Guide for submitting online videos

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Since last June, videos distributed on YouTube have been able to be listed in IMDb. Previously, there were more rigorous standards for inclusion of online videos, but those standards have been dropped. (The former standards allowed online videos in if they had received significant national-level mainstream media coverage, had someone really famous in the cast or crew, or were official spinoffs of a mainstream theatrical or television title -- there may have been other criteria but I can't remember them now.)

The main discussion of YouTube videos being allowed into the database can be found in the thread at http://www.imdb.com/board/bd0000042/nest/213240313. As staffer Thomas Porter wrote: 

We are not interested in video clips, random camera phone footage, or many of the other bits and pieces that help bump up that 72 hours of footage [added to YouTube every minute]. We are still only interested in complete bodies of work ... and that is what I meant by a ‘considerable amount of work going into making it’. 
I believe that we could also use a guide to submitting online videos as part of the FAQ. In particular, the guide should address the following issues:

1. What title type should be used? Web series are normally treated by IMDb as if they were television series in the title format "Series Title" (2014). By that logic, should single online videos not part of a series be listed as TV movies: Single Program (2014) (TV)? I don't think they are typically listed that way, but it's not clear how they should be listed.

2. What kind of Miscellaneous Links are needed for an online video? While I would prefer if online videos were required to provide a Miscellaneous Link other than a link to the video itself on YouTube.com, if that's all that is needed then the guide should say so.

3. What is considered a "complete body of work"? I realize that there likely needs to be some flexibility in defining it, so I would expect the guide to use words like "usually" and "generally" in this context. Would it be accurate to say that having on-screen titles and credits is a major factor in determining whether an online video qualifies for listing in IMDb?

In addition, there is still a page at http://www.imdb.com/help/show_leaf?online_eligibility which says that the eligibility rules for online titles can be found at http://www.imdb.com/faq/titleeligibility. However, http://www.imdb.com/faq/titleeligibility has been removed and clicking on that link produces a 404 Error.
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Posted 6 years ago

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The former eligibility rules can be found in the Internet Archive at http://web.archive.org/web/20100416182043/http://www.imdb.com/help/show_leaf?online_eligibility.
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bob the moo

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gromit,
Just for ease of reference, here are the former rules for online films.
I think almost anyone reading them would acknowledge that they are just as inappropriate today as having no policy....

bob
note: I am not an IMDb employee, nor in any way affiliated with IMDb


What are the eligibility rules for online titles?

Because it's so easy to get "distribution" of a title online, we have some specific guidelines about eligibility for a title that has only been made available online.

The fundamental rule is that you need to demonstrate general public interest. The most common ways to meet this criterion are:

  • Have someone very well known in your cast (or extremely well known in a significant crew position). If the person isn't well known enough to merit a solo profile in a notable publication like Entertainment Weekly (or equivalent), this rule won't apply. If you have any doubt whether the person or persons are well known enough-- they probably aren't. And, just cutting in some clips from one of their old movies/TV shows/commercials isn't enough; it has to be something they did specifically for your title. And not just a 10-second soundbite on a red carpet, either.
  • Be a tie-in/spin-off of a TV series on a major network, hosted on that network's official site.
  • Go viral. Get a staggering number of views, ideally on a site where we can easily verify this claim. Again, if you have any doubt whether your title is "viral" or not -- you probably need to qualify using one of the other criteria.
  • Get coverage -- significant, national, mainstream press coverage. That means, for example, that the New York Times is doing an article specifically about your web series (not just the people behind it, or an offhand mention in an article about web series in general). If the press outlet is online-only, it's almost certainly not going to be sufficient.

Note that, even if you meet these criteria, there are still certain kinds of titles we don't accept as primary titles:

  • Short-form music videos -- these are accepted as "other works" in the biographical sections of the relevant people
  • Commercials -- ditto (this includes trailers)
  • Unscheduled interstitials -- for example, "hosting" an evening of programming -- again, "other works".
  • Portions of larger programs (e.g., news reports; skits within awards shows, even if prerecorded) -- include them within the original program

If you don't meet any of these criteria, there are always the usual criteria for offline distribution, such as screening at a qualifying selective festival, a DVD available from an established distributor, or airing on non-local television. Remember that no matter what eligibility rule you are using to qualify, you need to document that you meet the criterion, generally by providing one or more URLs to sites other than your own.

