This site provides links to random videos hosted at YouTube, with the emphasis on random. We get asked all the time why we don’t have a page for people to submit their own “random” links. The reason is quite simply because this would undermine the very randomness that we are aiming for in the database. (Having said that, we do have a channel page now where you can submit a channel ID and then watch random videos from that channel. These videos are not added to the main database though.)
The original idea for this site actually stemmed from another idea to provide a way of benchmarking the popularity of a video against the general population of YouTube videos. There are probably sites that do do this by now, but there wasn’t when we started out. Anyway, in order to figure out how popular any one video is, you need a pretty large sample of videos to rank it against. The challenge is that the sample needs to be very random in order to properly rank a video and YouTube doesn’t appear to provide a way to obtain large numbers of random video IDs.
Even if you search on YouTube for a random string, the set of results that will be returned will still be based on popularity, so if you’re using this approach to build up your sample, you’re already in trouble. It turns out there are a multitude of ways in which the YouTube search function makes it very difficult to retrieve truly random results.
So how can we provide truly random links to YouTube videos? It turns out that the YouTube programming interface (API) provides additional functions that allow the discovery of videos which, with the right approach, are much more random. Using a number of tricks, combined some subtle manipulation of the space-time fabric, we have managed to create a process that yields something very close to 100% random links to YouTube videos.
Here are some interesting facts about the database:
If you would like a small sample of video IDs from our database for research purposes, please contact us directly. Please do not try to grab a copy of the database by writing a script to scrape video IDs from the site. We do monitor the site and if we find anybody doing this, they will be Rick Rolled. :-)