YouTube’s Creator Awards, given to channels that hit certain subscriber milestones, have become a point of controversy for being given out inconsistently. Now YouTube is finally acknowledging what some creators have long suspected: Reaching a milestone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive an award.
For months, some creators have claimed they weren’t given the silver plaques associated with reaching 100,000 subscribers. When they reached out to YouTube to voice their concerns, the creators were reportedly told via email that they wouldn’t be receiving plaques at the company’s discretion. After numerous creators came forth, and popular YouTube drama channel Drama Alert reported on it, the company issued a statement.
“Creator Awards are benefits that creators can apply for when they reach 100K or 1M subs,” YouTube tweeted. Not all creators who apply will receive awards, but that’s not to say it’s arbitrary.”
Although YouTube has the freedom to decide who receives a plaque and who doesn’t, critics are asking for the company to be more transparent with its content criteria. YouTube’s Creators Award site currently says this on the subject:
Creator Awards are given at YouTube’s sole discretion and we only recognize creators that have played by the rules. Each channel is reviewed before an award is issued to keep the playing field fair. That means rewarding creators that keep their accounts in good standing without copyright strikes, community guideline violations, or artificially increased subscriber counts, among other criteria.
It’s a lack of specificity in the criteria that the community is concerned about. One of YouTube’s trusted flaggers, who goes by Ben on Twitter, asked the company for more details.
“The page you linked to states ‘We Keep It Honest,’” Ben wrote. “However you haven’t disclosed what ‘among other criteria’ means which is clearly the only reason stopping many of these channels receiving their award. These creators deserve to know the actual reason!”
The proprietor of MKP Studios, a channel with more than 100,000 subscribers, said he received an email from YouTube saying that the company would not give him a plaque due to the “nature of his content.”
MKP Studios uploaded a video discussing his confusion over being denied the plaque despite meeting the criteria, and explaining how hurtful YouTube’s decision was.
“The main point of me making this video is to not to cry about me not getting an award,” the owner of the MKP Studios channel wrote in the comments section. “It’s to simply state that YouTube is favoring other similar channels in awarding them with this award. It’s just shitty that YouTube is saying if you’re not making content they agree with, you mean nothing to them.”
The Creator Awards are intended to recognize significant creators in YouTube’s community and reward a job well done. But what is also notable is the channels that YouTube chooses not to highlight. Some of the creators to whom YouTube isn’t handing out celebratory plaques include notorious far-right commentators, individuals who may be viewed as contributing to an overall negative tone on the platform and creators like MKP Studios, who focuses on unsettling videos exploring haunted houses, “satanic ghost towns” and asylums.
YouTube’s limiting of awards is taking place during the company’s public effort to clean up its platform, which includes applying stricter criteria to its Partner Program and building up a 10,000-person moderation team. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced last night that YouTube is working on developing policies that will hand out stricter punishments to creators who make egregious errors, as a way to improve the creator atmosphere overall.
“While these instances are rare, they can damage the reputation and revenue of your fellow creators,” Wojcicki wrote.
Polygon has reached out to YouTube for more information. To find out if you may qualify for a plaque, check out YouTube’s application page.