My brother and I started making YouTube videos seven years ago. Now, we do it professionally on a number of different channels that we own or co-own. I also run VidCon, a conference for people who love and create online video, and co-founded a merch company for online creators, and a production company that converts classic novels into video blogs.

Proof: Aside from my seven-year history on Reddit...tweet

EDIT - Thanks for the Gold and Dogecoins!

Comments: 2770 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

thesoundandthefury2643 karma

Oh hey, Hank. It's your brother, John. This comment will probably get buried, but I have a few questions:

First, what is it like working with someone as thoughtful and talented and good looking as your brother?

Secondly, you have made many interesting and important things (from VidCon to subbable to DFTBA Records). Are you ever able to internalize what a difference this stuff makes in the actual lives of real people (including your brother), or do you just kinda keep your head down and continue working?

Lastly, you played a sold out show at Carnegie Hall. How was that?

ecogeek1800 karma

LoLoLoL

  1. John Green is a very handsome, intelligent, and wise man. He smells really weird though

  2. No, not at all, just as I'm sure you are unable to internalize the effect that your books have had on people. It is really cool to have had that effect, and the fact that I can in no way internalize it stops me from wanting more.

  3. Carnegie Hall was pretty great. Mostly when I think about it I think about how I was completely unable to have a useful conversation with Neil Gaiman despite his valiant attempts to engage with me.

EDIT - John Green is incapable of passing up an opportunity for easy karma.

DrRandulf906 karma

Have either you or John considered switching and hosting each other's shows on Crash Course for an April Fools gag?

ecogeek825 karma

I think I could do history...but I dunno if John could do science :-)

connorscomics782 karma

Who the eff is Hank?

ecogeek999 karma

Hank is an extinct hominine species that is dated to about 7 million years ago, possibly very close to the time of the chimpanzee/human divergence, and so it is unclear whether Hank should be regarded as a member of the Hominini tribe.

note - this is an inside joke stemming from the fact that on the Vlogbrothers channel, which I share with my brother John, he starts every video by saying "Good Morning Hank" and new viewers often ask in the comments "Who the Eff is Hank" because they do not know that the video is part of a seven-year-long conversation between Brothers.

RefreshingPanda405 karma

another note- the answers are always different, and can vary from planets to yarn measurement.

ecogeek693 karma

Well, a hank is actually a unit of measurement for yarn, so that one wasn't even made up.

simbadweasel674 karma

hey hank, you made an album called "Ellen Hardcastle" it just so happens that i have a friend named Ellen Hardcastle who released an album of piano compositions titled "Hank Green" in your honor. it's on spotify and itunes now, and all proceeds from the album go to building wells in africa it would be awesome if you could check it out

ecogeek1010 karma

I literally have "Hank Green" sitting on the shelf right next to me. Ellen sent me a copy when it came out.

This isn't a coincidence by the way, Ellen won a contest to have my album named after her. Good thing she has such a cool name.

enemyoftheheir591 karma

I heard you like Elf. How about next punishment is making John eat spaghetti covered in maple syrup and chocolate syrup?

ecogeek839 karma

I actually owe a punishment so...

nerdfighteriaisland506 karma

Hi Hank! Longtime fan here, if you can't tell by the username. Thanks for everything, you guys and the community have definitely shaped me as a person.

Anyway, a question, what do you feel like you are most proud of so far?

Edit: Wow, thanks for the gold anonymous person! DFTBA

ecogeek483 karma

Excellent username.

Alt0192lex346 karma

What is your earliest memory of being interested in science and nature?

ecogeek772 karma

I had a very good teacher in 2nd grade who was convinced that I was going to be a scientist. She gave me books and articles and told my parents to do the same and I remain convinced that she's the reason I'm interested in science...because she expected it of me. Teachers are the best. Thanks Mrs. Chapman.

dodachacha324 karma

Okay Hank. John has answered this but I want to hear your thoughts on this: Margo, Alaska, or Hazel?

ecogeek1069 karma

I think they're all a little young for me...

EDIT - These are the heroines of my brother's books.

EDIT 2 - The much funnier answer would have been "Katherine."

melissashearer265 karma

is there anything you don't like about the way nerdfighteria as a group act?

ecogeek533 karma

There's always a bit of an "I was here first" element to any community that can be pretty galling, but I don't see that too much in Nerdfighteria. There are definitely people who call themselves Nerdfighters who are pretentious or holier than thou or whatever, but when we act as a group, I love how we act. It's when individuals act like dickheads in the name of the group that problems are caused.

electricpear239 karma

How is Subbable doing? Does it look like the model is going to be (or is it already) a success?

ecogeek321 karma

Both Subbable and Patreon have already helped a number of creators reach independence and be able to make content full time when they otherwise could not have. I'm super proud of that, and I think it's just the beginning!

