The ever-shrinking API

Do APIs ever expand? Or do they only ever contract, until they might as well no longer exist? We see this again and again, nearly continuously: Twitter's API getting shittier and less useful every day; Twitter executing all third-party apps; Google killing RSS and XMPP; Facebook crippling cross-posting to or from anywhere else; and now Youtube has started turning off video embedding parameters. Oh look, we gave people the ability to turn off all the useless shit we were spamming them with and they were actually using it. We must correct their terrible preferences by making our awful and spammy UI choices be non-optional.

YouTube Embedded Players and Player Parameters:

August 23, 2018

Note: This is a deprecation announcement for the showinfo parameter. In addition, the behavior for the rel parameter is changing. Titles, channel information, and related videos are an important part of YouTube's core user experience, and these changes help to make the YouTube viewing experience consistent across different platforms.

The behavior for the rel parameter is changing on or after September 25, 2018. The effect of the change is that you will not be able to disable related videos.

The showinfo parameter, which indicates whether the player should display information like the video title and uploader before the video starts playing, is also being deprecated. Following the change, the channel avatar and video title will always display before playback begins, when playback is paused, and when playback ends. The avatar being displayed is new behavior that will be consistent across all embedded players.

What all this really means is that the thumbnail image of your small embedded video will be completely obscured by 24-point type and happy user faces and links to other videos so that you can't actually see the thumbnail of this video. It's just fantastic.

Sure, it's a minor annoyance, but for fuck's sake, why would they do this? (That's a rhetorical question. We all know the answer is that some shitheel ran an A/B test and found that if you cover everything with links, some people are going to accidentally click them, and then you have more clicks and that's all we care about, right? Clicks clicks clicks clicks.)

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11 Responses:

  1. - says:

    For me it's more than a minor annoyance. I have two use cases for the rel parameter that would not be possible without the old embed system.

    First is for example school environment, where you would like to embed lesson material hosted on YT, but keep the student from wandering off into "related" (read: unrelated) content.

    Second is for making spoiler-free playlists when you want to watch something without visiting the full YT which would spew spoilers at your face just with thumbnails and video titles.

    From what I understand, the deprecation of the rel parameter will break both of these.

  2. law says:

    It's just the entrenched players becoming less useful. As the APIs asymptotically approach uselessness, it might not be a terrible idea to explore other video-hosting platforms that are friendlier to your needs.

  3. tfb says:

    Eventually, presumably, the API will shrink to zero and they'll have finally achieved what everyone once derided AOL for: a walled garden. Except that they will have poured so much poison on everything outside the walls that all that remains will be a wasteland of blackened earth and the garden will be all there is.

  4. Yet Another Coward says:

    Yeah, Google (Alphabet) sucks. Youtube sucks. Everything sucks. Personally, if I was ever publishing videos, I wouldn't be using that abomination, but would probably put them on my own website. Then again, as I would expect about three views (two of them me making sure the darn things worked properly), I guess I can afford it. For someone who actually has videos that people want to watch, off loading the cost is a better idea.

    But it doesn't have to be Youtube.

    (Something something Google Video.)

    • George Dorn says:

      It's still pretty early, but PeerTube is promising. Re-decentralization is the only way to escape the corporate overlords.

    • James says:

      Hasn't Vimeo always been the upscale YouTube? What do they get wrong?

  5. bibulb says:

    From the enduser/eyeballs standpoint, I'm assuming that their API fuckery is also why the "add to Watch Later" button in embedded videos has suddenly shit the bed in every instance.

  6. BHN says:

    "As of last Thursday, C has been flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs video hosting provider."

  7. Carl W says:

    It sure is a sad trend!

  8. Lloyd says:

    Wait, wasn't someone complaining about the shrinkage in the OpenGL API, deleting 80% of it?

    It's positively Orwellian.

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