Watts Up With YouTube Views

Anthony Watts often pokes fun at campaigns, or any public messaging, about global warming. This time he did it with the video in which president Obama states he’s going to announce his climate plans:

AP: Obama says he’ll unveil climate plan in Tuesday speech ‘for the sake of our children’.
It seems though, that the world is making a collective yawn (consensus?) so far given the views. The video has been up for several hours and has only a few hundred views and has 437 “likes” as of this writing.

obama climate video

As someone who releases most of his science content on YouTube, let me explain something about how YouTube counts views. If you see a 301+ view count it means that you went above 300 views and now YouTube is going to verify if the views you’re getting are legit. This has as a consequence that the view count isn’t updated anymore in real-time and you will have to wait several hours before they update (this can take up to a day before it’s updated).

This is a well-known practice of YouTube that they is applied to all videos that are uploaded to this site. It’s their quality control so views stay valuable and aren’t gamed; something that’s publicly documented in many of their help pages. I’ve seen at least one person pointing this out in the comment section of his website.

It’s now two days later and the video now has 240,000 views, 2000 likes, and 1000 dislikes. Which means this video so far has done extremely well if you compare it to the view counts of other videos on the White House YouTube channel. Hardly a “collective yawn” as Anthony put it.

Things like this is part of why I’m not a fan of Anthony Watts, he’s too eager to mock his opponents. Which leads to publishing what comes across as a very silly article to people who understand how YouTube views work.

Update 2013-06-24 at 18:08:

Anthony noticed my tweets about this and he has an interesting defense.

His first retort was that he was factually correct as that was what the data showed at the time. To be fair he hadn’t seen this blog post yet, but how the YouTube view count works was pointed out in his comment section, so he should have known this isn’t a valid argument.

The second argument from him was that “of course the view are high now, WUWT threw a lot of traffic at it, and alerted others which RT/RB 4 more. No surprise there.

Firstly you can’t claim that without knowing what the actual statistics are that YouTube tracked. The YouTube Analytics can answer this as it shows from where traffic came from, but this isn’t public information.

Secondly is that I know this effect isn’t as big as Anthony might think it is. There is another video he shared on his website over a year ago and it has 23,000 views. If we would attribute all of those views to Anthony it would at most explain 9,2% of the current views (the White House video currently has 250,000 views).

So no Anthony, you’re not the source of a significant part of those views. Especially if you take into account this video is shared on a lot of websites.

Collin Maessen is the founder and editor of Real Skeptic and a proponent of scientific skepticism. For his content he uses the most up to date and best research as possible. Where necessary consulting or collaborating with scientists.