This week, a sudden thought came over me. I had not had a clear definition of ‘auto-ethnographic’ and this was clouding my judgement of both sources and the trajectory of my research project. Simply put, auto-ethnographic research is an approach to research where the author uses self-reflection and personal life experience to understand a cultural experience or, in other words putting myself in the centre of the study.
As with any research study, there are major ethical standards that must be upheld when conducting my research and they need to be addressed. Being an auto-ethnographic research task, I am the centre of the research as I immerse myself into the online fandom of many content creators. There is a code of ethics however for any researcher and many of them also apply to what research I am about to conduct. There has to be good reason to conduct the research as an ethnographic research campaign can be much more intrusive method of conducting research than other conventional ways. Maintaining a level of trust and working on positive relationships with those involved is critical to ensuring an ethical study is conducted. Although much of what is being researched is much to do with my own personal experience being immersed into the fandom and online universe that surround content creators, there will still be some aspects that involve the use of others experiences and opinions so a degree of respect will be needed.
Another, and possibly in my opinion the most important ethical code to follow, is the correct and ethical display of research results. As a researcher, it can be very easy to slightly alter results to better fit the proposed hypothesis however this goes against one of the most critical ethical research codes. Doing this can impact research participants reputations, your reputation, make your research not viable and it can actually, in some cases, be a crime. To avoid this I plan to take notes on every piece of evidence or research I find, correctly reference all sources and provide samples of final products to participants to ensure what I am publishing is factual.
Looking into some background research now with this ethical framework in mind was a great way to finally feel like the project had been kick started. To begin with, I started. to research specific creators average views per video compared to their followers on specific platforms. According to research dine by ‘The Business Insider’, Dobrik averages 10 million views per vlog. On Youtube, the creator has 19 million followers, that puts, on average, 52.6% of his followers view and interact with every vlog that is uploaded. So how does he do it? Well an excellent example of this was during the recent coronavirus pandemic. Dobrik gave away thousands and thousands of dollars, cars and other prizes to fans as the pandemic situation in the states began to look bleak. Dobrik never does long running brand sponsorship deals which means that much of what he gives away comes out of his own pocket. This persona of generosity is hat makes the YouTuber so popular and why people continue to watch, it’s the feel good effect.
Further blog post updates will show some more research, specifically the example of Logan Paul who almost torpedoed his YouTube career years ago with a mistake but is still one of the largest vloggers at this time. I will look into why this is and what he does to maintain his fanbase.