well be considered "serious" in the eyes of some involved, yet ineligible for IMDB, much like the quality-control I experienced when trying to submit my own title in 2009.  The grey area could easily be fleshed out by returning to the original model of having third-parties such as accredited networks, festivals, and platforms carry the burden of proof that a work is of cultural importance.  Otherwise, IMDB is the wild west with zero rules, equal to anything on the internet (which I suspect is in conflict with the true mission).  The production of media is increasing exponentially, so as a filmmaker and film-lover, I hope this is addressed in order to maintain the integrity and core purpose of the database. 
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Jeorj Euler

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A videographic (motion photographic) work does not have to be noteworthy or notable in order to be cataloged on IMDb. It simply has to be, with some exceptions, published. If a work is of a intimate/private nature (not intended to be interesting to the public, now or in the future) yet just happens to be published, it may not be eligible, but if somehow it became catalogued, it might also not be subject to deletion, especially if the IMDb records pertaining to it are complete.
(Part of the issue is that the very concept of publication has changed a lot over the course of the last couple of centuries.)
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gromit82, Champion

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Why should an ordinary couple's wedding be any different from that of one in which a member of the House of Windsor is groom or bride? Is the scale of the production that matters? Is it the amount of third party publicity that matters?
When a royal wedding is broadcast on television in multiple countries and watched by millions of people around the world, that would satisfy IMDb's "must be of general public interest" criterion with flying colors.

That doesn't mean that the same level of public interest applies to anyone else's wedding video that they happen to post to YouTube. Maybe some of those videos should be considered to be of general public interest, but that doesn't prove that all of them should be.
(Edited)
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Jeorj Euler

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Television? What's that? :P
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ACT_1

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This IS
https://www.imdb.com/
The Internet Movie Database


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AJD OLD CHANNEL ARCHIVE

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Which also lists television programs, documentaries, and even video games.
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Jeorj Euler

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In a way, they are all movies. They are collections of distinct pictures and transitions therebetween, which are automatically presented in sequences as a matter of playback of the media. Each constituent picture, a "frame" of film/video, is a photograph or vector graphic.
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gromit82, Champion

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While current policy is pretty clear that YouTube videos are eligible for inclusion in IMDb (see https://help.imdb.com/article/contribution/titles/title-eligibility/G9V8J6AXTQ292S5W#), I think it's worth taking a look from time to time and reviewing the concerns expressed by T as to whether videos should be eligible just by virtue of appearing on YouTube.

Do the current eligibility criteria serve IMDb users well? Are people hoping to find YouTube videos listed on IMDb and are they unhappy when they don't find them listed? Do filmmakers, cast, and crew support having YouTube videos listed? 

I realize that technology may be changing faster than IMDb can adjust its policies. YouTube used to be primarily a site for amateur videos, but nowadays even a "TV special" starring Mariah Carey can be made directly for YouTube.

Still, I think it's worth it to discuss whether the current policies are serving useful purposes.
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T

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Thank you, Gromit.  My thoughts exactly.  In my estimation, it appears that many credit-related issues previous posters describe is with their own namesake tied to online video projects from specifically the past 10 years or so, as YouTube, Vimeo, IMDB, Google, and digital technology itself has evolved.

I believe that many irrelevant small-scale works that fall under "online publication" have been entered into the database in haste without knowledge or understanding of the permanence.

My suggestion, as described in a previous comment, would be that in the case of online publications (especially from this period of time) that the creators have the power to delist works.  It shouldn't be up to IMDB.  In many cases, the projects in question are inconsequential and meaningless, yet reign supreme in search results.

If the database seeks to be so thorough that it catalogs microscopic throwaway work (including student films or random clips) by non-filmmakers (or ex-amateurs) for the sake of being factual, that surely is a detriment.  It's gone off the rails.  If the creators want it off, take it off.

(Edited)
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bderoes, Champion

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T,

This is an excellent discussion. Here are couple of my thoughts:

1) How many creators have to agree that the title should be removed, and who qualifies as a creator? Every participant?

2) Using the number of votes as grounds to justify removing films can also work against films that came out of the studio system or its periphery in the 20th century, or the earliest experimental films created pre-1900. Of the 757 studio-released musicals I've watched since September, 539 of them have fewer than 1,000 votes. For new creations, how long would the title have to earn the required number of votes?

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Jeorj Euler

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Hi, bderoes. Most likely the copyright owner, if there is a sole copyright owner, is the person in mind. I would stress unanimity otherwise, but somebody eager to remove entries from the database would see the contrary.
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T

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Thanks for your interest.  I truly think this is a hot topic.

I think the grounds to apply flexibility to remove a title could simply be based on date (not site votes or views).  Post-2005 would do the trick. The issues I've gone into detail about all stem from a Post-YouTube world.

In 2018, I think people better understand that if you are credited in any video project big or small and put it online, that there is a chance someone related or unrelated to the creation could enter it into the database.  I do not think this was understood over the past 10 or so years, and thus, the many complaints regarding people's namesakes and titles of irrelevance that are "permanently" at the top of search results.

