For a list of memes on YouTube, see Memes.Youtube
"What happens in D.C. stays on YouTube!
For recommendations, see YouTube Recommendations
is a video sharing site that has achieved worldwide popularity since it launched in 2005. While the official purpose of the site is to host amateur videos and promotional clips, it is unofficially the place where you can watch copyrighted materials from all types of mediums, search for random/odd clips and/or check out the latest blog entries and videos from notable users. It was founded by programming students Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim; the idea came to Karim when he had trouble finding clips of two major events in early 2004: The South Asian tsunami and later Janet Jackson
's Wardrobe Malfunction
at that year's Super Bowl
halftime show. Yes, Janet Jackson's exposed nipple helped lead to the creation of YouTube.
Prior to Google's purchase of the company in late 2006, YouTube was a much smaller place. It hosted communication between individuals, who used it visually in otherwise the same manner as they had previously used Usenet or IRC. YouTube was also once the host of a number of people who had alternative news and media shows, but the opinions of such people were often extreme, or otherwise politically incorrect, and most of them have now been banned.
Users can upload their videos on whatever subject they want (unless it violates the "Community Guidelines" or someone files a copyright claim because they didn't like the video). The quality often ranges from below Ed Wood
-type works to studio quality materials, depending on what it is. Surprisingly, a lot of the personal videos of individuals often do have something to say that are actually worth watching and listening to. Some of the material is actually supplied by studios, including music videos which were uploaded by authorized agents of the record company (alongside dozens of nearly identical copies uploaded by delirious users.) It should be noted that YouTube is also a place to watch some of the movies and shows that have never officially been released
, or are downright unavailable anywhere else
. Same goes for rare music.
Speaking of said rare music, if while browsing YouTube, you come across something you like, it's generally a good idea to download a permanent copy of it. Deletion of videos for various reasons is a common occurrence mainly fueled by copyright holders. As described above, YouTube also now has probably the most rabid copyright enforcement on the Internet, which greatly exacerbates the fleeting nature of its content. Indeed, following a few links on this very site may easily result in seeing a warning that a certain video has been deleted (along with its poster's account) for warnings of copyright infringement.
sources (including the BBC World Service) claim that anywhere from 6 to 36 hours
of video is uploaded to the site — every minute
. Everyone probably has a favorite video(s) or their favorite videographer with his own channel.
There's been a serious and somewhat harsh crackdown on copyright infringement over the past couple of years; expect to click to see a video, such as an Abridged Series
, only to find there's no audio, but the video is still intact (for the moment) along with a large amount of rage in the comments section, and maybe a Samaritan posting a link to some foreign site unaffected by American law (or it's another site forcing you to take a survey to watch a video that's impossible
to see anywhere else). YouTube can't be blamed for this, though; they're facing multi-billion
dollar lawsuits from entertainment companies, which leads to videos being taken down under the DMCA
unless someone contests they're to be Fair Use
(or not even infringing copyright), even if this includes in mistakingly removing videos from official music channels (on at least two occasions) in the process. This has led to the phrase "Watch it before it gets taken down" for any rarely seen copyright show or movie. The end result is that many people who rely on parodying or reviewing copyrighted works (which has been long-recognized as fair use) have largely jumped ship to more creator-friendly sites such as Revver or blip.tv. This has been mollified of late with entertainment companies embracing the internet model more and uploading their shows and music videos on an ad-supported on-demand basis, although there remain angry comments on these videos bemoaning the fact their authors can't willingly and knowingly infringe copyright anymore, it's YouTube after all.
YouTube has basically held to the standard that they're not liable for user-supplied content, and because they do promptly remove clips when a copyright infringement notice is received, the courts have agreed with them. Viacom's lawsuit for over a billion dollars against YouTube was tossed out because of the DMCA safe-harbor provisions that exempt a website from being liable for infringement caused by content supplied by users as long as it promptly removes it when a copyright holder complains. YouTube, however, has made some changes including obtaining a compulsory license note
which covers all ASCAP-licensed music that appear in any clip posted on YouTube.
On any given day, you will find:
- Epic Fail videos, which mainly consist of someone trying and failing to pull off a stunt.
- Snarky blogs by online users.
- The latest trailer for a major movie release, usually copied off a website.
- Cat videos.
- Durability tests wherein an electronic device is either smashed with a sledgehammer, lit on fire, or shot with a gun.
- Several videos from a recently-held sporting event (bonus points if it involves a ridiculously improbable shot or goal).
- Political commentary videos.
- Videos promoting conspiracy theories, usually something along the lines of a musician being a member of The Illuminati.
