After a brief hiatus from his daily YouTube show over the holidays, veteran digital commentator Philip DeFranco kicked off the New Year with a wide-ranging Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit so that his fans — his legion of “beautiful bastards” who are now 6 million strong across three channels — could ask him questions about his experiences on the platform over the past decade.
From notable fan encounters to his plans for a future news network to his favorite kinds of content to consume, here are five of the most interesting things we learned:
1. DeFranco launched his sxephil YouTube channel in 2006, and, in that time, much has changed on the platform, he says — mostly for the better. “The biggest thing I hear is that the community used to be way closer,” he explains. “It’s still very close, but it’s so big that there are just a ton of different friend circles.”
As for how YouTube has evolved in step to address this growth? “They do an okay job,” DeFranco says of the platform’s dealings with creators. However, he says YouTube still has problems with internal and external communications. “There were people in the organization who didn’t realize Youtube Heroes was a program that was launching until they saw my video on it,” he writes. DeFranco also says that sometimes the only way to get YouTube to respond to site-related problems is to make videos complaining about them, which is regrettable.
2. In terms of YouTubers disclosing their sponsored videos, DeFranco is unequivocal: “If you aren’t upfront about your sponsorships, you are lying to your audience and you’re being a dirty shady c-nt.” He cites Trevor ‘TmarTn’ Martin and Tom ‘Syndicate’ Cassell‘s scandal last July (see below) as an example of the importance of full disclosure. And though more government regulation has entered the space as YouTube has become more mainstream, DeFranco says, a perfect system is far from being realized.
3. In the past, DeFranco has toyed with the idea of launching his own independent or moderate-leaning news network. Given the polarizing nature of politics today, DeFranco says, his aim is to unite those on all sides of the political spectrum by striving for objectivity. DeFranco says that for the time being, however, contractual obligations prevent him from launching his own network, and such an endeavor would ultimately require “full creative control, investment, and it has to be money from someone that doesn’t want to control the angle of the network.” That said, he writes, the project could launch as soon as this year.
4. DeFranco has had some pretty extraordinary encounters with fans over the years, the most unbelievable of which was when hundreds of people offered to give a kidney to his father — with a viewer named James ultimately serving as the donor. Both DeFranco and his father suffer from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), and he suggests he might need a transplant at some point in the future as well.
In terms of negative fan experiences, DeFranco says that he’s yet to experience anything outlandish, which he attributes to “my audience being a bit older and mentally mature compared to many other YouTube audiences/fandoms.”
5. When he’s not too busy making his own daily vlogs, DeFranco shared a handful of the creators that entertained him in 2016. He says he’s a big fan of the entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck‘s DailyVee channel and Joe Rogan‘s video podcast, as well as tech reviewers Jonathan ‘TLDToday’ Morrison, Marques Brownlee, and political news talk show The Rubin Report. His favorite television series this year were Westworld, Black Mirror, Mr. Robot, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards, and his favorite video games were Rocket League and Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare.