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hey there folks! we're getting started on doing better embedding of off-site media, and we had a question we wanted to ask everyone: would you prefer if plain autolinks (i.e., just typing a URL into the post text) turned into embedded media if supported, with a way to opt out, or would you prefer having to opt in to embedding on specific links by marking them up in a particular way?

thanks for your time, and thanks for using cohost :eggbug:


in reply to @staff's post:

I think I prefer an opt-out approach?

It really only becomes an issue for me if I'm putting multiple links in a post? and then hopefully it's easy enough to disable them with some markdown or something.

Honestly it's a toss up, I could see either way being better depending on the length of a post / topic

Requiring them to be on a separate line is how I've generally seen it done (I'm thinking of Discourse forums, for example) - if it's within a paragraph with other text, don't do it, but if it's just an unadorned URL, separated from other content by lines of whitespace, go for it.

That also provides a means of opting out, by making an explicit unnamed link wrapped with </>, or using normal Markdown/HTML link syntax to construct it.

I feel pretty comfortable with that approach, as it does what most people probably want off the bat, and lets people who want more control take it with tools they already have at their disposal.

yeah, jae mentioned that constructing a link with angle brackets also disables embedding on discord, so in terms of uniformity of design across services I think this is our favorite, but we wanted to make sure that this doesn't go against some user expectation we're unaware of

I think it would probably nicer for people (especially people that don't no markdown/css) if things embed by default.

I guess I could also see an approach where it depends on how the URL is written, e.g.:

  • https://bare.link <- embeds
  • [this is a link](https://bare.link)
  • ![this is an embed](https://bare.link)

but I don't really know how that would extend to html

Seconding this; I kind of appreciate that chosts w/ links aren't filled with embeds. Certainly one of the things I worry about w/ Tumblr's embeds is like, "what's the -full- URL that I'm about to navigate to?"

I would lean toward the first option of having the link become embedded automatically with an easy X to click if that is not desired. However, it's not a hill I would want to die upon as those advocating for option two certainly have good points.

This is sort of where I'm leaning; my personal blog is rigged to allow me to say !yt[dQw4w9WgXcQ] to drop a prestyled youtube embed in anywhere and I'm fond of that approach but it would be nice to let people just drop a url in like other, worse social media sites allow as well. I'm not 100% sure if the latter completely obviates the former though, especially since for elaborate styling we can just, do's HTML.

Repeating from my reply to @ disquisition, I prefer opt-in embeds, even if I'm in the minority here. My primary expected use-case is embedding music and video into a post (I assume here that audio & video posts are unlikely to be feasible any time soon), which doesn't need to happen All The Time. I worry that opt-out embeds would result in a lot of unintentional or uninformative embeds that take up a lot of screen/post real estate. Definitely favoring a simplified embed marker, though; copying or constructing HTML is Difficult.

our current thinking right now is that we're going to auto-embed any link that's in its own paragraph: e.g.,

my new single is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

wouldn't turn into an embed; but

I love this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ

would. also, if you wanted to exclude a video from embedding, it'd be as simple as writing the link with angle brackets like <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ>. all of these behaviors would be visualizable in the post preview.

we also do plan on adding on-site hosting for audio and video soon, but off-site embedding is easier to stand up quickly.

Makes sense! I can imagine it's a lot easier to steal other websites' media players & file hosting. I look forward to seeing how this plays out; worst case scenario, I suppose I can always just ask about a perma-opt-out on embeds similar to Discord.

some easy/discoverable way to opt in to auto-embedding would be nice - what if i'm not technical (discord angle bracket familiarity counts as coding) and i want a pasted link to just be a hyperlink, for instance. my gut is a tickmark for "auto-embed links" down by the cw/tag stuff might be a good play - something that enables images, media, and opengraph all at once

my head says: opt-in, but in the form of a popup on submit that says "Do you want to convert your links to embeds?"

but then, what does editing that post later look like? and what if you want some things to embed and others not?

perhaps a new psuedo-markdown tag, like (emb), gets inserted if you agree to the prompt. if all your links already have (emb) in front, you don't get the opt-in prompt.

i have a philosophical complaint about embeds. i don't like them at all. i logged into cohost. i consent to having my computer connected to your website. this consent is not transferable. please allow me as the viewer to turn off embeds. just give me the link and let me decide if i want my computer connected to any other site. thanks.

