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The most famous video sharing website YouTube has generated a neologism youtuber. Curiously the term, which has become very popular in recent years, is not yet present in dictionaries apart from few sources:

  • One who spends so much time browsing youtube videos that they have metaphorically root in the manner of a potato or other root vegetable. A couch potato of the new millennium.

(February 2009 - Urban Dictionary)

YouTuber:

  • (Internet) A user of the video sharing website "You Tube".

(yourdictionary.com)

Actually I have often seen the term used, with a different meaning, to refer to users who are active producers of their own videos which are regularly posted on the website. Some of them are considered stars within the community.

The 20 Most Popular YouTubers In The World:

  • YouTube has exploded since it first launched in 2005, becoming the de-facto launchpad for the next generation of celebrities.

  • We did the math and found YouTube's 20 biggest independent stars based on total all-time views

(uk.businessinsider.com)

The two definitions appear to contrast, the first one refers to a 'spectator' while the second one refers to a 'performer'.

Questions:

Which is the current definition of 'youtuber'? Was is initially used for viewers while now it is just used for performers? Or is the term too recent and still evolving that no clear definition is possible?

Edit: As pointed out by some users the UD definition may be inappropriate, but I think it is worth considering since it is a term mainly used by young people.

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    I think the answer to your final question is yes. – Eric Hauenstein Oct 2 '15 at 21:33
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    There is no such thing as "the [current] correct definition" of a word. A word means what it is used to mean (which can change in time, as you suggest) – Colin Fine Oct 2 '15 at 21:33
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    My (17 year old) daughter says its definitely now the latter ('performer/producer', not 'viewer/consumer'). Neither of us remember ever hearing the other possibility (UK). – JHCL Oct 2 '15 at 21:34
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    In your Urban Dictionary link scroll down and find the overwhelming majority of definitions meaning someone who uploads videos. – Michael Rader Oct 2 '15 at 22:37
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    The top Uban Dictionary entry is a joke: a play on words (to understand it, you have to know that the English word tuber refers to a potato or root vegetable). It is upvoted because it's funny, not because it accurately reflects how the word is used. This question illustrates the dangers of relying on Urban Dictionary. – sumelic Oct 2 '15 at 22:44
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As a YouTuber myself and brother of quite the famous YouTuber, I would say this word is definitely used more often for producers, but also used as a general term for someone who uses YouTube often. I watch and create videos a lot on YouTube so I consider myself a YouTuber. I'm not sure that I would still call myself a YouTuber though if I only watched videos and didn't involve myself in the community.

At VidCon most creators are called YouTubers or Vloggers.

Also doing a Twitter search for #youtuber results in famous YouTube creators or new creators looking to gain subscribers/announcing their channel.

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Here is also a list of YouTubers, which is a long list of popular YouTube channels, not viewers.

And here is a video about HOW TO BECOME A YOUTUBER, which is not about how to watch and comment on videos, but about building your YouTube channel.

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    But was the first meaning, the viewer, the first to be used between the two? – user66974 Oct 2 '15 at 21:42
  • I don't think so. Without the uploader (the YouTuber) there is no YouTube. It would make sense that the first people to upload videos were called the YouTuber's, not the viewers. Asking someone, "do you YouTube?" wouldn't be a question about viewing but creating. – Michael Rader Oct 2 '15 at 21:46
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    I think that at the very start YouTube was a collection of music videos and videos from movies rather than performers videos. At the beginning people were mainly just viewers. – user66974 Oct 2 '15 at 21:50
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    Without the watchers, and the commenters, the performers would have no reason to put up videos. The whole idea of YouTube was to get chatter going between the producers and consumers, blur the lines and turn consumers into producers. Trying to fit the definition to mean one or the other is a mistake. – Oldcat Oct 2 '15 at 22:09
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    Definitely I'd say presenting on YouTube, and being a vlogger came after people got bored with watching MTV type of music videos. When video cams became cheaper and easier to weld then someone came up the bright idea of presenting a DIY tutorial, or listing the funniest clips etc. Of course you had people uploading videos of their cats playing the piano, or themselves playing air guitar or Beethoven blindfolded, whatever. Now a youtuber is the one you correctly identify. I'm not so sure it was always like that. – Mari-Lou A Oct 4 '15 at 8:52
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This answer should be considered supplementary to @Michael Rader's which, in my opinion, correctly explains what the term YouTuber means today. The following is a small attempt to trace its history via UD


Don't knock Urban Dictionary, it has its flaws but it also records when people posted their definitions and the number of readers who agree(d) with them.

Let's look at some of the older definitions (the emphasis is mine but the spelling inaccuracies are all theirs.)

  • someone who is a member of the youtube community.
    BTW: if you know what urbandictionary is and not youtube, than you better ask somebody.
    NBC is asking all you youtubers out there to make a clip for the office.
    di uh yeah 20 luglio 2006

  • Someone who uses the site youtube.com to post video blogs, videos, and such.
    Go to youtube.com/paperlilies
    John is a youtuber, always posting funny videos on youtube.
    di LadySango 21 novembre 2006

  • A person that watched more than 10,000 videos on youtube
    Hey, you just watched more than 10,000 videos, you must be a youtuber
    di Basco selanikio 04 giugno 2007

  • when someone did sumthing really cool or crazy or stupid and you don't have a camera all you have to say is that it's a “you tuber”
    di larry papini 03 agosto 2007

  • One who youtubes, or is obsessed with youtube.
    Man, that person has over 100 youtube videos. What a youtuber
    di ritzel 02 marzo 2008

  • One who wastes time watching You Tube videos (particularly when they should be working.) Computer variant of “couch potato”.
    "They gave that you tuber a raise!? Every time I pass his desk he's watching videos." di namowal 25 ottobre 2008

  • Someone who spends there life on youtube and has over 1,000 videos and has watched over 1 million.
    That youtuber has no life and no friends.
    di AD Montgomery 01 gennaio 2009

  • Someone who goes onto youtube, watches countless videos, and considers it an occupation.
    Occupation - Youtuber (Y)
    di Act Like a Clown 17 maggio 2009

  • A person who has over 500 favorites and has watched more than 10,000 videos on youtube. A.K.A., Matt Thomas.
    Matt Thomas, youtuber di Slave on Dope 18 maggio 2009

  • Invariably semi-literate and abusive, often racist and/or pervesely [the irony] sociopathic moron.
    The bus got held up by some total YouTuber yelling at the driver.
    di FelixTheRat 22 ottobre 2010

The first and second definitions both posted in 2006 are respectively the second and fourth listed by Urban Dictionary. The total number of users who agreed with these two definitions are 664, those who disagreed are 263. Now, I don't know if there is a way to see the voting patterns, if the number of voters who disagreed grew as the years passed by or vice-versa. If there is a way to see when UD users voted that would present a more truthful picture.

Nevertheless, I am old enough to remember when I first visited YouTube and it was mainly to watch old music videos, a trip down memory lane if you will. Afterwards, I would watch the funny videos uploaded by anyone who had a fancy video camera or digicam (nowadays with the latest smartphones anyone can post a short clip of a friend slipping on ice, but then, it was still seen as a novelty.) The terms Vlogger, derived from blogger, and YouTubers that we are familiar with today, between the years 2005 to 2008 were relatively unknown to the general public.

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