Vimeo: Some Considerations and Comparisons

New Tools

When Al and I started the Public Humanities Toolbox, Vimeo was not on our radar.  Since then, however, it has grown in popularity as a video-hosting service.  In our recent workshop in Providence, several participants asked about Vimeo and for comparisons to YouTube as a video-hosting service.

Both Vimeo and YouTube are free, allow you, the account-holder, to upload videos, embed video into other websites like a blog, and allow (or disallow) comments on a video.  To my mind, these are the key technical differences for small cultural heritage organizations:

  • YouTube limits individual videos to 10 minutes but allows files of up to 2 GB.  YouTube does not support QuickTime videos.  YouTube, owned by Google, has all the power of Google when it comes to showing up in search results.  If the video contains any copyright violations, YouTube may take the video down.
  • Vimeo allows videos of unlimited length, but limits users to only uploading 500 MB per week.  Depending on the number and length of videos you plan to upload to the web, this may be an important determining factor for choosing a video-hosting service.

If you are interested, this post explains more about technical differences such as video quality.  It is also worth noting that Vimeo only allows user-created content.

Several websites noted that there are important non-technical considerations to be aware of when choosing between video-hosting services, especially when it comes to the community of users for YouTube and Vimeo:

YouTube is for the masses while Vimeo has an air of refinement about it. As a result, there’s not only a better quality of video content but also a more friendly comments stream to say the very least. If you want some fair appreciation of your creation, then upload to Vimeo. YouTube is strictly for the thick-skinned. (Source)

Of course, if you do not allow comments, then this last point is not as much of a concern for your organization.  The trade-off for the community, though, is all those billions of eyeballs trained on YouTube; there, your content is very discoverable.

Some reviewers also noted that Vimeo has more of an arty, creative vibe to it, since it started out as a service for filmmakers.  Depending on your organization’s purpose or image, that may be a relevant consideration.

Finally, I found this comment on a website that might be significant for our audience, since many of our workshop participants want to use the Toolbox to reach out to activist communities:

I am an activist in many protest groups and youtube has been deleting our videos recently. (Source)

Without knowing the full backstory, or even what kind of activism the commenter is engaged in, it isn’t fair to make blanket statements about YouTube’s policies.  However, since YouTube is owned by Google, it operates with a lot of very corporate values, including taking down content that could possibly provoke a lawsuit.  Again, depending on how you intend to use video in your website or the types of companies you want to support, this may be an important consideration for you.

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