Blog Post

Organizing a YouTube Tournament

Hi everyone, this is my first post on HASTAC.  I wanted to blog about an event I am organizing--to let people know about it, as well as to see if I could get any useful feedback on the event and its design.

The idea for a YouTube tournament is one that I've had for a few years at least, growing out late-night sessions with good friends trying to astound and one-up each other with the treasures and oddities we could find on YouTube.  Being a fan of games and friendly competition, I thought, what if we could make this a bit more formal and organized, and make a social event out of it?  The friends I mentioned the idea to were enthusiastic, but alas, we never made it happen.

Fast forward to last spring, and Human Information Interaction class with Gary Marchionini at UNC's School of Information & Library Science.  We were given an amazing amount of freedom to work in groups on term projects and, after a few ideas sparked and faded, the YouTube tournament returned to me.  What better way to actually make this thing happen than to turn the work it would take into homework?  And to have a group working on it, their grades depending on its success?

So, we made it happen, and it went great.  Lots of people came out, twelve competed, and the crowd seemed genuinely excited and inspired by the event.  There was some confusion about the tournament's structure and rules, but in general things flowed smoothly.  The most common questions have been: Do you have to make your own videos?  No, you don't have to make a video, you can compete with any video you find on YouTube. Also, it's important to note that if you proceed to a second round, you must play a different video in each round.  There are more rules to know about in the slideshow below

The real intellectual question was how to design the event.  I won't go into too much detail on that right now--perhaps you could imagine how it would work, and let me know your thoughts?  A lot of our design decisions are being reevaluated as we anticipate our next event.

We are putting on our second YouTube Tournament in about a week and a half, on September 3rd in Chapel Hill, NC.  For this next iteration, I put together a slideshow trying to explain the event to would-be participants; I offer that here for your comment as well:

Please let me know if you're interested, curious, have any ideas or comments, think I'm crazy, etc.  Thanks!

For more information:
Facebook event --
Blog --
Twitter --
Videos played in the last tourney --



Thanks for posting!   Even from reading this, I'm still confused about the rules though and suspect others are.  Do contestants make the YouTube videos they compete with before a general audience?  Or do they choose a YouTube video already existing out there?  Is it about creative production?  Or creative presentation and then audience evaluation?  I can see either as being value but they are very different kinds of enterprises.   Also, does the presenter say anything or just show the video?


Thanks for giving us more details.


Hi Cathy, Thanks for your response!

That is probably the most asked question--I should have answered it in the previous post!  Participants don't have to make the videos*, rather it is a competition of searching, discovery and sharing.

The contestant is briefly interviewed before/after their video is shown, and then the audience votes after both videos of the match have been shown.  So yes, there is an element of creative presentation.  If they proceed to a second round, they must show a different video there.


*However, if they wanted to, they could show a video they made (possibly specifically for the competition), and this might be a strategy for winning.


I guarantee I won't be the only one to ask so maybe go back and edit your comment and make that clear? It's a great, fun event and we'll be happy to publicize it and I think you can also add it to our events calendar. 


Good idea--post edited. Explaining the event has always been our biggest difficulty!  And I'll add it to the events soon, too.  Thanks!