Of course, it depends on how you define "success." Subbable is still a big pit we're throwing money into, but that's how startups work :-)

thoroughlymodern84 karma

What sorts of resources did you look at when putting Subbable together? Or, where would you send someone looking for information about modern patronage/internet funding models? It's super fascinating!

ecogeek155 karma

Actually, we just asked our audience...they seemed like the right people. We asked them, if they were forced to pay for our content, how much they would pay. We asked them what they thought of the advertising model...we asked them for ideas for other ways to fund content. I didn't really read anything at all...except comments.

ManofTheNightsWatch8 karma

There has been criticism that Subbable is harder to get into (for content creators) compared to Patreon which gives ready access. Do you have something to say about this?

ecogeek11 karma

It's simply that we're not as well funded or as actively developing. We simply haven't developed a site robust enough to allow people to sign themselves up. I know it sounds crazy, since every website has automatic signups, but it's super complicated, especially since we use Amazon payments, which requires people to sign up for an Amazon payments account as well as a Subbable account.

joshuacasey206 karma

[deleted]

ecogeek364 karma

I try not to make goals based on our arbitrary selection of base 10 as a species, especially since base 10 is a terrible choice.

I also try not to make goals at all...if we raise $990,000 I will be only $10,000 less happy than if we raise $1,000,000. I certainly think it's possible, but the important thing is that we work together to help people.

RefreshingPanda128 karma

Please elaborate on your opinion of base 10?

ecogeek445 karma

Base 10 blows...10 only has four divisors...12 would be so much better...it would make math so much easier. 12 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 12. Base 12 is so useful that we often use it despite our entire numerical system being based on base 10.

EDIT - I have been informed that 12 is also divisible by 2...so I have added that. Who knew!?

popcorny27200 karma

There are lots of frustrating things about working with YouTube, but what do you enjoy about being a YouTuber?

ecogeek371 karma

There are FAR MORE AWESOME THINGS than frustrating things. Aside from my marriage, having an audience that pushes me to do cool and new and interesting things is probably the most important and valuable thing in my life. They expect a lot of me, and so I push myself to not only make better stuff, but be a better person.

Being part of the creation of an industry is pretty amazing and wonderful, being able to help define what the culture and structure of this business is going to be. Getting to hang out with other really cool, really smart YouTube creators is an amazing perk as well.

mostlynein122 karma

How do you feel about the Google+ integration?

ecogeek328 karma

I am not a fan. I was a fairly outspoken critic of the change to the comment system. I wrote a post on my tumblr here

listerj196 karma

Does your ulcerative colitis still affect your everyday life, or do you have it under control?

Coming from another guy with UC

Edit: Affect and effect are hard.

ecogeek272 karma

It does, but I don't think about it anymore, y'know. It's like how having to brush my teeth affects my daily life...and living in a place where it gets ridiculously cold affects my life. Except, y'know, it's caused by my own body and most of the other people around me don't have to deal with it too.

LMcCallum191 karma

Do you ever feel second best to John? Not that I think you are... He wishes he had Scishow...And Crash Course Chemistry beats US History any day!

ecogeek550 karma

A lot of my family thinks this, actually, because his success is so much more mainstream, but I could never have imagined having as much success as I do. And I'm interested in and value other things...I like starting businesses and science...John likes novels and metaphors and stuff.

It would really suck if John hadn't taken me with him on this YouTube journey...but he did...I am very lucky.

anassakata169 karma

Hi Hank! I was at LeakyCon this summer at the Nerdfighter meetup. There had been a sort of scheduling mixup and not everyone had gotten to get autographs at an earlier session, so you went around and signed for every single person who needed one. I just wanted to say thank you for that. I wasn't one of those people, but I know all of us were in that sort of painful moment of oh god, everything and everyone I like is here in this one huge building, and I care so deeply about it and were really cool about it.

ecogeek234 karma

That was a really fun event and I'm really glad I could do that for people. The great part was that it was a room of like 1000 people and I said "raise your hand if you were in the line and didn't get an autograph" and only 20 or 30 people raised their hands when there was no way to know whether they were lying or not. But people were all totally honest and I got to hit those people up and then get back to the talk really fast.

People are good...

cheeseynacho42149 karma

Have you been affected by the recent shitstorm that went down with Content ID matches? As a professional internet guy, what are your thoughts on that?

ecogeek382 karma

I haven't been effected because I've never signed with a network. What people don't get is that YoUTube didn't change Content ID rules...they changed a loophole networks were using to sell the ability to not have to go through the same copyright procedures as everyone else.

