|Council of 300|
Title text: 'And hypnotize someone into thinking they've uploaded it and passed it around.' 'But then won't the uploader get suspicious that it pauses at 301+ for a while? Why don't we just forge the number entirel--' ::BLAM:: 'The Council of 299 is adjourned.'
YouTube (a video sharing site) used to have an odd quirk in its view counter. When a video hit 301 views, the view counter briefly stopped updating. This meant that YouTube was checking the views to make sure that no foul play was going on. The choice of the number 301 is due to a harmless off-by-one error; Numberphile produced a video that explains all this very well (and has comically its view counter frozen at 301). At times the number 301 would catch some YouTubers off guard — for very popular videos, it might appear that the video has more likes than views. However, this feature is no longer present.
Randall plays with the near coincidence of this number, and a conspiracy theory entity known as the Committee of 300. In this case, the video's first 300 views come from each of the Committee's council members who determine if the video will go viral. The video is then released to the public by sending it to a regular person (Cueball in this comic) making the total number of views 301.
The title text elaborates on this by explaining that the council also hypnotizes somebody to make him think they uploaded and shared that particular video.
According to the title text, the council does not seem to tolerate contradiction, because the member that suggests changing 301 to a random number to avoid suspicion is shot, silenced permanently, and removed from the council.
- [A secret society meets in a darkened chamber; a kitschy video involving two people and an RC helicopter is projected onto the background.]
- Master: ...then it is settled. We the 300 members of the Secret Council, decree that this video meets our standards, and shall "go viral".
- Master: send it to one of our agents to be leaked to the common folk.
- Steward: Some of them are noticing the number.
- Master: ...add a plus sign to throw them off.
- Steward: very well.
- [A communication sent to Cueball, one of the many unsuspecting plebeians of the world.]
- Email: Ooh! check out this great video I found!
- [Zoom in on the viewer count of a YouTube video.]
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This kind of doesn't make sense. I found the explanation for this comic through "Multiple Cueballs". There's only one. Some could argue that it's the guy speaking in the first panel, but it's only showing the front of his/her head. What if it's Ponytail? Or Hairbun? Or Rob? It doesn't show any hair.. but what if the hair is on the back of his/her head? Or what if it's a new character altogether? --JayRulesXKCD (talk) 11:34, 20 September 2016 (UTC)
This phenomenon is explained by a Google engineer on YouTube.
22.214.171.124 08:17, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
No reference to Committee of 300?. Sorry, I have no time to elaborate. --Palmpje (talk) 12:41, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
I think the first panel is poking fun at the complete irrelevance of merit in videos going viral (i.e. a kid crying about a celebrity or a horrible song that only got recorded because the "artist's" parents were rich). You could say it seems that merit makes a video less likely to go viral, but then you'd have to think about how a small percentage of the videos are worthy of virality, and you see that that percentage within the category of viral videos is proportionate. But, that said, a conspiracy by a dark cabal would answer more questions about this phenomenon more adequately than the commonly quoted, "people are stupid," so I think the first panel is a reference to this. Hence the, "We decree that this video meets our standards and should go viral." The explanation given above really only starts in the second panel. Plus, it wouldn't be the first time xkcd referenced and made fun of conspiracy theories.126.96.36.199 14:01, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
- To me, it's just a silly hypothetical link between the number 301 and the Committee (which I didn't know about until, like, just now). I wouldn't say that it's a biting commentary about Internet popularity, but different strokes for different folks. Alpha (talk) 16:50, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
- I can just see the guy doing finger quotes around "go viral". Wwoods (talk) 19:20, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
What's the helicopter-carrying-a-string video? Is that something specific and real? 188.8.131.52 09:56, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
- Looks like a black helicopter (a common conspiracy theory) to me. 184.108.40.206 19:41, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
301 is the number of people in the council plus the first regular person to view it. It's an obvious point, but we seem like we want to be complete. Not sure where to add it, so I'll let wiki-magic take care of that. 220.127.116.11 19:07, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
The council member in the second panel seems to have a collar. Has Randall every drawn figures like that? 18.104.22.168 12:45, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
The collar looks like a cape to me. 22.214.171.124 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)