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Duration:03:44
Uploaded:2020-02-25
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In which John reveals "the ratio," a phenomenon that has obsessed and fascinated him for over a year. Come see us on tour in Ann Arbor, Columbus, and Indianapolis: https://www.hankandjohn.com/appearances


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Indianapolis, Columbus, Ann Arbor, Hank and I are coming to your cities on tour!  The shows will be great fun.  Hope to see you there, link to tickets in the doobly-doo.

Good morning, Hank, it's Tuesday.  So there is a very weird phenomenon here on the vlogbrothers YouTube channel and I know it has to be coincidental but it is nonetheless very strange.  For over a year, almost every time a vlogbrothers video is uploaded, in the first 24 hours, there is one like for every 10 views.  Like, here's a video with 75,700 views and 7,600 likes.  Here's a video with 99,000 views and 9,900 likes.

This is true for both Hank and John videos and videos that get lots of views as well as those that get fewer views.  Sometimes it'll appear that the ratio is not holding, as in this video which has 30,000 views but 3.3K likes, until I go into analytics and discover that actually it has exactly 33,000 views and the view count on the watch page just hasn't updated.

Now, eventually, the ratio does go away.  After the first 24 hours, fewer people who watch the video click like and so the life of the video is decoupled from its likes, but for that first 24 hour period, the ratio has been incredibly consistent for now over 100 videos.  

Hank, you and I have been making YouTube videos for so long that we well remember the days back before likes, when viewers were asked to rate videos on a five-star scale, and in those days, we would often ask people to rate our videos five stars, because "it makes new nerdfighters", which it really did.  At least in those days, people who wouldn't have otherwise found our videos discovered them because the algorithm really valued the average rating a video got.  

Now, I have no idea what the YouTube algorithm values these days.  In fact, one of the chief joys of my professional life is no longer having to chase the whims of YouTube's recommendation engine, but I rather suspect it's not as simple as 'every time someone likes this, we show it to ten people', although I don't know, maybe it is and I've just cracked the code.

So for the last several years, we've actually made a point of not asking people to like and subscribe to our videos because one, we feel like the average YouTube user hears that enough during the course of their day, and also, two, we don't really want the most possible people to watch our videos.  Like, I have seen the comment section of trending videos and I don't want to live there.

We want our videos to reach people who will find something useful in them or build connections that are helpful to them and we recognize that this super old school YouTube style is not for most YouTube viewers.  As you've said a lot to me over the years, Hank, what matters is not how many people watch our videos, but how many people care about our videos.  

Also, I think partly because we've been around here for so long, it just feels kind of uncomfortable or disingenuous to ask people to like or subscribe or to try to find the clickbait-iest thumbnail, like, almost every video I've made for the last several years has featured whatever thumbnail YouTube chose for me, not because I think that's like, the right way to do it, but because I think it's right for this particular channel and this particular viewership.

In fact, I suspect the real reason there's this astonishingly consistent ratio between likes and views is that our audience is really consistent.  Whether you're new here or you've been around for a long time, and I would be interested to know in comments, by the way, thank you.  Thank you for sharing your attention with us and I really don't want to do anything to mess that up, but I am also a little curious...

I feel really nervous.  I feel like I'm like, asking someone to prom or something.  Could--could--could you click that little thumbs up button for me, and then we can break the cycle at last, or perhaps discover that the ratio is really real.  Probably not, but please like the video so I can disprove the theory.  Thanks again for being here with us.

Hank, I'll see you on Friday.