- Parts of the latest episode of America's Next Top Model.
- American Idol/Britain's Got Talent performances.
- A spam filter for the comments section.
- A video that's been marked as age-restricted despite the content being similar to non-restricted videos.
- A video that had its audio removed due to one of its music tracks not being authorized by a major record label.
- A video removed for copyright infringement (often times, the user would get a warning strike for that, And then they have to watch The Web Animation:Happy Tree Friends Copyright Lawsuit School video and take the trivia questions about Copyright).
- A video removed because the YouTube account associated with that video is deleted (for example: The account was banned due to Multiple or Severe Community Guideline Violation, or Multiple or Severe Copyright Viloation, or they just closed their account).
- A video removed by the user of his or her own accord for reasons unknown.
- A video set to private for inexplicable reasons even though it was public when you added it to your playlist.
- Videos of people doing everyday, ordinary things, or just playing around.
- Videos complaining about YouTube censorship.
- Screamers and Jump Scares in general(protip) .
- The occasional Rick Roll.
- Youtube Poop.
- Video game Lets Plays and walkthroughs.
- A video of someone taking something out of a box.
- A prank that's not related to Screamers.
- Videos with millions of views about people talking about absolutely anything while playing video games.
- Videos that begin with a montage of parts of games put to a song as an intro.
- Videos that end by asking the viewer to subscribe to the channel.
- Pony videos.
- Animated Music Videos.
- Strange videos featuring a tall, faceless businessman.
Other Youtube Video Staples
- Anime - usually in several parts and fansubbed/dubbed.
- Commercials so old that even your grandmother hasn't seen them.
- Commercials so weird even your grandmother can't make sense of them.
- Concert footage shot on low-resolution cell phones.
- Tons of cosplay otaku girls and guys, for good or ill.
- Tens of thousands of fake emergency alert tests. Many real EAS and EBS videos (mainly tests and tornado warnings) have been uploaded over the years.
- Episodes of still-running or forgotten TV shows. Some users will trick people into viewing their video by uploading a spoof image of an expected episode and filling it with spam, a still image, or a link to their own site instead. However, a portion of the site is dedicated to officially uploaded full seasons/series for shows ranging in age from the 60's to the late 00's. Not outside the US (and sometimes Canada and/or the UK).
- Flash animation videos from sites like Newgrounds or Nico Nico Douga.
- Funny captions that are (for the most part) way, way off from what's being spoken.
- Video Game playthroughs (especially of older or not-exported games, or Nintendo Hard Platform Hell titles complete with expletive-laden running commentary.
- Old movies in multiple parts.
- Parodies of almost any popular song you can imagine.
- Popular scenes and moments from movies, TV shows, and the like.
- A song, particularly a music videos, played backwards (or, if the lyrics don't match the video's visuals, a "literal music video").
- Video game cutscenes.
- Videos of alleged ghost, Bigfoot and UFO sightings (that usually end up being screamers). A helpful tip: turn your volume off and read the comments before watching these videos.
- Videos of amateur performances of everything from covers of popular songs, to performances of original songs written by whoever is singing them, pre-taped videos of everything from school plays to dance recitals, etc.
- Videos of animals being cute.
- Videos of animals being terrifying.
- Videos of people making stunts with skateboards, snowboards, parkour or other extreme sports.
- Instruction videos of everything from making push ups to sewing Victorian era ball gowns.
- Videos with the Mondegreens invoked of what the words sound like to an English (or any other language) speaker.
- Videos wherein the author rantss on some topic of religion, evolution vs. creationism, or politics.
- Videos promoting Misplaced Nationalism and insulting a country or ethnicity, or just comments doing the same thing on a video that isn't promoting Misplaced Nationalism and just happens to be about a particular country.
- Videos of people doing really stupid things.
- Reaction videos, usually of something very nasty.
- Videos of politicians saying things they just went on record as denying having ever said.
- Videos of songs being performed in music-composing programs, including Mario Paint Composer.
- Videos of tourists driving or walking through foreign cities. Alternately, people conducting drives or walkthroughs of their hometown.
- Videos ultimately complaining about YouTube's copyright policy, or how to bypass it.
- Videos labeled "Bloopers" that turn out to be fanmade bloopers.
- Videos redirecting you to a website saying that you can watch the video there - that will force you to take a survey, never allow you to watch the video, and send you spam.
- Videos that have virus links. There's always one up. Most notably the spam you've been seeing on your Facebook profile, disguised as a link to something "shocking!". Either that, or it's a video saying it's the full movie of a film still in theaters, when it's really just a screencap or at most a trailer, with virus links in the description.
