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Dear Google, Apple, Mozilla, and MS: Please End Auto-Playing Media in Browsers
1358 points by geuis on Nov 13, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 318 comments
I know there are plugins than can somewhat do this, but no solutions are universal or great.

Please update all of our browsers so that no automatic video/audio can play without user interaction/permission.

Its getting to be impossible to visit many sites today without being bombarded by video and sound playing by default on the web. In the worst cases such as on mobile browsers like iOS Safari, visiting a site will start playing media that kills whatever you're already listening to in another app.

This is eating up our data and inconveniencing millions of people using your products.

Please help us enable a better web.

Things that make me just close tabs straight away:

1) Autoplaying videos, especially ads.

2) Pop-ups / overlays.

3) Loading lots of extra elements causing text to jump around.

Especially true if I'm just browsing around and click on something that looks interesting, the above will take that thing from "this might be worth 30 seconds" to "not worth it".

Why kill that little dopamine boost someone just got from clicking on a link to your site? If you're wondering why your bounce rate is so high... though maybe these dark patterns bring in enough ad revenue that it's worth it. I don't see how 3 helps that, though, just lazy coding. Or maybe other people are more tolerant and it doesn't really affect the bounce rate.

Re 2): Pinterest.

It's the cancer of Google image search. I don't get how Google's search ranking doesn't massively penalize that behaviour.

I'd rather stomach an advertisement than the "plz register" BS.

Yeah, isn't it against google's policy to present different content to bots and to fleshy users?

That is their policy, but they don't appear to punish people who violate the "spirit" of it and many of these sites don't literally violate the rule.

In the case of pinterest (and quora), for example, the whole page you are looking for is there, it just gets obscured by an obnoxious overlay that makes it impossible for you to see/interact with it all from a browser unless you register.

I'm sure what the googlebot gets at the html/css/js level is the same thing the user gets. The difference being the bot doesn't care about the semi-transparent blocking overlay because the bot is just parsing text/images/links individually and not trying to interact with the page the way a human does.

Not anymore apparently, at least for the big players. I believe it is still the stated policy and you won't get away with it if you are small.

Pretty sure it is.

Reminds me of the amusingly named 'expertsexchange' site, and the stackoverflow copies. Google shoved them down the ranking pretty quickly. Shame they don't do that to pinterest.

I always read that "expert sex change" instead of "experts exchange" for some reason;

Favoring first match vs. longest match.

I never saw it that way, but you have now set me up to chuckle randomly at the memory all day. Thanks!

For the 'please register' overlays, you need an 'extension' called Kill sticky. It removes all html elements that are styled with 'position: fixed'

Here's the link: https://alisdair.mcdiarmid.org/kill-sticky-headers/

At my company we created an auto loading video that all the devs agreed was terrible. It was compared, statistically, to one that didn't auto play. Sure, 10% of users left immediately, killing traffic, but revenue increased more than the traffic dipped. It's still auto playing on that page.

I agree that browser makers should fix this. It should probably behave like the location API and be remembered by domain or something.

Your know there are HN readers who write this crap. I wonder if they'll chime in on why they do.

  So the other day I met the guy who makes all that crap on-line
  I told him you can have my cash
  But first you know I've got to ask
  What made you want to live this kind of life?

  He said there ain't no rest for the wicked, money don't grow on trees
  I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed; ain't nothing in this world for free
  I know I can't slow down
  I can't hold back though you know I wish I could
  Oh no there ain't no rest for the wicked
  Until we close the shop for good...

Formatting text this way makes it hard to read on mobile and in text browsers. I couldn't even reply just now, my text wouldn't show up as I typed it, I had to click "edit" so I could view and edit my post by itself.

[edit] dang, can something be done about this? Flagging for format? Maybe a little drastic, but try reading HN in elinks, you'll see that a long line breaks the whole page. How about line wrap? Desktop users would be unaffected, and it would be a better compromise for mobile.

Flagging a post for the shortcomings of the commenting platform seems a bit harsh.

I definitely downvote Reddit comments that are all <h1> text.

Wouldn't it be easier to just fix the CSS?

No, since the text used code semantics. A better solution would be to introduce a few more formatting options, such as attributed and unattributed quote blocks.

I've already fixed the CSS for hacker news several times; they always reject my suggestions though. It's like they want to keep it shitty

Or get a browser that works?

The web would be a lot more accessible if so many designers didn't think like you.

HN needs (maybe has???) markup to break lines without double spacing as distinct paragraphs.


Cage the elephant- ain't no rest for the wicked

In case anyone is wondering

We never lost control

You're face to face

With the man who sold the world

Ha ha, only serious, as they say.

While I can't speak from first hand experience, I have an open ear sometimes.

There are these developers who just made an awesome webapp or something. It's really great but there is a problem. Noone knows about it. But they have a solution for that problem. They buy some "promotion". It's articles in newsletters or outright spam directed at their target audience. I cannot tell you exactly who their target audience is but I can tell you who it is not. It's not you, me or most readers on hackernews. It's less tech savyy people with more decision power. Old people. Their site is made for old people. And they don't care about you and me or any other passer-by who won't pay a dime. They care about conversion rates and that is what they monitor all day long.

It's a bit like in those scam-emails. They are so obvious that anybody with half a brain will click delete. But those who do reply, oh boy, they are so ready to be milked off by that nigerian prince.

"There are these developers who just made an awesome web app or something. It's really great but there is a problem. Noone knows about it. But they have a solution for that problem. They buy some 'promotion'."

Buying recognition is nothing new in tech.

"Our startup spent its entire marketing budget on PR: at a time when we were assembling our own computers to save money, we were paying a PR firm $16,000 a month. And they were worth it."

Read this article, "The Submarine" ~ http://paulgraham.com/submarine.html

Why they do it? Easy. You are not the customer, the advertiser is. So as long as it is tolerable for a sufficient % of the audience, it is worth it.

Case in point, circumventing ad blockers. Audience explicitly doesn't want the ad experience, but Facebook wants to make more $. Facebook just announced a record quarter on desktop advertising fueled by successfully circumventing ad blockers.


I wonder which adblockers they are successfully circumventing because with Ublock Origin out the box I've not seen any adverts for I forget how long.

AdBlock has commented on this and seems that there have been intermittent periods of no blocking: https://adblockplus.org/blog/ping-pong-with-facebook

"While Facebook appears to have had the last word for now, this, friends, is a long game. That being said, a few other ad blockers have apparently found workarounds to Facebook’s latest circumvention."

That makes sense then.

At my last job at a web agency, I was told to make a newsletter popup that opened on first page load. I said to my project manager (he was a web developer before) that it was bad design and everyone finds it annoying. He said that the client wanted it, and I should just do it.

I asked him, what if the client wanted a pink unicorn gif in the corner, should we just do that as well? Without telling the client that it doesn't fit the site? He said yes...

I wouldn't speak so definitivly regarding something you don't know for sure. Everyone doesn't find them annoying enough to make them ineffective.

