Youtube and Online Video Questions

Q. You’re on YouTube?
A. Yeah, this surprises a lot of people who visit my web site, because they think of me as a writer. But yes, I am on youtube. My brother Hank and I have had a collaborative video channel since January of 2007; we’ve made more than 950 videos, which have been viewed more than 235 million times.

Q. What kind of camera do you use?
A. I use a Canon Vixia camcorder and edit my videos with Final Cut Express.

Q. The Nerdfighter fanbase is huge, how do you feel about having this many people following something that you helped create?
A. Well, I don’t really think of nerdfighters as a fanbase. (I think of myself as a nerdfighter, for instance.) It’s just one identity among many. In some ways the Nerdfighter community is huge–I mean, you could fill up the Rose Bowl every day with people who watch our videos, and that’s a little weird to contemplate. But it’s actually quite tight-knit in other ways: I read thousands of emails and tweets and youtube comments every day, and so I feel like I know the people we’re doing stuff with. And unlike most fan communities, the nerdfighters aren’t just watching something or reading something. They’re doing things with us. So it’s not just about watching videos; it’s also about coming together to build pond sand filters for people in Bangladesh who don’t have access to clean water.

Q. What do you enjoy most about vlogging?
A. Immediate gratification. It takes me half a day to make a video, and that video can be watched a few hours after I finish making it. It takes me years to write a book, and another year after I finish it before it actually gets published.

Q. How have YouTube and other social networking sites changed your life?
A. If it weren’t for youtube, I wouldn’t be best friends with my brother. I wouldn’t have the words “New York Times bestselling author” associated with my name. I wouldn’t have a way to join forces with other people and pool our resources to build huge water filters for villages in Bangladesh, and I wouldn’t be able to meet those villagers over video and come to know and care about them as people and not just two-dimensional images of poverty.

Q: How did you discover YouTube?
A. I saw a few viral videos early in YouTube’s history, but I didn’t get interested in the site and all its potential until the early Lonelygirl15 videos. There was a very active community of people trying to figure out whether Lonelygirl15 was a production and if so who was producing it; I was a member of that community.

Q: Why did you decide to embark on the B2.0 project and what were the main goals for the project?
A. We started because we liked what we were seeing of online video. I particularly liked the vlogger Ze Frank, who basically invented the style of vlogging that is now ubiquitous on youtube. The goal was really just for my brother and me to make videos that would make each other laugh and that would encourage us to be in better touch. But we knew from the first video that people were watching—we both felt like the fact of people watching would encourage us to keep going.

Q: What surprised you most about your readership when you became more exposed to them through social media?
A. I actually don’t think I was that surprised. I’ve always thought that teenagers are smart, and when I read their comments and watch their video responses, that suspicion is only confirmed.

Q: How do you think your YouTube success has affected your career as an author?
A. Well, it has definitely brought my books a wider readership, and allowed me to talk with readers about my work in a way that was never possible before the days of vlogging. So now after a book comes out, they can ask me questions about it and I can answer them in a very interactive way, so that hopefully it feels to readers as if they personally know the author. (I don’t think that it’s helpful to feel a personal connection to the author of every book you read, but I do think there’s something enriching about knowing the author of a few books you read; it reminds you, if nothing else, that books are written by flawed and broken and damaged people.) I think that having the YouTube audience has also been very helpful w/r/t the critical discourse about my books.

Q. Can you do a clip for a collab video?
A. Thanks very much for considering us for your collab video. Unfortunately, Hank and I don’t have time right now to participate in collabs. We feel bad about this, because 1. We’ve greatly enjoyed the few collab videos we’ve done in the past, and 2. We know how much people enjoy collab videos. But we’re barely able to meet our own video deadlines at the moment. Sorry.

Q: If you could change anything about your YouTube experience, what would it be?
A. It’s hard to think of anything I’d change. I guess I’d grow the audience a little bit, but only if the new people could be as awesome as the current crop of nerdfighters.