They didn't like that networks were selling the ability to circumvent copyright filters, so they closed the loophole. Honestly, it's the networks who turned their backs on their creators, not YouTube. I should write up something bigger about this.

What YouTube is now is what all unsigned creators have had to deal with for the last four years.

cpander057 karma

What about all the reports of people getting content-id'd for things they own? Or things owned by Blizzard, and the like who give blanket permission to use their game play? Can't exactly blame that on the networks.

Sidebar: How the hell do you make "content-id" past tense

ecogeek142 karma

What I'm saying is...no one knew how bad Content ID was because the networks loophole'd everyone. So the system wasn't getting fix...it got worse and worse, making it more and more necessary for you to give 30% of your income to a network just to make the pain stop.

That's not fixing the problem, it's giving an arbitrary entity the power to make lots of money circumventing the one thing thing that keeps YouTube from being sued out of existence.

Now that Content ID is system-wide, we can actually fix the problem...Blizzard can remove content it doesn't want to flag against...the companies that are making false claims can get shut down.

connorscomics132 karma

What youtuber do I need to subscribe to right now?

ecogeek263 karma

I don't know who you aren't subscribed to! Chescaleigh? Minute Physics? CGP Grey? What are you into?

EDIT - I would like to see other people's answer to this question as well.

rhymanocerous131 karma

As a grad student getting his master's in Educational Technology I want to thank you and John for getting me interested in Educational videos. On a nearly daily basis I am showing professors crashcourse videos as an example of how powerful video can be.

On that note, what pedagogy goes behind crashcourse? I am doing research on the effectiveness of online education and constantly see studies done about educational video but rarely hear about the pedagogy behind those videos.

Also, tell John my former US history students say thanks for being apart of our classroom!

ecogeek285 karma

I'm not really sure what the word pedagogy means, but our thinking in general is that we're not trying to prepare people for careers, we're trying to prepare them for being people. Knowing more things...whether it's about the French Revolution or covalent bonds...is just useful stuff for being a person in the world.

I think a lot of education gets stuck on "But how is this preparing them for the work force" which, to me, is the worst possible way to think about education.

TeachBooks319 karma

I think the worst possible way to think about education is to ask, "But how is this preparing them for the standardized tests?"

ecogeek347 karma

You are correct...that is worse...that is so much worse.

YourLocalRedditor106 karma

What is your favorite YouTube channel to watch in your free time?

ecogeek255 karma

The channels I never miss a video from include Beer and Board Games, Charlieissocoollike, and CGPGrey...that's just about it.

TheJOATs244 karma

The fact that Vlogbrothers isn't on there worries me. Poor John is either saying "Good morning Hank" to no one, or you don't check your own videos before uploading.....

ecogeek231 karma

I don't watch Vlogbrothers videos in my free time! I watch Vlogbrothers videos the instant they are uploaded or /while I edit them/

MarrianneDashwood106 karma

Would you ask The Katherine how she feels about the explosion that was/is the vlogbrothers channel? And what's the most awesome thing that's happened to you today?

ecogeek234 karma

She's at the warehouse right now but she often says "I did not marry into this" in reference to the fact that it happened after we got married. It's a mixed blessing...there are often opportunities that I can't miss that lead to me missing things here at home and that really sucks. But it also creates opportunities for us to do cool things together so...

EDIT - People were mocking me for spelling "marry" incorrectly.

ZombiesAndBarbies98 karma

Are you ever going to write a book?

ecogeek244 karma

Probably, if I do, it will be non-fiction. Fiction is just so freaking hard...but anything book length is impossibly different from how I'm used to creating.

With the internet, my gestation period for a thing I make is seldom longer than a week...with a book, it's YEARS!

messyhair4287 karma

Good morning Hank. Just about the time Facebook went public you made a video about it, the video is gone now. I also seem to recall you answering a question about it somewhere and vaguely dismissing it. Did you take the video down because of a legal threat? Or did you take it down for some other reason?

ecogeek128 karma

I also do not know what this is about or where it went. It is disturbing but I haven't had time to look into it. It probably got a copyright flag and we missed the notice.

juangmeister81 karma

[deleted]

ecogeek169 karma

I don't rationalize it. I feel guilty about it. Every time I travel I think "I am glad I can do this, but the fact that I am doing it makes it less likely that the next generation will be able to do it."