- Videos of kids throwing temper tantrums when asked to go off the computer and leave their online games.
- Videos of adults throwing temper tantrums when someone goes around and starts sabotaging games.
- Haul videos, wherein somebody displays and discusses the items that she/he bought during a recent shopping trip. These items can be anything from designer shoes to dental floss.
- "Unboxing" videos which go beyond "someone taking something out of a box" through "video dissertation on the quality of the packaging" to "video rant about the quality of the packaging."
- "X does Y for Z minutes", basically a particular scene looped around for a few minutes.
- A cell-phone shot video.
- Episodes of short-running TV series most people didn't even know existed.
- Videos with deformed people or animals, either real or a Special Effects Failure. Comments will usually have people wondering how they ended up at the weird side of Youtube again.
- Caramelldansen Vids
- 10 hour loops of memetic songs such as Rick Roll and Trololo.
- 10 hour loops of anything in general. Why not enjoy Space Core for 10 hours?
- Music that's extended to insane lengths.
- Touhou music remixes ranging from IOSYS-style denpa to J-Metal in English.
- Combat footage from Iraq and Afghanistan, mostly from helmet cameras.
- Amateur DIY videos revealing the "secret trick" to taking the radio out of an '88 Dodge or repacking the CV joints on a 2003 Honda with titles like "taking the [thingamabob] out of your [whatsit]".
- Self-proclaimed "booty shaking" videos. Miley Cyrus might have made "twerk" a household word in 2013, but the phenomenon got started on YouTube long before the term itself was in common parlance.
- Vine Compilations. Usually of all the above.
- Good old fashioned Paint Drying.
For better or worse, the site attracts a large amount of discussion and cringe-worthy
comments from users. A very popular trend
is to insult everyone who clicked the "dislike" button
for a video. The usual format is "(number of people who clicked the dislike) (insult)." (Note, though, that the positioning of the "Like" button just below the Play button makes it ridiculously easy
to fill your "videos liked" bin with stuff you didn't necessarily want there, and "disliking" a video you just accidentally liked is easier than editing your preferences.) Another popular trend is blaming anyone who dislikes a video on fans of another popular artist or work or the more ridiculous claim that a single person, usually said artist, created multiple accounts to lay multiple dislikes
on a single video. Also, if you look really
hard, you'll find a few Only Sane Users
who think that such trends and comments are stupid.
On websites where you can directly link to the video, you can also append a few functions to the end of the web address. For example, you can append "&t=[time]" to any Youtube link to move the video to that predefined position, e.g., "&t=1m20s" will take the video to the 1:20 position in the video automatically when the user clicks on it. Not entirely valuable, just a handy hint.
Very notable videos
- Several massively influential web series began on and were hosted by Youtube. These include:
- Ray William Johnson, who reviews the latest Viral Videos in his show called =3. He also made music videos under Your Favorite Martian until the project was retired.
- The Annoying Orange, whose first video al-Nye-heh-heh-heh-heh-one has more than 90 mil-Nye-heh-heh-heh-heh-lion views. Is now in a major television deal with Cartoon Network.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd started off on YouTube in 2006 before moving to ScrewAttack after his videos started becoming more popular.
- The Nostalgia Critic, along with Doug Walker's Five Second Movies
- Maffew's Botchamania is a long-running (and quite amusing) look at professional wrestling's least professional moments. After Maffew got his first two YouTube accounts suspended, he eventually started up his own site (which features many classic Botchamanias alongside brand new ones), and is still uploading brand new videos to YouTube via his third account.
- Hey! It's Fred!, created as a short series, and was eventually adapted into at least two Nickelodeon original movies and an official Nickelodeon TV show.
- lonelygirl15, which gained massive media recognition for being one of the first scripted web series to reach a mass audience (the first ever web series with an ongoing plot and real, professional actors was The Spot, which debuted in 1995). It codified most of the tropes seen in later vlog-driven series. It initially being mistaken for an actual, non-fiction vlog also earned it publicity early on.
- Tales of Mere Existence, a webseries that was popular enough to get noticed by the Showtime Channel, who commissioned a series of the shorts to play during interstitial breaks.
- Zero Punctuation
- Anna Akana, a filmmaker and actress who makes short films and comedic life advice videos.
- Bill & Doug (aka RVDTito4Life), who were hired by TNA Wrestling to be the hosts of their online show, TNA Addicts.
- Bo Burnham.