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Good idea!!

By that logic, should single online videos not part of a series be listed as TV movies: Single Program (2014) (TV)?

I use (V).

There are also issues like:

  • Attributes to use, like (internet)
  • Distribution companies should be thing likes YouTube [us]
Probably obvious to us, but a lot of people are going to be jamming in any old home video (unless there are also eligibility criteria - which needs outlining either way. I do hope there are or the signal to noise ratio will degrade the database) so might be fist-time users.
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After four months with no staff response, I'm giving this thread a bump. Thanks to Emperor and Peter for their support.
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I'm bumping this again.
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After eight months with no staff response, I'm bumping this again.
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Bump.
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gromit,
This is a great thread – thank you for creating it and the links it includes.

Just to prevent it being lost in the ramble on the subject, can I ask the question now as to why do STAFF not allow users to contribute a draft of policy statements? I do not mean the whole world, but those users that would be considered "reliable"....I mean they already designate users here Champs (which means respected, trusted and appointed by the company) so why not make more of that trust and respect?

Drafts of pages that badly need reviewing but understandably are down the priority list, could be drafted – not to be official because users said so, but rather just to cut out the donkey work at the start – put something under their nose that is 80% done and probably 70-80% what IMDb would have written themselves.

Okay, personal agendas/opinions will be in there too, but that is why it gets handed to staff to progress...at least saving them 80% of the effort – and the online eligibility policy is a perfect example of this.

===

Anyway, back on subject:

I would say that the Contributor's Help board thread unsurprisingly contains an element of snootiness associated with this – contrasting online titles with "real" films in a way that is okay if you focus on one example of an iPhone clip, but it betrays a wider opinion.

I watch and add/add to a lot of short films to IMDb, short films that are often never subject to a festival run but have been made for Vimeo or YouTube as their platform to allow distribution through blogs, fan-sites and so on. I totally agree that IMDb should not accept titles which are people mucking about on their phones, but anyone who thinks that opening the database to allow the inclusion of online platforms is a terrible idea simply does not understand the volume of awesome short films being made with websites and general online distribution being the model.

The previous IMDb guidance has some good aspects, but for some reason includes unreasonable expectations – "staggering" number of views, "significant" media coverage, a "very" or "extremely" well known person is the cast or crew. There does need to be a definition of public interest, and I agree that "being publicly available" is not the same as "being of public interest". But "number of views" is not a guide either – a clip of a panda sneezing will understandably get millions of views, but a short film of 8 minutes and a crew of 40 students from CalArts will not simply because it is not as easy a watch and less frequently shared.

I think we all agree though that IMDb need to create a policy on this – and it must be a policy that stops the "LOL look at dis fail" clips put on YouTube by the second, but allows actual short films to be included.

bob
note: I am not an IMDb employee, nor in any way affiliated with IMDb
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There was a time, bobthemoo, when such contributer involvement was allowed., indeed, solicited. We drafted, collaborated, and submitted via the Contributor's Help Board. We offered up changes to Guidelines which were accepted and implemented.

We also collaborated in coming up with new Genres (five) complete with descriptions and examples. All of this was done with input and guidance from staff. However, we have recently been told by current staff that the staff member who collaborated and told us that the Genres would be implemented should not have told us that. So, no new Genres.

I suspect there were changes made behind the curtain , unbeknownst to the Contributors involved, and "poof" no more collaborative changes. Some of the Contributors were, and still are, a tad miffed about all the time and effort put in for naught. But, such is life.

Your suggestions have merit, and would certainly help in the contribution, editing and assistance to others processes. So, I will add my "me too!" In hopes that senior staff will agrees and once again pursue Contributor assistance on the Guidelines.
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Bob and Luvs: I've been thinking about it, and we can start drafting a policy statement for online videos, even if the IMDb staff isn't interested. The worst that can happen is that the staff rejects it.

