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Why YouTube views freeze at 301

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 YouTube 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 Google 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, that’s 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 doesn’t 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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