- Brotherhood 2.0/Vlogbrothers/Nerdfighters: Hank Green and John Green started a vlogging project. Now they're bigger than Oprah (on the internet). Their fans are known as Nerdfighters, and they fight for all things nerdy and strive not to forget to be awesome. If you like Star Trek, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Harry Potter, John's young adult novels, or anyone with an odd sense of humor, you're probably a Nerdfighter. Hank also writes and performs original songs for the vlog. Go watch. Due to their phenomenal success, they now both own studios where they produce related shows in which they may or may not appear.
- Crash Course: The brothers' take on Edutainment shows- Hank covers science topics, while John covers the humanities.
- The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern re-interpretation of Pride and Prejudice in vlog form. Has since reached its conclusion, but many other similar projects are likely to follow.
- Hank's Channel: Hank's own personal channel where he posts anything that doesn't fit anywhere else.
- Hank Games, a Let's Play / Machinima channel in which Hank (and occasionally John) plays video games and provides snarky commentary.
- The Miracle of Swindon Town, in which John plays the Fifa series while talking about stuff and making up backstories for his players.
- SciShow, an Edutainment show in which Hank and other people talk about various scientific topics.
- The Brain Scoop, about animal science, ecology and taxidermy, hosted out of the University of Montana's Philip L. Wright Zoological museum and later the Chicago Field Museum, by Emily Graslie.
- Sexplanations, a Laci Green-esque sex-positive education channel hosted by Dr. Lindsey Doe.
- Mental Floss (yes, based on that Mental Floss - John wrote for them for his first job), in which the brothers talk about trivia.
- Healthcare Triage, an educational medical variety show hosted by Dr. Aaron Carroll.
- Animal Wonders, a show centered around the Missoula, Montana-based educational wildlife facility of the same name. The host, Jessi Knudsen-Castaņeda, gained YouTube notoriety for her appearances with animal guests on SciShow.
- The Warehouse, a show based out of the Missoula, Montana warehouse for DFTBA Records, the Green brothers' own merchandise platform, hosted by employee Matthew Gaydos.
- Charlie Is So Cool Like. Probably best known for dyeing his whole body purple and singing.
- Charlie The Unicorn (which actually originates from New Grounds). It has more than 40 million views.
- "Chocolate Rain", an original composition by Tay Zonday.
- Daily Grace: A five days a week comedy show hosted and edited by Grace Helbig. Grace Helbig also appears on MyMusic as Idol, and also shoots You Deserve a Drink for Mamrie Hart. Appears often in the background of My Drunk Kitchen. Her show is well loved throughout the YouTube community. Daily Grace had 2.4 million subscribers until Grace's contract with My Damn Channel (the company that owns Daily Grace and paid Grace a flat rate for 5 years) ended. Grace has now started over on youtube.com/itsgrace and is quickly nearing 1 million subscribers.
- Grace is also the star of the movie Camp Takota that costars Hannah and Mamrie Hart (no relation).
- The Dancing prisoners of Cebu.
- The Darth Vader Sessions, which oh so hilariously blends footage of Vader with transdubbed lines James Earl Jones had from other roles in other films.
- The propaganda and music of the great Doctor Steel, who's been namechecked by several media outlets and shows, including Jay Leno and MTV.
- Edward Current, an atheist vlogger and humorist who plays a rather extreme Christian character.
- Evan Erwin, aka "mrorangeguy", hosts The Magic Show, which is purported to be the most popular video on Magic: The Gathering culture and highlights from someone not employed by Wizards of the Coast. The channel proved so popular that Wizards now gives him plenty of scoops and designer interviews.
- Geriatric1927, a senior citizen living in the United Kingdom, blogs about his life, his experiences, and his random thoughts. He's one of the of the few YouTube users to gain national media coverage, having been covered by CNN, the BBC and many other national news organizations. Sadly, he passed away in 2014.
- ItsJustSomeRandomGuy, who makes a clever, funny and occasionally moving meta- series mostly involving action figures of popular Marvel Comics and DCU superheroes comparing notes on their respective movie franchises, and usually degenerating in to snarky bickering in the process. Although starting off as parodies of Apple's 'I'm a Mac / I'm a PC' adverts, more recent postings have followed an ongoing narrative focusing on heroes and villains chilling out, with even their downtime leading to chaos and attempts to destroy the universe. See also Green Goblin's blog. Showing impressive vocal range, ItsJustSomeRandomGuy does all the voices (except the female characters, which are provided by ItsJustSomeRandomGal).
- The Joker Blogs are an imaginative, post-Dark Knight series that chronicle the Joker's time in Arkham Asylum. Not only is it well-written, but the actors are amazing (especially the person who does the Joker) and the sheer amount of clever nods to the Batman continuity alone make it worth watching. You can see it here.
