How to use YouTube views to measure fame

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This is going to be your guide for using YouTube view counts to measure the obscurity or the visibility of a word, person, place, or thing. Everybody knows that Taylor Swift is famous, but have you ever wanted to quantify her level of fame? Well, you have come to the right place. The YouTube views' algorithm is an excellent way to measure how obscure or how famous or known something is. After reading and following this guide, you will know how to quantitatively answer questions like, "How famous is Justin Bieber?" and "How obscure is <insert fancy, obscure word here>?" Loosely speaking, "famous" means that, if you were to ask a random person on the street, there is a high or decent chance that the person will know who you're talking about, and "obscure" means that a random person on the street is unlikely to know who you are talking about. The same thing goes for words.

Definition and procedure[edit | edit source]

The popularity of a word is measured by the view count of the most viewed YouTube video that has that word in its title. Obviously, since "Baby Shark" is the most viewed video as of November 2022, any words that appear in that video's title, especially "baby" and "shark", are automatically in the group of words tied for the most popular words. "Baby Shark" has over 11,602,847,360 views to date. Since music videos in general tend to be viewed in the millions, sometimes even the billions, words that appear in song titles tend to become extremely popular. An obscure word is defined as a word for which one of the following is true: 1) The word is not part of any video's title, or 2) The most viewed video with that word in the title exists and has less than or equal to 100 views. Of course, obscurity and visibility/popularity run on a spectrum, and they are not based on a binary comparison with this threshold, so don't assume that videos with 101 or 102 views are much higher than videos with 98 or 99 just because the first pair is on the opposite side of the 100-view line as the second pair. And of course, the more, the merrier; what this axiom means is that the more views are on that top video for the word you are studying, the more popular that word is, and the more likely the average user is to encounter that word. A well-known word is a word that an average person has a reasonable chance of encountering, and an obscure word is a word that an average person is very unlikely to encounter.

The fame of a person is measured by the view count of the most viewed YouTube video that has the person's name in the title. This can sometimes be tricky, as there are 8 billion people on Earth, and many people share the same name. From the context and content of the video, it must be clear that the person's name in the title is referring to that person, not someone else who happens to share the same name. For example, Michael Jackson's Thriller video (which has 854 million views to date) is a video about Michael Jackson, the King of Pop (1958 – 2009), and not a video about other people named Michael Jackson, such as a Canadian actor born in 1970 and an American soldier who lived between 1734 and 1801. It is also preferrable that the person plays a significant role in the video; that way, the chances that the average viewer will notice that person in the video are high. Search for the person's first and last name, or, for celebrities with stage names, search for their stage name, and filter the results by view count. Examine each video carefully to ensure that the video is about the person you are looking for and not someone who shares the name. Remember, two John Smiths are still two different people, who, despite their shared name, can have different opinions, different birthdays, and different hobbies.

Examples[edit | edit source]

Words[edit | edit source]