The website probably won't cry over your bounce if it means they'll collect an email optin from someone else.

Auto play video is bad for reasons beyond a pop in modal and reasons beyond annoying video ads.

Don't tell them yes or tell them no. Test, monitor, and promote the path that leads to the best success rates, acknowledging that user growth may drive success in the longer term. Take the long view, basically.

Individual sites can't measure how much their combined spam costs them due to the ever more aggressive use of ad blockers. In the short term, a newsletter popup probably does increase revenue, but acquiring new users in the future will be more expensive as a result because the cheap and simple ads will fail to reach most of the market. Unfortunately, nobody has incentive to stop, as they'll just give up the short-term revenue and still suffer the future consquences from all of the other bad actors.

need also to look beyond a month or quarter.

my wife has quit going to several sites altogether, and in other cases can not buy on a website, because of pop-up stuff.

So... if they're measuring for "email signups" then - w00t! - sweet! - numbers are so high! What about actual sales? Or repeat sales? Lifetime value of a customer?

I don't think I was very clear but yes, that's what I meant. You can't just look at the short-term gains of the promotion; if it suppresses repeat visits then that's a cost. And yes, it's hard to do, and is an art as much as a science.

He said that the client wanted it, and I should just do it.

Ask him to ask the client if that's the behaviour the client would find annoying if every other site also did that.

Mortgage payments

Because their PM/CEO tells them to do and it's their job? Most developers have little say in this.

Pretty sure the answer is: "pay check".

Not everybody gets to choose their job.

They don't live in a tech center and the local spam shop / crappy web property is one of the few local places who are hiring.

I'm the same way. If there is an overlay or autoplaying video I just leave. However apparently most people aren't like us otherwise no sites would do it.

And you can see that these sites get posted to HN, so at least someone is reading it. Personally though I prefer more pleasant sites.

I think that maybe the submitters are running a variety of ad-etc-blocking software, and so they're not seeing it.

Looking at Google Analytics for a website we were about to launch, I was surprised to see hits from others in the development team, tracked by Google.

I block Google Analytics (and many other things), and was surprised that none of my colleagues do the same.

> Looking at Google Analytics for a website we were about to launch, I was surprised to see hits from others in the development team, tracked by Google

So you are OK with making Google track your users but you don't want to be tracked yourself?

More likely than not, their employer is ok with making google track their users. I doubt it's the decision of this particular developer.

Indeed, it's not my decision.

I'd like to use something we host, then we probably wouldn't need to have the EU cookie warning.

They might say they're using a vanilla browser to ensure everything works, but it's worth mentioning it's possible to filter IP addresses in Google Analtyics to stop those hits from being counted.

you mean you block collection of Google analytics as an end-user? how does one go about that?

Virtually any adblocker has tracking script blocker lists as well, which includes Google Analytics.

I would probably leave, unless I needed the site and couldn't get what they offer anywhere else. (Eg online shopping.)

But it's all hypothetical, since my ublock takes care of it. Of course, that also means that I am no longer much exerting any selection pressure on the market in that regard.

It actually triggers anger in me when I've started to read and something pops up over it. It's the least likely way to get me to click your thing.

Even worse for me is on mobile, scrolling down a news article, and suddenly this full page ad starts sneaking up from the bottom, with tiny text that says "keep scrolling to read the rest of the article". No thanks, apparently they didn't write that article to be read but rather to be a hook to get you to see that ad which takes over the screen. It's infuriating, bait and switch bullshit.

Oh god this is so awful. I just recently switched to an iPhone for work reasons. I used Adblock on my Rooted Nexus 6p, and never experienced this before. Now... all the frikkin time, to the point I rarely read news articles on my phone anymore.

I think iOS supports AdBlock there days so you could try one of those.

I find the safari reader view to be super useful for almost all sites like this.

Well, the most likely scenario is that you will click their thing. Why? Because you're thrashing around on your mobile screen trying to get rid of the pop-up or overlay.

Whether you succeed or not is immaterial: the ad got clicked on, and hey, even if 99.9% of those clicks are accidental ones that will never convert, they still look like "organic" clicks and the ad revenue still gets booked. Expensive consultants like this person ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12944902 ) will chalk it up in the "users engaged" column. Everybody gets what they came for... except you and me.

Never understood how autoplaying video, especially ads, became an acceptable UX for so many sites. And, it seems that the advent of ad blockers has made this worse. Like, some sites are abusing people as much possible to offset revenue losses.

I was also surprised at how difficult it is to get a modern browser to consistently disable the feature.

When it's ads served over an ad network, the site honestly doesn't have a lot of control over what content goes in the ad boxes. Advertisers don't really care, either - it's not their user experience they're garbaging up.

So use an adblocker to give them lesson.

Yep, that's what I tend to do. Particularly on my mobile device, where I've settled into a scorched earth policy on ads.

Sucks, though. I like having access to high-quality content, and I believe journalists deserve to get paid for their work. Unfortunately, the Internet at large has long since decided that just paying people for their product over the table is not what the norm should be.

It doesn't have to be that way, flattr & the like do provide a viable path to monetary gain for the news industry outside of advertisers. What this means is just like you may have paid for a paper in the past, you should set a budget for flattr and add who you want to support so they are compensated and disincentivized from advertising to you.

Alternatively, if a site does non-aggressive advertising like Dslreports.com, that is quite tolerable. More niche sites are now doing delayed access paywalls too.

Try using a script/media blocker, such as uMatrix, rather than an Ad-Blocker.

The disadvantage will be that sites which require scripts will break on first-access.

The advantages are better overall privacy + security, and that simple static ads won't be blocked and hence those authors will be compensated.

(Edited to better match parent's concerns)

Or direct action. The gray hats among us might rent or subvert a botnet and use it to click those ads like crazy. Click, click, click. Generate overtly fraudulent clicks by the billions, all day and all night.

That's the only way to shut them down for good -- make it hurt to abuse your visitors.

The overlays. My god man. It's like every time these days. You're starting to read this link you clicked through to. It's interesting. And then the screen goes dark.

If you're lucky it loads fast and the x to close is somewhere visible. You're rarely lucky though.

In Firefox, mouse over the offending overlay, and right click to get "Inspect Element". Mouse around the DOM inspector window until you've reached the top element of the overlay. Right click on "Delete Node". No more overlay.

Have you ever tried to read a story, on those sites where it just shows you one picture at a time, and you have to click next to get to the next picture? Most of them are just ad machines, and it lags your browser so bad.

4) Forbes "Quote of the day". Seriously Forbes, that is irritating as hell.

Still, my number 1 is loading the extra content and making elements jump around. A lot of times I: 1) see a link that interests me; 2) hover my finger over a link, ready to tap; 3) wait 1-2 secs, to be sure it's done loading; 4) Ok, it's ready; 5) tap the liContent jumps and I click somewhere else.

