Youtube Autoplay

I am not a video junkie and am not a YouTube junkie, but I watch YouTube videos.

Several months ago I noticed that playing a single video at YouTube resulted in a 10 second delay and another video would begin playing automatically. Searching the web reveals this is an annoying feature to many people.

What an egotist, arrogant design, let alone a design that follows the presumption of unlimited bandwidth.

Do not confuse this autoplay feature with how videos start playing when first visiting a video’s URL. That feature is blocked in Firefox by forcing the flash plugin to always ask before playing, something nowadays called click-to-play. This new autoplay feature is specific to YouTube.

I am not talking abut the gray autoplay bar that appears at the bottom of the web page.

This new feature is not related to YouTube playlists, where autoplay makes some nominal sense. This is a feature when playing a single video that automatically plays the next “suggested” video.

In each YouTube video web page is a small blue toggle switch located in the upper right corner. That option disables automatically playing the next suggested video. Or wait for the current video to end and then select Cancel directly in the video. That is how this new autoplay feature is disabled.

The new feature cannot be disabled by setting the Firefox preference plugins.click_to_play to false. Setting the preference media.autoplay.enabled to false also does not inhibit this YouTube feature. The problem is JavaScript devilry.

The challenge is the toggle is not persistent across Firefox restarts unless using a YouTube account or allowing YouTube cookies. The toggle is not persistent within Firefox sessions if the YouTube page is closed. Opening the next YouTube page in the same session automatically enables this autoplay option.

Looking at youtube web page source code indicates this component is called the autoplay-checkbox.

To my knowledge there is no Firefox preference to stop this nonsense.

Read more about this “feature”:

How to stop auto playing next videos on YouTube

As of this writing, the NextVid Stopper add-on for Firefox helps.

Some of the time. The Google developers have since worked around this add-on too. The add-on works when manually forcing a page refresh. And even then, the add-on works only for that page. Close the page and open a new YouTube page and repeat the insanity.

This is another example of advertisers thinking opt-in should be the presumed default. I understand that YouTube videos are “free.” The illusion of free actually means some kind of implied quid pro quo, such as advertisements and data mining. Yet this specific feature should be disabled as the default. Opt-in makes more sense.

Further reading around the web indicates the YouTube developers continually find ways to defeat such work-arounds. Never mind that “user experience” is defined by each user and not by developers and advertisers.

At times the web has stopped being a fun place. Innocence is long gone. Every user is now monetized in some way.

Posted: Category: Commentary, Usability Tagged: General

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