A decade ago, the internet was less sophisticated than it is now. At least, with respect to presentation. Sites like MySpace would auto play music when you loaded them up, and pop-up ads abounded.
Things have gotten a little better since then, and we've all been able to pretty much forget that awful past. But like the old saying goes - those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.
Not too long ago, news sites and even FaceBook started a new trend of about the worst type of advertising on the internet... auto-playing videos. News sites had auto-playing ads, and nobody liked it. Facebook pushed auto-play videos into our streams, and nobody liked it.
Despite the complaints of millions of users, as well as the common sense obviousness of how awful they are, many sites bowed to the almighty advertising dollar, and shoved auto-play content down our throats anyway.
Twitter has started auto-playing gifs and vines, which is bad, though a little less bad as they at least mute it, and gifs and vines are generally small.
About a week ago, Kickstarter started auto-playing their project videos. On my browser, they play muted, and you have to click on them to hear the sound, but as Jamey Stegmaier notes, for some people they auto-play with audio, at full volume.
How could this possibly be? After all the experience people have had with auto-play content (and none of it good), how could Kickstarter POSSIBLY think this would be an OK move?
Auto-play is the worst. The WORST! It slows down or hangs up browsers, it eats up bandwidth, and it attempts to get your attention in the worst possible way - by literally waving its arms and shouting at you.
Never mind the folks who pay for bandwidth - for whom auto-play content is akin to stealing from them (especially when muted so you don't know it's loading video in the background). Even with unlimited internet access, that doesn't make it OK to clog up the bandwidth of every user in the area by constantly shoving video content down people's throats. By way of comparison, it doesn't cost anything to drive trucks down the road, but it would be uncool to drive 500 of them up and down Broadway during rush hour. It would make people not want to drive anywhere. Similarly, auto-play content makes people not want to load up websites.
A commenter on Jamey's post (Julius Besser) contacted Kickstarter about this, and was kind enough to share the reply he got:
Sorry to hear you’re not a fan of autoplay. This is something we’re testing out on the site, so any feedback from our community is extremely helpful. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts – I’ll be sure to share them with our team. Unfortunately, at this time, there is not a way to turn it off for repeat visits to the page. However, as I mentioned, we are testing this feature and I will be sure to pass your thoughts along to the team here. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
According to that, this is just an experiment, and they're taking feedback from the community. I find it hard to believe they thought the feedback would be anything but overwhelmingly negative, but maybe there's some subset of people that are really into wasting time and bandwidth to auto-play every video on every web page they open - who knows.
So here's what I'd like you to do. I'd like you each to contact Kickstarter (firstname.lastname@example.org), in a civil and polite manner, and let them know that you are absolutely unhappy with the experiment and would strongly prefer they went back to not auto-playing their videos. Then I'd like you to tell 5 friends to do the same.
This can not stand!