I've prepared the following draft. It consists of ideas that I think IMDb would accept, or could accept, or that I wish they would accept. I will take suggestions and make changes based on other contributors' suggestions here (or on Contributors Help).

Draft guidelines for online videos
draft dated as of 1/11/2015

Videos which are primarily distributed online can qualify for listing on IMDb based on the following criteria. (These criteria do not apply to titles which qualify for IMDb listing as theatrically released films, made for video titles, or television programming.)

Online videos must be available to the public for viewing, either free or for a fee. Videos which are set for private viewing only by selected persons are not eligible for listing.

An online video must be available for viewing at the time it is submitted to IMDb as a new title. (That is, future videos not yet available should not be submitted, nor should past videos which can no longer be found online.) However, a video which was available for viewing at the time it was entered into the database will not be removed merely if it becomes unavailable in the future.

An online video may be listed if it constitutes a complete body of work.

  1. To be considered a complete body of work, the video should normally have an on-screen title and on-screen cast and crew credits. (This information should be part of the video itself, not merely displayed in accompanying text above, below, or next to the video.)

  2. An online video is not eligible for listing if it consists primarily of footage from another title which is or could be listed in IMDb.

  3. Commercials and trailers are not eligible for listing.

Online videos which are ongoing series should be entered into IMDb as television series with the individual videos being entered as episodes. Online videos which are not part of a series should be entered as made-for-video titles.

A link to where the video can be viewed online should be submitted in the Video Clips section (which includes full movies, not just clips) under Links to Other Sites. In addition, at least one other link related to the video should be submitted in the Miscellaneous Links section.

***

Let me know what you think of this.

(Also, thanks to Lorraine, Bob, Luvs, Ljdoncel, David, and Lucus for their support, in addition to Emperor and Peter.)

(Edited)
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gromit,
I had a similar idea, which I will post elements of below for your consideration.
I am not sure about the "only released" restriction; also not sure about the specific restriction on past films that are no longer online....I think for both of these this might be better unspoken and left to the "minimum data" requirements.

I do like the requirement to put the link to the film into "clips", normally I drop it in misc links and of course then the page will have no connection to the film. (Although element of bullet point 4 below are still valid - to me it cannot exist just where it was uploaded, it must have spread to at least "established" blogs (ie, "retweeted" doesn't count)

My draft (which is w.i.p) is below, you can ignore the preamble but the 5 points might be worth considering. My intention was, when I finished my draft, was to copy/paste the existing policy text about putting videos and commercials in as "other works" - those lines still work I think.

bob
note: I am not an IMDb employee, nor in any way affiliated with IMDb

==========================

What are the eligibility rules for online titles?
With video hosting platforms widely and freely available, the ease with which to put any type of video in front of a global audience has taken a seismic shift from the situation when IMDb was first founded. As a result IMDb considers that titles which are distributed through a non-traditional means (distribution company in a global region to a particular type of media) are acceptable as part of the required data. However, the situation has not changed to mean that any form of video that is uploaded onto a recognized online platform is eligible for listing on IMDb; titles are not necessarily of "public interest" just because they are "publicly available".

IMDb remain uninterested in cataloguing and recording video clips, random camera phone footage, gameplay of video games, videos of family events, and other such videos that make up the majority of the uploads to platforms such as YouTube. 

To decide if an online distributed title is eligible for inclusion on IMDb please review against the following considerations.

