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Avril is an anagram for "viral"

Some things achieve YouTube notoriety through some bizarre confluence of interest and desperation, like the six-second-long video clip of a startled prairie dog that took on epidemic proportions last year as a YouTube favourite known as the "Dramatic Chipmunk," which quickly gained more than 9 million views. Other things need a bit more, well... assistance. At the moment, a fan site devoted to Canadian pop singer Avril Lavigne is pushing hard to get Avril's Girlfriend video to become the most-watched YouTube video ever with almost 90 million views -- and they are using some shady tactics to get there.

At the moment, the top spot at YouTube is held by Judson Laipply's iconic "Evolution of Dance" video clip, in which the comedian demonstrates all the popular dance styles of the past five decades in one short video clip. Why is it so popular? No one really knows. In any case, a fan site called Avril Bandaids is trying desperately to push its heroine's video higher than the Evolution of Dance -- and in order to do so, it is not only sending out emails to fans to get them to watch Avril's video some more, but has set up an automated YouTube-view-boosting site. The page automatically reloads Avril's video every 15 seconds, so as to rack up as many hits as possible, and a letter from the site advises fans to keep a browser window open all day with the page in it.

Will such tactics get Avril to the top spot? Perhaps -- although YouTube ireportedly tracks IP addresses so that repeated views don't skew its numbers. In any case, there are a number of other tricks that marketers use to try and boost their YouTube views, including signing up for hundreds of fake user accounts under different names, or using popular (but misleading) keywords. A marketing specialist named Dan Ackerman Greenberg -- who helped teach an entire course at Stanford about Facebook and online marketing techniques -- wrote a post for TechCrunch in which he detailed some of the tricks. There are even sites that claim to be able to boost YouTube views for a fee.

Even if Avril does get to number one most-viewed video, however, she will still fall short in some other areas on the site: while the video is currently number one "most discussed (music)" and number one "most viewed (music)" it's still only number four for "most discussed (all time)" and an underwhelming number 15 for "top favorites (all time)." Automated page refreshing isn't going to change those numbers. And who is the most discussed and top favourite of all time? No surprise, really: it's The Evolution of Dance.

  1. Don Jenkins from Canada writes: How sad in this new world of ours that you can on the one hand say you're trying to win while on the other admit your tactics are basically cheating.
  2. Hypo Critic from Canada writes: This "23" year old high school girl is soo whatever!
  3. see see writer from Canada writes: RIVAL too.
  4. see see writer from Canada writes: wo -- grave villain, vaginal liver, vanilla giver, larva veiling. heavy, eh? no wonder the girl has problems.
  5. alpine digital from Pipestone, United States writes: It appears you failed to investigate this completely... While it is certain that fans have found a way to bump up the hit count for this video, that is not to say that the other counts are completely fair. If for instance, this site had a video embedded and the readers who wish to visit could care less about watching it but only come to read, that video still gets a hit. At present, however, Avril's Girlfriend video is one of many videos that does not allow this, and so actually reached the 2nd spot without that help. Let us not forget that Evolution of Dance was out 6 months before Girlfriend, and has since been slowly losing that lead. It is inevitable that Girlfriend would catch and surpass the EOD hit count, anyway. Really, who watches that video? It most certainly not as popular as that. When the catchy Girlfriend tune came out, it was popular enough that new movies would play it in the trailer even though the song is not on the soundtracks. All this aside, she is to so many - that little spice in life that has been the topic of controversy by people who believe she doesnt deserve the attention. On the other hand, she is #24 on MAXIM's hot 100 sexiest women and Forbes Magazines #8 highest earning celebrity under 25 yrs old. If that is not evidence of being deserving, then what is? The top spot is hers, and deservingly so. Its just going to take fans a couple weeks or so to even the score by making up for that 6 month head start. - ALF
  6. Margaret Rauh from United States writes: What was The New Yorker thinking? Will its next cover be of Senator McCain as a POW making a deal with the enemy to betray the USA to get out?

    This only gives those who believe he is a Muslin and unpatriotic fuel.

    The New Yorker certainly gets my vote for sabotaging the campaign!

    Margaret R.
    Shady Side, Maryland

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Ingram 2.0

Mathew Ingram is the Communities Editor at the Globe and Mail, and this is where he writes about things the Globe is doing to connect with readers online, and the interaction between the Web and media in general. Feel free to send him an email at mingram@globeandmail.com if you come across an interesting link, or post a comment and join in the discussion.

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