  • Let's start big. "Baby Shark Dance", the most viewed video, has well over 11 billion views, making all the words in its title, especially the two focal words, "baby" and "shark", the most known words.
  • "Despacio", or alternatively, "Despacito", is the Spanish word for "slowly." But most people, whether they love it or hate it, think of the song before they think of it as a Spanish word, even though many are aware of the fact that this word means "slowly." So, if you say "despacito" to a stranger on the street, there is a good chance that they will at least think of the song, and maybe even sing that word and hum the rest of the chorus. And for good reason. This video is the second most viewed video on YouTube, with 7,996,000,000 views to date.
  • And now, let's move on to popular videos that also get near universal acclaim. The most viewed video for the word "someone" is Adele's "Someone Like You" video. Both the song and the video have received glowingly positive reviews overall. The video has 1,923,700,000 views.
  • "Clarinet" is a popular word. The most viewed video with "clarinet" in its title is "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A major, K.622", which shows a performance of this masterpiece of classical music. This video has 16,573,937 views.
  • Another word in the same etymological tree as "clarinet" is "clarion." Both words are ultimately rooted in the Latin word clarus, which means clear. "Clarion" is a popular word due to its visibility as both a component of the idiom "clarion call" and the abundance of proper names that use this word. Note that, in an academic paper, you must capitalize "clarion" if you are writing about Clarion School. Searching for "clarion" and filtering by view count, one would find that the most highly viewed of these is a short with 6.3 million views. If shorts are excluded, the next highest result is a "Clarion Call" video with 3.8 million views. A video about the Clarion School is no slouch in the views' game, either, coming in at 860,000 views. An audio for Scott Buckley's "Clarion" track has 387,000 views.
    • Much fewer people know the original noun sense of the word "clarion." In medieval times, it was a brass instrument. As a musical term, "clarion" has two meanings. It denotes both a type of trumpet and the upper register of a trumpet or clarinet. For the clarion instrument, there is a video with 7,048 views reviewing the Continental Clarion Trumpet. For the clarion register, the highest is a March 2012 video with 4,176 views: "Clarinet Express: Teaching the Clarion Register." Another video from September 2010 has 2,350 views. However, there are at least five videos in the 1,000 – 2,000 range that have "clarion" in the title and teach the clarion register. A video from ADictionary, a dictionary vocab channel, has a video for "clarion" with 1,285 views and defines it as a medieval brass instrument related to the trumpet.
  • Another instrument starting with the same three letters is "clavichord." It comes from a different Latin family, related to "clavicle" through clavis, the Latin word for "key." You may or may not have heard of a clavichord, but regardless, the world has. The world has definitely heard of the word "clavichord." Searching for this 10-letter word on YouTube readily gives rise to videos in the 5-digit numbers, 6-digit numbers, or even 7-digit numbers. Filtering by view count, the highest one in this set is a March 2010 video by BaroqueBand titled "From the Clavichord to the Modern Piano - Part 1 of 2", with 2,289,045 views. The same channel also uploaded Part 2 that same day, with a nearly identical title except replacing "Part 1" with "Part 2", and this video has 1,143,073 views, almost exactly half of the other video. Clavichords are clearly a popular topic, seeing as how there are several other clavichord videos by several different channels viewed in the 6-digit numbers (100,000 – 999,999).
  • As if we didn't already have plenty of "CLA" instrument words, portmanteaus of these words also exist. "Clarichord", a portmanteau of "clarinet" and "clavichord", has an entry on Wiktionary, but it is a very obscure word. The most viewed video with "clarichord" in the title has only 24 views. In fact, due to the huge difference in popularity of the two words, with five orders of magnitude between 24 and 2.2 million, searching for "clarichord" yields the message "Did you mean: clavichord." Not only is 24 a lot smaller than 100, but the traditional official cutoff between an obscure video and a popular video is 301 views. Prior to August 5, 2015, all YouTube videos reaching that number would temporarily "freeze" at that number until all 301 views are properly verified, with illegitimate views discarded. Once verification completes, the view count is updated, accounting for any legitimate views that came in during the verification period.
  • On the other hand, "clavinet", the reverse portmanteau of the same two words, has 476,279 views on its most viewed video. Not only is this vastly higher than 24, but 476K is decent by YouTube standards. This is more than one-fifth of the March 2010 video for "clavichord" with 2.2 million. This view count of 476,000+ is high enough that "Gangnam Style", which was once the most viewed video on YouTube, took nearly 24 hours to reach that number. Between "clarichord" and "clavinet", it is really night and day when it comes to popularity metrics.
  • Of course, by far the most popular word in the clarus family is "clarity." The music video for a 2013 song by this title by Zedd has 332 million views. If you, like me, have been a listener of pop music and radio stations for at least the last 10 years, there is a decent chance you remember this song. Most people who remember this song also have fond memories of it. This beautiful song has a rating of 81 based on 36 user ratings on Album of the Year, where zero is the lowest score, and 100 is the highest score.
  • The word "cliometrics" has moderate popularity. The highest video with this word in the title is Part 32 of a series by Joshua Hruzik, with 5,652 views. A video for "cliodynamics", the other one of the two sciences named after Greek muse Clio, has 14,219 views.
  • Despite having only two search suggestions ("paracordist creations" and "paracordist heart"), "paracordist" is a popular word, being in the titles of not one, not two, not three, but four videos above one million views. In all four videos, the word is being used as a noun and not as a company name. A June 2020 video titled "5 Knots Every Paracordist MUST Master" has 1.33 million views.
  • What rhymes with purple? Curple. In Chapter 3 of Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, Allison apparently overlooked this word as she went through the alphabet struggling to find a word that rhymes with purple while her friend Rondi had a very easy and fun time finding lots of words to rhyme with blue. And honestly, we can't blame Allison for not knowing that "curple" is a word. It is fairly obscure. There are two shorts with 25K and 16K, followed by a definition video with 995 views. A curple is defined as "the hindquarters or the rump of a horse, a strap under the girth of a horse's saddle to stop the saddle from kicking forward." Maybe it's time to start our "purple" poem now.
  • "Jostling" is a popular word. A movie scene from the 2016 film, The Boss, of "jostling each other's bosoms" has over 8 million views. Note that this video is age-restricted due to its content, so if you are under 18, you will not be able to view this video. If you are an adult but are not into that kind of content, the next highest video for the word "jostling" has 972,189 views ("Curb Your Enthusiasm: Jostling the Fetus"), and this video is not age-restricted.
  • "Mictomagnetism", a physics term, means "a form of quantum magnetism involving the overlap of wave functions." It is a very obscure word. Only one video on YouTube currently has this word in its title. That video has 11 views, making it extremely obscure. It's still far superior, however, to "mictomagnetic", whose video currently has zero views, and "mictoplasm" which has no video results at all.

