When popular Vsauce experimental channel ‘DONG’ released a video called ‘The Topsy Turvy Top’ on May 12, 2019, viewers were met with something unexpected. The name of the channel and the icon art had been changed from ‘DONG’ to ‘D!NG’, prompting many to ask why.
Michael Stevens, host of the channel, gave a cryptic introduction before the video proceeded towards its otherwise normal content. “Welcome to Ding,” he says in the video, “The name this channel has always gone by. It has never been called anything that may not be considered brand-friendly, or might possibly lead to demonetization.”
Vsauce is one of the most popular channels on YouTube, and D!NG, in particular, has over 1.5 million subscribers. The science-based and family-friendly nature of the content Stevens creates might lead one to believe that he’s immune from demonetization, but fans and fellow YouTubers fear otherwise.
Though Stevens has not given an exact reason for the change, other YouTube content creators are saying that his entire channel was demonetized due to the previous name, ‘DONG.’ ‘DONG’ is actually an acronym, stemming from a video on the main Vsauce youtube channel in 2011. It stands for ‘things you can Do Online Now Guys.’
Social media site Twitter was rife with speculation, with many fellow YouTube content creators suggesting that ‘DONG’ was not an advertiser-friendly name. Some blamed YouTube moderation, which is mostly run by automated AI. Others blamed YouTube policies themselves for being too stringent.
This comes after months of what Youtube users call ‘The Adpocalypse,’ where improper kids content on the platform led to major advertisers pulling their ads (and money) from the Google-owned website. YouTube relies almost solely on advertiser revenue to make a profit, and implemented much stricter criteria for becoming monetized. However, their automated systems have led to many channels being falsely accused of violating copyright law, even when those channels have videos which contain only their own personally-made music.