As fires continue to spread through the hills of Los Angeles and thousands are forced to evacuate the area, citizens are turning to YouTube to post footage of the blaze. For example, in this video, you can clearly see the flames over San Gabriel, while this one uses a time-lapse technique to show just how much smoke is being emitted into the air:

To support his footage, YouTube user cagwa writes in his video description: "Getting very hard to breathe already and it's going to be 104[F] today. The burning smell is extremely strong. Had to close all the windows at 7 a.m."

Other users are capturing the work of firefighters who are valiantly trying to put out the flames. This footage shows a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter refilling in the Verdugo mountains while fighting the fire in La Canada:

More content is being uploaded every hour -- we'll compile it and keep you posted on our CitizenTube channel.

Ramya Raghavan, News & Politics, is currently watching "Fire in La Crescenta."

Have you gone road tripping to find the world's best BBQ? Does your Aunt Mindy have an awesome collection of outdoor gnomes? Is there a must-see monument in your own backyard? Visit My Journey and share your memorable American journey in three minutes or less. Let the Lonely Planet team and the YouTube community decide whether you're worthy of a professional seven-day assignment in San Francisco, to be featured on LonelyPlanet's website and YouTube channel.

In addition to the trip, the winner filmmaker will receive video equipment and advice from the Lonely Planet team on how to take your reporting skills to the next level. You have until October 28 to submit your entry, and there are five contest categories covering everything from the great outdoors to big city life so you don't have to reach the Grand Canyon to make your mark. (Sorry, all entries must reflect American journeys and only American users can enter this contest.)

Need some inspiration to get started? Check out these sample videos that transport you to Los Angeles, Cape Cod and New Orleans. You're always showing us new ways to look at the world, and we can't wait to see your proudest American journeys. Enter your videos here. My Journey is presented by The T-Mobile® myTouch™ 3G.

Sadia Harper, YouTube Travel, recently watched "NYC night Skate - My Journey Contest Video."

A month ago, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Katherine Sebelius put out a call asking you to raise awareness about how citizens can steel themselves against the H1N1 (aka, "swine flu") virus. Today, the HHS announced the 10 best citizen-created PSAs -- and you get to vote on the winner.

Take a look at the finalists' videos on the HHS YouTube channel or spin through this playlist:

Have your say about which ad you think is most effective in increasing knowledge and prevention of H1N1. The winner will receive $2500 and have his/her PSA aired on live television. Voting ends at midnight on September 8.

Ramya Raghavan, YouTube News & Politics, recently watched "Ask the Chairman: A Virtual Townhall."

We're pleased to present YouTube's first live-streamed concert, featuring selected performances from the Outside Lands Music & Arts festival happening this weekend in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Beginning at 2pm today and running through 10pm on Sunday, tune in to for the chance to experience a summer music festival without getting tussled by crowds or waiting on line for the Port-O-Potty:

Expect to see live performances from a variety of acts, ranging from the jam rock of Dave Matthews Band to Bettye Lavette's classic soul, from the emerging punk funk of Cage the Elephant to the scuzzed-up blues rock of the Dead Weather, Jack White's latest project. (Sorry, this content is only viewable in the U.S.) We'll be featuring the choicest moments from the event on our homepage starting on Saturday at 2pm and Tweeting from the festival, too (so follow us on Twitter if you don't already:

In the meantime, check YouTube's Outside Lands channel for the most up-to-date schedule of performances, playlists of bands playing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a neat-o Twitter gadget that displays a real-time feed of what people are saying about the festival.

This special event was created by Superfly Marketing Group in partnership with YouTube and T-Mobile® myTouch™ 3G.

Michele Flannery, Music Manager, recently watched "The Dodos Take Away Show."

Update (8/29): Thanks to everyone who voted. Here are the final results of the poll.

Today, we're wondering who would emerge victorious in a battle royale between two ninja warriors, both of whom are currently starring in movies on YouTube. One is the greatest martial artist of all time; one is YouTube's most subscribed user. Two men enter, one man leaves.