Both Facebook's and Twitter's search act like this. It displays recent search for enough time for you to move your finger/mouse to click it, then loads general results, like trending and suggestions. Waiting for the AJAX response to come back before displaying anything should be the norm.

Number 3 Drives me absolutely crazy. Bloomberg and The Verge do this as an example. I'm fine with ads, as long as they don't break the page.

One of the biggest violators of all of these is Mashable. Their site is so frustrating to visit I have it blocked completely now.

Regarding 1 media.autoplay.enabled=false does the trick in Firefox about:config.

Or just disable mp4, webm, flash altogether in about:config. I typically view media in specially sanctioned browsers, just for viewing rich media.

E.G Chrome on windows 10 hooked up to a 4K Acer monitor via HDMI

You can harden FF also and remove a few other annoyances like the default PDF reader, etc:


Once I become aware of the sites that create a hell with 1, 2, and 3, I make sure I never visit them again.


> Loading lots of extra elements causing text to jump around.

My computer is a little older, and this one is a dealbreaker. Sometimes a page is so heavy that it brings my whole computer to its knees. If I can tell a page is starting to load more than a reasonable amount of elements, I punch out as soon as possible.

What you are really asking is for Google, Apple, Mozilla, and MS to make a better web _for you_. Because you don't want media to autoplay does not mean it is a good solution to just block it outright for everyone.

Some websites have legitimate use for autoplaying media. Some users (believe it or not) actually _like_ their videos autoplaying when they scroll through their Facebook feed or whatever media site they visit. Are their usecases and desires not legitimate?

Your argument is in the line of "I don't like going to Starbucks, so legislators should get together and ban Starbucks stores for everyone". Even if you have a legitimate reason for not liking Starbucks, the solution is for you to just stop going there. If you don't like websites that use autoplaying media, then stop visiting them. Or, like some others in this thread suggested, install some plugin or other software that makes sites behave the way you want to.

A call for browser vendors to implement some opt-in setting that does what you want would be much more realistic suggestion. (As some other comments pointed out, for some browsers this setting already exists)

This was also true of popups. It still is. Yet it became such a scourge from people misusing it that browsers interested in providing their users the best experience provided an option to disable them (where we are now with auto-play) and eventually turned on that option by default. Pop-up blocking became a feature users would switch browsers for, forcing all vendors to add it. If advertisers continue to use auto-play and ridiculously large animated gifs the way they've been going, I suspect it's only a matter of time before this potentially useful feature also defaults to off.

> > Some websites have legitimate use for autoplaying media. Some users (believe it or not) actually _like_ their videos autoplaying when they scroll through their Facebook feed or whatever media site they visit.

> This was also true of popups. It still is.

Is this analogy really correct, in the sense that there are legitimate, user-focussed cases for pop-ups? I know lots of web-sites want me to see pop-ups, and some (cough PeopleSoft cough) even think that it's the best way to display certain status notifications, but does any user like them?

Not only is the analogy correct, the problem has the same solution: require evidence of user intent. Pop ups work just fine when spawned as a result of a user clicking on a link. Videos can start playing when a user taps or clicks on them.

> Not only is the analogy correct, the problem has the same solution: require evidence of user intent.

You make a very good point, but I'm not totally sure that it is the complete answer. I agree that it is clearly right for my browser to display pop-ups, and play videos, when I indicate my intent that it do so. My question was not whether that should happen, but whether any users want pop-ups as the method of interaction (or information display). Although I definitely want, in an operational sense, PeopleSoft to show me a pop-up when I click on the relevant button, because that's the only way to get to certain information, what I really want, in an aspirational sense, is for it to display the information in some other way, without a pop-up at all.

The ability to launch popups (on user click) is vital for our "Direct Results"[1] option at searchtempest.com, although admittedly that's quite an edge case.


I like it when I open a youtube page and it automatically plays.

Easily handled with a prompt:

  "This site is attempting to auto-play media"
  [Allow once] [Always allow site] [Block site]

Right now, I don't think people generally want popups, but they became popular well before AJAX.

Pop-ups that open new tabs are still useful on sites where you're unlikely to want to navigate away and are prone to the same abuses.

That is pop-up on click, a user action. I don't think people despise that as much as pop-up at any random time while you are reading stuff.

A good use case is linking to a FAQ item in a form. You don't want to navigate away, but the item is usually small, so a pop-up in a small window is good.

A frame that displays the item you clicked on on the right, with the faq links on the left, would be great for this use case. The only thing I think was wrong with frames was that the main url didn't point to the frame you had open, like url#framename.

Why not have some sort of CSS / JavaScript trickery so that the FAQ item can be displayed or hidden without any sort of pop-up at all? Anyone who browses with JavaScript off is tech-savvy enough to open up the page in a new tab. (Anyway, for me, this definitely falls under the "web site thinks it's the best UI; I don't", but I recognise that this is almost by definition a matter of personal opinion.)

This was the use case for frames.

And that still works today.

The types of popups that are blocked are the ones that open automatically.

Is there a good use case for automatic popups?

Well, media players and help sections are decent use cases for popups. Opening external links in a new tab is also great. I've even played some browser-based games that used popups to minimize chrome, enable alt-tabbing and force a cookie reset.

Pop ups are awesome when they have content I want. They're a quick way to draw attention to something important while retaining the page they are on. These aspects of usefulness unfortunately apply to ad-infested pop ups.

Your Starbucks example is flawed. Starbucks employees don't barge into your office with a boombox playing at full volume and screaming at you about their latest drinks, then make you pay for the taxi that brought them there, simply because you opened an article about their new store in your area.

That's what autoplaying ads and videos on the web do: They catch you off guard with loud, annoying audio that you can't always just turn off, and if you're on mobile you're paying for the privilege with your data allowance. You didn't ask for it, it attacked you without warning.

> A call for browser vendors to implement some opt-in setting that does what you want would be much more realistic suggestion.

On this I agree with you entirely, and I think that's what the OP is actually asking for.

"barge into your office"? Seems to me when you visit someone's website, you're in their office, not the other way around.

I'm no fan of the auto-everything web, but I don't think your analogy here is sound.

Only if "their office" is out on the street in full view of the public, just like the rest of the web.

Since we're ripping this analogy to shreds anyway, let's take a different view: You call up Starbucks on the phone (i.e. visit their website) and request that they read you their new menu and describe to you their new store location (read: you click on the link with the info you wanted). Before they do as you asked, without warning they turn on a megaphone, point it to the receiver, and start playing a looping advertisement for a new Harry Potter line of toys. You didn't ask for that Potter nonsense, you're now deaf in that ear, everyone around you is looking at you funny, and you hang up the phone in disgust rather than wait through three iterations of toy pimping just to find out some simple information they claimed to have on their info line (website). Then, on your next phone bill you see a per-minute charge for that call (as in, they used your metered data to spam you).

I am not so sure any more, since more and more stuff is calculated on the client, fetched from many different servers by the client and assembled in the client. In fact the web page as we see it never exists on the main server (their office), it only exists in the client (our office).

