It seems that this is allowed on a site-by-site basis on Stack Exchange.

Can we have it here?

Stack Exchange Meta discussion on this

  • 1
    This would be very useful. Videos often provide good answers where complex instruction is required.
    – user2766
    Sep 15, 2014 at 10:42
  • 3
    You may get a better response from SE if you list questions where this would be relevant like in this
    – user2766
    Sep 15, 2014 at 10:44
  • I agree that this could be a very useful feature, however it would make a better case for it to include some example question/answers where a video would be beneficial, and possibly essential.
    – montane
    Nov 20, 2014 at 5:32
  • Someone wanted to know if a certain fire lighting technique was possible. A simple "Yes, should be" is not a great answer, so I embedded of a video of myself proving that a fire can be lit with a certain tool. Embedded video doesn't work though. It would be nice if it did. I left a link to the video, but if there is no problem with linking to a video then why not just let it be embedded? outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/20532/…
    – Loduwijk
    Sep 27, 2018 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


I asked on meta.SE how we go about requesting embedded video support get turned on for The Great Outdoors. In theory, the results from turning this on should be a net positive.


StackExchange has support for embedding YouTube videos. This support is enabled on a site-by-site basis. Some SE sites are using it, but most are not. If we want it, we need to have that discussion and request it, probably at the main meta.stackexchange.

Cases which support embedded videos

We have a lot of answers in which we guess at what might or might not work in any given situation. Sometimes that is the best we have, but the best answers would be proving the viability of the process. I see this as similar to providing links and citations for a researched answer.

And don't get me started on the questions about knots! We have an entire tag for knots, but rarely does anyone ever explain a knot in words in a way that I can understand. Pictures sometimes help if the knot is left loose and very deliberately in a picturesque way. Often I have to look up a video about the knot.

Most of the knot questions would likely be great candidates for videos.

Alternative option

I was told on meta.SE that animated gifs are an alternative. A gif is a picture file that supports multiple "frames" of an imagine which animate in a loop. That is true, it is an alternative.

In cases which could sorely use a video though, the gif is sub-par. Also, a long video might get too large to upload, as SE has a 2MB limit on images, but a video streams whatever data you need from YouTube as needed and so has no such limit.

There are a few cases where a very short, animated gif might actually work better than a video though, or at least as good. Some of my example Q&As above might work great with gifs, such as using a stick to hold down a snake.

A problem with the animated gif alternative

A video which contains content some users might not want to see should be optional to watch. ab2 pointed this out in comment in response to me using snakes as an example; lots of people cannot stand them.

An animated gif provides no way for a user to decide whether or not they want to watch the animation. It plays automatically and keeps looping back to the beginning.

Also, the animation starts right away and you might notice it when it is in the middle of the animation. I frequently have trouble watching them, as I have to watch several iterations before I realize what point is considered the beginning, then wait for it to get back to restarting again. Animated gifs are not nearly as user friendly in most situations.

Follow up questions

Sue just brought up the possibility of videos being in a spoiler so that users could avoid them. Since an embedded video shouldn't play without clicking the play button, I think that applies less to embedded videos (though they still generally have a picture that represents them, like a cover picture); but this would apply much more to animated gif "videos".

If we can put a gif in a spoiler, that might alleviate unwanted content issues: just put a warning above then the gif of snakes, wounds, or whatever in a spoiler.

A concern for the quality of text answers

One answer on my question there suggested that the presence of videos can diminish the quality of the text, sometimes even eliminating text altogether.

enabling videos might allure people to make a video tutorial instead of writing a nice answer. This is already happening at so many places on the internet and I HATE it. Reading something is so much faster than having to watch a video to slowly get information I want.

This is a valid concern, and it also annoys me when I can find only videos about a topic and no text to read. However, I don't think this should stop us from using videos and text together for the best effect possible.

A concern for site performance

Another concern, posted in this answer on my question, is that enabling videos for a site apparently has a performance hit for all posts on that site, not just the ones which use video. The reasoning probably has something to do with how SE scans every post to see if it has embedded videos and then process the video link.

My endorsement

I recommend that we request embedded videos be enabled for "The Great Outdoors", as long as the aforementioned performance hit is not too bad.

I would assume it is a minor performance hit to the site, but I cannot know for sure. I have asked how severe the hit is and have been told that a discussion exists about that but that it would need to be tracked down.

If we are concerned about less effort being put into text, we could make a site rule that videos can only be made to augment text, not to replace it. Any videos which include a lot of talking about the information, where that talking has no textual counterpart in the SE post, would then need to be dealt with in some way, be it down-voting, closing, deleting, warning, etc..

If the performance hit is minor, I see no significant reason not to enable embedded videos. The minor drawbacks, such as less work put into text, should be outweighed by the benefit of a good video properly used. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a video can be worth a thousand pictures.

  • 1
    I request that a warning accompany any videos of snakes.
    – ab2
    Sep 27, 2018 at 19:41
  • 3
    As for the text around the video, I think that should be greatly enforced! The rules tell us to avoid link-only posts, because if the links go down there's nothing to learn from. A video link-only (or practically link-only) question is even less useful. If the video goes down, there's almost nothing left. Sep 28, 2018 at 2:03
  • It'd be good to get some rough figure of exactly what performance penalty we're talking about here - there's a big difference between, say a 50ms increased load time and a 1000ms increased load time.
    – berry120
    Oct 13, 2018 at 18:35
  • You may as well go ask on meta.se if this can be implemented with this post to back it up. Oct 25, 2018 at 17:21

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