Q.  Any basic tips for aspiring vloggers?
A. 1. Learn how to edit. When Hank and I started making videos in 2007, YouTube was a much less crowded place, and we were blessed to be able to learn how to edit as we went. These days, you need at least a passing familiarity with some editing program (I use Final Cut Express, but any of them will work), because videos need to look and sound reasonably good or they quickly become hard to watch.
2. Allow yourself to make some bad videos on the road to making good ones. (This is also true of writing or any other form of expression: You are not born good at talking, nor do you pick up a violin for the first time and expect to play Carnegie Hall the next day.)
3. Whatever you do–whether it’s videos about quantum mechanics or celebrity plastic surgery or animated stories from your life or whatever–make sure you genuinely enjoy it. Because if somehow you do build an audience, you are going to have to continue making that stuff, and if you don’t enjoy it, you’re going to be miserable. Ze Frank gave me this advice, and it’s proved very useful to me.
4. Grow your community by reaching out to communities with similar values. Many of the early nerdfighters came from the Harry Potter fandom, and from fans of Neil Gaiman. We reached out to those people and found that they liked the same stuff we liked and were interested in the same kinds of projects we found interesting.
5. Keep trying to get better. Hank and I made more than 100 videos before we got our 200th YouTube subscriber.

More questions about my videos? Leave them in comments!

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

slavicpolymath June 3, 2010 at 10:25 am

Link to Ze’s website perhaps? (I hope all the suggestions I’m leaving you are useful rather than irritating.)

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Abby June 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Would you consider doing a video chat with a high school book club that is reading one of your books(when school is back in session that is)?

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Caleb June 13, 2010 at 4:22 am

Who the eff is Hank?

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Lindsay June 13, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Hank is a hot dog on a stick covered in corn bread batter and deep fried.

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Vicky June 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Hank is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of North Dakota.

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Arif January 25, 2014 at 8:35 pm

I personally would love to itetsnigave Gettysburg. The strong emotions and the unimaginable suffering that took place in such a concentrated area presents a perfect environment for trapped souls. The sudden loss of life and the sheer number of people killed in battle or those who died later in the field hospitals creates conditions that are like a perfect storm for paranormal activity.

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Sam July 20, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Hank is a tiny yellow songbird said to represent the soul of France.

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Sara December 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

In the textile industry, a hank refers to a unit of yarn or twine that is in a coiled form.

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Kinjal January 31, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Hank is a TV series in 2009 created by Tucker Crawley.

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Nick Nolan May 16, 2011 at 11:38 am

Hank is a tree in a golden forest.

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Nirali June 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Hank is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a Time Lord—a time travelling, humanoid alien with two hearts known as the Hank. He explores the universe in his Hank-box—a sentient, telepathic time machine that flies through time and space. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, a common sight in 1963, when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Hank faces a variety of foes while working to save civilisations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs.

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Bridget July 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Hank is the bottom half of your belly button. The other half is Edgar.

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Isa van der Drift March 6, 2013 at 10:09 am

Hank is the nick name of the Higgs Boson. He still has not been found.

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Friek555 July 10, 2013 at 8:37 am

Yes, it has been found by now

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Nicolie April 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hank is an American supernatural drama television series created by Eric Kripke, which debuted on September 13, 2005 on The WB, and is now part of The CW’s lineup.

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Danni November 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm

aaaaaahhhhh. SPN reference. i just blew up..thanks

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Aubrey August 31, 2010 at 7:54 am

hey, i know you did a vlog a while ago about one of your favorite charities that gives books to kids who need them. Our school library is looking for a charity to support and they would love that. I just cannot remember the name of the charity for my life. help me out of this mess?

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Erica Perl September 13, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Is it First Book? What do I win if I am right?

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Victoria September 16, 2010 at 5:11 pm

What do you vlogg about?

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J.H. October 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm
Clara November 15, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Any basic tips for aspiring vloggers?