Just a thought.

I like the taxi analogy.

I agree that doing away with the autoplay attribute on the video tag is probably not the right thing to do. It definitely has use cases.

However, I think it is completely reasonable to allow users to configure their browsers to not allow this behavior if they so desire. This may exist in some form in some browsers already, but it's definitely not accessible to the average user.

I think the ideal solution, for me at least, would be to treat autoplay the same way browsers treat the location API. When a website tries to use it, present a little notification that asks if it's alright. If a user is clearly visiting a video-centric website (youtube, vimeo, etc), they will probably click 'yes' to let that website autoplay in the future. The possible downside is that some users may not "understand" it, and get upset at the website for not autoplaying like they expect it to.

The core of the issue is that autoplay was on by default in the first place. Turning it off cannot be clean, no matter how it's done.

It may not be annoying for you, but it is for others. Once I opened a link from a website, basically it's some ad, and what I got is a porn video playing aloud. What would have happened, if you're parents were beside you and it's a public place? You maybe from someother country, where people wouldn't mind way too much.

But if you are from India, then all balls would be on you, and that would be the most embarrassing moment in your life.

Indeed. Many websites have legitimate use-cases for auto-playing video. I don't want to click again on a youtube video to make it play.

There are definitely legitimate use cases for autoplaying media. Youtube would be annoying if you had to click play on every page.

I think Facebook's implementation strikes just the right balance. The video autoplays when it's in view, but without audio. If you want audio, you can click the play button to view it properly.

> What you are really asking is for Google, Apple, Mozilla, and MS to make a better web _for you_.

Well, what's wrong with that?

This seems like a good setting if the preference varies.

firefox -> about:config -> media.autoplay.enabled = false

additionally the dom.audiochannel.mutedByDefault and media.default_volume settings may also be useful if you want slightly different behavior.

If you want a more blunt tool you can also use content blockers to block media content until you opt into it for a particular site.

> I know there are plugins than can somewhat do this, but no solutions are universal or great.

How so? There are about a dozen FF addons covering different use-cases like muting inactive tabs or all tabs but a designated one. If none of them meet your particular expectations that might also indicate that everyone wants something different and it is difficult for browser vendors to cover all expectations. Maybe you should modify an existing addon instead to do what you want.

breaks vimeo and twiter vids. need firefox addon with button to toggle the setting.


>firefox -> about:config -> media.autoplay.enabled = false

That doesn't always work. Some videos don't play at all (even when clicked) and some others play automatically anyway (rare, but it happens).

The good thing about setting browser defaults is that people producing these offending sites eventually give up and change their behavior.

I'm taking a more drastic way; turning media.{mp4, webm, ...}.enabled into False never let YouTube and other media autoplay(even play nomally) without any addons. When I want to watch videos, download them by youtube-dl and watch locally.

You download YT videos before watching them? Seriously? Sometimes the suggestions on HN are literally insane in the amount of effort people go through to avoid things that wouldn't be a problem in the first place if you did something simple like use adblock software.

I saw some other post where a guy hand edits tens of thousands of entries in his hosts file... yeah dude what an amazing use of time.

Watching later with youtube-dl is actually the recommended way to do YouTube on OpenBSD; various "OpenBSD as a desktop OS" tutorials mention it, and in practice it works very well. On that particular OS it is due to the lack of a native Flash plugin, but even with YouTube offering most of their videos via HTML5 it actually makes for a better experience to download and then view them. I'd imagine it could even be automated trivially, by calling youtube-dl via a browser plugin, or by writing a script to pass YouTube URLs to with a simple GUI thrown together in FLTK or TCL/TK.

As for the hosts file, a hand-edited file works great, and you don't have to do thousands of entries on your own. You can find some great examples all over the web, then tune them to your own needs, saving a lot of time. For example, there are at least two out there for Windows 10 users to block all communication with Microsoft's servers, avoiding any telemetry and tracking by the OS. If your router is smart enough, you can even upload your hosts file to it to block any device on your network from getting ads and being tracked.

> actually makes for a better experience to download and then view them.

Can you specify how? I was doing this when I didn't have enough RAM for the Youtube player with latest Firefox and it's not what I personally felt. The current player has size options (larger or full-screen), annotations and comments can be disabled (e.g. with Adblock lists). In the end it's always having the video canvas in front of your eyes. Maybe integration with a tiling WM?

> I'd imagine it could even be automated trivially, by calling youtube-dl via a browser plugin, or by writing a script to pass YouTube URLs to with a simple GUI thrown together in FLTK or TCL/TK.

Existing means for VLC integration aren't that bad either.

> Can you specify how?

For me it was because Firefox on OpenBSD, even on a modern, fast system (quad core AMD64 with 8GB RAM), is so slow and stuttery with any streaming video it was too painful. Using youtube-dl and playing it via mplayer worked much better, and you can customize mplayer's controls to mimic YouTube's if you like (though I never bothered).

VLC is another great option, it's designed for streaming so yes that would be a great alternative. I personally don't use VLC on non-Windows OSes except on Haiku.

I've used to employ a similar work flow to GP until a few years ago when video support finally got acceptable in web browsers. I still download talks rather than watch them on youtube or if I want to insure the future availability of the video.

If the current web works well for you then great, but it would be naive to think that it fits everyone's use case (Even more so to label what they need to do as "insane").

there are browser addons that directly pass the current site's URL to mpv, which in turn uses youtube-dl to fetch the contents. so it's pretty much 1-click playback.

> You download YT videos before watching them? Seriously?

I do this because the YouTube website (when the player is present) is too slow for my device. It adds about 5 seconds, nothing terrible.

the change to the hosts file is actually a really good idea. it is reliable and doesn't trip up ad blocking detectors. perhaps its greatest benefit is that it's a change that only has to happen once and everyone else who also wants to can benefit from it [0]. so your assertion is valid, even though it was sarcastic, that it is an amazing use of one's time.

[0] https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts

Link to the guy who does this?

It might be this one from another comment


    notify-send "Downloading - $url"
    youtube-dl -o - "$url" -f 43 | mplayer -
Whatever is in your default xsel buffer gets streamed to mplayer, if you bind it a keyboard shortcut (I use alt+shift+y (for Youtube)).

Makes life a lot more convenient :)

Why would you want that?

One good reason for me personally is to insure future availability. As I type this, there are a couple of videos in my watch-later playlist that have been replaced with "video removed".

My Watch Later is like 100 videos long. Ain't nobody got time for that.

youtube-dl can download lists of videos.

It also automatically doesn't download things you already have, so it can be used periodically to sync the list if you want.

It only really matters if you expect videos to go down, but I also have my small collection of "videos that were obviously going to be taken down".

This is one of the best features (apart from channel backups).

I think because of its name people also don't realize that youtube-dl works for LOTS of other sites and it's relatively easy to add new sites in as well.

