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'YouTube Slam' creates battle of the viral videos

A new feature on the video site pits one clip against another in five different categories: Comedy, Cute, Music, Bizarre, and Dance. Viewers decide which video is tops in each area.

Freaked-out baby versus fainting goats. Sounds like a close call. Screenshot by Edward Moyer/CNET

What's cuter, a laughing baby or a talking dog?

Well, thanks to a joint effort by the folks at YouTube and Google Research, this vexing brainteaser can now be answered with absolute sort of certainty.

In a blog post today, YouTube announced "YouTube Slam," a new feature on the video site that pits one clip against another and lets viewers decide which is tops.

The head-to-head video bouts can be viewed in five different categories: Comedy, Cute, Music, Bizarre, and Dance. Winning videos are featured on the category's leaderboard, and viewers can subscribe to Slam channels to see the week's top vote getters in each category (which presumably makes it easier to view tomorrow's viral videos today).

Viewers can also test their trend-spotting chops by seeing how often they pick videos that turn out to be crowd-pleasers--they get points for picking winners and can compare their zeitgeist acumen to that of other viewers/players by checking out their weekly tallies.

Will YouTube Slam--along with other YouTube initiatives such as channels produced by professionals like Madonna, The Onion, and others--help Google's video site take down cable and beat up Netflix (and its moves into original content)? That remains to be seen.

In the meantime, though, we're sure to see a decent catfight sleepingcatfight or two.