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Pizzamas Rolls On.

In which John considers when the golden age of vlogbrothers was, and discusses why he didn't try to pick a really compelling thumbnail for this video.

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Good morning Hank, it’s Tuesday.

So 13 and a half years ago I was hospitalized for about a week with a staph infection behind my eye called orbital cellulitis. And to cheer me up you asked the viewers of the Youtube videos we had just started making to send in pictures of themselves with something silly on their head.

This is clogs by the way. Quick historical context, this was, astonishingly, before widespread smartphone adoption so taking and sharing a picture of yourself actually like, required some effort.

At that time, our videos got around 300 views a piece, and about 200 people sent in pictures or videos of themselves with stuff on their heads. And that’s when I realized we weren’t making the thing I thought we had been making. We weren’t making videos for an audience, we were making videos with an audience.

Hank, in a recent video you alluded to the fact that a couple years ago we decided to stop trying to maximize views on this Youtube channel. A policy that certainly informed our decision to title like 5 months of videos with lyrics from a not very good 19-year-old pop song. But you didn’t get too deep into the reasons behind this decision, because it is a little difficult to talk about.

I mean, for several years almost every video we made on Vlogbrothers ended up on the trending page. Which in a lot of ways, was great news. It introduced lots of new people to this channel, and also to our other work. And also there’s just an excitement in seeing your subscribers and views and every other measurable metric increase.

But as we see again and again on the internet, what is easy to measure is not always what is important. And in some ways it wasn’t fun. I mean I always liked our audience and I always felt grateful that they would give us a seat at the table in their lives.

But we also had to live with a constant influx of really vile comments, which made the comments section a less pleasant place to be, which in turn decreased the sense of community and connectedness. At least for me. And so it started to feel like even though our viewership was growing really fast, our community was actually shrinking.

Now of course between, say, 2014-2017 Nerdfighteria was doing lots of cool and interesting stuff and I don’t want to imply otherwise, but to be honest I enjoy it more these days. I love making a video every Tuesday. I love seeing Nerdfighter groups flourish, from Facebook to Reddit to Discord.

And I love seeing people participate in big, community wide projects like drawing circles in response to my little circle drawings. In fact, this t-shirt available only during Pizzamas at, is such a circle drawing made by a Nerdfighter named Kimmy. And I love the collaborations that are happening in Nerdfighteria, from programming a sing-a-ma-jig to sing All Star for Hank’s birthday, to solving the little clues I come up with each week that lead to a secret live show.

And then there are the community wide projects. We’re in the middle of our most ambitious project yet, supporting Partners in Health and the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Health at staffing, supplying, and building a maternal care center, a NICU and new pediatric ward at Koidu government hospital.

I mean, we’ve raised more money for charity in the last 12 months than in any year in Nerdfighteria’s history by like over a million dollars. And I’ve also been really encouraged by the non-monetary stuff that’s happening. Whether that’s people planning days of service together, or just being kind to strangers in comments to lift spirits in difficult times.

So when was the golden age of Vlogbrothers? Was it March of 2007 when over half of our viewers participated in the first community project? Or May of 2014 when our Youtube channel was perilously close to US pop culture.

I’m sure lots of different people who have watched this channel at various times over the years would cite lots of different golden ages. But for me, it’s now. I’ve needed this space in 2020 more than ever.

So thank you for being here with us, and thank you for working together to make the community spaces, from Reddit to the comments section, kind and generous. Hank, I’ll see you tomorrow.

I almost said on Friday. But I won’t. I mean, I’ll see myself on Friday.