You're posting on HN, I would think you would find a way to automate it. ;-)

I believe youtube-dl is capable of downloading entire lists, but I don't know if the watch-later list behaves as a normal list. One way to find out.

I use butterflies to watch videos http://xkcd.com/378/

Did that buy youtube is still on autoplay.

Y'know, youtube is one of the few sites where people actually want autoplay to work.

When you visit a video explicitly, yes. But when you jump into a specific channel you don't want a default video auto-playing all the time, which is pretty annoying.

Blame Youtube for that horrible feature, not the browser.

Nobody claimed it was anyone else's fault, that's already well established. The entire premise of this thread is to discuss OP's plea for browsers to actually fix the problem.

>> youtube is one of the few sites where people actually want autoplay

Not me. I usually open a few tabs at the same time and have to stop every video manually. That's pretty annoying. I wish it didn't have autoplay.

Chromium is the Browser you want. You can load a bunch of tabs an it only starts autoplay when you finally switch to the tab you want to watch.

Best viewed with IE (tm), revisited.

The YouTube Plus add-on has an option to turn off YT autoplay, as well as a number of other quality-of-life things.

YouTube doesn't start playing a video until you focus the tab.

That's not true for all browsers.

As @ben_bai pointed out above it works that way on Chromium.

Yeah, if I know I'm going to a YT link I'm prepared for it. Unfortunately with the rise of URL shorteners I often don't know I'm going to a video site so I'm still undecided about whether I want the video to autoplay or not.

Not me for sure. Autoplay-after-autoplay makes it even more hilarious

I never want youtube to Autoplay.

I just tried it on nightly and it worksforme(tm).

> firefox -> about:config -> media.autoplay.enabled = false

Unfortunately, this isn't available for devices with a monopolized browser. (iOS)

I can't tell you how many iOS users are tricked by "Oh, I can get Chrome and Firefox on iOS" that don't realize it's just skinned webkit. Totally dishonest.

I'm actually impressed that Chrome on iOS manages to be less stable than Safari since it's using the same engine...

So make another Ask HN post: "Dear Google, Apple, Mozilla, and MS: Please End Monopolized Browsers for our devices"

It would be more like "Dear Apple: Please End Monopolized Browsers for our devices"

Google's and MS's operating systems don't monopolize the browser. I'm not sure if Mozilla is even making an OS anymore. The only OS in this day and age which doesn't let you implement your own browser engine is iOS.

That wouldn't contribute anything to the conversation.

This behavior is so bad that I have changed my browsing behavior. I visit only selected, trusted news sites, as "free" sites are horrible offenders here. Google is much less useful while on desktops as it is likely to return obnoxious websites.

So far I have not had a bad autoplay problem on iOS. However a growing problem is obnoxious pop up ads that are difficult to escape.

Overall more of my Internet usage is shifting to apps because the Web is just too annoying. Years ago the Web was like a friendly, boisterous marketplace in a safe town. Now it's like the street in "Casablanca" where I must constantly guard against someone picking my pocket. It's not worth using except for a few sites I trust.

Google in particular had better watch out. With Web hostility their search is not as useful. One reaction of theirs has been to pack more information directly into their search result.

You're implying that the web has gotten worse, but in my experience it used to be much worse. Just the memory of the sea of pop-ups that you had to fight when browsing the web makes my stomach turn.

However, there seem to be a recent trend in auto-platyng video, in fact this is not only happening on the web but on apps too like Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter seem to be going for the auto repeat play on videos too, so unless you physically stop them, they just keep playing over and over again. Annoying if you have turned away to do something else or have scrolled down the page a bit more - you have to go back up and find the offending video again to stop it. (NB: I normally play videos with speeches or music clips, so I don't need to SEE the video, but just listen to the audio.)

At least FB and Twitter give you an option to turn it off. (PLEASE KEEP THAT OPTION FB.)

> One reaction of theirs has been to pack more information directly into their search result.

Really good point -- I have noticed that a lot recently. It's expanded beyond the right side bar, which was already pretty useful (if only a Wikipedia summary). Many times I get what I was looking for by simply searching Google, rather than taking the additional step of clicking into one of the results. This is good for me but bad for someone, I'm sure.

Wait. Are you saying that a sandboxed web site is less safe than an app with (usually) full access to your contacts, identity, messages, location and photos?

You can also change your browser, or with some browsers, a setting option.

There is a disable autoplay in Firefox as a hidden pref. Enabling it break YouTube (offender number 1) and Vimeo.

Vimeo's take is that it is a bug in the browser hence it should be fixed. But then Vimeo are the same that told use to use Safari on Linux because Firefox "didn't support HTML5" (it did, just not encumbered H264 codec, but when you are lying, do the extra mile).

Whenever i interact with Vimeo i find it coming across as "hipster Youtube" if that makes any sense. Even when used for tech demo videos, everything from the lighting to the presenters scream "we are artists, not techies".

It works perfectly fine in Opera, in case anyone wants to use a browser with that option that's also not broken.

I really dislike auto-playing audio and video as well, for all the reasons you mentioned, but also for a less logical reason: it just makes it feel like the browser isn't on your side. If a site is automatically playing audio or a video advert, its design is not in the user's interest, so in that situation your software has to choose whose side to take. I just want and expect the software I have installed on my computer to take my side, and always act in my interests. It probably sounds silly but I just think software should always be primarily designed for the end user.

It's not silly. And it's not an accident that browsers identify themselves as "User Agents" - they act on behalf of users. So in a situation where there are three separate parties with separate interests involved - you, your agent, and the website owner - it's natural to expect your agent to favor your interests instead of the interest of third parties.

Honestly, I strongly believe this should be default for all software.

What makes you think the browser is on your side? You are getting it for free, therefore you are paying in some other way.

Look at Mozilla. They claim to be the champion of your rights, yet they enable 3rd party cookies by default and hide the setting to change it. That's just pathetic. They should stop their masquerade and just admit that they are Google's puppet (they are providing the money to keep Mozilla alive) and NOT serving the user's interest.

Unless I've misunderstood something, I don't think Mozilla has received much if any money from Google for a couple of years now. They have search deals with Yahoo, Yandex, and Baidu in their respective markets, which would make me nervous about the future if I worked for Mozilla. Not sure whether those deals might lead them to make decisions against the users' interests.

There are a couple Chromium bugs filed about this: https://crbug.com/107923 and https://crbug.com/514102

Overriding autoplay can lead to a confusing user experience -- play/pause synchronization issue with embedded YouTube videos: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1217438

The Disable HTML5 Autoplay extension is often suggested for Chrome, and it has 112,213 users, but it's far from perfect: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/disable-html5-auto...

The extension has issues, mostly around embedded YouTube videos, but it causes far fewer issues than uBlock, so I'd recommend ever who gets annoyed by this to try it out.

But then Chrome and Youtube come from the same company. Maybe they should coordinate.

How could they? They can't just disable autoplay but make an exception for YouTube, that would be wrong in so many ways. You can't make that into a web standard, so it would promote browser fragmentation, for example.

