Regular YouTube users are likely familiar with the number 301 — that mysterious point at which video view counts freeze temporarily, before eventually starting back up. The latest episode of Numberphile explores this phenomenon and finds that the reason behind it is actually quite simple. According to YouTube's Ted Hamilton, 300 was chosen as the point at which the site would start making sure that views were actually real views. And so once the counter reaches that point, a verification process takes place that looks at things like whether a video used a misleading title or thumbnail image, or even if a bot was used to add extra views, in order to prevent "counterfeit" views.
But why 301 and not 300? Hamilton explains that the slight discrepancy is actually due to the way the code was written, as the view counter is programmed to stop once views are greater than or equal to 300. And in cases where the number may reach a slightly higher count, like 302 or 308, that's due to views that are logged simultaneously. The goal is to have the number of views listed be as accurate as possible, but of course this also leads to awkward situations where a video has more likes than it does views. "We don't put likes through the same vigorous process," Hamilton says.