YouTube Engineer Demystifies the Secret YouTube Video Algorithm

Ever wonder how the YouTube gnomes select the videos they do for your search queries and recommendations ? Well, the process has been helpfully demystified — well, somewhat anyway — by Cristos Goodrow, a director of engineering for the Google-owned video platform. In the interview video released by “computers and computer stuff” channel Computerphile, Goodrow explains some of the how’s and why’s of YouTube’s video selection algorithm, but not the whole thing because YouTube doesn’t want you gaming the system, after all.

Particularly interesting for the creators and viewers who get upset that videos with the highest view counts don’t show up first: Goodrow explains it’s because doing that would exclusively push older videos at the newer, more relevant videos’ expense. Kinda duh, right? Also, Goodrow confirms what we already knew about time watched being an important part of their algorithm, and then goes on to explain that time viewed is an indicator of relevance — the difference between a clip of someone talking about a boxing match versus a clip of the actual boxing match, per his example. Oh, you clever YouTube gnomes, you.

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