So how about a whitelist/blacklist? Well, since users can't even agree among themselves on which websites belong on which side of the fence, such a list would quickly become a nightmare to maintain, still be based on someone's personal bias, and would still leave small websites at a disadvantage.

Pretty much the only thing that would work is a permissions question to the user, like there is currently for e.g. location access. "Do you want to allow videosite.example.com to automatically play video content? \Allow, \Allow and remember, \*Deny"

There should be a media play permission just like there is for accessing your webcam or showing notifications. You give the permission once to a website such as youtube, and from them on videos would play automatically for the domain youtube.com. No videos would play on any website to which you deny this permission.

Netflix is one of the offenders with their new full screen video ads when you first hit the site.

My "favorite" case is a site that sometimes embeds videos, and also has autoplaying videos for advertising. You can't listen to anything from the former because of the latter. Even worse, when you pause the advertising video, it autorestarts after a while. So if the embedded video is long enough, you just can't watch it entirely.

So, in fact, while e.g. Firefox has a mute button for each tab, I also wish it had an individual mute button for each <video> and <embed> element.

Not to mention that it's often difficult to find where exactly the auto-playing ad is located on the page. It's like a treasure hunt, but with clandestine advertisements and instead of treasure, your reward is a little piece of your soul dying.

You can actually mute or pause individual videos by right-clicking on them and using the context menu.

Many videos override the context menu, though, and it won't help with ads that automatically restart themselves. An option to disable an object altogether would be more useful.

A more drastic solution that I sometimes resort to is to nuke the offending part of the page (often an entire sidebar) using the built-in developer tools. Just select the area you want to nuke in the "Inspector" tab, and hit the Delete key.

> Many videos override the context menu, though

Which in turn can be overriden by shift-rightclick

Ah great tip.

Another suggestion - enable pausing on video. ANY video. Keep seeing more and more advertising videos that don't even give you the ability to pause.

In the past 12 months or so, I am really finding my web browsing experience hitting new shitty lows. Pretty hard to see the content you want these days behind that clutter of Outbrain ads, pop up newsletter subs, auto playing videos and the like...

This is actually quite difficult because even though they are using the browsers video pipeline the browser doesn't know anything about the UI of the page so it is very hard to expose a way for the user to pause/disable any video across all sites. I guess a hotkey that puts buttons on all videos might be good but I'm sure some sites would find ways to layer fake videos that would defeat this.

It all comes back to the difficulty of running non-free software.

You don't need a pause button on all the videos. You just need a single button that pauses all the videos. I would be delighted if the escape key on my laptop served this purpose.

Of course, now you have no UI no restart a particular video. But the advertisers would figure this out about 30s after a global pause feature was introduced.

Look at your keyboard, up there, top row, right hand side. You might just be the person who has found an actual use for that button labelled "Pause". Congrats! ;)

After all you can just use the video element off-screen and render into a canvas element. And the browser has no idea at all anymore where to display a UI for pausing video (unless they want to do something like the full-screen notification).

I wrote https://github.com/ludios/mute-new-tabs and I am now happier with a quiet Chrome. The idea is to mute all new tabs and unmute them only when you interact with an in-page volume control (or manually unmute via the tab icon/context menu). This solves only the sound problem though, not the data consumption.

Awesome, thanks! Any chance you are putting it on the official extension store?

I am open to handing it over to someone I can trust who wants to distribute it there.

Cool. I never published an extension for Chrome ever, but following the guide at https://developer.chrome.com/webstore/publish looks bearable.

If you put your repository under some kind of open source licence, I can try the process on a lazy Sunday afternoon, if you like.

My email address is in my profile.

Neat! I'm checking that one out.

In the past, I was responsible for analytics around a decision to autoplay or not autoplay videos on a media site. The site did both mobile and desktop videos.

    * voluntary customer feedback was universally negative
    * bounce rate decreased substantially (around 40%)
    * total interactions with the page increased almost 3x (clicks on significant  UX elements such as like/subscibe/additional video plays)
    * interactions for those using some form of adblock stayed the same (presumably these people also had an autoplay off plugin)
In summary, what users say they like and what they actually like are wildly different. The average user seemed to engage more when we removed the burden of first interaction.

*We did eventually kill autoplay, but only so we could have a consistent experience between YouTube and non YouTube videos (YouTube took efforts to stop counting autoplayed videos for advertising purposes).

The number of times I have to click a bit everywhere at random in a panic because some shit autoplay sound or video started yelling and I can't figure which one it is and where it is :-[]

Presumably you don't click on a button that says share and then click facebook, and then complete the share action in a panic. If you do, I love you and would love to find out how to induce your kind of panic in more people.

In summary, what users say they like and what they actually like are wildly different. The average user seemed to engage more when we removed the burden of first interaction.

They're clicking by mistake, trying to make the overlay go away!

No, they're clicking visually distinct, non-overlapping UX down the page.

Nowadays I find I can't use the WWW without JS blocked except on a select whitelist of websites. I can't stand downloading 10-15 megabytes for <=1KiB of actual substance. I can't stand the amount of amateurish design decisions I need to fight using websites, some unfortunately unavoidable like my university's web services, or the stupid Edmodo app imposed to us by our professors, etc. And I detest icons, because each and every app / website have different opinions on icons and a different set of cryptic icons which I fear clicking. Also webfonts in many cases are an abomination as many times they are used where a simple stupid half-a-meg PNG would do the job. "Share" buttons that come with some kilobytes of JS, floating headers that leave me five pixels to see the text I'm reading, well, this is an endless list. I'll spare a separate sentence for history-fiddling, I am disgusted when when I hit back unexpected things happen. Google, Youtube, Github, these fiddle with history and replicate browser's things (page loading, history keeping ...) in JS. And as the user I don't have the chance to affect the actual website makers, so blocking JS / cookies / media is the only option.

> In the worst cases such as on mobile browsers like iOS Safari

What site does this? You can't (auto)play media on iOS without direct user action for exactly the reason you specified.

iOS 10 changed this slightly to allow silent or muted videos to autoplay when visible on the screen https://webkit.org/blog/6784/new-video-policies-for-ios/

I am now a victim of the adage, "Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it".

I hated Flash. I either avoided installing it or used a Flash blocker. So I always managed to avoid the auto-playing problem when the Internet primarily used Flash for everything annoying.

Now that Flash is about dead and everything is HTML5 now, neither of these techniques work any more to avoid auto-playing.

I too long for the good old days, when web garbage was mostly confined to Flash and popups (and punch-the-monkey GIFs). Now it's all an HTML5 wasteland full of warring JavaScript. Good job, W3C!

I make art installations and UI/UX research. A modern browser is one of the best technical canvases. If you are working on browsers and you turn things off, please always allow me a backdoor for my own browsers to turn them back on.

Complex software control of multimedia and the whole browser experience gives me the ability to develop new ways of interacting with computers.

In my opinion, the problem isn't with auto-playing videos per se, but rather the audio that comes along with it.

