Alright, so we've told you a little about what YouTube is. But what can you expect when you dive into the wide world of YouTube? Here's a quick list of things that the website does well, and others that it doesn't do so well.
No pay-per-view here -- YouTube is free to use. Whether you want to watch videos, share them, or post some of your own, it won't cost you a dime.
What do you want to watch? -- YouTube has many different categories of content, from music to sports to politics to comedy. With a mix of professional content and user-made video journals, tributes, and parodies, there's something for everyone.
You're in charge of the remote -- Most YouTube videos play as soon as a large enough portion of them is loaded, and you can pause, rewind, fast-forward, or skip to another part as you choose. No more waiting around... you're in control of what you watch and when you want to watch it.
Here's another just like the other -- YouTube has "playlists" of videos, some created by YouTube itself (based on what it thinks you like by how you use the website), and others created by its users. This way, you can watch several related videos in a row without having to go searching for each individual one.
Tools to enhance your viewing pleasure -- YouTube videos have plenty of accessibility options. For example, there are tools that let you share a video on your website or social media account. If you have an account on YouTube, you can write a comment telling people what you think about a certain video, or you can save the video to your account and watch it another time. Some videos even have closed captioning options.
Be your own online TV star -- Signing up for YouTube gets you your very own "channel", where you can save your favourite videos, and even store the ones that you post on YouTube yourself. Techboomers has one... come visit us at www.youtube.com/c/techboomers!
Available on most major devices -- YouTube is pretty flexible in terms of where its videos can be played; they work on computers, mobile phones and other mobile devices, and even televisions and video game consoles! You can watch a YouTube video almost anywhere you can get an Internet connection!
You can't take it with you -- Though you can share YouTube videos on your website or other social media account, you cannot save any videos that you want to keep on your computer without using another service (and even then, doing that isn't entirely legal).
Hey, that's mine! -- YouTube is somewhat strict about copyright, and certain videos may be taken off the website or have their sound blocked if copyright holders file a complaint. Also, certain videos may be blocked in certain countries for political or market-related reasons.
Beware of comment wars -- Ratings and comments made about videos on YouTube are by-and-large not moderated, and rely on the feedback of other users to determine what is shown and what is not. This can lead to some discussions getting out of control, which may prompt the person who posted the video to choose not to allow people to comment on the video at all.
YouTube still breaks for commercials -- Because YouTube is a free service, you will occasionally encounter advertisements when you try to load videos, especially ones with a corporate sponsor behind them (such as the NHL or Vevo). Some of these ads can be skipped or closed, but for others, you will have to wait until they're finished before you can watch your video.
As one of the first major video-sharing websites on the Internet, YouTube does some pretty novel stuff. It allows you to pause, rewind, fast-forward, or skip to a certain point in any video that you want to watch, and will start playing it again as soon as enough information about the video is loaded. You can also watch a string of related videos in a row with a "playlist", easily share a video on your website or social media account, leave a comment on what you think of a video, or even save a video you find interesting to your account so that you can watch it later. YouTube gives you greater control over what you want to watch and when you want to watch it when compared with traditional television. There's so much to discover, and all of it costs you no money at all.
However, YouTube has changed quite a bit since its creation in 2005 and takeover by Google in 2006, and not all of those changes have been for the better. Some videos aren't always available due to political or copyright issues, and discussions about certain videos aren't always civil (if they're allowed at all), especially if they deal with controversial issues. Having advertisements pop up all over the place, especially right in the middle of your video while you're trying to watch it, can be annoying, too.
Overall, though, YouTube is still one of the most popular and functional video-sharing websites around, due to its large library of content and ease of use.
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