back to article You MERCILESS FIEND... you put that audio file on AUTOPLAY

It was a quiet morning at the office. The early risers among the team were settling gently at their desks and discreetly going about their business. All that could be heard was the swish of papers, the soft clicking of mice and several varieties of birdsong. Birdsong? I thought I might be suffering the effects of the previous …


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  1. jxp

    The sure-fire technique I use when confronted with unexpected audio is to close that browser tab and never return to the page again.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    1. Anonymous Custard

      Ah but then there's the case where you open a few tabs at once (for example when looking at a site like el Reg or similar news places, a tab per story of interest) only to have one or more auto-play video/audio files and it's then a race to hunt down exactly which one is doing it.

      Made even more fun when multiple tabs decide to play ball, and you get a complete audio-mess coming out.

      May just be the reason when at my desk the Lync headphones are generally always plugged into audio out and mic (and fairly often being used to stream 'net radio to drown out the office noise), and when travelling the laptop is usually on mute by default...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Daniel B.

      Oh no

      I can guarantee the author that I hate both audio and video autoplayback equally. Especially when this happens at work, when I have 20+ tabs and the one doing the noise has to be hunted down. There's a reason why I use my headphones these days.

      Interestingly, the sites that don't do instaplayback are porn-related, so real-life actually ended up being the reverse of that "welcome to the first audio-enabled porn site!" joke. Good for them, but also sad to see that only the porn industry thinks about their users well-being...

  2. Lloyd


    <pedantry="on"> Technically Clive Barker didn't write Hellraiser, he based the screenplay on his short story the Hellbouond Heart which is one of the Books of Blood. So I think you should really be saying "I suppose a copy of our Old MacDonald could have inspired Clive Barker to write the Hellbound Heart which he later rewrote as the screenplay for Hellraiser.<pedantry="off">.

    Yes, you're right, I need to get out more.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Hellraiser

      To be fair, having both read the novella, and seen the film, there can't have been much re-writing to make it into a screenplay, other than inserting a few stage directions. The two are pretty much identical versions of the same thing, only in different media.

      1. Lloyd

        Re: Hellraiser

        Yeah, the basic plot's the same, but Hellraiser itself is obviously much more fleshed out (pun intended), my point really being that the written aspect wasn't called Hellraiser (and obviously that I'm a pedant).

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Hellraiser

      So what your pedantry is trying to tell me is that Clive Barker didn't write Hellraiser? I think you'll find that he did. What he based it on and the number of earlier drafts are irrelevant.

      1. Lloyd

        Re: Hellraiser

        As I've already said, he wrote the screenplay for the film Hellraiser but that was based on The Hellbound Heart which I don't believe there is commercial novelisation of, therefore whilst he did "write" Hellraiser, it has stage directions in it, if that's what floats your boat and you enjoy that kind of thing then certainly you can read it, I'd wager it's probably a lot more enjoyable to watch though.

  3. kempsy

    Turning it all the way to 0

    I avoid the problem completely by just turning the volume off, only turning it back on when I wish to watch/listen to something. Completely avoids the annoying online equivalents to "I'M BARRY SCOTT...".

  4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge


    When I'm working in an office with other people the volume's turned to 0% and muted. If the workstation has a speaker at all.

    Am I weird?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Err...

      You are not alone, I'm sure lots of people do it...

      If I didn't have the sound turned off it would be obvious I wasn't doing any work!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Err...

        Porn has sound?!?!

        Who knew?

    2. Helldesk Dogsbody
      Thumb Up

      Re: Err...

      Nope, that's simple courtesy. The only time my workstation isn't muted is when I have headphones plugged in to the audio jack and if I can hear any noise from them when they're placed on the desktop then I turn the volume down as it's too loud. 30 people in an open plan office is plenty noisy enough without speakers being added in to the mix.

    3. tfewster

      Re: Err...

      Not weird, but unusually thoughtful!

      The first thing I do at any new workstation is to disable Windows sounds; Unfortunately some people seem to like audio confirmation that they've just clicked something , sent an IM etc., so everyone else in the office is made aware of it too...

  5. Andy Mc

    "Irrational it may be, but people love it when video plays and hate it when audio does"

    Erm, no. Anything that moves gets Adblocked immediately... But your right, audio sucks harder.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      To get video to work properly: No plugins, no updates

      The website gets an extra gold star is I can find the URL without much hassle. That way, if I decide to watch, youtube-dl -F tells me what formats are available so I can pick the right one - download it, watch it and if I think other members of the family will be interested, move it to an NFS export.

    2. mike2R
      Thumb Up

      Damn right. I don't block ads as such, but I use a flash blocker, and have animated gifs turned off. Anything that still manages to move gets adblocked. Usually at the domain level.