I think many creators would self-clean the site organically if the policy was loosened with these things in mind.

As for who counts as a creator?  That is a good question. I think in many cases any participant should be able to submit a title deletion request with ease, which may be sufficient.  Remember that many of the titles in question are student projects, skits, or random uploads; these do not often have an organized team behind them.  It would be easier for the title to be re-submitted by a second creator who disagrees at a later date than to continue to block titles from being taken down due to the "facts".  This keeps the conversations about relevance in the real world, amongst filmmakers, collaborators, and fans, and not behind a locked vault on IMDB's side.

(Edited)
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T

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I would like to add that many titles during this same period may have been entered in good faith in the spirit of "serious" work:  for example, films that were in the process of being submitted to film festivals.  Due to the progress of digital technology, there has been a boom of independent filmmakers.  However, many of these works may have never premiered, nor were accepted to festivals, only screened for friends and family, or were "published" online and then removed.  I personally have titles on my page that were "serious" entries that never made it to the festivals or for all intents and purposes never saw the light of day.  Why does premature entry qualify them for permanent perseveration in the database?  Again, yes, they exist scientifically.  But the merits and viewership in the eyes of the public is zilch.  As a filmmaker, I should have the freedom to clean my page of obscurities known only to me and not spark a debate with IMDB.  I haven't seen any posts by filmmakers trying to fraudulently wipe away titles that have been documented to have played Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, etc.  Both serious filmmakers and non-filmmakers are pleading to help rid IMDB of garbage entires that no one has seen or cares about.  Obsessively factual is perhaps interesting if we are to look back at Spielberg's first few credits shot on actual celluloid.  But in the modern age where it could be argued that anyone with a cellphone is a filmmaker, obsessively factual is counterproductive to IMDB and eerily dystopian to filmmakers building reputable profiles on the website.  If I step out into the street in front of viral video team shooting a prank video, am I forever "Man on Street" on my IMDB page?  Side-by-side with credits that I worked extremely hard for and am proud of?  This is what the future looks like if policies are not adjusted.  Because IMDB dominates Google search results and doesn't exist in its own vacuum, this topic is of the utmost importance regarding people's privacy and reputations.
(Edited)
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bderoes, Champion

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From Jeorj's post above:
If there is evidence of "publication" (and if the material is not an embarrassing shabby piece of work that only its creators "understand") then the films probably belong cataloged.
Now you want IMDb to evaluate whether the quality of the work merits inclusion in the database? No, no, no.

And elsewhere you mentioned the "copyright holder" should be able to remove the work; I wonder how many of these entries we're discussing actually have copyright holders.
(Edited)
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bderoes, Champion

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From T's post above:
I think the grounds to apply flexibility to remove a title could simply be based on date (not site votes or views).  Post-2005 would do the trick. The issues I've gone into detail about all stem from a Post-YouTube world.
OK, I thought you were the one to mention number of votes.

I would LOVE for IMDb to get date-specific about policies. For instance, I'd like to be able to post photos on a Name page for long-deceased actors (and others). Clearly we'd have NO photos for Cary Grant if the current policy were in place when this Db was growing, since he died before IMDb was created. Now they only want people to post their own photos and pay for the privilege to keep them online. 

In another post from T:
any participant should be able to submit a title deletion request with ease, which may be sufficient.  Remember that many of the titles in question are student projects, skits, or random uploads; these do not often have an organized team behind them.  It would be easier for the title to be re-submitted by a second creator who disagrees at a later date
I suspect that concerns about allowing any participant to request deletion include
  • disgruntled participants who want to sabotage a project
  • thrashing of data being entered, taken down and entered again
  • being expected to archive information so that when the wind blows toward posting the project again, all prior information is restored
I don't think that "any participant" should have the right to request removal. But if it's so incomplete and premature that there is no legally registered copyright holder, that leaves IMDb in an uncomfortable position of who to believe.

I don't disagree with the idea that frivolous entries should be removable. But I think you can't just toss a policy idea into the fray without laying out most of the details of how it could be implemented. 
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T

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Thanks for your reply.

I am "tossing a policy idea into the fray" based on an obvious observable pattern in the hopes that the community and actual policy makers can discuss changes as we have been and hopefully perfect and implement a new strategy together.

A toddler can enter a title into IMDB, but an army of professionals who are in agreement cannot remove it.  "Facts are facts" is not a pillar that serves post-2005 entries.  Otherwise, the IMDB team better get to work entering the 5,000,000,000 titles that are viewed on YouTube per day.

I do not have the exact answers to every hypothetical nuance.

Why not start with the many creators who on a regular basis unanimously petition the removal of their own frivolous titles?

Titles in the "online publication" category could perhaps mirror Wikipedia's malleability and be self-policing.  Why must IMDB be petitioned regarding inconsequential works it knows nothing of?

