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How YouTube Works

YouTube Layout
This screen greets new YouTube users when they log onto the site.
This screen greets new YouTube users when they log onto the site.
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First-time visitors to YouTube might feel a little overwhelmed when they arrive at the main Web page. The page shows thumbnails of videos currently being watched by other users, a list of promoted videos, a larger video window on the right featuring a sponsored video and a list of featured videos farther down the page. There's also a search field that visitors can use to look for videos about a particular person or subject.

The main page has tabbed links to four other important YouTube sections: videos, categories, channels and community. Each tab lets you search for videos in different ways. Let's take each tab individually:

  • The videos tab takes you to a page where you can browse videos based on various statistics, including the most recently uploaded videos, the most viewed videos, videos with the highest member ratings and videos that many members have picked as favorites.
  • The categories tab arranges videos into broad subject categories, like autos and vehicles or entertainment. YouTube doesn't decide where videos should go -- the video's creator designates the appropriate category when he or she uploads the video.
  • The channels tab divides videos into sections based on the type of member who uploaded the videos. In other words, you can search for videos uploaded by comedians, directors, gurus, musicians, nonprofits, partners and sponsors. Videos within each category are not grouped by subject matter.
  • The communities tab divides videos into two sections: groups and contests. Groups are organizations formed by YouTube members focused on a particular subject or theme. Contests are competitions and games sponsored by YouTube members -- each contest has different rules and prizes.

In the next section, we'll learn more about the different member accounts offered by YouTube.