It used to be, if you wanted to know what a Scorpion Dive was, you had to go to Urban Dictionary to read about it. As of Thursday, though, the top internet destination for such colloquialisms has a new offshoot that will not only tell you that a Scorpion Dive is a particularly harsh kind of faceplant, it will also show you a video of the unfortunate act happening on So You Think You Can Dance.
Welcome to UrbanDictionary.tv.
Founder and CEO Aaron Peckham started the original site 12 years ago, while he was still in college. “The dictionary wasn’t representing how English language was actually spoken,” Peckham says. “I felt like it was telling people too many things that were inaccurate, instead of keeping up more with the Internet age.” What started out as a quasi-parody, though, has since morphed into a cacophonous hub of crowdsourced information, flavored with a rebellious, bro-skewing personality. It’s also become wildly popular—Urban Dictionary serves 25-30 million people a month, and according to Quantcast, it’s the 92nd most popular site in the country. Now, with the addition of a video component, it just might get even more popular.
The new venture is a collaboration between the original site and VHX.tv, a startup that allows users to share videos with each other and offers a more Tivo-like viewing experience—where the videos are what you might be interested in, based on what you’ve already watched. Peckham had been contemplating adding a new feature on Urban Dictionary where people could potentially record their own videos or embed them in definitions; soon after meeting with the VHX crew, a partnership was formed and UrbanDictionary.tv was born.
In its current state, UrbanDictionary.tv is like VHX.tv in its unpredictability. Rather than typing in search queries for clips to watch, users are invited to explore the random ephemera floating around on the site, as well as some of the definition/video combinations the UD team considers its best. The closest you can come to searching is combing through the original site for definitions that happen to have videos embedded beneath them.
Like much of the content on Urban Dictionary, the videos that wind up on UD.tv are chosen by random users. Those inerested in contributing need only go to the original site, look up any word, and attach a YouTube link into the field next to it. This video might be a clip from the TV show Scrubs, in which Aziz Ansari keenly demonstrates the application of a word, or maybe a Youtuber elucidating it. After a user proposes the attachment, though, the video gets reviewed by a separate group of volunteers who serve as gatekeepers, deciding what incoming content will make it onto the site.
“I’m hoping that, like UrbanDictionary.com, some of the best content on the new site is going to be produced by the masses, “ Peckham says. “Just by people who’ve got their own creativity and ideas about what a word means to them.”
The potential for user-generated video content adds a new wrinkle to an idea that used to thrive on the site, but has since been suspended. Pending the volunteer editors’ approval, Urban Dictionary used to post photos of users demonstrating a definition, like, say, “stink eye,” themselves. Although that feature has been discontinued for years due to abuse concerns, with video in the mix, it’s anyone’s guess what kind of weirdness will find its way onto the site.
“It will be interesting to see what kind of creative stuff people come up with to express certain words and phenomenon in society,” Peckham says. “Everyone’s got a high definition camera in their hands now, and I can’t wait to see what they do with that power."