How We Choose Which Videos to Link to

All uploads of silent movies are not equal.

Many (maybe most) silent films can be found on YouTube in multiple versions. All channel-owners are to be applauded for taking the time to upload silent film. But some uploads are definitely superior to others. Our goal at SilentMovieFinder.org is to to provide a link to the best version of each online film: in this way, it will remove the frustrating guesswork for the potential viewer over which of the many videos he or she should click on, and hence commit to viewing.

So how do we choose the best version? To a large degree, the selection is made holistically: “which one do we “feel” is the best?” But having said that, there are a number of important factors that go into making the decision. Here are the 4 primary factors:

1. Quality.

The most important characteristic is video quality. Many YouTubers upload poor quality versions of films. The sharper the image, the better. YouTube video quality generally correlates with the vertical pixel count: the higher the “p” value, the higher the quality; so, 720p is better than 480p, which is better than 360p, which is better than 240p. Videos with quality of 360p or less are often very difficult to watch.

2. Ads.

We hate ads. But the question is more a fundamental and philosophical one: why would an individual go through all the trouble of uploading a silent film onto his or her channel, only to make the experience of watching the film more unpleasant for a viewer by monetizing the video? Watching a silent movie is work – delightful and rewarding work – but work nonetheless. The goal of all fans of silent movies should be to grow our community by making it easier and less annoying to watch these movies!

A monetized video will always take second place to an equivalent unmonetized version.

3. Music Soundtrack.

Silent movies should never be watched in silence! Always play music, any music, if you are watching a “silent” version of a silent movie.

Any uploader of a silent film is to be thanked for placing a film onto his or her channel, regardless of whether there is an accompanying soundtrack. But a video of a silent film with a soundtrack is always preferred.

4. Completeness.

I never understood what the point was of uploading a 3 or 5 minute snippet of a silent movie, but YouTube is saturated with such creatures. Furthermore, many uploads may be of heftier portions of a silent film, so much so that a potential viewer may not even realize that the version he or she is about to watch is incomplete. Unless the truncated version of a film represents the only surviving footage of that film, we will never bother linking to an incomplete video.

Clearly, the more complete the movie, the better.

5. First Poster

It is only be fair to link to a version of a film on the channel of the first person to post it. Why reward those who simply copy what others have created, and then re-post the same video on their own channels? But if a poster adds his or her own soundtrack to a film, we will link to that version too. We generally link to multiple versions of a video if there are distinct soundtracks on each of those uploads.

6. Film Divided Into Multiple Videos.

A video which contains an entire film is preferred over a film that is divided up into multiple videos.

7. Soundtrack with Looped Music.

A video in which a soundtrack is added, but which loops and repeats every 10 or 20 minutes, can be distracting, and even annoying.

8. Aspect.

Films in the silent era usually had an aspect, or width to length ratio, of 1:33 to 1; a video of a silent movie which appears in widescreen will appear stretched horizontally, as is undesirable.

9. Colorization.

No colorized versions. Ever.