Who do you think would win in a match between these titans? Would Bruce Lee dazzle Nigahiga with his speed or would the YouTube phenom overwhelm with his legion of 1 million plus followers? Check out the poll at the top right of the blog to cast your vote, and remember what Lee once said: "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

Nate Weinstein, YouTube Film, recently watched "Off the Wall Street Art."

We're happy to announce that the YouTube Mobile Application for Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 devices is now available in five new languages. We now support users with localized content in Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Swedish, and Czech. This brings the total number of languages the app supports to 12.

YouTube's Mobile Application makes it easy to quickly load and watch high-quality YouTube videos on your mobile phone, even in weak coverage areas. To get the update or to try the app for the first time, simply visit in your phone's browser.

We'd love to get your feedback, so visit our forum if you have questions or want to chat about YouTube mobile.

Robin Norvell, Mobile Consumer Operations, recently watched "Zombies TAKE OVER YOUTUBE!!!"

Last year, in honor of Peace Day -- a United Nations-sanctioned day of global nonviolence and ceasefire held on September 21 -- a nonprofit called Peace One Day helped persuade Taliban forces to lay down their arms for the day, making it possible for 1.6 million Afghani children to be immunized against polio.

This year, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the effort to make peace a reality, YouTube is partnering with Peace One Day and actor Jude Law to spread the message of Peace Day to an even wider audience through the "My Take on Peace" contest. All you have to do to participate is upload a video to telling the world what you'll do to create peace on September 21. The winner will receive a new HD camera and participate in a workshop with award-winning filmmaker Jeremy Gilley. Find out more about the program from Jude Law, here:

You have already stood up for peace in a variety of different ways: by
performing songs that entertain and inspire us, by making us laugh while making us think, and by creating homemade films that have mobilized thousands of others. Your actions don't need to be revolutionary, just heartfelt and creative.

The deadline to submit your video is September 30, but entries submitted before September 21 will have the opportunity to be showcased on YouTube and in
the annual Peace One Day Music Concert, which, last year, was viewed by a television audience of more than 250 million people.

Upload your video now to and show us how you're promoting peace and changing lives.

Ramya Raghavan, YouTube Nonprofits & Activism, recently watched "Boyfriend Story - Pressure Pic Problem."

The end of summer is upon us here in the northern hemisphere, but it's not all bad news, especially if you're a pop culture fan. It's time to swap days at the beach for nights on the couch with your favorite shows, and our Fall TV Preview is the perfect place to assess which offerings are worth checking out: the eyeball-expanding video wall is packed with previews of over 80 shows.

After browsing around, you can vote on the shows you think will make the biggest splash this fall. Whether you're a reality TV junkie, a sitcom fan or a drama lover, support your favorite genre and join YouTube's premier entertainment expert, Michael 'What the Buck' Buckley, in gearing up for the upcoming television season:

You've got three weeks to vote on the Fall TV Preview, after which we'll be announcing which shows you think have the most potential to be the season's biggest hits. It will be fun to see if your predictions become reality and how your picks stack up against "professional" critics'. We'll report back in this blog soon, but in the meantime, head here to get started watching and voting. (Sorry, this content is only available to U.S. viewers. Check here to read why.)

Mark Day, YouTube Comedy, recently watched "Mighty Boosh Live at the Roxy."

Congress may be in recess, but that doesn't mean its members are taking a vacation. For the past few weeks, elected officials from both sides of the aisle have been fanning out across the country to speak to their constituents about the issue on everyone's minds: health care. In turn, citizens are more engaged than ever before and are using YouTube to voice their discontent or approval of the White House's proposed plan for reform.

Some are opting to sound off about the issue in the privacy of their homes, but many more are participating in public protests and rallies to spread their message, then uploading this footage to YouTube. For example, this footage of a town hall with Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), uploaded this week, has received a remarkable amount of attention.

In the wake of these protests, some members of Congress have chosen to take their townhalls online, using YouTube as a direct line to their constituents. In this video, posted yesterday, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) answers questions from members of his district about health care. Israel isn't the only one: Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), and President Obama have all used YouTube to find the citizen pulse on the issue.

