While trying to maintain a question of mine by adding some more media, I bumped into the issue of not being able to embed YouTube videos. I asked in the Teachers' Lounge and was pointed to make a meta question stating my case.

Here are what I see as the immediate benefits of enabling (and advertising) YouTube support:

  • We gain the ability to embed full- and micro- screencasts to demonstrate things

    A lot of what goes on here is explaining a process. Click here, do this, do that and shazzam, it should work. I don't suggest we remove the writing but it would be nice for the more complicated things if users could also do a small screencast on the topic to show you what's happening.

    This is particularly relevant to very new Ubuntu users who may not be familiar with the terminology used to describe certain UI elements.

    There's also scope for a lot of new material and guides through videos that may be more appealing to an audience that we don't currently attract.

  • threads become a whole lot more awesome

    Like the post I'm trying to maintain, if I can add a demo of the application I'm trying to promote, it can save the user a lot of time deciding if it's really for them.

    As it is we tend to get an awful lot of screenshots that rarely convey as much information as is needed to decide.

I feel like there are more cases for Flash but really even if it only improves just one post, it's worth it in my eyes.

To address a couple of concerns:

  • Flash Player is insecure/slow/buggy/evil/etc

    There's no argument against it not being the ideal video delivery platform, it's the best of what's available to most users in a way that can be embedded. As HTML5 support increases perhaps this will alleviate the stress on Flash haters.

    Actually YouTube already supports partial HTML5 embedding through an iframe. I'm not sure what it does if you don't have Flash but they claim this method, in time, will solve all plugin support issues. If SO aren't doing this, they should.

  • Videos may detract from written content

    We have plenty of screenshots that enrich both questions and answers and they work well because people don't just dump a screenshot but go on to explain it. I think it's important that videos, like screenshots are only used to illustrate and not be the sole instruction on a post.

    I did say a valid case would be full-on screencasts so there's a contradiction in my "rules" already. I still think they're a valid type of post but of course it depends on the context. If somebody is asking how to run a terminal command, a video is nigh-on worthless. If they're asking for a quick tutorial in how to do something in GIMP, a screencast becomes very relevant.

    In short: The question decides how relevant videos are.

  • Videos detract from the professional nature of the site

    I don't agree. Good, relevant videos for the right questions just improve the amount of content we're delivering.

    Of course bad videos (random kids faceplanting, cute kittens, rickrolling, etc) shouldn't be tolerated. At all. I'm two-strikes-serious about that. You'll get a warning for the first infringement and get a suspension for any future junk.

  • Accessibility!

    Video isn't great for people who physically can't see it, be that because of some biological impediment or because they're choosing to use a browser or device that won't display the video.

    I personally don't see a difference in this respect between videos and screenshots.

  • I disagree. Why can't we just create an image of the first frame of the video and make it a link to watch the video? Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 22:32
  • That's possible but it's more work for both the writer and the reader. Enabling YouTube here is, as I understand it, just a flick of a switch.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 22:38
  • @Oli: ...but a huge security risk. Flash does not have the best security record. Not to mention trouble with corporate filters for YouTube content, etc. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 22:40
  • Really? It's only a security risk as far as the YouTube player is a security risk because it's only ever that swf that gets loaded... and I don't think I've ever heard of a exploit through it.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 22:44
  • 1
    @Oli: Flash itself is a security risk. Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 22:55
  • @George As is JavaScript and the browsers themselves. So are PDFs and other common document types. If you don't want these things you can disable them or otherwise remove them. You can choose what you consume... But I really don't see that as a reason to block a content delivery system that would enrich the site.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Mar 30, 2011 at 23:02
  • @Oli: Ya, but unless people disable Flash for AU or all sites, then you're forcing plugin-based content on them. It's not a big thing, but I kind-of don't like the idea. Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 0:12
  • @George The aim isn't to force anything on anybody, rather just to improve what's already available with video complements.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 1:13
  • @Oli: Fair enough... but I'm just sharing my personal dislike for the Flash player. Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 2:20
  • @oli All the bling makes my head hurt.
    – belacqua
    Commented Mar 31, 2011 at 4:15
  • 1
    Gaming already has this for a while now, so really its just a matter of flipping a switch
    – Yi Jiang
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 11:07
  • @George Edison you can use html5 player with iframe and it will fall-back on flash if the browser doesn't support html5 .
    – Lincity
    Commented May 3, 2011 at 9:01

2 Answers 2


While some people prefer a video over reading for everything, I personally prefer the opposite: reading is more pleasant for me than a video. While reading, you can always turn scroll back if you need to re-read some text.

In my opinion, a video is not suited for Askubuntu and related Stackexchange sites. While video's can certainly be a rich addition for an answer, it might be distracting and not usable for screen readers and mobile devices.

I'm also afraid that adding a video embedding feature cause users to post video's as the only answer instead of a hand-written (typed ;) ) answer.

With text answers, users can compare the answers faster and copy parts of the answer (code) and URL's. If a video is really interesting, just link to it, there it nothing wrong with it. A Q&A with video's deserves an own site, it does not fit in the concept (IMO).


I think youtube embedding should be supported and the reccomended method should be iframe embedding

<iframe class="youtube-player" type="text/html" width="WIDTH" height="HEIGHT" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/VIDEO_ID?html5=1" frameborder="0">

It will use html5 if you have a html5 capable browser (all modern browsers) .

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