For example, GIFV is a format that uses auto-playing videos to replace the GIF, and by doing so cuts down on Internet bandwidth usage. I'd suggest that's a legitimate use for auto-playing videos.

I only really get annoyed with auto-playing videos when I hear the sound from them, so perhaps the fix should be targeted in this area. It may cause problems for things like YouTube playlists, so I don't think the fix is as simple as 'mute them all by default', but whatever the fix is should rely on some form of user control.

Well, part of the issue is the audio is part of what they want you to hear because it's considered more effective than just text moving. Animated ads were tried, and I'm going to assume that they weren't considered as effective given the fact that we have video ads instead of Gifv ads.

My outsider-looking-in perspective leads me to believe there must be a decent amount of money in the auto-play video ads else the news sites wouldn't bother. Certainly they know they're annoying and frustrating, but if they pay, then I guess they have little reason to care. There's no effective blocking solution at the moment, and people are still coming for the news almost a year into this practice, so it obviously isn't hurting the numbers enough to make an impact.

I do feel that sometimes the anti-advertising commentaries need a more directed focus, since at the core a lot of people want content for free without the annoyance of the ads. I certainly do, but I also respect that this content creation and the providing of the content costs money - if a site has an anti-ad blocker and they ask me to turn it off to proceed, I respect their wishes by just not continuing. I have yet to come to an article that I felt was worth it, and if the provider's position is "ads or nothing", then I'll respect that. I just ask that they respect my wishes (Do not track, ad blocking, etc). I'm well aware that sites and advertisers don't do this, but I do feel it's important to show the respect. My not going to the site is more than likely logged as a non-click-through, and I hope this makes the intended impact of showing them my preferences.

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough before. I'm not expecting advertisers to respect the wishes of individuals. I am suggesting that there should be some form of user control over video auto-plays. The question is what form this user control should take.

For example, perhaps whitelists for domains that are permitted to have audio content could be a good solution. These whitelists could be controlled by the user. You would then only opt-in to sites that had content you wanted to listen to.

This is eating up our data and inconveniencing millions of people using your products.

The data issue can be addressed by only having videos play automatically when the user is on a wifi connection. This is the default for mobile devices already, so it's arguably already solved for most users.

The "convenience" issue is something that I strongly suspect is actually something that people think one way but act another - lots of users claim to hate auto-playing videos but then they watch them a lot. Facebook's video engagement statistics are hard to argue with - a well designed video that works without sound (eg something from Buzzfeed) gets a tremendous number of shares, likes and click through engagements.

I strongly suspect that turning off auto-playing video, even by default, would actually make the web worse for the majority of people. For those who prefer them not to autoplay, browser vendors do provide that, but the functionality is usually buried in the equivalent of chrome://flags somewhere.

    The data issue can be addressed by only having videos   
    play automatically when the user is on a wifi 
    connection. This is the default for mobile devices 
    already, so it's arguably already solved for most users.
Not all WiFi connections equate to an infinite amount of data. Due to circumstances I am on a connection for which I pay per GB and it's shared through a WiFi router. I do not want my browser to download videos unless I asked it to.

I have a 3G Mobile Wireless Modem/Router (TP-Link M5250[1], heavily recommended btw) and this "if wireless connection present, download all the things" attitude really annoys me. Android is a big offender. Why on earth I don't get a "download updates automatically only on this particular network" setting... Whatsapp, Google Maps and many other apps too make the same false assumption.

[1]: http://www.tp-link.com/en/products/details/cat-4692_M5250.ht...

You can configure Android to treat any specific WiFi network as metered, so apps that care will treat it the same as a mobile network. Look in Settings > Data usage > Wi-Fi > Network restrictions (might be in an overflow menu).

Google Chrome is another auto-update offender.

Inevitably it updates while I'm tethered to my phone (which has a small data allowance).

That's why I said most users. There are a small number of people to whom wifi doesn't mean unlimited data. I don't think browsers defaults should be be designed with those people in mind though - the default settings should be to provide the best experience for the maximum number of people.

Anyone who is outside the norm for whatever reason should be able to exert control over their browser, so obviously you should have the option to block videos autoplaying, or downloading at all, in the browser settings. Whether that should be in the settings page or a flags page is what browser vendors should be thinking hard about. Arguably this is a behaviour that enough people want to control that it should be in the settings page.

If you yell at me, I'll pay attention, but I'd still rather you didn't. The argument that we watch them more is the same thing. Bright, shiny, loud, moving things will draw my attention and increase my engagement, but I'd prefer to avoid things that manipulate my attention in certain ways. Video and audio are where I personally draw the line, and from this thread, it seems that others do too.

> This is the default for mobile devices already, so it's arguably already solved for most users.

Unfortunately it's relatively easy to circumvent this. I recently implemented an auto-play background video using a canvas element to which I'd render the frames from a video. Sound can't be played, but you could still end up downloading megabytes worth of video without taking any action.

Wifi connection does not mean a good ISP is backing it. I'd hate to be some poor guy in Australia and end up using some of my precious bandwidth.

It's still an issue if you use a mobile wifi hotspot to go online and have limited bandwidth (like most of Japan for example).

I live in Japan, and while mobile hotspots are popular for airbnbs and tourists, I don't think most people have them here. Also, there are mobile hotspots with unlimited data. The rest of the country has unlimited fiber at home, so it's especially those people that want their youtube and facebook videos to autoplay.

I see the point tough. It's bad on a limited wifi hotspot

A bit off-topic: Japan is weird. We could get data-sims as tourists, but I don't think we would have been able to make calls?

Finally somebody reasonable in this thread. Most people might want this behaviour.

I completely disagree with this proposal.

All websites should be allowed to play sounds any time they want to. Without it, webapps can not reasonably compete the native apps.

I am a developer of web games and being able to play the sound from the beginning, without any interaction from the user, is one of the most essential parts of the game experience.

If you visit a website which unexpectedly plays a sound, you should stop visiting it / downvote it / ask the authors to stop doing it. When you are surprised by the sound, the problem is not in browsers, the problem is in authors of webpages / webapps.

> Without it, webapps can not reasonably compete the native apps.

This point, on its own, sounds rather nice to me. After all, the various implementations of modern HTML and Javascript that allow these 'webapps' to function are the same ones being abused ad nauseum by news organizations and other media entities.

I don't deny the usefulness of these modern web development features. I also recognize that because most of the world is on Google Chrome, this makes cross-platform support easier for developers. However, I also realize that web apps are popular because of how much easier it is to track, monitor, and collect users' data and behaviors when they are forced to access your application from the browser.

My observation has been that auto-playing media in browsers is a common strategy to artificially inflate a site's media engagement figures. The strategy is cheap, prays on users' media illiteracy, and is incredibly dishonest. Worst of all, it allows media companies to sidestep the more expensive problem of producing engaging, high-quality content in favor of dumb little gimmicks to keep inflating their engagement figures. I don't know about everyone else here, but if the content is interesting to me, I'm willing for my right hand to leave the keyboard for about 0.5 seconds in order to click the 'play' button with my mouse.

