Of course I am being facetious. This is CogDogBlog after all. And yes, we mostly all know who owns YouTube.

But for being the company that pretty much rose like a behemoth from the litter of Altavista, Lycos, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, Web Crawler, Dogpile (my favorite name), why is the search functionality in YouTube so… sloth-like?

You know those tags some of you enter when uploading a video? Who knows how they are used, but four years ago, YouTube changed their search tool so that you could no longer search on tags (ostensibly because other people had abused tags) (I feel so grown up typing words like “ostensibly”).

No one noticed. I did. Because it broke the way a site worked.

Here is a fun sloth fact I found out today. Let’s say you have a published YouTube video. You realize perhaps the title does not reflect the topic well enough, so you add a more descriptive word to the title, editing the video’s properties.

How long would you think it should take for YouTube to be find your video searching on that word? 30 seconds? a few minutes?

Sorry kids. It’s more like… hours. Or maybe days.

This all happened because Amanda Coolidge asked in the new Creative Commons Slack space:

If you post a Youtube video and mark it as CC BY, how do you ensure that it shows up in the CC search tool?

I am 99.999% sure Amanda knows where to make that change (pencil icon to edit video, Advanced options, than hunt for the license options. All two of them.

I decided to run my own test, I went to slow motion silly video I posted last summer of Brian Lamb staring at an art piece at the University of Guadalajara, appropriately titled it “Confusiasmo” for the fun word Nancy White instills into our workshops there. Heck, i will embed the video… because I can.

It has a total of a whopping 13 views, hey that’s double digits, a big number for me.

I went in and changed it’s license from YouTube Standard to CC-BY, and did this at 11:50am PST on October 25,2016 (noting so I record how long it takes to show up in search).


The update on the video shows up immediately, as one expects.


I went to the Creative Commons Search, selected YouTube, and entered Confusiasmo. I did get a video of Brian, but it is not the one I just updated, it’s a different one. It’s been almost three hours, and YouTube’s search on Creative Licensed videos with Confusiasmo as a search term is not updated:


But I did learn a nifty trick, of how I can search for Creative Commons licensed YouTube videos without jumping over to the Creative Commons site (their site actually takes your terms and search site and redirects the query back, it works, but is almost an extra step) (no offense CC!).

So you can filter YouTube search results simply by adding ,creativecommons to the search box, like this one to find all CC licensed videos mentioning UDG Agora:

Bonus shortcut tip of the day! Restrict YouTueb searches to open licensed ones by adding to the query
Bonus shortcut tip of the day! Restrict YouTube searches to open licensed ones by adding to the query

YouTube will find my video if I remove the filter for Creative Commons.

Of course I do not know how YouTube search works. It’s likely insanely complex and dangerous. Yahoos like me think they know what’s going on.

But it seems ironic that being owned by Google does not mean your search will reflect the changes you make to your content.

Confusiasmo sin entusiasmo.

Top / Featured Image: Yep, I am using my new favorite image search thing with my own browser shortcut search — in Chrome I typed mc in my URL box, then TAB, added sloth, pressed RETURN, and BOOM! Tons of open licensed images.

The one I chose is flickr photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink https://flickr.com/photos/marthaenpiet/7409858682 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

The post "What if YouTube Was Run By People Who Know Internet Search?" was originally yanked out of the teeth of a rabid chicken at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2016/10/search-sloth/) on October 25, 2016.


  • Maha Bali

    You forgot one other way: Google the video you’re looking for on Google itself outside of YouTube. Works better than searching within YouTube. Often.
    But yeah. Whoever designed Google search never met whoever designed YouTube’s v annoying and stupid search (i now realize it’s not just me having trouble w YouTube search so thank you). Lemme know what happens when u Google it instead

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

      I did not forget about that, I just did not write it ;-)

      I chose a video with an unusual word it in (my friend Nancy’s combination of “confusion” and “enthusiasm” as “confusiasm” or for our Spanish speaking colleagues, “confusiasmo”). I did show that the normal YouTube search for “confusiasm” finds my video. Search works.

      What I was testing was would search pick up change in a parameter for the video I modified, changing the license from YouTube Standard to Creative Commons. You can filter searches on YouTube for CC; and so logic suggests if you make a change like I did, at some time in the future (idealy seconds), the filtered search would find it. Nope. Not even now 9 hours later.

      I thought that an outside Google search might help, but there is no way to include the filter for CC licensed videos, that’s supposedly built into YouTube. But I did just try it– and the results were even worse (my query was “confusiasmo” site:youtube.com) – it did not even find my video, it instead returned a bunch of other videos of mine (trying to be relevant).

      When you get into weeds, search is rather suspect.

  • Michael Smith

    I wonder if this has to do with how Youtube evaluates what’s eligible for a Creative Commons license. Since the video was previously marked as copyrighted does that make it ineligible? The ToS and most other writing I found generally spoke about the licensing of the video at the moment of publication.

    Maybe try a new video with “cunfusiasmo” as the title and published as CC BY.

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

      That’s interesting, but to me seems to be counter to what I thought Creative Commons allows for letting a creator decide at any time the license of choice. Hmm. will be worth a test.

  • Sanford A Arbogast

    still not there and according to my search you only have 11 views, so YouTube noticed your article and punished you for it

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What if YouTube Was Run By People Who Know Internet Search? by CogDogBlog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.