- Diamanda Hagan: best known for her Bonekickers reviews.
- Hannah Hart, host of My Drunk Kitchen, in which much is drunk and little is cooked, and the occasional comedy short.
- Jenna Marbles: Former pinup model with a master's degree does comedy and rants, frequently at the same time.
- SF Debris: science fiction reviews that focus on Star Trek.
- World According To Jon: Opinions on nearly everything.
- Justin Bieber, believe it or not, actually began his career posting homemade videos of himself on Youtube (check out his original page here, although you'll have to scroll down a bit in the video list to find those homemade videos).
- Karen Alloy: Smoking hot redhead does hyperactive stream-of-consciousness comedy.
- Katers17 and TheHill88, both stars from the "original" YouTube days and one of the first Youtubers noticed by the mainstream media.
- A nice young lady named Kicesie (username) does non-graphic sex education videos. One video where she talks about oral sex (and just talks - there's nothing in this video you couldn't show in a public library) has upwards of 80 million views.
- Know Your Meme, a website that essentially categorizes and organizes Memetic Mutations.
- Laci Green, host of the show Sex+ and a popular sex educator. She's become something like Dan Savage for teenagers, except with less viewer questions and more one-woman sketch comedy.
- The Miley And Mandy Show, a series of (usually) random and silly videos posted and starring Disney Channel star Miley Cyrus and her friend, then-current backup dancer Mandy Jiroux. The videos were posted some time between 2008-2009, and at the peak of popularity included a series of Extreme Dance-Offs between Miley, Mandy, and their dancer-friends and member of other dance troupes; one dance-off made its way into a Teen Choice Awards show. Also notable for a small controversy in which M+M playfully mocked a video from a similar Disney-related pair making videos on YouTube, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, which was misinterpreted as being a product of a real life Selena/Miley rivalry.
- The Muppet Viral Videos, made by the actual Muppet Studios. Of particular note is their cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody", which got 13 million views in three months. Getting the Muppets back in the limelight this way may have very well helped them get back on the big screen.
- OMG! This girl is sooo hot!, a parody of any video posted to the site that fools users into thinking actual sexual content is contained in the video. Currently has more than 45 million views.
- Offer Void In Nebraska: Despite your having bought the track on original black vinyl, live concert versions, tape, DVD, and Greatest Hits album, when you try to watch the video on YouTube all you get is "This video contains content from SME, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds."
- PewDiePie is the biggest name on Youtube, let alone in gaming.
- The Philip De Franco Show, probably the most popular daily irreverent pseudo-"news" show on YouTube, posted with a thumbnail of an intentionally attention-grabbing and misleading hot girl and and equally misleading title.
- Polaris and most of its affiliates call YouTube home, including several notable gaming media producers:
- Red Letter Media started out doing reviews/critiques of the later films in the Star Trek franchise (among other things) on Youtube, but it wasn't until they put up a brutal, all-encompassing seven-part ereview of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in December 2009 that they got noticed by the Internet at large. You can start watching the Phantom Menace review here.
- The Remarkable Journey of Higgins von Higgings — Very short, but very awesome video.
- Shane Dawson, a youtuber who does sketch comedy, acting as all his characters.
- Ultimate Muscle Roller Legend. The less said about this video, the better.
- A Very Potter Musical, a musical parody based off the Harry Potter series written and performed by students from the University of Michigan.
- In the same vein, Potter Puppet Pals, which coined an entirely new genre in "animutation".
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. The creator, LittleKuriboh, has a Youtube account where he uploads new episodes and other miscellaneous stuff related to the series. Was likely the first fandubbed series to have episodes pulled off the site for copyright infringement. You can find it here. It can also be found on its own website.
- Community Channel by Australian woman Natalie Tran, who actually got her own TV spot as a result of her internet popularity.
- The "Shit [insert racial/social/gender group here] says" videos. It all started with "Shit Girls Say", and now every subculture is giving it their own spin.
- Song mixes of the song Space Jam and some other popular (usually anime/game) song, often with a photoshopped image of a character from the game or anime where the character's face is replaced by that of Charles Barkleynote .
- "Gangnam Style", a very strange and highly memetic South Korean music video with iconic dance moves (which are just as memetic as the song) that reached the spot of Youtube's most-watched video of all time after only four and a half months and is currently the most viewed by far.
- Epic Meal Time.
- Harlem Shake videos. In fact, The whole page can do it note
- Freddie Wong, who's become notorious for creating amazingly high-quality special effect videos with just amateur equipment and budgeting.
- The Slender Man Mythos. 96% of the video-based stories are on here, including the Big Three:note