On the gaming.se site they have the ability to embed YouTube videos in both their questions and their answers.

I think that embedding video, especially for questions which require detailed, complex answers, like proper maintenance steps for suspension forks for example, could benefit here as well.

I'm sure that not every question here requires a video response, but if the facility exists on Stack Exchange, why not use it here, too?

This is a gaming.se question which demonstrates the ability.


The question on how suspension lockouts work brought this up for me. Explaining that without visual aids well is difficult, and creating your own visual aids is hugely time consuming, which is a barrier to good answers there.

I do think that @NeilFinn has a point about linked content vanishing, but that should be something we can deal with, since this is already live on a few other sites.

It also is something that applies to any linked content, not just embeds, and embedded video which isn't copyrighted rarely gets pulled from YouTube.

What do you think?


I asked the question on Meta.SO, but it refers me back here, to our Meta site as the path to get it enabled. So how do I proceed with this request?

  • 1
    I support this plan. You're totally right that sometimes the best way to explain a solution (or even problem) is with video. If we want our answers to be the best answer for something, we're going to need video for some things.
    – freiheit
    Mar 27, 2012 at 18:29
  • 1
    Bicycle Tutor is fairly successful based almost entirely on "show a video of how to do a thing".
    – freiheit
    Mar 27, 2012 at 18:34
  • @JeffAtwood - What are your thoughts on this? Apr 15, 2012 at 13:40

4 Answers 4


Another way to put it...

Looking at the 50 most recently active questions, which ones could potentially benefit from a video?

Now, that's just a random sampling of recent material...

Here's some existing questions where either the question or the answer seems to refer to a YouTube video in some way helpful way (I didn't actually click through to any of the videos to verify):

Based on these searches, less than 1% of existing questions refer to YouTube videos usefully and close to 10% that could theoretically benefit from a video.

  • I added the one on folding tires. It hasn't been answered yet, but I'd bet money there's gonna be a video involved here. Mar 28, 2012 at 21:13

We have experimented with embedded video on a few sites, but I would be very hesitant about enabling it widely unless the site can show a substantial need for it.

One of the big problems with video is that it is not searchable. Remember that the lifeblood of this site is search, so every time a video replaces a well-worded post that describes the problem, you have that much less content on the site that can be searched. Videos are, essentially, a black box to the Internet — they break those mechanisms we rely on to bring people to this site.

Text is the primary means of communicating what we have here to the outside world. For every question or answer that is described "in video," that information becomes obscured behind a black curtain; One less opportunity for people to find the text that describes the solution.

  • 2
    I understand that point, and I agree with it. However, the value of vieo is in showing you what cannot be described. I think that there should be definitive restrictions on the use of video, but right now, if I can't describe a subject, I link outside SE sites to get the video needed. Which leads our users to other sources of clearer information. Perhaps it is possible to block video embedding for users under 5000 rep (or some other random figure)
    – zenbike
    Apr 15, 2012 at 18:50
  • 3
    or possibly to simply increas the word count required on posts including video, and make it clear that if you embed video, you are expected to describe the content as well. I don't want to become a video site. But the fact is we use video as a primary means of explanation, and it's a good one. Let's use it to attract users here, rather than to send them elsewhere.
    – zenbike
    Apr 15, 2012 at 18:51
  • This is still an active request. We've had about all the feedback on it that I think we're going to, and it's all been positive, with the caveat that it be limited to high rep users that can be relied on to describe the issue, as well as post a video only when really necessary. How do we request that it actually be enabled?
    – zenbike
    Apr 18, 2012 at 11:16
  • @zen I really like your idea of requiring (n) characters of text for every video link. That seems like a great solution that would work network-wide. Apr 18, 2012 at 23:48
  • Thanks. Is it technically feasible? Can we try it out on Bicycles.SE?
    – zenbike
    Apr 19, 2012 at 3:26
  • I'd also like to have a rep limit. Perhaps we could set it at 2000, the same as the threshold where we trust users to edit others' posts and approve queued edits. Apr 21, 2012 at 17:34
  • @JeffAtwood: Not sure where else to ask, I'm asking you. Is this request in process or under review?
    – zenbike
    May 1, 2012 at 2:39
  • @zenbike An embedded video is essentially a link to external content, so I think you may have inadvertently raised a larger learning opportunity we can add to the software. I posted a feature request (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/130926/…) and added a note to extend that premise to videos, too. May 1, 2012 at 17:17
  • @RobertCartaino: Cool. I do think it's a good idea. In the meantime, can we do something about enabling embedded video here?
    – zenbike
    May 1, 2012 at 17:29
  • @zenbike This was an experimental feature, and I'm still erring towards "no, not unless we can determine a significant need, or determine that it works well for the network as a whole." But I added an agenda item to bring it up again to see what everyone else thinks. May 1, 2012 at 17:50
  • Define significant need. I think it is significantly reducing our ability to answer mechanical questions well. But you don't think so, apparently?
    – zenbike
    May 2, 2012 at 4:56
  • @zenbike Can you send me a handful of example links? A comment here or email is fine. Thanks. May 2, 2012 at 13:51
  • meta.bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/658/1259 links to appropriate question are listed in this answer.
    – zenbike
    May 4, 2012 at 10:50

I think the video-embedding feature could be enabled only for those above certain reputation. Linking videos could be a lazy way to answer/ask, a potential way of flooding, etc. So, with reputation-conditioned embedding, the risk of polluting and degenerating the site would be drastically reduced.