And on Wednesday, we asked you to submit your questions to Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) using Google Moderator. Not surprisingly, the majority of questions you asked were centered around health care. Congressman Latta responds to the top-rated questions, including those about the public option and the state of Medicare, in this interview:

Want to engage with your Representative on YouTube? Find them by visiting the YouTube House Hub or Senate Hub.

Ramya Raghavan, YouTube News & Politics, recently watched "Puppy Theft Caught on Tape"

Today, we wrap up our week-long feature of the 1984 classic, Ghostbusters. Over half a million of you tuned in, but many more of you outside the U.S. wanted to. Some of you have also wondered why the movie would come off the site. We work with our partners to make content as widely available as possible and for as long as possible. However, videos distributed on YouTube belongs to those who create and/or own them, not to us. Thus, it is the content creator who decides where and for how long his/her videos appear on the site. The situation gets especially complex with movies because ownership is often divided across different regions of the world.

We apologize to those who were not able to enjoy Ghostbusters this time around (those of you in the U.S. still have three hours to watch it!), but we hope to bring you more opportunities like this in the future.

Nate Weinstein, YouTube Film, recently favorited "Modest Mouse - King Rat."

What will watching video be like a few years from now? That's a question that we ask ourselves a lot here at YouTube. In a recent article in Forbes magazine, we shared a few ideas that we've been kicking around. We wanted to share them with you, too, as well as hear your ideas.

When pondering the future of video, these are some of the questions we ask ourselves:

• How long will people primarily use computers to interact with video? How quickly will they move to their televisions or mobile phones?

• What are new and better ways that will help people discover great videos to watch? What new recommendations can search provide? What about recommendations based on like-minded people? What are your friends and family watching?

• How might we allow people to organize YouTube for themselves? How can the experts in our community help us curate YouTube's massive collection?

In thinking about these questions, we've come to realize that YouTube's design needs to evolve to answer them. We want to find innovative and useful ways to surface recommendations to you, and we'll need to create the breakthrough tools that empower you to take center stage in this role.

The YouTube User Experience team uses storyboards to visualize ideas and kick off discussions about new products that will keep YouTube on the forefront of video technology. In the examples below, we used a nifty application called Comic Life that makes storyboarding fast and easy. These are snippets from two storyboards/scenarios that we used internally to talk about the YouTube of the future:

Those are just some of the ideas that we've been discussing. It's hard to predict the future, but it's one of the most fun and interesting parts of our jobs.

What do you think the future of video will hold? What do you want to see us do in one, two, or even five years? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Margaret Stewart, User Experience Manager, recently watched "Keyboard Cat Supports Michael Vick."

Over the past few weeks, we've seen citizens using YouTube to make their voices heard about health care and to amplify their interactions with members of Congress. In light of this trend, we're reviving our Representative of the Week program -- but with a slightly different twist.

The latest Rep of the Week is Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), a co-chair of the GOP New Media caucus who's used his YouTube channel to speak out against the White House's health care proposal. But instead of the Congressman posing a question to you and asking you to respond, as per past Reps of the Week, he wants you to ask him questions about the issues that are important to you. Congressman Latta plans to respond to the top-rated questions in an in-person interview tomorrow:

You only have 24 hours to submit your question about any issue through Google Moderator and to vote on your favorite questions from others, so get started here. Then, check back tomorrow to see how Congressman Latta responds.

Steve Grove, YouTube News & Politics, recently watched "Global News - Illegal Duck Hunters Caught."

Pop-culture-ridiculing dolls, beautiful backstabbers, and one of the most popular talk show hosts on TV are headed to YouTube, thanks to a new partnership announced today with Time Warner. Through this deal, U.S. viewers will get a wide selection of clips from Turner, the Cartoon Network and CNN, along with Warner Brothers movies and choice moments from shows like Robot Chicken on Adult Swim, Gossip Girl, and the Ellen DeGeneres Show. The content will join other Time Warner properties already on the site, such as CNN International (country-restricted) and HBO, whose channel features videos from True BloodHung and Entourage.

