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Uploaded:2015-04-20
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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Aldrym Gamatero asked, "Why is 301 used in YouTube for view count?"
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Numberphile video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIkhgagvrjI

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Craig: Hi, I'm Craig, I've never been in a YouTube video, and this is mental_floss on YouTube.  Today, I'm going to answer Aldrym Gamatero's big question, "Why is 301 commonly used in YouTube for view count?"     Well, once a video gets around 300 views, YouTube likes to verify that those views are coming from real people rather than bots or purchased views.  Let's talk about why that's necessary, unless you're a bot.  I'm not gonna tell you.  Let's get started.   (mental_floss Big Questions intro plays)   Craig: You might know that there's a way to pay for YouTube views.  There are sites that offer things like one million views for $900.  These sites use a method of increasing views anywhere from 1,000-10,000 per day.  One way they do this is by renting IP addresses and embedding the video on a website like Facebook, so when people in that IP address go to the website, the video gets a view.     YouTube doesn't like fake views, though, their terms and conditions state that you're not allowed to purchase views or use bots to increase them.  So why do people do it?  Meredith?  Why do people do it, it's against the rules!  People follow the rules, right?  So when YouTube discovers a video with misleading numbers, they'll change the number back or just delete the video.  You may remember this happened in 2012, when a total of 2,000,000,000 views were removed from many videos, including the music videos of artists like Justin Bieber and Rihanna.     So what does this have to do with freezing the view count?  Well, YouTube doesn't worry too much about videos that have 300 views or less, sorry, Grandma, I watched it, it was good.  But once the video surpasses 300, especially in a short amount of time, YouTube likes to make sure that none of those are counterfeit.  At that point, the site freezes the view counter at 301 for usually around one day, and then several commenters are like, "Why is there 301--only 301 views?"  And then people respond, "You're an idiot, you're new to YouTube, I hate you."  People can be mean sometimes.     This happens thanks to a code on the website.  It basically says when a view count is less than or equal to 300, the counter should keep adding numbers like normal, but the view that brings the counter over 300 will cause it to freeze.  Every once in a while, a few views happen at the same time and the counter freezes at a number a little over 300, almost every time, it seems like.  During that day, YouTube verifies that those are real views, not purchased ones or bots.  They also use that time to ensure that the views aren't increasing because people clicked on a misleading thumbnail and/or title only to stop watching after a second or two.  What are we gonna call this video?  Real Hot Ladies?  The views that have accumulated since the counter froze at 301 will get added to the number you see when it unfreezes.     So, this was the short answer, but there's a great video by numberphile on this phenomenon that we've linked to in the Doobly-Doo, if you'd like to know more.  There's also great videos by WheezyWaiter linked in the Doobly-Doo as well.  I have nothing to do with this.  But if you want to check him out, he's awesome.   Thanks for watching mental_floss on YouTube, made with the help of these lovely bots.  If you have a question of your own that you'd like answered, leave it below in the comments.  See you next week, at least 301 of you.     (mental_floss Big Questions endscreen plays)