User Generated Content AND Family Friendly?

About MyToons
What is MyToons? is the world’s greatest online animation community. It’s the place where people who really love animation – from seasoned industry pros to rabid animation fans – can upload and share their creations and animated favorites with the entire world for free. There are so many exciting things to do and see it’s hard not to have fun. Here are a few of the great things going on at
* Enjoy watching tons of unique animated content from all over the world. We’ve got all styles, types and genres of animation, with the highest quality player on the net.
* Upload, view and share all of your favorite animations, art and pics. – uploads are immediately available for viewing and commenting. No waiting on slow “conversion servers” that you have no control over.
* Upload your demo reel for the world to see. We don’t mind, we’ll stream it for you for free! You can also embed it or any other MyToons animation (In three different sizes) on any website that allows it � Like your MySpace page, and many others.
* Make new friends from all over the wonderful world of animation in an artistic, creative community of enthusiasts just like you.
* Create your very own MyToons home page with fully customizable templates. Your page is all about you, so creative freedom rules.
* Join now… it’s super fun, and it’s FREE!

M Y T O O N S is a recent addition to the GROWING number of video-based websites out there (anything from youtube to yahoo to Standard stuff for the currant trend: vote for best! And who doesn’t like being their own professional critic? 😉

But seriously, they’re side-wise billing themself as family friendly– kind of mentioned, but not directly. Sometimes it’s said, other times it is everyday implied– as if that will help it retain a cool factor for the too-cool-for-school crowd. I guess they’re not targeting the family-crowd necessarily, they’re opening their doors to “everyone”- including family.

Here’s my question:

Does family mean “good” kids/tweens/teens now? Is it the 2.0/PC way of saying “kids… with your parents”? The term “family friendly” seems like a great way to stradle the legality fence. Example: Sure kids can come in and check it out… but wait– you don’t like what you see? Well, this is a family site, you should have gotten permission from your folks first! Hmph. Or perhaps I’m just jumpin’ the gun and assuming the negative… perhaps they’re really just open to everyone hanging out, doin’ there thhhhang. Still… I’m trying to figure out who they want to appeal to?

This is what raised my yellow flag of– who the heck is this for? If you DIG you can find this:

Comic $wear
* Language Please!

Hey guys, as you may well know, there is a wide variety of people in
our MyToons community � some of these people being on the younger side
of NC-17
. Just in case you can’t help yourself, MyToons is on guard!
So, if you’re thinking, �@%#$!, that’s not what I wrote!� It’s just
because MyToons took care of it for you.

And yet, Heads up:

6. User Submissions

E. You understand that when using the MyToons Website, you will be
exposed to User Submissions from a variety of sources, and that MyToons
is in no way responsible for
the accuracy, usefulness, safety, or
intellectual property rights of or relating to such User Submissions
You further understand and acknowledge that you may be exposed to User
Submissions that are inaccurate, offensive, indecent, or objectionable,
and you agree to waive, and hereby do waive, any legal or equitable
rights or remedies you have or may have against MyToons with respect
thereto, and agree to indemnify and hold MyToons, its Owners/Operators,
affiliates, and/or licensors, harmless to the fullest extent allowed by
law regarding all matters related to your use of the site.

Okay, no biggie I guess. Everyone has to “safe guard” themselves in their privacy policy– PP get-out-of-jail-free jargon.

Here’s the part I’m wondering about: If it was a family-friendly site that wants to encourage kids (seriously, check out the icons & design, very kid-appealing and it is REALLY easy to sign up)… wouldn’t you want to stick your safety & moderation information somewhere a little more accessible on the main page, instead of popping it at the VERY bottom, where people lump the copyright & policies (strangely enough, the ‘about us’ section is down there too… if you stumbled on this, what helps you understand it’s different than anything else?).

I don’t know… if you’re proclaiming yourself as the, ahem, “world’s greatest online animation community” you’d want to stick anything & everything to prove you’re the best UP front for any newbie visitors to see and memorize, right? But what do I know about such things. That’s just an observation. (By the way, tangent– it’s really a simple process to sign up: big bubbly text & buttons, elements slide through… very mellow and easy. I actually appreciated that. Plus, you can pick from their really cool avatars. Mine is a female pirate. Very Mary Read)

Apparently there is some moderation (see the Comic Swear section above). I haven’t quite found any more information about that (again, families might want to know a little more about what that means… I do… but I’m also a who-moderates-your-site? nut). Most of their “community” section talks about copyright infringment. The last subject on the page goes as follows:

How does MyToons handle inappropriate content?

as a part of the MyToons community, offer great support in maintaining
the positive atmosphere of our site
. Our community understands and
appreciates the MyToons Terms of Use policy and the values of
integrity, trust, and camaraderie that this artistic community is built
upon. Furthermore, MyToons employs state of the art proprietary
technology in effort to support and maintain our community standards.

