cross-posted from: https://lemm.ee/post/8544858
Hi all. I recently decided to try PeerTube as a creator, and was quite surprised by a lot of what I found. Thought a writeup from the perspective of a newbie to the platform might be useful for others who are considering it.
Disclaimer: Some of the following might not be entirely accurate but it’s just what I’ve picked up over the last week. Corrections and tips very welcome!
First up, I’m already a small-time craft YouTuber with around 7500 subs. Nothing earth-shattering, but enough to be pretty comfortable putting myself out there on the internet.
I’ve been on Mastodon about a year, and on Lemmy since just before the Great Migration, with two accounts and a decent amount of activity on both. I’ve also poked around various other Fedi bits like PixelFed, Bookwyrm, Firefish etc. So essentially I went into PeerTube thinking I knew what to expect.
- It’s surprisingly difficult to find an instance.
The instance search is hard to find, and then it’s very limited with only 25 results (many of which are private). It claims to be pulling from this much larger list, so idk what the problem is there. The first time I tried to join PT, this was my stopping point.
I’ve now joined MakerTube, an instance dedicated to makers, artists etc. This fits my content perfectly, but the only way I heard about it was word of mouth. How many other budding instances are out there with no way to tell us about it? Who knows.
Instances need a way to be found, and people need a way to find instances. In the meantime this is a huge barrier to adoption, so if you know of a cool instance drop it down in the replies and help people out!
- Account vs channel
On signup you’re asked to create an account with a username, and then can optionally create a channel if you want to upload videos. Pretty standard stuff, you might think? Nah.
Most of your subscribers will be on Mastodon. It’s the biggest Fedi service by far, I imagine very few people are actually signed up on PT as a viewer account. The issue here is that when videos are federated to Mastodon, it’s from your user account and not your channel so they all end up following the user instead.
This gets your videos to your subscribers just fine, but does make your channel sub count look a bit anaemic 😅
So yeah, learn from my mistakes. If you want your subscribers to see videos coming from your actual branded channel name, you need to make sure that’s your user account name instead and then use channels more like playlists. And no, you can’t use the same name for both, I tried that already!
- Categories are useless, tags are not
Much like YouTube, the default categories on PeerTube are extremely limited to the point of being useless. There is a plugin instance owners can run to add custom categories for their instance, but whether that gets federated out in a useful way I couldn’t tell you.
Tags, however, are interesting. I’ve not seen them used anywhere in the PT interface, presumably they’re used in search. But remember what we said about most of your subs being from Mastodon?
It turns out when you publish a video with a tag like “cross stitch”, spaces will be removed and it’ll be added as a Mastodon hashtag “#crossstitch”. So anyone following that tag, can see it. Pretty sure I’ve had a few subs just from that feature alone, although the first time my own face popped up in my #crossstitch feed unexpectedly it was a bit of a jump scare.
When you upload a video you’ll be asked to pick a licence from a list, and no further info or explanation is given on what any of them mean. It turns out, as far as I can tell, they map to the general Creative Commons licences here. But it’s very much not explicit and I was surprised to find it so difficult to dig up info on what they are.
- Viewers won’t just come to you organically because search is bad
PeerTube from the viewer’s side is actually a LOT worse than from the creator side. So it makes sense that there are very few viewers. I’m hopeful that as the experience gets a bit smoother it’ll become more natural for people to discover channels, but so far it’s pretty terrible.
The main issue is that search is almost unusable, and I am absolutely not the sort of person who throws around the word “unusable”.
Rather than the organic federated search results of Masto or Lemmy it seems like on PeerTube your results are dictated in large part by your admin’s settings, and choices they’ve made about where to pull from. So assuming you can find a suitable looking instance, this might be something you want to ask your admin about.
There is something approaching a global search, but assuming you find and remember to use it you’ll get duplicate results in just about the most inefficient layout I’ve ever seen in my life.
- Sorting algorithms? Also bad
Since I joined MakerTube last week, the default homepage sort of “hot” has shown the same first few results without change. Some as much as two months old.
It’s a similar problem to the ones Lemmy was having, and those only started to be looked at seriously once we had bigger numbers and people started complaining about seeing the same posts over and over. So again hopefully as more creators take the plunge and more viewers show up, these things will be dealt with.
- Enough whinging
There’s plenty to like about PeerTube. I love the idea of a themed instance. I love how easy it is to import my back catalogue. I love the wider Fediverse integration and how easy it is for someone on another service to follow my channel from there. I love that Jan Beta chose the same instance as me, it makes me feel cool seeing his videos next to mine.
But I’ve seen various discussions with people noping out of PeerTube based on hitting the same roadbumps I did. So if this post helped, great. If you want to ask questions, feel free.
And if you happen to be into kind of awkward crafting videos, well, you know where to find me!