Hank Green

December 27, 2013

I am Hank Green, co-host of Vlogbrothers, Mental Floss, Crash Course, and SciShow. Professional YouTuber and guy who talks about science. AMA

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!

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

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.

If Mrs. Chapman is reading this, please speak up. There is some gold for you to pick up here.

Edit: Sorry to hear that :-(

Alas, she died in 2009.

Did you ever get the chance to thank her in your adult life?

I did :-)

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?

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.

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

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.

This puts me in a weird mental position, because there was no way to use YouTube without networks for some content creators (such as signed musicians), when it's clearly a valuable marketing tool. I don't think it's fair to blame them when they were vital in allowing access to a platform that some otherwise wouldn't have.

It's easy to say they made the problem worse, but this would never have gotten fixed if the networks hadn't started using those loopholes, because this anger would never have been generated without the sudden loss of that platform.

Or I'm not seeing some vital part of this issue, and since you're actually involved with YouTube you'd be pretty capable of trashing my argument.

You may be right...but I don't think it was fair to unsigned creators to have to go through more copyright BS simply because they weren't giving 30% of their revenue to a third party. Something had to give.

I thought hankgames was networked under Machinima; I'm pretty sure I remember John talking about it in a FIFA video about copyright.

HankGames is...but honestly we spend so little time thinking about the business part of HankGames that I have no idea whether we had flag problems there or not.

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?

Just an update, I wrote that thing I said I was going to write, if you're interested. link

What youtuber do I need to subscribe to right now?

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.

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

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.

Who the eff is Hank?

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.

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

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

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

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.

How do you feel about the Google+ integration?

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

Well, as an outsider, isn't the frustrating parts of YouTube only affecting game play channels?

No...there are many frustrating things beyond just the Content ID thing...and the Content ID thing affects more than just gamers.

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

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."

How do you feel about how successful P4A has gotten year after year, and do you think it's possible that next year will see $1,000,000USD in donations?

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.

Please elaborate on your opinion of base 10?

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!?

You forgot 2 in 12's list of divisors.


As opposed to your brother, who thinks there should be 100 seconds in each minute.

No no...he thought there WERE 100 seconds en each minute while doing a calculation. Lots of people think there should be 100 seconds in every minute. Worth noting, 60 is 50 in base 12. Also, clocks are base 12. WE USE IT ALL THE TIME BECAUSE IT'S SO MUCH BETTER!

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

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 :-)

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!

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.

Subbable is still a big pit we're throwing money into

Do you see it becoming self-sufficient on the current business model (which is taking a small percentage off pledges, right?), or do you think you'll need different revenue streams to keep it running? Because if it ends up being ads, that would be a shame--maybe donating to Subbable itself (w/ perks and everything) the way we donate to individual creators would work?

It could definitely become self-sufficient...either by adding a lot more people or by decreasing the amount of development we're doing. The good news is, we're happy to throw money into the hole if it funds our other projects, which it has done.


Derek's Canadianness is the only thing currently holding us back from including him. Amazon payments is wary of Canadians...as we should all be.

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?

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.

If I'm not mistaken Patreon use venture funding, while you probably don't.

It's interesting that they probably had to gave up creative decisions in exchange for extra funding... (venture capital want return on investment mostly)

Sam Yam is a veteran of start-up companies and he knows how to engage with venture capital people in effective ways without giving up control of the site. I have full confidence in them to keep growing extremely effectively.

I'm subbed to 5 different thigns on subbable at $2 each. Every month amazon charges me 5 times for those $2 subs. How is this not costing a fortune in transaction fees? Wouldn't it make more sense for subbabe to charge me once for $10 and then split that money accordingly?

That is an excellent question...I'll ask Peter if there's a way to combine...I can't imagine he hasn't though of this though, so probably Amazon is forcing us to do it that way.

What is your favorite song to sing in the shower?

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.

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

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

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.....

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

Charlie is Youtube. I've always felt that he was exactly the avatar for their product that the original Youtube creators envisioned. Smart, engaging, good-looking and ceaselessly creative.

That's funny because YouTube's creators were actually trying to create a video dating site...and don't you all just wish Charlie was single and on the prowl!?

Hank, you sexy beast, I love you.

Here is my very vital question: When are you going to do another round of Beer and Board Games??? FFS, I need this before I die. Which could really be any day now, statistically.