If the video goes away, then the answer becomes useless. I think that you'd need to come up with a compelling reason why it's needed here.

I wasn't able to find the meta thread on Gaming that explained why they have it there, but it makes sense that they do. (I'm guessing game walkthroughs, explanations, and so on.)

Audio-Video Production was a natural for this, and the site supports embedding Youtube and Soundcloud content. This would be because the site discusses audio and video.

What, exactly, would be done with video here? Just maintenance videos, or would it be more useful than that? I'm not saying video would be a bad thing here, but I'd rather not see answers that are just an embedded video.

Edit: I think the best way for you to go about this would be to present your case on Meta Stack Overflow, [Note - this turned out to be incorrect. Leaving it here so as not to make the comments below nonsensical.] and use these examples as ammunition. It would be even better if you could present them with existing answers on the site that could have been much better if they had had embedded videos illustrating the point.

There's more on this page about embedding video on sites, and this answer seems to indicate that the SE folks are open to hearing these resuests.

  • 1
    I'm thinking mainly of maintenance questions which can't easily be explained via text. Speaking as the guy responsible for training a crew of professional mechanics, there are some things which just need to be shown to be understood. I wouldn't want, or expect, to see video in every answer. It wouldn't make sense. Maybe it would need to be limited to users with rep enough to understand its limitations. Right now, the option is to link to the video, which does show it, but the argument about content moving still applies to links, and it forces people away from our site for answers.
    – zenbike
    Mar 26, 2012 at 6:31
  • 1
    The question on how suspension lockouts work brought this up for me. Explaining that without visual aids well is difficult, and creating your own visual aids is hugely time consuming, which is a barrier to good answers there.
    – zenbike
    Mar 26, 2012 at 6:35
  • 2
    I also think that the idea would be to supplement an answer, not be the answer. Which means that answers which are basically an embedded video could be added to the quality filters, maybe?
    – zenbike
    Mar 26, 2012 at 6:46
  • @zenbike - See my edit. Mar 26, 2012 at 21:35
  • Why would I want to go to Meta.SO, when we haven't even really discussed it here? Is that their established procedure? I assumed that we would need to make a decision here about what we wanted, and why, before we present a case to Stack Exchange.
    – zenbike
    Mar 28, 2012 at 8:00
  • 1
    There seems to be as much of a consensus here as we're gonna get. (Meta.bicycles is pretty low traffic.) Meta.SO is simply the hext step. While per-site metas inform the local mods, and there's a chance a Stack Exchange employee will stop by, when you feel we've discussed this sufficiently, anyone here can bring it to Meta.SO. @freiheit - would it be appropriate to put the featured tag on this, so more people will notice the discussion? Getting more voices involved here would be great. Mar 28, 2012 at 15:14
  • 1
    (And, for the record, I'm not against this; bike maintenance videos are awesomely handy. My answer is probably fairly representative of the kinds of objections these requests have fostered in the past.) Mar 28, 2012 at 15:17
  • 1
    Understood. Maybe I'll give it a week to see if anyone else chimes in, then take it to Meta SO. Thanks.
    – zenbike
    Mar 28, 2012 at 19:32
  • @NeilFein: It's my understanding that there's SE employees checking all the site metas regularly.
    – freiheit
    Mar 28, 2012 at 20:39
  • @NeilFein or Freiheit: How does one migrate a question?
    – zenbike
    Apr 4, 2012 at 4:58
  • @zenbike - A moderator closes it, then can migrate it. It might make sense for you to simply open a new question there, though, editing together your original question and selections from freiheit's answer. Apr 4, 2012 at 5:04
  • I was hoping to maintain the integrity of the links, etc... Doesn't look like that will happen. Unless there is a way to copy with links intact?
    – zenbike
    Apr 4, 2012 at 5:15
  • Yep! Click "edit" and you can copy the question's source code. Apr 4, 2012 at 6:08
  • This question on Meta.SO has Jeff responding by saying it's possible to get it enabled, but that the path is through each site's meta. meta.stackexchange.com/q/129329/160854
    – zenbike
    Apr 15, 2012 at 12:51
  • So what is the next step?
    – zenbike
    Apr 15, 2012 at 12:51

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