So, I’m guessing that means most moderation/screening is based off of trolling peeps who spot & flag. Or community tattletales (gotta love those). Sure, works for adults… sad for kids. At least in my book– I’d rather have the security of knowing that staff are checkin’ things out BEFORE a kid gets a good gander… rather than the kid getting an eye-full and (fingers crossed) reporting it themselves. I could be wrong– maybe they have a STELLAR screening crew, ever vigilant with their “state of the art proprietary technology in effort to support and maintain our community standards.” –I’m not quite sure what that means. All I can think of are those HUGE metal markers in ABC’s LOST that guard the “Others” community. Now THAT’S some state-of-the-art technology…

Which reminds me… didn’t Kate, Sayid, Lock, and the French woman manage to get past that big-bad-mommajamma pretty easily, and in less than a day? Only Patchy got fried because the smart little monkeys tested the limits with him as the testing piggy. Poor Patchy. Sounds an AWFUL lot like kids & filters… Got to love State of the Art Technology.

Anyway… I’ll stop knockin’ their moderators (which, I’m assuming there are… despite the lack of definition, there has got to be someone has to spot the flags and fix the situation, right?). I really can’t find enough background information about who is modding the site. So, again, I’ll lay off. I’m an aries and we’re getting close to my birth month. We get a bit firey these days.

Let’s just hope that Mytoons doesn’t focus all it’s efforts on the #%$^%& and remembers to keep an eye out for the “Hi, I’m Jimmy, I like Cartoons. I’m 9 and live in a small town call ##$## and here’s my phone number” etc.

FYI Parents: I tested the age limit… under 13 can sign up pretty darn easily… no age discrimination there folks. zoinks.

Update: According to the latest with the “Doc” in my comments section, this is an American company and that it does adhere to COPPA.  I do know that I signed up a few weeks ago as a 11 year old and got in without any email-your-parents safeguard.  You can’t collect personally identifiable info without it without notifying the parent.  But, as long as they collect as they do not collect personal info… they’re COPPA compliant.  Without uber-moderation & a parental “heads up” I worry– especially when giving a kid an opportunity to set up their own “toon page”. It’s my job.  Hopefully that moderation team I mentioned earlier is mega-strong/sensible.

All in all, mytoons could be a great place for its niche. As it is with ALL new sites, time will tell. I mean, I like cartoons. Cartoons are grand. But they can also be sketchy & sexed-up. I hope the community appreciates the attempt for pseudo-safe (I’m not calling it safe until they address their U13/U16 contingent)/fun/artistic enviro and keeps it that way– pushing the medium in a positive, inspiring direction where everyone and anyone can enjoy.

Tangent: I can’t stand it when parents bring their kids to R-rated movies… or even 8/9 year olds to PG13. It’s so disappointing.).

Thanks for the heads up on new info, Doc!

  1. Doc
    March 26, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Hi, and thanks for your comments. I hope you don’t mind my clarifying just a few things:

    First, please note that MyToons Inc. is based in San Antonio Texas, and thus is indeed held to account by relevant COPPA regulations. More than that, several of the principals and many of our staff have small children, and are acutely conscious of ‘doing the right thing’ with respect to inappropriate content.

    This is of course, a very real challenge. Although really we are still effectively in ‘open beta’ (hence some of our formal countermeasures are not functional yet) this definitely is a priority. In the interim, it’s my understanding that we are presently not validating accounts for users who indicate their age as

  2. Doc
    March 26, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    Oops – sorry – text limit? Please forgive my continuing here:

    … we are presently not validating accounts for users who indicate their age as

  3. Doc
    March 26, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    OK, I give up – can’t get this to work. Sorry man …

  4. March 26, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Yay! Doc, I corrected myself and I humbly thank you for the information! Can you please fill me in on how it is going? I’d LOVE to know how your staff is rockin’ on the kid front. It’s a tough world to work through– especially when making a playground that’s encouraging to all.

  5. Doc
    March 27, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I’ll try to check back. I ran into a severe text limit here yesterday, which oddly seemed to get tighter as I tried to use multiple posts to get around it (interesting.) Maybe I’ll get lucky this time. I’m told that right now kids

  6. Doc
    March 27, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Rats! Just send me an e-mail, willya?

  7. monosapio
    March 29, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    I have been checking out mytoons for a couple of weeks, and have found very little that could be inappropriate for children. Seems to me that free access to the tele would have more severe scenes in it than unlimited mytoons browsing.

  8. delphi
    April 23, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    I agree with Monosapio–nothing worse than what would be viewed on television (that I’ve personally seen). Also, if the toons are on the mature side, they’re tagged as being so.
    I really like the range of animations on the site so far, too. 🙂

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