why do youtube videos freeze at 301

If you spend a lot of time on YouTube, chances are youБve seen countless recent videos that have had their view counts frozen at exactly 301. But why? Ever since, YouTubers have suspected everything from a glitch to a conspiracy. But according to Ted Hamilton, a product manager for YouTube analytics, the answer is far more arbitrary than that. Speaking with
host Brady Haran, Hamilton offered the explanation in a dedicated to the mystery. БWe get asked about it all the time,Б he said. БI wouldnБt say that it causes angst, but I would certainly classify it as an annoyance. Б After a video reaches a certain number of views, Hamilton explained, YouTube tells the database to freeze the view count until YouTube can manually verify the correct count to protect against botting attemptsБi. e. using automated computer processes to artificially inflate the number of views.


YouTube view counts are initially tracked by servers near the end user. By looking at reports from these individual servers, YouTube engineers can detect suspicious patterns in the data. БAt some point the decision was made that we need to draw a line between what is innocuous and the database can handle and all of a sudden serious business,Б he said. БThe proportion was calculated to be at about 300. Б So why 301? Blame it on one YouTube programmerБs errant less-than-or-equal-to sign. The code tells the database to keep counting views up to and including the time when the count is equal to 300, allowing one final view to get counted before it freezes.


БWhoever wrote this code probably did not realize the magnitude of what they were doing,Б said Hamilton. БIt is now one of the idiosyncrasies of YouTube. Б When the Daily Dot reached out to YouTube after the freeze first appeared, a company spokesperson told us they were Бworking on it. Б However, HamiltonБs explanation should clear up the confusion once and for all. Update: In 2009,б YouTube personality HappyCabbie also explained the 301 bug in an informative video. Watch it. Photo via There is a curious little quirk on YouTube that many users have noticed over the years. The view count of some videos makes a not very brief stop off at 301 views. Even video from top accounts that go on to rack up hundreds of thousands of views often stays stuck at 301 views for hours or more.


A video (with many more than 301 views) attempts to demystify this oddity with a little help from Google itself. What it all comes down to, at the most basic level, is that considers YouTube views as a kind of currency to be protected from exploitation. Google is interested is ensuring that all the views you see listed are legitimate views, but what does that mean? If a bot starts racking up views, thatвs a serious problem, for example. Then there s the issue of people clicking on a video that turns out to be the complete wrong thing. Google doesnвt want any of that reflected in the view counts users see. But what about that 301 number?


Part of the issue is that YouTube caches each video in multiple locations to reduce loading times. Google needs time to gather all the view counts from those servers and tally them up intelligently. At some point, a video goes from being a small potato to become something of note. Before letting a video blow up, Google wants to be sure. As such, a dividing line was set up at 301. The code for YouTube simply uses raw numbers for any view count less than or equal to 300, but any more and the counting stops (at 301) until YouTube has checked everything out. At that point, it goes to the more complicated (and legit) view count. Due to the huge volume of videos on YouTube, this can take up to a day, but we all end up with less YouTube spam because of it.

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