An opt in approach that isn't markdown (like liffy suggested) works for me; otherwise, I'd prefer opt out. I'm familiar enough with coding that I'd probably be fine with whatever, but I like embedding (and posting generally) to be as easy as possible. (Memorizing markdown code or regularly referring to the cheatsheet is not my idea of easy. 😅)

I'm with the opt-out voices (to account for tech literacy, speed, etc.). 🤘

One thing that might work to cover some of the other annoying cases (multiple links in a post, repeatedly needing to opt out if that's your preference) would be to consider an account-state toggle somewhere around the post box (possibly near "adult content") where people can quickly check...

automatic embeds? 🔲

An option to consider if it seems like an important enough feature (given how often people most links to outside media) but also one that shouldn't be hidden in a settings menu somewhere (given how frustrating it can be when it's not behaving how you want).

Would it be possible to have it a global setting by account? That way you could personally opt-in or opt-out and not have to think about it much, instead of having to intentionally 'please embed this' or 'please don't embed this' every link.

I like a lot of what has been said, and where the team has said they're going. Having both a textual (Markdown-related) way for easy copy-paste for those editing a longer post in another app and a graphical (lil X button) way for those less comfortable with this sort of more technical option would be the only thing I think I can add to the discussion. (Would be unsurprised if it's been posted by the time I post this, or already predicted by the team - everyone seems to have a good grasp of what users seem to want.)

I'm on the side of opt-out by default, if only because it is expected thanks to Twitter/Discord/etc., but having a pop-up with default/ask/always/never embed options that people can set for their account that appears on the first post after this change would be nice. (Default being the embed only separated links as discussed, always and never referring to setting account default going forward, and ask referring to ask on each post.)

I'd prefer opt in, I'm so sick of getting surprised by embeds, especially trying to juggle them when I have multiple links. I understand wanting embedding to be super easy for people who don't code at all though, so I wouldn't be too upset about an auto embed where it's very easy to un-embed and very obvious how. Would it be too complicated to give every link a little hover menu or something that lets you choose "link" "embed" or "plain text"? the other day i made a post including a link that i did Not want to be clickable, but didn't want to have to research how to undo the auto link.

opt-in by default with page and post wide settings to opt out, if somebody is pasting a link to a image or video they probably want it embedded, but other links (I, personally) would rather were text

if it's going to be opt-in via marking them up in a particular way, it'd be good to add some stuff in the editor to make it easier for newer/less technical users - maybe something like

  • a button that adds the markup to embed a link around your current selection
  • a message that shows up when there's non-embedded links, something like "warning: these links: "https://youtu.be/dQw4w9WgXcQ" aren't marked as embeds, blah blah blah, [button to dismiss the message] [button to auto-add the markup to make them embeds]"

for a global account-wide "automatic embeds on/off" option, how would editing old posts work? using the current option would mean fixing a typo in an old post might also add/remove a bunch of embeds, using the choice from when it was originally posted would be confusing since then changing the settings wouldn't appear to do anything


a per-post "automatic embeds" option would be better than a global one, but one (small) problem i see with it is that, if some users have their posts parsed differently, sharing (& using) markdown snippets/post templates/whatever would be a bit less simple- "paste this in and replace the placeholders" works fine now, a change like that would complicate things a bit

  • if i'm sharing stuff for other people to use, i'd need to make sure it works in both modes (or add a warning if it doesn't)
  • what if someone wants to combine stuff but some are written for manual mode and others are written for auto mode?
  • if a user tries to use some markdown someone else shared and it doesn't work right, will they even know to try toggling auto embeds? or will they just assume they made a mistake somewhere

Just to say

  • I like "don't embed but embed if only content in a paragraph"
  • It would be nice to be able to turn off auto loading embeds on a per user basis

but it occurs to me that it would be nice to be able to caption videos, well,

A random paragraph

A random paragraph http://link.no.embed/ 

http://link.to.embed/ When this embed gets inlined this text appears underneath. That would be cool.