      Whenever I have to use a browser that I haven't set up, and see all these animating looping things all over the place, I wonder how people can tolerate it without going nuts.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        "Damn right... Anything that still manages to move gets adblocked... I wonder how people can tolerate it without going nuts."

        When I read your post, I had this vision of a guy at his computer repeatedly starting to use the mouse, seeing the cursor move, and yelling, "God damn you, stop it! STOP IT ALREADY!"

      2. Mike Flugennock

        shake shake shake... shake shake shake... shake your...

        I had occasion to talk my wife through a Yahoo Mail issue on her laptop recently. She uses no javascript, ad or Flash filters, and I was perversely awestruck at the amount of real estate taken up by flashing, blinking, wiggling, bouncing crap. I politely pointed out to her how ad and Flash blockers would reduce the number of gaudy distractions and help her pages to load faster, but she wouldn't hear of it.

  6. YeahRight

    I'm currently looking around half heartedly for a domain name where I intend to name. shame and mock all the terrible websites I visit. My main gripe is text that is non enlargeable or overlaps when it is enlarged making it unreadable. I'm visually impaired you see. But noisy bastards are well worth shaming as well.

    1. Diogenes

      You mean something like - a great teaching resource fro providing counterexamples to good design

  7. Aaiieeee

    For years a colleague used to leave the sound on and so every single email, voice mail, or other alert would ring loud and true. It was flippin annoying. As kempsy says, I leave my sound off unless I specifically wish to hear something

  8. SirDigalot


    Using a softphone has it's advantage..


    after making or receiving a call, and leaving the cans on for a bit, either to fire up some music or just pure laziness, and accidently clicking one of the offending sites, or having 20 something tabs open then wondering where stuff the weird talking/music/advert is coming from is annoying.

    Also annoying is the fact they tend to be 400% louder than everything else, luckily my pads absorb the blood trickling from my eardrums.

    On the occasion, however, where speakers are used, be it at home or in the office,(maybe after some other tit has used the PC and left the speakers on full blast because they had their crappy headplugs in) it is amazing how something loud totally disables your ability to consciously react, we all know keyboard shortcuts to close an offending tab or window we know there is a little X in the corner to do it, but when what seemingly appears to be a trillion decibels of noise emanating and reverberating around the (apparently deathly silent) office or room your hands and brain refuse to function you madly spasm your hand trying to resist the urge to cover the screen (where the sound is NOT coming from) while simultaneously trying to force it to perform fine motor functions and close a window.

    it is also amazing how accurate human directional hearing is too in these circumstances, and for at least the next hour or two you get knowing glances from people around you, until the next person does the same thing, then the baton is passed to the next poor sod.

    I have had that happen on my cell phone too if I have had the volume on for any reason while outside ( vibrate never seems vibrate-y enough these days), and then a text comes in and, because I use text to speech for it my little robot voiced pal happily screams out the contents of the message, and my kids (generally the only ones who text me ) are generally not known for their eloquence it is usually some diatribe of unmentionables, not that the phone cares.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Slightly off-topic, but YouTube no longer has a right-click option to stop downloading, because, in their infinite wisdom, they think that using the pause button means I want to stop the download. I believe that the developer who thought this up needs to be rate-limited to 128Kb.

    1. Daniel B.

      Re: youtube

      Oh my, so that's why I am no longer able to buffer videos! I rarely used the "stop downloading" option anyway, mostly to get the screenshots used for troll entries (i.e. showing boobs on the thumb preview that never actually appear in the video) but I did use the "pause 'till it finishes downloading" function a lot.

      1. Pookietoo

        Re: youtube

        SmartVideo For YouTube - a plugin that downloads the whole video and doesn't start playing until you tell it to.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My laptop remains in a default state of "mute" because I do go on a few sites (sports sites, not popular here I know) that are amongst the best but still insist on embedded video with sound on every tab open.

    Both highly annoying, but not to the young 'uns I think.Will become more popular.

  11. stizzleswick

    Autoplay audio is impolite

    The thing is this: many a web surfer is listening to something else, be it music or the guy who just called about the problem with getting this intrusive noise from this website turned off. Autoplay video _without audio_ would be less than half as intrusive, but still be a never-return criterium for me.

    I just don't understand why so many web designers think their page holds the complete and undivided attention of the viewer, or that the viewer has nothing better to do than listening to tasteless jingles or bungled talks.

    You throw noise at me without asking, you get adblocked, it's that simple.

  12. Yet Another Commentard

    Bird Book

    I know it's a plot device here, but the bird book in question sounds interesting. The problem is that most are the wrong way around.

