Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Google algorithm picks funniest YouTube clips

Wendy Zukermann, Asia-Pacific reporter 117148195.jpg

When it comes to humour, there's no accounting for taste.
A research team at Google has created an algorithm to rank the best comedy videos on YouTube. While the list keeps changing, the algorithm seems to be drawn towards the slapstick end of the spectrum. For example, a video called Ceiling Fan Trick Knockdown is top of last week's top clips. Clocking over 1.6 million hits it shows a man whacking his head on a moving ceiling fan as he tries to retrieve a tomato hanging on a string.
The Google comedy scale was devised to help with YouTube's Comedy Slam, which asks voters to pick the funniest clips on their website. In a recent blog post, Google researcher Sanketh Shetty described how the algorithm was created.
The algorithm analysed clips uploaded on the site's comedy category. The video's title, description, and viewers' comments as well as audiovisual information, such as shaky camera motion or audible laughter, were used to teach the algorithm what humans regard as funny.
According to Shetty, viewers' comments were particularly informative. For example, the algorithm learned that sounds associated with laughter such as hahaha, hehehe, jajaja (Spanish laughter), kekeke (Korean giggles) were associated with funnier clips, as did web acronyms such as lol and rofl, and emoticons such as :) and ;-).

The algorithm also picked up nuances in the comments - such as capitalisation (LOL), elongation (loooooool), repetition (lolololol), and exclamations (lolllll!!!!!) - to decipher the funnier clips.
According to the Google comedy scale, the funniest clip of all time is spoon hit head: a clip that stars three New Zealanders hitting each other on the head with wooden spoons.


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