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Nirali June 17, 2012 at 8:09 pm
Rose January 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Well… Since the “Philosophical Questions” section isn’t clickable (which is where I would find things about politics, I suppose?) I’ll ask this question here… As far as I know, when you and Hank talk about politics, you haven’t mentioned abortion. (unless I missed something, which is extremely possible) And that is a really crazy important thing to me, because I’m pro-life. And even though I’m also really religious, I don’t see it as a religious thing, I see it as a Basic Human Rights thing, because in my mind people have a right to… not be… murdered. And well… yeah. I’d like to know what you guys think about that.

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wilhalen February 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm

It’s possible they haven’t done any videos about it due to the divisive nature of the subject.

I mean, just doing an informative video about both sides of the debate could alienate a lot of their viewers.

I think it’s probably a really good thing that they haven’t.

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Sophier August 9, 2012 at 10:17 am

Don’t think of abortion as killing someone; think of it as saving someone from a bad life. If someone’s willing to get abortion, think of how that kid’s life would turn out if they were born.

Sorry; I like controversial topics…

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Mirna February 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Sopier, except you can never know how that child’s life will turn out. Your comment completely contradicts itself. There life could end up being great, they could end up finding the cure for cancer or writing a book equally as awesome as John did. But the thing is, you can’t predict what is going to happen in the future and you will never know what does happen until you get there.It’s easy for people who are pro-choice to say they’re okay with abortion because they are already alive. That baby, no matter what kind of life COULD be waiting for him/her, deserves to live regardless of what someone THINKS will happen to them. Oh, and Rose I was recently on John’s tumblr and found this, though I don’t know if it means anything specific… http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com/page/10 (scroll down a bit). By the way, I don’t mean for this to be hateful or anything. It’s simply my take on the topic and I know this was a quite a long time ago, but I just couldn’t help not comment.

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Lauren May 17, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Where can I learn your lingo?

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Sarah January 14, 2012 at 1:00 am

Watch the videos and you’ll catch on. :)

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Sidse May 23, 2011 at 3:43 am

hey, I’m doing a school project about the vlogbrothers and how you can use youtube to spread knowledge.
So I was wondering.. Where do you get your information? Is is from wikipedia or do you research the subject throroughly? For example your video about the French Revolution.

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Plyrx August 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm

How do you do the clone thing? XD

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Alysa Banks June 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Okay, I really like your camera. The video clarity is amazing. Only one problem – proven by Google, there are several different types of “Canon Vixia camcorders.” If this isn’t too much of a problem to find out, which it likely may be, can you specify which exact type of camcorder you have? Ex. Canon VIXIA HF M500 Full HD 10x Image Stabilized Camcorder with One SDXC Card Slot and 3.0 Touch LCD

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Rebecca August 7, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Will you mention Lucy and Kate in a video?

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Cameron August 16, 2012 at 1:26 am

What do you use to record your “Hank Games without Hank” videos?

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asdfgdfhkffggf September 28, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Hey, I want to talk to you about Crash Course but screw youtube comments. Other acceptable means of communication? I promise to say nice things and have interesting opinions and trivia.

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asdfgdfhkffggf October 3, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I’ll teach people about the Russian Revolution for you…

Actually, I have to gripe about that a little. I get that you can’t cover everything but the Russian Revolution deserves more than a side note in the thought bubble. The Haitian Revolution got a full episode and IIRC, you didn’t even mention the important thing about it (and yes, THE important thing…): that it allowed the US to make the Louisiana Purchase cheaply.

Best wishes,
letters from the middle row of a qwerty keyboard.

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Lindsay November 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

You have so many YouTubes projects going on, it’s hard to keep track of them all! Between Vlogbrothers, and Crashcourse, and Hank’s separate channels… Can you give a list of all the Youtube projects you are involved in? I don’t want to miss out on anything! :)

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Melissa Yarnell April 23, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I have no idea if you’ll actually see this or not, but if you do….

I’m attempting to write an essay about how social media (using the more specific example of you, Hank, and Nerdfighteria in general) can have a lasting effect on the world. Aka, I’m writing about you guys decreasing world suck levels. If at all possible, I’d love to get some more detailed information about some of the projects you have undertaken, but I also understand that you probably don’t have a lot of time for a lowly college student’s questions.