In the spirit of the good old days, the only thing that should etch a title in stone on IMDB is a theatrical screening (including film festivals) or a televised screening.  Those are facts that everyone can get behind. 

Measuring general public interest regarding internet publications would be most accurate reverting power back to the actual public.

The problem from the past several years is that the freedom to add a title is 100%, yet the freedom to remove the same title is 0%.  This must be fixed.
(Edited)
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Jeorj Euler

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Hi, bderoes. IMDb is not interested in evaluating the quality, but a number of creators complain about being embarrassed about their own "old, rudimentary, student projects" or something to that effect. The nature of their complaints usually resonate around that idea. It's some kind of vanity thing, I guess. I'm open to the idea of them being able to request that such works of their be de-cataloged under very limited circumstances.
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T

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The circumstances need not be limited.  Vanity or not, these sorts of titles whose only legacy is an upload and were originally entered in haste don't belong on a Movie Database for eternity. 
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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I am adding titles (including my own productions) to IMDb since 2010 and I am actually very much glad that many more things are eligible: YouTube productions, web series, music videos and even commercials. All of those tend to have much cultural value, are technically movies in the wider sense of the term (which comes back to "moving images") and, first and foremost, they also tend to require as much inspiration, skill and production values. It might not seem evident to many people, especially to those who are older, but some of the web efforts might have much more impact then award-winning short films just because websites like YouTube and Vimeo offer a simple and very effective distribution strategy that actually makes eligible to audience on a large scale. Potentially anything uploaded on YouTube (well, if it abides a simple plethora of rules the platform chose to instate) has a fair chance of making as much impact as some of the big budget movies do. Some productions already did. 

While film festivals and theatrical distribution are in, my humble opinion, great and much needed things, they are no longer exclusive means by which (for example) short films could be seen by people and make impact. In fact it might be argued that 2 minute video made by a single filmmaker on a budget of $1 might have more cultural impact, audience and residual results then award-winning short film that entered theatrical distribution and cost $10,000 to produce. It sounds sad from a perspective of a filmmaker who invested in his craftsmanship and reputation only to find that funny videos on the internet are on IMDb as well, are perfectly eligible and find their audiences while his works are basically on the same level of public recognition because traditional distribution strategy is not always working. 

The thing is: for some people it is industry and for some people what they do is art. Some people, me included, apply a mixed approach, but it could be agreed that IMDb is equally made for both types of people and expansion of eligibility criteria is also beneficial for both of those categories as well. Professional filmmakers who also work on music videos and/or commercials (of which there are many) finally have the ability to list some of their most known works (and I'm not exaggerating here: Xavier Dolan might be an award winning director with a resume of major award-winning feature films but his most seen work in the world is still a music video which has almost 2,5 billion views on YouTube). Those who percieve what they do as art, no matter how outsider or local that art is have an ability to have their audio-visual creations listed on a database for the purpose of their audience discovering more of their work as well having a general outlook of such. 

There are constructive and unconcstructive ways of dealing with situation. In my humble opinion suggesting that eligibility of some media obstructs abilities of other media is unconstructive because it makes people immediately argue over subjective views on what should be eligible and should be not, instead of spending their time perfecting what we already have in much more sufficient ways. And that "does not belong on IMDb" is just a classical result of Streisand effect. People don't understand simple consequences of working in filmmaking, whether as as industry or as an art form: if you agreed, signed a contract and was credited for your work that is no longer private information. You can't delete any trace of what you've done just because you don't want your early disgrace to be seen.  

And yes, "Honestly who cares?" I can pretty much take as a personal offence, because I care and I know that I'm far from only person in that regard. You don't want to hear that notion aimed at your projects and hard work, I'm quite sure about that. But still you aim it at a whole sector of both creators and audience, as well as people who go extra mile to ensure that what is listed on IMDb is listed according to all the rules and with maximum effort, regardless of medium, budget or how "professional" (which for many jobs in filmmaking seems to be a transcendent and at times even abstract term) creators are. After seeing for dozens of years how some amazingly talented people were barely able to achieve fewer things because there was no place for them in the industry hearing some other people complaining that their work should not be listed on a database of audio-visual media just because it does not appear to fulfill their personal standards is quite a sad thing. I'm sorry, but your concerns do look very much like basic jealousy over the fact that nowadays much more things are eligible on IMDb, while when you started it was not as easy. It's not necessarily what they are, but just how they might look like from my perspective.   
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T

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I believe that the following point deserves its own serious consideration:

Anyone credited (2005 - present) should have a right to claim their name and delist themselves from IMDB.

Users should be granted the freedom and choice to have control of their own name and opt out.  No one seriously pursuing filmmaking will want to opt out.  Let the database be cleared of names and titles of no importance at the owner's request!  The "facts are facts" policy is going to destroy IMDB.
(Edited)
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abdurahman49 .

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Users should be granted the freedom and choice to have control of their own name and opt out.

Absurd proposition. IMDb would be in shambles.

Might as well delete the database, and free the populace from the shackles of IMDb.