Whenever I can...unfortunately those guys live in a place where I very rarely go...the times I've gotten to do that show we were only able to do it because we were randomly in the same place at the same time.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Excellent username.

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.

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...

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!

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.

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

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.

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?

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.


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!

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.

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

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

Do you not see yourself as an educator then (as in traditional classroom setting)? Do you think there is a place for videos like yours in a traditional classroom?

Sometimes when people ask me what I do...in order to avoid the 2 hour long conversation about how YouTube videos work, I just tell them I'm a science teacher. I don't think that's a lie.

Our videos are used in classrooms all over the world. Every day on Twitter I get like 20 @replies saying "WE WATCHED YOU IN BIO TODAY!"


Do you ever tell them you're a musician? I realize that you don't write songs as much anymore but your songs still feel like a large part of who you are (at least when I see videos of you performing on stage).

Musician is a crazy loaded answer...not as bad as "Professional YouTuber" but still...that would lead to an EVEN LONGER conversation.

You are definitely a teacher!

My only worry is that there are "fun" educational videos that are out there that don't actually help students learn.

In my own experience I have found crashcourse to be effective with my students (based on my small sample size) but I would really love for someone in the future to study how educational videos are made effect what learning actually occurs.

We'd also love for someone to do a study, we just don't have the time or resources to do one ourselves.

Who are your "guilty-pleasure" YouTubers?

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.

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

Pretty much just Ze Frank.

Wait, why? I know that Ze has a wonderful voice, and he makes highly entertaining videos, but people seem to give him an almost godly status as a person. I'm not a big fan of his (not that I don't dislike him), and don't understand. Please explain, someone!

It's not that he's godly, it's that he was first. Ze created the format of the video blog. He popularized the jump-cut, he did fascinatingly interactive things with his audience, he destroyed the idea that you need stick to a format or specific topic in order to have a show. Some days he was funny, other days he was angry, then he'd be heart-felt, then he'd be ridiculous, then he'd be inspiring, then he'd be depressing.

Ze created the thing I do for a living. He was doing it for a living before YouTube existed.

What's your favourite of John's videos?

Do you watch them all?

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Are you ever going to write a book?

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!

What is your favorite song that you wrote?

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.

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

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 :-)

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

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 :-)

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?

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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 :)

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

That's interesting. Subbable says that Crash Course has 17,617 subscribers with an average donation of $5.36, multiply that and you get ~$94k.

So you either have a 26% paying subscriber rate (~4600) [average calculated only with those paying > 0] or a 73% overhead rate.

I'm guessing it's the first one. You sneaky rascal you ;)

Yes...lots of people don't pay...or just do one-time payments for perks.

Being someone who is very much a creator on YouTube, what do you think YouTube needs to improve upon? Being that you even run a convention for YouTube, I imagine someone like you is incredibly invested in the organization and has many suggestions for them.

I am indeed incredibly invested in them and I have a lot of ideas for how they could improve their platform, but they're all pretty esoteric. But since you asked:

The list of things they're doing right, by the way, is much longer than the list of things they're doing wrong.

Also, I understand that I am but one user among hundreds of millions, and that they have a lot of users (not to mention stock holders) to satisfy...but I often get the impression that YouTube knows a lot less about YouTube than its users.

If you had to live with one of the YouTubers you've worked with (John excluded) for one year, who and why?

Probably Charlie...he's smart, quiet, considerate, and fun to play video games with. I lived with Michael Aranda for a while and he was an excellent roommate...he smells fantastic.

What was your first youtube video, and how long did it take you to acquire a following?

The following grew very rapidly. After a month we had a hundred or so viewers (January 2007) after six months, we had a thousand or so, after nine months it was in the tens of thousands...after a year...it was still in the tens of thousands :-). It was a different world then, though. Ten thousand views was HUGE and there were so few creators that people were clambering for content and the expectations were....not high.

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

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

Vlogbrothers is not a networked channel and you mentioned networks in an earlier post on content id. Do you think networks are an overall good or bad thing for YouTubers looking for success in the form of making good content and eventually finding a career path through that content?

(btw I find you super motivational with every awesome thing you do)

I think it's completely case-by-case. For most of my YouTube friends, networks are giving them guaranteed CPMs and access to studio space even free personal assistants and book-keeping. The "We'll make you a success!" thing is almost entirely BS. The only people who make a creator successful are the creator and the people who watch...networks that try to step in and become the gate keepers of success piss me off.

reddit or tumblr?