But I do it because people are counting on me and they need me to do stuff so that my employees will be able to be paid or my audience will get content they'll love, or I'll be able to see my family at Thanksgiving. I do it, like many things in my life, because culture expects it of me and "but my carbon footprint..." is not an acceptable excuse for a business contact /or/ my mom.

runalovegood77 karma

Also, friendly reminder to everyone posting here to go check out r/nerdfighters!

ecogeek14 karma

Yuuuup!

DivineAna76 karma

How do you cope with the uglier voices of the internet, and are you ever afraid to post things because of the backlash you might get from, say, the racist, sexist voices of the internet?

ecogeek211 karma

Knowing that a large, diverse group of people is listening to what you say can be crippling, but it can also be really internally powerful. It forces me to recognize that the people I disagree with are not evil (for the most part.) And so I end up with far more nuanced perspectives, I'm way less polar in my political and social views.

As for legit douchebags though, no. Fuck you if you think people should be denied rights because of their skin color or sexual orientation.

MrBalloon_Hands74 karma

What ever happened to EcoGeek? Also, when will flying cars be invented?

ecogeek156 karma

EcoGeek is still truckin' along, but basically what happened to it is that there was a bubble in display ads that made it a functional site and then when that bubble burst and all of the blogs started to get consolidated and acquired by HuffPo or Discovery or AOL, I didn't want to play that game, so it got less interesting to me. At the same time, our YouTube channel was blowing up.

If YouTube hadn't happened, we probably would have been acquired and I'd probably be writing for one of those big conglomerates, making $25 per post and hating it.

causticnova74 karma

What scientific discovery within your lifetime do you think has had the most impact on your life?

ecogeek124 karma

Well "Discovery" makes this a weird question because it usually takes longer than 33 years (my age) for a discovery to translate into real-world technology. Probably something to do with CPU speed :-)

Zephyr101170 karma

What is your opinion on people with no income who pirate things?

ecogeek208 karma

I was once one of you! I would be far less skilled and less successful had I not pirated software in my youth...and now I buy absolutely everything to make up for it. I think that pirating has a weird sort of economic efficiency attached to it that is very difficult to measure.

dodachacha62 karma

What is your favorite song that you wrote?

ecogeek209 karma

Probably "A Song About an Anglerfish" - It's just so catchy and sciencey but also weirdly autobiographical and it sounds so happy but it has a pretty devastating message. I wrote it when I was in a lot of pain because of my UC and I was trying to rationalize how I would live the whole rest of my life if that pain never went away.

I also really like "Adult Female" which is a love song entirely void of hyperbole...which may be a first in all of human creation.

shaanizk60 karma

I'm doing a thesis on Crowd funding and how it'll save the TV/Film Industry and now that we kinda live in an age where your Youtube videos could be considered TV shows....Was curious as to what you thought of crowd funding and if you've had any success with crowd funding with regards to your show? Thanks :)

ecogeek176 karma

We've had huge success with crowd funding. After The Lizzie Bennet Diaries ended, we raised almost $500,000 on kickstarter for the DVD. And we've created our own crowd-funding platform, Subbable, which allows people do subscribe for a monthly amount if they wish. Crash Course is now funded ENTIRELY this way...and it is a very expensive show. It receives about $25,000 in monthly donations...and that's a scoop for you...that number has never been public before :-D

plowkiller59 karma

Do you still have a thing for Helen Hunt?

ecogeek92 karma

Oh yeah...definitely.

SamBachman54 karma

Who have you always looked to as a mentor in P4A and vlogbrothers?

ecogeek205 karma

Pretty much just Ze Frank.

EpicJamo49 karma

Aside from John's books, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and other books you have previously mentioned in videos, what are your favourite books?

ecogeek126 karma

The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson was extremely influential for me. Dan Simmons, Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Pratchett, Maureen Johnson, Neil Gaiman, Paolo Bacigalupi, Agatha Christie :-)

deansheavenlybiscuit49 karma

Hi Hank! I was just wondering what made you start companies like DFTBA Records, while you could have not done so. Like, what made you decide that you'd turn your popularity into a business opportunity?

ecogeek111 karma

What it came down to was that I knew online video was going to become a business, and the path of least resistance was to fund it through ads; like the rest of the internet. But I don't really like advertising, I find it annoying, and I didn't want there to be a barrier between my audience and the content.

So I was thinking...if Tide can make enough money selling their detergent that they can pay like 300 people (one of whom is me) between production and purchase and still make a profit...then if I create my own thing...something that my audience will actually be interested in rather than something completely random stuck onto the front of my video, then not only will that be better for them, it will be better for me.

