The first YouTube Channel I subscribed to was TheLaughFactory, a comedy club featuring renown comedians and fresh faces. The channel currently has over 700 videos; some are absolutely hilarious, and some are absolutely terrible. Unfortunately, YouTube makes it incredibly difficult to find the best videos.
I first search for “TheLaughFactory” and sort by View Count. The top results are clips of Dave Chappelle, Chris D’Elia, and Bobby Lee. This isn’t showing me the funniest videos — this is showing me the most popular comedians that have performed at The Laugh Factory. While these results may not be completely useless, I just want to watch great performances, regardless of comedian popularity.
I then search for “TheLaughFactory” again but sort by Rating. Now the top results are of videos with 2,077 views, 269 views, 143 views, etc., and some aren’t even uploaded by TheLaughFactory. These videos have such few raters (e.g. 2 likes, 0 dislikes), so technically they’re the “top rated.” But this obviously isn’t what I’m looking for.
First of all, If I’m sorting by Rating, why the fuck doesn’t YouTube show ratings next to the results? Second of all, how has YouTube not implemented functionality to omit videos with few raters from the Rating Sort. It’s like looking at NBA 3-PT FG % leaders; nobody wants to see a list of guys that have attempted four or five 3s and made them all. We want some minimum requirements or perhaps an adjusted rating.
Fortunately, they’ve already thought about this at IMDb. Top 250 list uses a Bayesian estimate to adjust the rating based on the following inputs:
- Original rating
- Number of votes for the movie
- Minimum number of votes required to be listed in the Top 250
- Mean vote across the whole list
Basically, the adjustment moves each rating closer to the mean. The magnitude of the adjustment is based on the number of votes. A well-rated video with many votes will have a smaller adjustment than a well-rated video with few votes. In essence, it rewards well-rated videos with many votes.
I wrote a small script to perform this adjustment on TheLaughFactory catalog. Here are the top 15 videos based on the adjusted ratings:
- Godfrey – Gingrich
- Dave Chappelle – Kramer
- Dov Davidoff – Love Drug
- Jay Larson – Wrong Number
- Chris James – Black British Accent
- Brent Morin – Bad at Leaving
- Bobby Lee – Korean War
- Dave Chappelle – Man Rape
- Godfrey – African
- Tony Rock – Stoner Philosophy
- Al Madrigal – Day Laborer (EXTENDED)
- Dave Chappelle – The Secret
- KT Tatara – Dumb Girls
- Bobby Lee – Asian Parents
- Moshe Kasher – Hairy Arms
The results are certainly an improvement over YouTube’s current offerings. While the popular comedians are still ranked high on this list, there are some unfamiliar names. And all of these videos have a significant number of raters, so I’m not just getting videos with a small sample of generous raters.
But the list isn’t perfect. All three of Dave Chappelle’s LaughFactory videos are in the top 15; they’re funny, but not hilarious. This is expected. Not many people are going to dislike a Dave Chappelle stand-up, especially when considering these videos came up after his extended absence. Also, YouTube lets users express their opinion in three ways: Like, dislike, or don’t rate. In YouTube’s rating formula, a like counts as a 5, and a dislike counts as a 1. It’s a bit misleading to convert categorical ratings to numerical ones — not all likes are the same.
So YouTube could do two things to improve the adjusted rating. First, offer a numerical rating system to give users the opportunity to show how much they like or dislike a video. Second, implement a professional rating system similar to Amazon Vine, and give those ratings more weight. Amazon invites the most trusted reviewers to post opinions about new items to improve the experience for everyone else. Similarly, a qualified comedy fan’s ratings could be given more weight when ranking YouTube videos to provide the rest of us with a higher-quality experience.
Will this ever happen? Probably not; what new feature has YouTube ever offered since it came out nine years ago? Sure, higher video resolutions are allowed, but the maximum audio bitrate is still a piece of shit. Thank god for Adblock, or I’d still be wasting my time watching a 60 second advertisement for a 30 second video. YouTube also started forcing Google Plus down our throats in a pathetic attempt to save their shit social network. With all their interface redesigns, I don’t even see funny YouTube Comments anymore.