Best wishes!
Mel

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Jill Henebry May 14, 2013 at 8:55 am

Good Morning Mr. Green,

I’m hoping you might be able to help me with something involving your Crash Course World History series. I teach 11th grade U.S. History and I would very much like to use episode #39 in my classroom, I think my kids would love it. The problem is my district does not allow us access to YouTube. One of the things I love about your series is the closed captioning. I have a student in my honors class who is a deaf Russian exchange student and the closed captioning is the best way for her to understand the information. I’m not sure her interpreter would be able to keep up with the fast pace of the video and the humor may be lost in translation. Do you sell the videos or is there some other way I can obtain a version with the captioning?
Thanks so much!
Ms. Henebry

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Friek555 July 10, 2013 at 8:28 am

I’m not John Green, and I cannot give you real permission or something, but there are tools thet enable you to download videos from YouTube. You could even use a program to record your own screen while watching the video so you could also have the captions.
However, these methods are both illegal and I don’t know if you were allowed to show the results in class.
I hope I could help you.

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Monica June 19, 2013 at 9:20 am

Is there anywhere I can find, or could you create a list of both your’s and Hank’s work? Like all the channels you work on, the books, the music, everything! I want to check out more stuff but I can’t always find the stuff, or begin to find the stuff because there is so much stuff! Thanks :)

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Anna July 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm

You guys should really do a video about victims of overprotective parents

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Friek555 July 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

How do you write the dooblydoo/doublidoo/whatever?

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Jacob July 11, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Dear John,
I am an avid fan of your crash course US History series on Youtube. I regret to say that I haven’t been keeping up on the episodes like I should since I graduated high school in June and decided that sitting on my computer all day watching Youtube videos meant that I don’t have much of a social life. So today I watched your video on all of the major battles of the American Civil War. I am an American history fanatic, and just a history fan in general, and am planning on double majoring in History and Classics in college. So the question I wanted to ask you was if you had a complete list of all the battles you mentioned in the video. I could watch it again and write down all of the battles, but that seems to be too tedious, so I thought that it would be easier just to ask you if you had a copy of the list on hand that you could maybe email to a dedicated Youtube viewer. If you would take time out of your busy schedule to do this, I would be eternally grateful.
Your Humble Servant, Silence Dogood (Jacob)

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tweeter home audio and video August 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

” My answer: “because itrrrs likely that good which you’ve already GOT a home recording studio and did not know it. It is perhaps the most common issue with HD televisions that they are immensely challenging to install, knowning that problem only increases while using size with the television. Entertainment is one with the best ways to relax and possess fun after facing per week filled with work and stress.

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Ang October 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Videos keep stopping every 5 seconds

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Carrie December 2, 2013 at 1:05 am

I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but if I have a question for Question Tuesday, what’s the best way to get it to you?

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Marlon Quinteros December 26, 2013 at 12:31 am

Since you do vlogbrothers videos on YouTube with Hank and write bestselling novels, what else do you do for a living?

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Krys January 9, 2014 at 3:18 am

Hello there!

I have a request regarding the CrashCourse channel. Is there any chance that you could make some videos about the concepts of Economics? I’m sure I can’t be the only one who’s struggling with these ideas, and your explanations stick much better than an economics teacher can ever make theirs. I love the lit videos you’ve done!

Thanks!

-Krys

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Kayla Champion January 13, 2014 at 10:37 am

Would you be willing to do a video chat with my class? We all love your books and everyone wants to meet and talk to you!

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Amanda Chie January 30, 2014 at 12:50 am

How do you know so much about history?

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Johnna Johnson April 8, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I just wanted to thank you for not only your thought provoking writing but also your commitment to making learning fun. As a young woman teaching high school social studies it can be a struggle to bring my excitement and love of history to my teenage students. We often use your videos in our curriculum and as the year has gone on, I have had several students start reading your books and following you outside of class! So many of them love your work and their love is not an easy thing to attain. Congratulations on all your success!

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