    If I am sitting out on the patio with Mrs YAC at YAC Towers we often hear birdsong, and want to know what the bird is. Some we know (wood pigeon, tawny owl, barn (screech) owl, cuckoo etc), others we have no clue about. So we bought a CD of birdsong, and the problem is you have to listen to all 150 or so to get to the one you are after, and by then you've forgotten it.

    If the book under review was more like a reverse sound lookup for birdsong, a sort of tineye for birds, then I'm in for one.

    1. Richard 23

      Re: Bird Book

      isn't there an app for that?

      1. itzman

        Re: Bird Book

        isn't there an app for that?

        I think its called 'twitter'

  13. Crisp

    HLW ?

    A quick Google search suggested that this might stand for High-level waste. But from the context, I'm fairly sure that's not what was meant by that acronym.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: HLW ?

      HLW =

  14. Brenda McViking


    As with the others, Automatic noise generation from somewhere in the browser gives me, normally a perfectly rational individual, an apoplectic fit. I start foaming at the mouth and turn extremely violent, and feel like defenestrating any device, non-screwed down object or co-worker, whether directly related to the noise or not.

    I term this as the sort of rudeness as some guy ringing you up at 3am to sell you double glazing, or a waiter telling you to directly fuck off after they've just served you a starter because they double booked your table, or perhaps a customer service agent slamming the phone down after telling you to turn it off and on again without hearing the problem. Hell yes I'll vote with my wallet, and tell everyone I meet of my diabolical experience.

    So Dabbsy, unless you are redesigning the website of the RNIB, or have a poor-taste Stephen Hawking style text to speech website which you want to go viral, if you're going to put audio in it, for gawds-sake make sure it doesn't fire automatically. Or if it does, it better be telling me how I can sue you no win no fee for the damage I caused by putting my fist through my monitor.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talking about unwanted audio... back a while ago, I had a single computer that I used both for my home theater and my gaming / music / whatever rig. I'd switch video outputs, and had keyboards in two different rooms, and multiple audio outputs.

    My audio setup for the home theater is a real hack job, which means multiple power amplifiers and such that aren't automated in any way. So the volume on the amps is set to whatever its normal maximum is, and I set the output volume when I watch a movie in software.

    So late one night I go to use my computer, and blast it all, the thing had to get restarted, so off it goes - well, turns out I'd left the amps on but had forgotten. And the USB connection was a bit messed up, so in the process of trying to see if my mouse and keyboard were working at the login screen, Windows decided that I wanted to turn on accessibility.

    In the form of the screen reader.

    So it's two in the freakin' morning, and 1000 watts of speakers in my home theater bellow, "ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS! WINDOWS CAN READ TEXT THAT APPEARS ON THE SCREEN!" ...I'm freaking out trying to turn this crap off, but everything I do just makes it start reading things again.


    Noo! Stop!



    I finally managed to shut it up before it woke up the whole damn neighborhood, but jeez... after that I was much more careful to make sure all the amps were off before I went in to do some late night gaming...

  16. MonkeyCee

    Isn't there a standard for websites to have a sub site for accessibility, if the main one isn't suitable. Like

    As for disturbing audio, it's always the volume level that annoys me. I know advertisers are all like "crank to 11 for greater impact" but that just deafens poor buggers. So much so that some of the sites that I used to sit through their ads, now I just torrent the shows instead.

    Had a computer clean up a few years back where someone had put custom sounds for all windows actions. 3Mb wav files for some of them. Wondered why it was slow at times :)

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The Judas Priest defense (in a documentary about it) was especially amusing.

    "We are not part of some sinister British heavy metal coven.

    We are from Cradley."

    Case closed.

    BTW Having shot his friend the inbred dumbass troubled youth then turned the shotgun on himself.

    He missed.

    It takes a very special kind of character to achieve that kind of result.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Judas Priest defense (in a documentary about it) was especially amusing.

      Ahhh I work in the [Adult] biz side of the internet and Auto-play has to be the most hated thing to anybody in my field. It was five years ago I think I heard "hehehehe my name is cheyenne.... hehehe my name is.... hehehe my name is... heheh...hehehe...hehehe" because you have to reload a page to see something on the page change that utilizes rand. my mute button has been on since.

      Always loved the salesman coming in and going "haha you looking at porn at work" (a joke which never gets old) and having a shell up with code or html on it and say "ya there naked lady... there naked lady... a pair of breasts..".

      Bottom line auto-play is EVIL for every case that can be thought of. There has never been a time I thought "gee I wish that played as soon as I clicked on it"... instead of me you know hitting the PLAY button when I had time to watch or hear what I wanted.