You can't make me choose between my babies!!!

What is the weirdest thing John has ever said or done to you?

This one time he said "Hey, Hank...we should make video blogs back and forth for a year."

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

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.

Given your issues with motion sickness, are you looking forward to the JOCOCrazy Cruise and what will you be doing to combat the stomach upset ( I am a little worried myself)

I'm usually OK on bigger boats so...I'm mostly crossing my fingers. I've also got a big bottle of dramamine.

Do you guys ever put in easter eggs in your videos? If so, care to divulge examples?

Rarely...and no. :-p

As a person with two degrees in Science, do you have any belief in a religion or god?

I don't think that my science degrees make me any more of an authority on God than anyone else. God is a very personal thing for people and I don't want to fuck with that. I am an atheist.

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

I actually owe a punishment so...


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


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?


  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.

Hey, Hank! I'm wondering how you reconcile your comparatively high-flying lifestyle (frequent flights/bus tours around the country with John and others, for example) with your environmentalist worldview? As an environmentalist myself, I'm often put off by celebrity greenwashing or support of pseudo-environmental efforts, and because I think you seem much more genuine and caring than many of those people, I'd be really interested to hear your reasoning. Should I just re-watch "How to be green without being a prick?" Love you and John's work, by the way. DFTBA! :)

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.

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?


  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.

Would you be for many big youtubers creating their own video sharing website and leaving youtube with all of these new changes?

The secret is that we love YouTube. We love how easy the uploader is, how functional the player is, how large the audience is...we even often have strong relationships with people who work at YouTube.

I don't want to have to deal with all of that BS, and no one could agree on what features that site would need anyhow. I think Twitch is making it happen for gamers, but it seems unlikely for anyone to create something that could challenge YouTube's massive economies.

How is Tim Tom?

He's good...back home for Christmas at the moment.

Penis or Schlong?


You have an internet-based job. Why did you choose Missoula as your base of operations? Is it costly to have the DFTBA warehouse somewhere so far from things?

For some reason it doesn't make much difference with respect to the cost of shipping stuff. I don't get it. I live here because it's laid back and I have a somewhat destructively competitive personality and I need to be grounded and not always surrounded by other people doing he same things as me. I need to chill...it is very hard for me to chill in big cities.

What would Be the easiest way to DESTROY THE EARTH!? By this i mean make it uninhabitable to human life.

Uhhh...why do you want to know?

When will Crash Course US History disc sets be available to purchase? My APUSH teacher really wants to buy a set.

It takes us a while to do all the subtitling and authoring...but definitely in time for the next school year.

how do you manage your time so well? what with doing vlogbrothers, crashcourse, scishow, LBD, vidcon, P4A and loads of other things you must be the king of productivity.

also, both my biology and my citizenship teachers are huge nerdfighters, and my biology teacher played a scishow video the other day and told the class to 'be quiet and listen to the genius man', so that happened. DFTBA.

I just do whatever is freaking me out most at the moment.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? (and no you can't say Mars)

I will probably be sitting in this same chair in front of a different computer. It's a very nice chair.

do you have favorite albums or bands? aside from a simon and garfunkel poster that used to appear occasionally on your wall we know virtually nothing of your taste in music.

That's not Simon and Garfunkel! That's They Might be Giants! Who I love...a lot. In my six disc changer right now we have

  1. TMBG
  2. Brandi Carlisle
  3. The Leewards (old indie band from Athens)
  4. Common Rider
  5. George Watsky
  6. The Beatles

Why do you talk so fast in your videos? I like the informative nature of your videos, but the jump-cuts make it difficult to follow.

It's just the way we've always done it...a lot of people like it, though we understand that not everyone does.

Not sure if this was asked yet, but how long does it take to make a show on SciShow? Just curious. Also, I asked on YT, but would you ever make a video about pain disorders like Erythromelalgia?

I really enjoyed your shows and you guys in general! Don't stop making videos (or books) :)

Well, a SciShow episode goes through a long process. First it's pitched by me or Blake or a freelance writer. Then we bat the idea around for a while to see if it's super great or not. Then it gets assigned. Then it gets edited and re-formed a bit more. Then we shoot it, then it goes into post production which takes (usually) about six hours of an editor's time. Then we upload...it can be anywhere from two days to six months between the first pitch and the episode going live.