So we sell our own things...instead of selling detergent for Tide, we sell CDs and 2D Glasses and shirts and tickets to VidCon. It's better for everyone...though it is a lot of work to keep all of those businesses running, and it's a lot more visible and risky than the tried and true internet advertising model...I think, in the end, it's better for everyone.

enemyoftheheir48 karma

-2-2x=

ecogeek80 karma

I actually finished this equation last night to finish out the line.

-2-2x=y+z-2

ThePencilMan45 karma

What's your favourite of John's videos?

Do you watch them all?

ecogeek115 karma

Of course I watch them all!! That would be TERRIBLE! And of course I can't pick a favorite. There are like 600 of them.

zenz3ro44 karma

Hank; I know that there were rumours of a UK vidcon in the past, is this still something that is being worked on? Do you have any plans to visit the UK soon?

ecogeek74 karma

It is not being worked on at the moment...we were thinking about it, but I can't let go enough to not do a lot of the work myself, and I just don't have the time to do that work myself.

Sorry.

kezza90442 karma

[deleted]

ecogeek177 karma

I actually really like to write songs in the shower...or sing my own songs, which maybe sounds narcissistic. But singing songs you've written is great because you know all the words and I can hit all the notes.

frenchhornfroggy38 karma

Hi Hank!

As a young musician and math/science geek, you're one of my role models.

I have a few questions:

How did you begin playing music?

What did you want to do when you grew up when you were younger?

Do you have any tips on not getting scared about applying to college?

DFTBA!

ecogeek72 karma

  1. I started play music because I needed to up my game on Vlogbrothers and so I wanted to try out song writing and see if the audience liked it. I took some lessons and then just figured out chords to the songs I'd written.

  2. I pretty much always wanted to be some kind of scientist...a person who discovered things that weren't known before.

  3. Trust me, you're good enough.

thatlookslikeavulva36 karma

Do you have secret accounts on sites like reddit and YouTube so that you can use them like a normal person?

Also you are awesome thankyou for making stuff

ecogeek139 karma

I don't have any secret accounts. Luckily Reddit doesn't show your click history Oo!

differentfromtherest34 karma

how many hanklerfish p4a perks are done? also, what have you been watching while hanklerfishing?

ecogeek71 karma

I've done about 200 of the total 387 I need to do. More than half way!!! I am, unfortunately, out of sharpies.

captainfoxtales30 karma

Are there any subjects/topics you would love to cover as part of a Crash Course series, but are not entirely feasible, for any reason?

ecogeek49 karma

I'd love to do physics but I just don't know it well enough. I shall keep trying to get my smarter friends to host it for us...it is a lot of work though, and they're all very busy.

NonSparkly30 karma

Has there been times when you have wanted to give up Vlogbrothers and do something else? Like really hard times when you felt like it wasn't 'worth' it?

ecogeek47 karma

Nope. It's not all sunshine and rainbows but I pretty much always feel grateful and pleased to be able to do the things I do. Vlogbrothers would be the last thing of all the things I'd give up.

QuixoticCoffee27 karma

Why did you move to Missoula, Montana? (My boyfriend and his family are from Missoula and I introduced him to Vlogbrothers videos. He saw his grandparents' house in the background of one of yours and got excited! It's a taste of home for him, since he's been in Minnesota for the past seven years.)

ecogeek35 karma

Woah! That's super neat! We came out here for school and then stayed when we finished because it's such a cool, laid back, friendly place.

Vinyl_Freya24 karma

Hey Hank! I am a fan of your show and am also from Missoula. I was thrilled to see that in the video of you humping the town, you humped the location where I had my first kiss. Thank you for that touch of stardom.

ecogeek18 karma

Was it the fish? I bet it was the fish....

smallinfinities22 karma

What are you most excited about for Vidcon 2014? It'll be my 3rd year attending and I'm SO excited!

ecogeek54 karma

This is a terrible thing to say as the person who plans the conference, but the best thing for me is just that all of these people who love and create the world of online video are in the same place for a weekend...it almost doesn't matter what we do as long as everybody's together.

onthecrystalship20 karma

Would you rather be attacked by 1 horse sized duck or 100 duck sized horses. Please elaborate your answer.

ecogeek73 karma

Am I armed? Are they sentient? Can they be reasoned with? I like to think that the horse-sized duck and I would overcome our differences and become good friends and I'd be able to ride through the air like a luck dragon.

PFD-Fuhrer2 karma

Who are your "guilty-pleasure" YouTubers?

ecogeek4 karma

Beer and Board Games, mostly. I save them up so I can watch them all at once. It's just a bunch of middle-aged guys getting drunk but I fucking love it.