  1. Does the title meet the existing eligibility rules for a new title (regarding of distribution) and have the minimum required data for submission? These must be met for all online titles.
  2. If online distribution was not available for this title, would it be likely to be considered for distribution in a traditional form (festivals, DVD, movie theatres etc)? For eligible titles the answer will be normally "Yes".
  3. Does the title represent an isolated effort on behalf of those involved, or is your title associated with a body of work which is or would be eligible for listing on IMDb? Titles associated  with an establishing and developing body of work are more likely to be considered eligible.
  4. A link direct to the film as it is hosted cannot be considered as a miscellaneous link in terms of providing evidence as part of the submission process; an eligible title will have been rehosted or link across other sites, so please submit these links. The more established and reputable these sites, the more like the title is to be accepted.
  5. Is there something specifically noteworthy about the title? Does it have noteworthy involvement in cast or crew (currently or in retrospect)? Is it officially connected to an established title? Etc. If yes then the title may be eligible for inclusion.
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At Contributors Help, user orangeparser raised the following issue:
While for movies and TV shows there are usually "hard copies" that serve as reference for the original version, that is the version as they were first released in theatres, on DVD, or aired on television... how would you identify the "original" for a video that was published only on a web site, where it can be replaced with a new version any time, with changes in either the video or the credits? What if the video is removed, or the site shuts down? What if the "Star Wars" saga was only published on You Tube then Lucas changed it? :) 
http://www.imdb.com/board/bd0000042/nest/238972966?d=239006011#239006011 
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I think this "original" question is a good one - but it is one that we are miles away from considering we do not even have a basic policy or guide for this....I do not mean to take away from the point made, but this is a smaller issue and should not be allowed to stall a more general policy which is required.

I am home this weekend with a bit of time and decent internet connection....we have some good material on this thread so what is the next step? One of us try to combine/edit into a workable first draft?

bob
note: I am not an IMDb employee, nor in any way affiliated with IMDb
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I note that I was told by an IMDb rep that they ARE now accepting commercials. I replied that then a guideline would be necessary since commercials don't usually come with credits. So, there is another whole mess we've gotten into!
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Commercials, really? That sounds like a bad idea. I don't know how contributors are even going to be able to find the exact titles of commercials, much less their cast and crew credits. I hope that the IMDb rep was mistaken about the policy about accepting commercials.
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There are a few commercials on IMDb already eg The Black Mamba and when you look at other examples you sort of see that realistically IMDb are trying to capture the "mini-film" type of event commercial....not the one where the puppy rolls in toilet paper!

I agree with this statement though:
So, there is another whole mess we've gotten into!
To me though, the nature of the mess is that too often policy and approach is stated on a message board post which, if you are not a regular on the CB board, or were not on it for the week or two where a post floated on the front page, then you do not know about it and have no easy way of finding it.

In my mind no staff decision should exist as only words on a reply on a thread.....the vast majority should be confirmed in a written, accessible policy/procedure/guide.

However, i still feel that until IMDb at least get their house in order regarding the basic level of guides/policies, then the aspiration can remain just that.

bob
note: I am not an IMDb employee, nor in any way affiliated with IMDb
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Gromit, bobthemoo moo is right..there are already commercials on the site; such as this one: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2167988/c..., which in my mind makes sense given director, stars, etc.

However, the subject came up because I asked to have this title removed because it is not a " short" but is, in fact, a commercial that was not broadly broadcast and contained no credits of any kind. I was told that they were accepting commercials so....it is still there. (Sorry folks, I can't seem to create hyperlinks from my IPad...regular old links will have to do.)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2327876/c...

Video: https://vimeo.com/2778879

Now, after that commercial break, back to the subject at hand...GUIDELINES!
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Bob and Luvs: Thanks for your comments regarding commercials. I've started a thread on Contributors Help titled "IMDb now accepting commercials? I hope not" in order to express my opinion about that to the staff.

Regarding Bob's proposed eligibility rules for online titles that he posted a few days ago, I would say that I support them in principle, but the staff indicated in 2013 that they were going to significantly ease the standards on allowing online titles into the database. ("I can confirm that this title does qualify for listing within the database. For one, it's on YouTube, and available on demand for public consumption.") So even though I would like IMDb to have high standards like those Bob suggests, I wanted to propose a low-to-middling standard to avoid the chance of winding up with no standards.
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I'm bumping this thread again, after 14 months with no staff response. Thanks to Austin for his support, in addition to the eight other people whom I have thanked before.
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Sorry for the delay on this.  It has been brought to the appropriate team's attention via ticket #0047042466 (and I have moved this into "Ideas")
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Thanks, Col.
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Hello everyone,

Thanks for all of your comments and apologies for the delay in updating the submissions guides to reflect the changes of policy. We do care about the views of our top contributors and appreciate your involvement. Gromit82, as you can see your draft has made the basis for the online video title eligibility section, thank you.

