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Type of site Video Community
Registration Free, but with optional Charter Membership
Owner Brian Houston
Created by Brian Houston and James Roe
Launched February 2006

VideoSift is a video aggregator designed to showcase unique and interesting videos, the name of the site being a direct allusion to the metaphor of sifting wheat from chaff. It was founded by Brian Houston in February 2006, who was quickly joined by James Roe as a co-founder[1]. Members submit embedded videos from other websites, such as YouTube and Google Video, which are then ranked according to a social-voting system similar to and inspired by Digg. Nicknamed the Sift, VideoSift aims to provide its users with the best available online video content through a consistent and attractive interface, responding to the problems of videos being scattered among many different sources, each having arguably difficult or unintuitive user interfaces.



Members submit videos from a limited selection of approved hosts, these videos are then entered into a queue where other members may vote them up or down. If a video receives the requisite balance of positive votes it is published to the front page and remains available in the site's archives; if it fails to achieve this within 2 days it is moved to the users profile in a "personal queue". A broad range of videos may be posted; only those with entire episodes of television programs, pornography, fatalities or racism are expressly prohibited.[2]

While in its infancy the site was loosely organized; the site founders allowed any user to submit videos, subject to an ever-changing limit depending on the volume of traffic. With the exponential growth of the site's popularity over the course of 2006, upgrades were introduced leading to VideoSift 2.0 and later iterations that required new users to graduate through a "probationary period". This was meant to mitigate sockpuppet and astroturfing abuses that became more tempting for outsiders considering the site's increasing popularity.

Routine administrative functions such as discarding expired videos are carried out by a bot named Siftbot[3].

No-self links policy and the Siftoff

VideoSift has a policy of "no self-links", which means contributing videos that the VideoSift user ("Sifter") created themselves. In addition to functioning as a means to prevent astroturfing, it allows for an extra step of "sifting" - a third party must first approve of the video by selecting it for submission before the original creator can cast a vote for it.

In response to Sifters' desire to showcase their own videos, occasional Siftoffs have been held, with the first in May 2006. Videos in the Siftoff are uploaded to a separate queue where users have a month to decide, through the normal voting mechanisms, which video of this subset group is most worthy. The siftoff has since been removed again.

The ability to permanently ban members who self-link is given to those who have gained "gold star" status within the VideoSift community. Two users must both invoke the *ban command, which will make the system ban the offending member. This is often used for those who spam, or self-link videos to the site and has been known to be used swiftly and effectively by senior members of VideoSift.[4]

In January 2008 an instaban feature was introduced, that allows users with diamond level membership to instantly ban a probationary member without confirmation from another user.[5]

Curatorship through seniority

One of the unique aspects of the VideoSift community is that the volunteer members receive de facto administrator powers with long term commitment to the website. After accumulating 50 star points, members gain such abilities as discarding posts in violation of guidelines or flagging videos NSFW[4][6].

The ability to "downvote" a video was introduced in June 2006,[7] allowing the Sifter with a moderate seniority level - those with a bronze star meaning 25 star points[4][6]. , to police against videos they consider unworthy or unappealing. Downvoting met with some controversy as users adjusted to the phenomenon, and set informal guidelines on usage[4][6].

Members help to shape and mold the future of VideoSift by suggesting new feature requests and existing feature changes. Often streamlining the site and making it very versatile as well as retaining a simple interface.


VideoSift used to be based on an open source content management system called Pligg, which is in turn a port of software written by Ricardo Galli[1]. His software received much of its inspiration from the popular technology site, Digg.

Prominent and skilled users have been invited to join the original two founders throughout the Sift's history. Rommel Santor became the Development Manager later in 2006, contributing his skills in coding to add extensive new features to the site's codebase[1].

In Summer 2007 VideoSift 3.0 launched, breaking away from the Pligg system to use its own software. The new program was written by Rommel Santor and is called VaroCMS.

In January 2008 VideoSift 3.1 launched, still using VaroCMS, but bringing many sweeping changes.[8]

Accepted video embeds

For compatibility reasons VideoSift accepts only videos in the Flash format, and only from the following websites: Youtube,, Revver, Vimeo, MetaCafe, Google Video, iFilm, MySpace, Onion, VideoJug, Yahoo, Daily Motion, LiveLeak, VSocial, and Grouper.

Comedy Central submissions were banned after Comedy Central's decision to block non US-based viewers for their content (region blocking), but the ban was reversed and is under an ongoing discussion. Members who have achieved a 'gold' status can submit other flash based video content such as collegehumor or adultswim videos

Video organization

At heart, VideoSift is a video organization site. Videos are organized by their tags and channels, which an inputted but the submitting user and can be changed and/or amended by senior users of the site. Channels are unlike many other sites, not generated in advance, but created by users when they reach a certain level of membership, diamond or more, which is then sent to the administrators, evaluated and approved/rejected as the case may be. Some channel suggestions have been considered too close to other channels, such as tech, which was too deemed close to science and geek.

As of February 2009 the following channels are available: Animation, Art, Actionpack, Asia, Books, Bravo, British, Brain, Comedy, Cute, Canada, Catsanddogs, Cinema, Comics, Commercial, Cult, Cooking, Downunder, Dark, Documentaries, Drugs, Election08, Eia, Eco, Engineering, Femme, Future, Fear, Gay, Geek, Grindhouse, Horrorshow, Happy, Hiphop, Howto, Humanitarian, History, Islam, Jazz, Kids, Latenight, Livemusic, Love, Lies, Money, Music, Mystery, Military, Magic, Meme, Nature, News, Obscure, Politics, Parody, Philosophy, Religion, Rocknroll, Sexuality, Scifi, Science, Shortfilms, Sports, Standup, Spacy, Teens, Timeshift, Talks, Terrible, Travel, Videogames, Vintage, Viral, Worldaffairs, Waronterror, Woohoo, Wtf, Wheels, Wildwestshow, Wings, 1sttube and 80s.[9]

Earlier organization

As soon as a video receives the required amount of votes it is published to the front page, which is arranged in reverse chronological order. Videos can be further filtered by the user according to most votes in a year, month, week, 24 hours and all time.

With the launch of VideoSift 2.2 'channels' were added to browse by and filter out videos by their respective categories[10]. Currently these are: Animation, Art, Comedy, Cute, Geek, Music, Nature, Politics, Vintage, and Viral. A video may be in as many channels as are applicable.

Additionally, VideoSift now allows senior users to create collectives of users to sift even more specific niche videos.

Decline in quality

It has been argued that given the growth of the site, the quality of the videos within will inversely decline in quality. The way the voting system works, a video with more votes is considered of higher quality than one with less votes, thus equating quality with popularity. Like wikipedia, there are many high-level users, who work to uphold the quality and integrity of the site, so that things like astroturfing and spam are kept to a minimum. Users are allowed to have their own agendas, political or otherwise, so for an outside viewer it may appear that the site is a launchpad for these opinions, when in fact the discussion forum "Sift Talk" debates these things.[citation needed]

International Sifts

In response to user interest and the availability of volunteers, VideoSift Poland was also set-up in 2006. The sites cross-link to each other, sharing videos that have cross-cultural appeal while maintaining separate identities and user groups in relation to each other[11].


External links

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