Celebrities[edit | edit source]

  • Everyone knows that Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift are very famous. The view count test allows us to quantify their levels of fame. Both artists have videos that have been viewed in the billions. Justin's highest video to date is not "Baby", but "Sorry," with nearly 3.6 billion views. To help you comprehend the magnitude of this number, let's write it out for you: 3,600,000,000. Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" follows close behind, with 3.22 billion views, nearly 90% as high as "Sorry" is, so both Taylor and Justin are megastars. And it's not just their music, either. Both Taylor and Justin have been in plenty of interviews and news videos with millions of views.
  • Maren Morris is famous, but nowhere near as famous as those two are. Her highest video is a lyric video for "The Middle" with 339 million views.
  • Clitus Mixon (born 1991), a sports guy, is an obscure person. He is not famous by any reasonable standard. Not only is the sole video of him quite an old video (published March 25, 2010, over 12 years ago), but that video has a meager 2,140 views. Clitus Mixon lives in Baytown, Texas and is 31 years old as of 2022. He played for the Baytown FC, a local sports club, and placed 22nd in the 100-meter dash for young men.
    • Of all the music videos published in or after 2012 with 100 million views or more, the only known music video that did not surpass that number in ten hours or faster is Train's "Drive By", which got 3,216 views in its first 24 hours. Assuming linearity and setting up a proportion, this video got only 1,608 views in 12 hours. "Drive By" currently has 187 million views.
  • Martha Herbert, who published a book about autism, is only somewhat famous. Searching for her name quickly reveals results about the Martha Herbert that we're looking for, but those videos are viewed only in the hundreds or low thousands. The highest one, a video from April 2, 2012, titled "Dr. Martha Herbert says "Diet is Big" for Autism", has 38,859 views.
  • Temple Grandin's highest video is the July 2016 video, "Video Tour of a Lamb Plant Featuring Temple Grandin", with 7,232,596 views. She is way more famous than Martha Herbert and Clitus Mixon without even trying.