They could at the very least require a dialog asking for permission to play sound. I think this wouldn't be a problem for web game developers like you because anyone who wants to play a game would say yes without a second thought, but it would be a massive quality of life improvement for the average Internet user.

It would be great if every web administrator behaved nicely to users but that just doesn't happen, especially when ads are involved.

If they like your game, they'll turn it back on.

And it's nice to espouse principles like yours, really, it's nice, but the spammers don't care about your principles and they're making everything suck. Perhaps Google should only do this for sites they haven't validated as a good net citizen?

CNN especially gets on my nerves. They seem to have gone out of their way to do everything they can to make sure all plugins/extensions that try to block it fail.

I have edited my hosts file so anything from cdn.turner.com is routed to Works like a charm for CNN.com. All the text, none of the media.

The problem is sometimes I DO want to watch the video. I just don't want it to always autoplay.

Bloomberg (linked here a lot) insists on loading HUGE high-resolution videos, where someone starts talking loudly immediately.

They take forever to load but they give you no UI for "pausing" or just choosing not to load the video until it's loaded and playing.

I try to make Ublock Origin rules that block that video element, but the element name keeps changing, it seems.

I stopped using si.com (CNN's sports site) because of the incredible user hostile actions on that site - as you say not only autoplaying but intentionally coding around users expressed desires to stop autoplay.

si.com seems to have been redesigned so it doesn't do that stuff. Time Inc. was spun off in 2014.

CNET too. Makes me close the page immediately.

It is not as simple as that. Even if videos are prevented from being auto-playing, people resort to much much worse techniques. For example, GIFs - which are much bigger that the corresponding video, worse for battery life etc. To combat this, Chrome recently enabled autoplaying of videos if the video is muted on mobile browser. Hopefully this gets the number of people using GIFs down.

Or who knows, people might start animating images on canvas or something. Allowing auto play in some conditions seems to be lesser of two evils according to me..

Heck, I'll happily accept not auto-displaying GIFs, too. For non-animated content everyone is using PNG or SVG nowadays, so I doubt there'd be much collateral damage.

Facebook is IMHO the biggest offender in that category, dozens of "in your face" videos no one asked explicitly for...

Luckily, there's a setting if you can be bothered - and luckily, for many marketing departments around the world many can't...

"Look, how many views our videos have on FB"...

I remember they boasted this a carefully thoughted out 'feature', that autoplay with no sound...

Excuse me.

Or you can use likes and shares to influence the Facebook algorithm so that it never presents videos to you in the timeline. If you always like/share text posts and don't watch any videos, Facebook will stop putting videos on your feed.

Still, i shouldn't have to do either - neither liking sh*t i don't really dig, nor having to turn off some setting because somebody thought it is acceptable to just change the default behavior...

Also, i don't want to give them _even more_ data about me, even if that is an uphill struggle, more and more seeming sisyphus-like...

What is the setting?

Facebook -> Settings -> Videos -> Auto-Play Videos -> Off

Yes, absoutely, and please.

I filed this bug myself July 2015, though I believe others have existed for years.


In the meantime, I've taken to blocking hosts and/or domains which are used to serve autoplay media. A small list generates exceptionally high mileage.


I implement this on the router via DDWRT, which protects the entire LAN. You can also add this to your own /etc/hosts file(s) on individual machines, or go further and have a local DNS server be authoritative for these services.

The block is intentionally global, and encouraged, as media providers themselves will find that they cannot reach anyone, anywhere so long as autoplay is a default.

Again: the Internet and Web are ultimately a user-determines-policy system. And if servers say "fuck you" loudly enough to users, then users can say "fuck you" back. And win.

DD-WRT instructions: https://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/Ad_blocking

I wrote a small extension for personal use that can set various <video> preferences on a site-by-site basis. One of the main things I wanted to be able to do is disabled autoplay. However, I found that a lot of sites just start the video from js instead of setting the 'autoplay' attribute. I was able to put in some stronger defense by using MutationObserver to stop a video that was played without the user clicking play, but then I found that some sites have code that will force a video to be playing, so even a manual pause would be overridden, and the site's js would contend with my extension's js.

There's no way to stop autoplay if we allow free, programmatic access to videos (without blocking js too, which I use noscript for).

I had the same problem with the 'loop' attribute. I wanted videos to not loop. I found that some sites loop videos without using the 'loop' attribute. I would disable 'loop' on the <video>, but the <video> would be replaced by a new autoplaying <video> when the original video ended.

This is about the point that I gave up on my extension.

At least "Click to play" setting for HTML5 audio/video would be great.

Autoplay is a feature specified in the W3C standard. Thus it's not the browser makers but websites should be blamed for abusing autoplay.

Another commenter suggested it should be something your browser prompts you for, similar to location or camera access. This seems to solve the poster's issue, whilst keeping within the spec (I assume?)

You're right though, websites shouldn't abuse autoplay.

Browser makers are under no obligation to support a given part of the standard.

I remember you had to click play on flash at one point. It was an option you could turn on in preferences. I'd love to have it back.

There are some sites that display not ads but fake virus alerts. When I visited one of these sites, I got a message blaring out of my computer to call a phone number or to reinstall my computer to get rid of a "virus." (Hopefully it was not.) Every time I closed out of the message box a new one would appear, and I finally managed to close out of the site. It's happened a few times. This may not entirely relate to the topic you were speaking about. :)

For Firefox:

For Flash, change the Flash Plugin setting to Ask to Activate. For HTML5, switch `media.autoplay.enabled` preference `about:config` to `false`.

Or try out FlashStopper [1] to stop both HTML5 and Flash.

[1]: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/flashstopper/

Agree this is an annoyance - how would you propose keeping features like YouTube or Netflix autoplay/playlists in this scenario?

To be honest, I don't think either should auto-play anyway. I personally prefer to using the Youtube website on my phone vs the app because its a better experience. Given that situation, I am usually looking for the video description and/or comments rather than the video before I start watching it. Unfortunately, Youtube hides the description under a tap icon and you have to scroll past all of the recommended videos to see the comments. Its not an ideal experience.

For starter you could restrict the autoplay the next video only if it is the same element.

Handle playlists as a stream instead of multiple videos. Then you only have to hit play to start the stream.

Have a setting with allow and deny lists.


Here is a chrome extension that mutes audio for all tabs except thw selected one: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/smart-tab-mute/dnf...

This is an improvement, but I don't think that sound is always welcome in the selected tab either. With a few exceptions (like YouTube) I'd like sound to be off by default.

News sites are the worst offenders here. Especially those who put an un-pauseable, unskippable, un-muteable ad in front. I want to read the damn article, not listen to a fucking ad that drones over my Spotify music - so I can't even Fn F10 to get rid of the ad.

Worst thing is that many of these video ads can not be caught by Adblock Plus...

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