Expect to see more clips from the Time Warner stable on YouTube later this year. We'll also let you know in this blog, of course.

Graham Bennett, Strategic Partner Manager, recently favorited "
The Pied Piper of Hutzovina

Is there anything better than kicking back to a great movie with a bucket of popcorn and a few of your closest friends? How about kicking back to a great movie with a bucket of popcorn and a few thousand of your YouTube buddies? This Wednesday night, August 19, we're planning to watch Ghostbusters one last time before it comes off YouTube and we'd love to do it with you. At 6pm PT/9pm ET, tune your player to Ghostbusters to watch one of the finest comedies of all time. Click the "share" button under the video to spread the video -- and your thoughts on it -- far and wide via social networks like Facebook and Twitter. (When Tweeting, be sure to include the hashtag #ghostbusters in your message so your comments can be associated with what hopefully becomes a national conversation. Sorry, this video is only available to U.S. viewers.) We'll be on Twitter and Facebook, too, throwing out trivia, classic quotes and our own favorite moments from the film. Of course, you can also comment directly on the film's YouTube page.

It's time to cross the streams. Thanks to Crackle for making it happen in the first place!

Nate Weinstein, YouTube Film, recently watched "Ghostbusters," of course.

We are pleased to announce that finally there is a way for you to get YouTube swag! Our new online store has just launched at, and it's stocked with T-shirts, hats, hoodies, notepads, and more. Big favorites around the office include the YouTube tube socks (heh, get it?), hoodies (can you ever have enough of them?), and there pretty much isn't an employee baby who doesn't drool all over his or her organic cotton onesie. Like most everything (but not all items) in the store, many of the products are eco-friendly, made from organic fabrics or recycled materials. Happy shopping!

Deema Tamimi, Customer Relationship Marketing, recently watched "Baby bear is frightened."

It's been two weeks since we started talking trash here about whooping some celebrity butt on Facebook. Nearly 140K of you have joined our group since the announcement. That's pretty good! But our celebrity foes' followings are growing alongside ours, and they've had fancy things like movie releases, awards show nominees and hot photos to help their fan pages keep pace with ours (or, truth be told, outpace ours -- Vin Diesel and Lady Gaga even widened their leads a bit).

No matter who wins the challenge -- YouTube or our celebrity "friends" -- we're going to spotlight nonprofit videos on our homepage; it's just a question of which charities get the love. So if we do reign supreme, which we could only do with your help, we'd turn the homepage Spotlight module over to you, allowing you to determine which causes or charities get featured that day via a poll in this blog and on our Facebook page. If we lose, the celebs (and their charities) win, and where's the fun in that?

Click here to join our Facebook group and -- just because we're feeling bullish -- leave a note below on the cause(s) you think most deserve a promotional boost.

Ramya Raghavan, YouTube Nonprofits & Activism, recently watched "Student Reporter Damon Weaver Interviews President Barack Obama."

Update (8/15) Thanks to everyone who voted. Here are the final results of the poll.

This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the film that put "crossing the streams," Gozer the Gozerian, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on the map. An instant quotable classic, Ghostbusters -- and its memorable theme song -- has maintained a multi-generational following ever since its release in 1984. To celebrate the anniversary, we'll be showing Ghostbusters on YouTube with a special spotlight on the homepage starting tonight at 6pm PT. Or, you can find it by searching in our movies section.

But don't take this opportunity for granted. You only have seven days to watch the movie before it ceases any and all supernatural activity and returns forthwith to its place of origin -- or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension. So we're challenging you, the YouTube community, to get out there and watch it, comment on it, and share it with your friends.

There are also an abundance of great tribute videos to the heroes, the ghosts, and the ionization-rate for all ectoplasmic entities on YouTube. Here are a few standouts for your enjoyment:

Also, be sure to vote in our "Most Quotable Ghostbusters lines" poll located in the upper right-hand corner of this blog. If your favorite quote's missing, just leave it in the comments below.

