YouTube, which hosts homemade videos, took down the site and posted a cryptic and grammatically incorrect place-holder message written in capital letters: "All your video are belong to us."
The inability to get on to the site and the , a likely reference to a poorly translated video game that evolved into an animated Web phenomenon some years ago, had some YouTube fans believing that the site had been hacked. At around 10:45 p.m. PT, an additional sentence appeared that let confused users in on the hoax: "No, we haven't be hacked. Get a sense of humor."
YouTube posted a note on the site at 7 p.m. PT warning users that it would be going down, said YouTube spokeswoman Julie Supan. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company has often placed humorous photographs or messages up when performing maintenance on the site.
"This is what the engineers do, they have fun with our users," Supan said. "They're all cracking up right now. You have to remember who our fan base is. They don't want some dry message."
Supan declined to reveal what site features are debuting Friday, but did say that they would not include a new advertising model. Industry insiders are waiting to see how the company.
The Internet's No. 1 video variety show, YouTube is facing growing competition from some big-time players. On Wednesday, Yahoo said it would launchin order to challenge YouTube.
Google and AOL have also jumped into the user-generated video market.