What kind of shampoo do you use?!

I use 0.5% acetic acid...for real. My scalp freaks out with anything more complicated than that.

If money wasn't an issue, what sort of content would you like to create? Your videos are absolutely great, but I appreciate they would probably be done on quite a tight budget compared to say, something for the discovery channel or on BBC. Would hour long documentaries be something you were even interested in doing, or are you content with the content you produce?

(Sorry, I just really enjoy writing two words that are spelt the same but pronounced differently in a sentence. Interestingly, deaf people use the same symbol for 'Reading' (which is a place in the UK) and they do for reading (the act of reading a book), even though they are said differently.)

I actually think that our smaller budgets and smaller productions don't hurt our content. At the moment, we're making exactly what we want to make. The only thing that holds us back is time and talent.

Also, after 7 years on Reddit, why are you just doing an AMA now?

Well I did a shared one with John back in 2012, I guess I just didn't realize how much time had passed...

Have you ever tried or thought of trying crystal meth or crack cocaine?

I've never done a drug clinically proven to cause dependence, except for alcohol and, I suppose, caffeine. The idea of giving a substance control over my future terrifies me.

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

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

Do you still have a thing for Helen Hunt?

Oh yeah...definitely.

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


Hi Hank, you probably won't see this but its worth trying anyway.

I really want to support Subbable, but the problem is I don't really use the website at all; all the videos I subscribe to can be seen through YouTube, plus a bunch of other channels I've subscribed to that don't use Subbable.

So, my question is: what should attract me to using Subbable instead of YouTube more?

I dunno...this is something we've talked about but John and I disagree on. He likes it as is...I'd like it to be a place where you can go and see all of your subscriptions...like people used to be able to do on YouTube :-)

Love SciShow! What was your most embarrassing blooper throughout your time youtubbing.

I have accidentally said some fairly nasty things afterward I'm like "BURN IT! BURN THE FLASH CARD!!!"

Hank, how has your celebrity affected your everyday life? Is getting stopped in the street a common occurrence? Is it annoying?

It's not annoying, it happens like once or twice a week...unless I don't leave the house in which case it doesn't happen at all. I generally just use it for market research...I'm like "Are you a student? How did you find out about us? What was your first video? Have you ever suggested SciShow to a friend or co-worker?" By the end of it they're like "OK! Soooo...I gotta go..."

At what age did you find yourself being productive and motivated to the point where you realized "I'm actually doing shit and am not a failure at life."

I've never felt like a failure and I've never felt like a success. You hear about chemically imbalanced people...I am, like, super chemically balanced.

Where and when is vidcon 2014?


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.)

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.

Hank! NASA engineer here (I got hooked on the whole YouTube thing because of your "10 awesome things about the James Webb Space Telescope" video and now I'm a huge fan of the educational YouTube business. I've even gotten to work with Destin a little!).

What do you think the future of space exploration should look like? Specifically the role of NASA vs private, moon vs mars, human vs robotic...

Until there are large economic opportunities in space (not sure if there ever will be) NASA and other government institutions will be the only drivers of space exploration and research.

I think robots are just going to get more and more advanced, and they're even able to go places that humans could never go (under the surface of Europa?! FINGERS CROSSED!) But I hope very very much that there will be humans on Mars sometime in my lifetime...there's just no other way to do the research necessary. Curiosity has discovered a LOT but it's so much more limited than a real human team would be.

Robotic missions are going to play a huge part of the future of exploration and science off-earth (and on-earth) but the rate of discovery will just be SO MUCH HIGHER once we get humans on Mars.

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

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

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.

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

"Professional YouTuber" lmao

Yes, me and my 25 employees are also very surprised.

Hi Hank, I was a fan a while ago until I got screwed over on a T-shirt order from your website.

Could you please explain why you have a policy of waiting at least 4 weeks for international deliveries, yet being unable to respond to problems after 4 weeks have passed?

We also met at PAX prime last year. I was the older guy at your gathering.

We have just changed this policy (because it was idiotic, and I was unaware of it) and if you email info@dftba.com we can get you fixed up.

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Hank Green conducted on Reddit on 2013-12-27. The Reddit AMA can be found here.