Back off, man. I'm a scientist.

Nate Weinstein, YouTube Film, recently favorited "Delusional Downtown Divas."

Do small changes make a big difference? In the world of landing page testing, they certainly can. A few weeks ago, we ran one of the largest multivariate experiments ever: a 1,024 recipe experiment on 100% of our US-English homepage. Utilizing Google Website Optimizer, we made small changes to three sections on our homepage (see below), with the goal of increasing the number of people who signed up for an account. The results were impressive: the new page performed 15.7% better than the original, resulting in thousands more sign-ups and personalized views to the homepage every day.

Below is a screenshot of the homepage before the test and the three sections we focused on:

And here are examples of various fonts, messages, and colors we tested:

Section 1: (The words "Sign Up" were put in all caps)

Section 2: (We placed these bubble messages to the left of the word "Sign Up")

Section 3: (We experimented with these different banners in that area)

Can you guess which combination of elements performed the best?

(humming "Jeopardy" music)

If you guessed the Original "Sign Up" Font (section 1) + Red Bubble "Sign Up" (section 2) + White "Don't Just Watch, Participate" box (section 3), you win!

Winning Page:

While we could have hypothesized which elements result in greater conversions (for example, the color red is more eye-catching), multivariate testing reveals and proves the combinatorial impact of different configurations. Running tests like this also help guide our design process: instead of relying on our own ideas and intuition, you have a big part in steering us in the right direction. In fact, we plan on incorporating many of these elements in future evolutions of our homepage.

Curtis Lee, Product Marketing Manager, recently watched "KFC Freestyle Delonte West."

P.S. If you need assistance running tests on your website, there are many Google Website Optimizer authorized consultants who can help. Special thanks to VKI Studios who assisted on ours.

Sometimes it happens. You've read the Community Guidelines, you think you understand the rules, and you upload videos that you believe comply with them. Then one day you receive a message from us informing you that one of your videos has "been disabled for violation of the YouTube Community Guidelines."

"Huh?" you ask yourself. "What's the connection between the Community Guidelines and my video?" Starting today, we'll help answer that question by including tips from the Community Guidelines in the messages we send you if we take down one of your videos.

For example, you post a video that features nudity. When it gets flagged by the YouTube community and removed by our staff, you'll receive this reminder: "Most nudity is not allowed on YouTube, particularly if it is in a sexual context. Videos that are intended to be sexually provocative are also generally not acceptable for YouTube. There are exceptions for some educational, documentary and scientific content, but only if that is the sole purpose of the video and it is not sexually gratuitous."

We think of this as "just-in-time" learning to help you make and upload videos that stay up on the site for the world to see.

Posted by the YouTube Team

You may notice something looks a little different about our masthead (top navigational area on the homepage) today, and that's because we've done a bit of housecleaning. We've streamlined and simplified the design to focus on the primary experience of YouTube: watching a video. The left side is dedicated to exploration: finding videos to watch through search and browse. The right side is all about organization of the videos that matter most to you: your subscriptions, your recent viewing history, and your own uploads.

A few features have been removed from this area, to keep it as clean and functional as possible. Unless you have items in your Quicklist or Inbox, they will not appear on the homepage, and the country and language pulldown menus, once at the very top of the page, are now in the footer.

Next up, we'll be focusing on giving you the controls to make the masthead more personalized.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

Shiva Rajaraman, Product Manager, recently favorited "Auto-Tune the News #7."

As more and more people are using the browser on their smartphones for checking email, visiting websites, and even accessing YouTube, we want to make sure that we provide the best possible YouTube experience on your mobile browser. Today we released a new mobile website specifically designed to access YouTube on smartphones with capable browsers; phones like the iPhone, G1 and Palm Pre.

Just visit from your mobile phone, and you'll be taken to a new website specially designed for your device. You can log into your account, view your favorites, and discover and share new videos quickly and easily with whoever you choose. It's part of our mission to create the best possible YouTube experience for you, whether you use the site on your computer, in your living room, or on the go.