  18. insane_hound

    Video is ok??? er no

    Video tends to have audio with it... As somebody who opens up a number of news pages at once, having video adverts auto play is a sure fire way to make me close the site and not return (when I find the correct tab)

  19. Long John Brass

    Evil idea #21

    A website that plays quiet random sounds *skritch* *scratch scratch* *skuttle*

    I'm thinking of something similar to some of the sound effects from Doom II

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Evil idea #21

      Ah the sound of a door opening quietly in the distance, and then a piglike snuffling and grunting getting slowly closer...

      Happy memories of playing Doom in the dark, with my first experience of 4.1 sound. You had to learn to look over your shoulder on the screen, not in real life. Happy days.

  20. Mike Flugennock

    a big, fat Web design no-no...

    Even from my earliest days of working in Web design, it was already established that auto-playing media of any kind is a big, fat no-no. Back in the day, this mean cheesy MIDI files, or embedded .wavs auto-playing useless "introductions" (the Web spammers' tool of choice back then).

    I can certainly agree that auto-playing sound sucks on toast, but what's annoyed me even more in recent years is Web site "splash pages" which delay your entry to the real home page while they play huge-assed Flash intros which take forever to load and which, in most cases, are also blasting some flavor of skull-crushing dance grooves -- the main reason why "Skip Intro" is my favorite part of a Flash-based Web site.

    After auto-playing sound, auto-playing video streams suck worse, if only for bandwidth reasons. These days, after noisy auto-playing Flash, nothing makes me click away from a page faster than auto-playing YouTube clips.

  21. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    No one seems to have noticed your point about accessible design.

    In fact you almost forgot it yourself, you only slipped it in at the end.

    Apparently you don't know anything about web accessibility good practice, or you wouldn't have to ask that question.

    A user with visual handicap or dyslexia who would benefit from using a screen reader has probably already got one.

    Do some research on the topic, or hire someone with special knowledge in the area.

    You can use separate style sheets for a screen reader version of the web site. And don't litter the page with irrelevant junk that wastes time when someone has to listen to it.

  22. cordwainer 1

    What part of NO AUTOPLAY ANYTHING don't web designers get...

    considering it has been listed as one of the Top Ten NoNos in every "Dos and Don'ts of Web Design" article for the past 20 years?

    NO autoplaying video. (I use Click-To-Plugin myself. Nothing plays, or even loads so much as a preview frame, unless I want it to.)

    No autoplaying music. (I listen to music often, with headphones, while I work. Aside from some moronic site interrupting one of my favorite songs, and my concentration to boot, the commenters who noted the volume of "surprise" audio is usually painfully high are absolutely right.)

    No autoplaying voices. I know how to read. (And the product the speaker is so excited about is usually a scam anyway.)

    Any site that manages to slip ANY autoplay item past AdBlock and Click-to-Plugin gets specifically blocked. Permanently.

    Extreme? Look, the world has become a constantly noisy place. It's one of the reasons so many of us are irritable all the time. We're bombarded everywhere we go.

    Silence really has become worth its weight in gold, and 1000 times rarer.

  23. Parax

    Tweet of the day.

    see title.

  24. itzman

    Talking about accessibility...

    1/. Every single TV in the UK is now on digital.

    2/. Every single programme of any note has selectable subtitles.

    3/. If you can't read subtitles you probably can't watch TV, and you certainly cant watch an apparently spastic person in the corner of the screen doing 'deaf semaphore'.

    4/ so WTF is it still doing being broadcast?

    I remember being involved in a website design for and active hobby that is not only completely unsuitable for but would be downright dangerous for people with impaired eyesight to actually engage in.

    The number of people who were insistent that the site must follow 'disability rules' astounded me. "You may lose 5% of your clients customers'" "If they are blind, he doesn't want them as customers. His liability insurance is bad enough already".

    A button to click on for 'visually impaired' people to output a loud audio file saying 'If you are visually impaired, this site is not suitable for you' would have been ideal. I never thought of it tho.

    And another one saying 'if all you have is Lynx, then you are probably to retrograde to be interested in anything this site has to offer' as well..

    As the famous spoof voicemail message says 'If you want to hear this message in another language, move to a country that speaks it'.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Talking about accessibility...

      'deaf semaphore'

      Sometimes I despair of people on the internet, I really do. I tried to type something rational about the above comment, but I've lost the will to live.

  25. Andrew Fraser

    Hope you're enjoying your holiday...

    ...missing your weekly "Something for the Weekend?" article this hot, stuffy Friday :-(

    We've got to wait another 2 weeks!!!

  26. Andrew Fraser

    Phew! Only 1 more week to go... :-)

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