As you are all aware we are limited by the title types so we have documented the required formats for the different types of content until a time when we can display the information in a better way.

We have made the amendments to the guides which can be found by following these links - http://www.imdb.com/updates?update=title http://www.imdb.com/updates/guide/adding_new_title http://www.imdb.com/updates/guide/title_formats

Thanks again.

Regards,
Will

(Edited)
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Will: Although I appreciate the fact that the staff has taken my draft policy as the basis for the online video title eligibility section, there were some significant omissions. In particular, I'm disappointed that the standards for eligibility have been lowered even further than when the floodgates were opened two years ago.

From the discussion at http://www.imdb.com/board/bd0000042/nest/213240313 in 2013:

Contributor k_luifje (Marco) wrote:
Are you saying everything on YouTube is eligible because it is available on demand for public consumption? Do you know that every minute, 72 hours of footage is added to YouTube?
Staffer Thomas_Porter responded:
No. We are not interested in video clips, random camera phone footage, or many of the other bits and pieces that help bump up that 72 hours of footage. We are still only interested in complete bodies of work (which this title is), and that is what I meant by a ‘considerable amount of work going into making it’.
However, under the new standard, the "complete body of work" criterion is no longer mentioned. In my draft, I had suggested formalizing the "complete body of work" standard by requiring on-screen titles and cast and crew credits, but apparently the staff chose not to adopt such a standard.

Does this mean that a video clip such as "Cat and window cleaner make friends in cute video" (on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78f-u06Gwtg) or "Funny emus" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYL_l0MxgMY) is now considered suitable for inclusion in the database? If so, that wouldn't have been my preference.
(Edited)
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Hi gromit82,

Thanks for your comments but what about videos such as these? http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/7fc5490cc9/little-democrats?_cc=__d___&_ccid=ahg9gt.nvtepa This title has no on screen credits so would not be eligible under your proposed draft guidelines.

Regards,
Will
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Will: If "Little Democrats: 1st Democratic Debate" were to be left out of the database for lack of on-screen credits, that would not necessarily be an inconvenience to database users. I would guess that one of the reasons why people would want to add it to IMDb, or to look it up in IMDb, would be to give credit to the children playing the candidates, or to find out who they were. But none of them are credited in the video, so apparently Funny or Die didn't care about them getting credit.

Even if someone connected with the production wants to submit those children as (uncredited) cast, they would still need to have at least one credited role in another production before their work on "Little Democrats: 1st Democratic Debate" would be displayed in the database.

And I realize that many here may disagree with me, because Funny or Die is a recognized, professional web site. So I would consider taking a less strict standard than what I have proposed before. But even if we were to stipulate that videos from web sites which distribute professionally made videos are eligible for listing, that shouldn't imply that we also have to accept videos from YouTube, which basically accepts anything submitted to them.
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... But even if we were to stipulate that videos from web sites which distribute professionally made videos are eligible for listing, that shouldn't imply that we also have to accept videos from YouTube, which basically accepts anything submitted to them.
My view:

Creating a YouTube Database ("YTDb"?) should be Google's job.  They own YouTube, and they love to tackle ambitious projects.  They should create YTDb, empowering video makers and users to contribute detailed data about many videos on YouTube.  If this is something that YouTube needs, Google is the company that needs to make it happen.

In an ideal scenario, Google's "YTDb" would usefully expose its data and APIs in an "open" way, and maybe play ball with IMDb and allow for some limited degree of cooperative inter-operation between the two systems.  Ideally perhaps that scenario might be a win-win in the long-term.

Just my opinion.