Dwipal Desai, Product Manager, recently watched "iPhone 3GS dropped in the pool. Still works!"

Reservoir Dogs, Requiem for a Dream, and Half Nelson topped critics' lists when they came out, but before they achieved this recognition, they were all workshopped at the Sundance Directors Lab. Since its inception, the world's most famous film workshop has always occurred behind closed doors... until now.

Today, we're proud to present, in partnership with the Sundance Institute and sponsored by Honda, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Directors Lab in the YouTube Screening Room. To start, we'll follow three up-and-coming auteurs as they strive to transform their dream projects from vision to reality. From a first-time filmmaker learning the process to a director trying to make a comedy about Osama bin Laden, there's something here for everyone who's ever wondered about how films are made.

Stay tuned, because in two weeks we've got four more videos featuring exclusive footage of life at the Lab.

Sara Pollack, Entertainment Marketing Manager, recently watched the trailer for "The September Issue."

News is nothing without context, and video is no exception. Helping you discover and watch news videos that are relevant to the stories of the day or to the issues unfolding in your neighborhood is one of our big goals when it comes to YouTube News & Politics. That's why we developed a "News Near You" module on our news page to surface videos from local news partners in your area.

As the New York Times also reported earlier today, "News Near You" surfaces news videos from partners within a 100 mile radius of your computer's IP address. Go to and check it out: if there are local news videos near you, the module will appear about halfway down the page. If you don't see anything, you can be sure we're working to bring local news partners to you soon. Already we've seen great click-through rates on the videos that are surfacing in this section -- which shouldn't come as a surprise, since these clips are relevant to what's happening in your vicinity.

Beyond reaching local viewers, just having these news clips on YouTube means that they can reach a global audience. For example, a video of a police encounter with a pit bull might intrigue folks far from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where WXII-TV uploaded this video. And a story about a woman giving birth on her bathroom floor is likely to interest more people than just the Nashua, New Hampshire, residents who saw this WMUR-TV clip:

So if you're a local news publisher, we'd love to include you our "News Near You" section. (This post from our partner and advertiser blog will tell you how.) And if you're a citizen who's reporting on the news in your neighborhood, check out the YouTube Reporters' Center to connect with us and share your videos.

Steve Grove, YouTube News and Politics, recently watched "Jumping Spiders Courting."

Tough economic times haven't stopped some of YouTube's most recognizable faces from giving back to organizations they care about; many YouTube partners are donating time and money to ensure that nonprofits thrive during the recession.

For example, KevJumba and HappySlip each set up alternate accounts and have vowed to donate all of the proceeds from these accounts to charity. KevJumba announced his charity channel, JumbaFund, on May 1 of this year, noting that each month his subscribers would get to vote for the charity that deserved the month's earnings. He has made good on his word: in the month of May, 43,000 users voted that the month's earnings of $1,708.51 should be donated to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and Kev followed through. In June, acknowledging the swell of user interest around Michael Jackson's death, he donated $1,432.71 to one of Jackson's favorite charities, the End Hunger Network.

Taking KevJumba's cue, HappySlip announced
that she would donate all of the earnings from her alternate channel, ChristineGambito, to Operation Smile.

Other YouTube partners, like LisaNova, iJustine and the Vlogbrothers, are making a difference in another way. They're donating their time and skills to nonprofits in need by creating videos for them through YouTube Video Volunteers, a new program that connects skilled video-makers with nonprofits who need a little help in the realm of video production. For example, see the video that Vlogbrother John Green just created about the Book Wish Foundation, a nonprofit that provides books and reading lights to refugees:

Giving back on YouTube isn't just limited to YouTube partners -- you can do good now by taking part in Video Volunteers or by encouraging others to donate to a worthy cause. Let us know how you're helping in the comments below. We'd love to help you broadcast your cause...and your video-making skills.

Ramya Raghavan, YouTube Nonprofits & Activism, recently watched "Burning Bananas."