Dissecting John Best’s YouTube success


Luke Taylor

Screenshot from Best’s most viewed YouTube video, “I animated this in Desmos graphing calculator”

John Best is a junior at Clover Hill High School who began uploading content to their Youtube channel, JohnDoesStuff, in January of 2020. Best uploads content revolving around Desmos art, programming, and mathematics, and as of April 19, 2022, he has built a community of over 28,000 subscribers. 

This success was something that came as a surprise for Best, especially considering his reasons for starting the channel.

“I was a little surprised by [my] success on Youtube, mostly because I never really started it to get popular,” Best said. “I started [my channel] more as a personal documentation of some experiments that I carried out to cure my boredom, rather than to be viewed by other people.”

Nearly all of Best’s ideas sprouted from curiosity. Curiosity that would lead to results that were truly one of a kind.

“A way that I kept myself busy during quarantine was making content on Youtube,” Best said. “I would talk to my friends and come up with wild ideas and think about how crazy it would be for them to come to fruition. When [that happens], I like to actually fully realize those ideas, and see if I can satisfy my curiosity on how far I can push programs, as well as myself.”

Best’s earliest videos were ones of a maximalist nature where he would push anything and everything he could to its very limit and share the humorous yet impressive results with the world.

“My creative process usually starts off with an inkling of an idea, [and then] I think about ways that I can push something to its absolute limits that they usually were not designed to be pushed to,” Best said. “For example, Google has a little colorful dice roll animation that shows up when you search ‘roll a die’. Curious as to how far I could make this go, I wrote a program to replicate images using the dice, and I was able to share [some pretty] funny [results] on my channel.

As time has gone on, the scale of Best’s projects have increased in both size and complexity with their most popular project having taken over 2 months to complete.

“[The video I’ve made] that I would say I’m the most proud of is my second most recent video: ‘I animated this in Desmos Graphing Calculator’,” Best said.

As of April 19, 2022, ‘I animated this in Desmos Graphing Calculator’ has reached over 1.1 million views on Youtube.

“[‘I animated this in Desmos Graphing Calculator’] is a culmination of around 2 months of work carried out by using math to create visual art in Desmos,” Best said. “I titled the animation ‘Unveil’, and [in addition to posting it on Youtube], I submitted it to the 2021 global Desmos Math Art contest, and it was one of 20 finalists for the 17-18 age group of the over 10,000 submissions to the contest.”

Best has put an exceptional amount of work into their content, and fortunately, they enjoy every moment of it.

“I enjoy programming Desmos and math in general because there are always opportunities for growth and learning more,” Best said. “Of course, this could be said about [many] things, but I am a person who really enjoys thinking about things analytically and solving problems, and these present some of the more interesting problems that I can get my hands on.”

Best’s discovery of a creative outlet to share his hobbies with others was very much a happy accident. 

“I had no idea that my channel would gain any traction, but I’m happy that other people have seen my experiments, as I’m pretty proud of them,” Best said. “Recently the creator of Desmos, Eli Luberoff, subscribed to my channel, which was such a cool thing to see.”

What came as even more of a surprise to Best was how they’ve been able to inspire others on the platform to share similar content of their own.

“I’ve heard that people have been inspired by what I’ve made, and it makes me feel really good about myself,” Best said. “It’s a little funny because it makes me out to be some sort of a ‘noble’ person, when I’m really just sharing some things that I made while I was bored.”

Ultimately, Best’s Youtube channel started and will continue to be a passion project where he can share his experiments whenever he wants to make something new.

“I don’t think about my Youtube channel [too] often, mostly because it’s not anything that I intended to work towards, and it was mostly a [happy] accident that somehow gave me a platform,” Best said. “I love making content, and I really want to continue doing so while looking forward [to what will] come from all of this, even if I’m not too sure what I want that to be right now.”

Check out these videos:

Neural Networks in Desmos

Exploiting Rendering Mechanics in Desmos

3d Graphing in a 2d Calculator

Making a Game in a Calculator (Desmos)