Profile picture
, 69 tweets, 11 min read Read on Twitter
The best part of everywhere transcoding GIFs to better more efficient formats is that even when they're not fucking up the pixel-GIFs, they're fucking up crossposting.

If I try to post a GIF off tumblr to twitter, twitter won't take it anymore because it's a webp.
and if I try to post a twitter GIF to tumblr, tumblr only takes it as a movie, because it's MP4.

Which is important because you can have multiple GIFs per post but only one movie.
The tumblr->twitter one can be worked around in some cases because tumblr is still storing the GIF versions (presumably for clients who don't have native webp support?) but for twitter, NOPE.
your best bet is to download the mp4 and convert it to a GIF, which is a lossy process
we've gotten to the point where multiple websites are supporting a format called "GIF" and what format that actually is depends heavily on the website (MP4? webp? something weirder? real GIF?) and they may not be inter-compatible.
I know that linguistically "GIF" has seemingly evolved to just mean "short movie without sound" but you'd think if multiple sites have things called GIF that there'd be some kind of compatibility between them.
another thing that's weird to me is that these are WebP files.
WebP was announced alongside WebM, which is for video.
Why aren't they WebMs?
... Because WebP supports video too. ARGH
Although looking into it, it's... weird.
It's not really a video format. It's a bunch-of-still-images format.
The FAQ tries to sell this as a feature (because "less CPU!") but really it just means that it doesn't compress as well as a real movie format.
It does make it remarkably similar to GIF, so... it feels a bit like a pointless half-step.
If you're going to break compatibility in the name of lower bandwidth, why not break it for something that'll actually compress well, instead of a lousy half-way format?
At least, and I thank all the Gods in all the Heavens for this, I've not yet seen any sites trying to cut down on bandwidth by automatically converting animated GIFs to animated PNGs.
I hate APNGs so much but that's a subject for another time.
But I can say that when I worked for 4chan, there was only two things I was ever able to convince moot to do that ended up being good ideas in the long run:
1. deleting the old politics board
2. banning APNG
and if you didn't know about the 4chan thing, the tl;dr is:
I was active on the /r/ board for requests, 4chan appointed "janitors" who were single-board mini-moderators, I was one, moot liked a site I made and wanted it incorporated into 4chan so he hired me for it
so I basically built a skinned version of my separate site and it became /rs/.
While working for 4chan I also created /r9k/ based on a joke in a xkcd blogpost, and worked on a channer-meet-up site that never came out.
My big justification behind APNG is that besides being a horrible no good terrible format that was turning Mozilla into the very same Embrace-Extend-Extinguish Microsoft that they fought against, I knew exactly the kind of assholes 4chan users were and they would use it for evil.
One of the key "features" for APNG is that it gracefully degrades into still images if your browser doesn't support it.
In other words, the format is immediately supported by every site that supports PNGs and for 99.9% of users not using the newest Firefox, they're static
And I knew it was only a matter of time before /b/ users figured out that they could use this to make images where frame 1 is innocuous and frame 2 is child abuse imagery and post it everywhere and to any moderator without newest firefox, they can't even see that it's there.
so I argued it should be banned. Some other moderators backed me up so it was.
(not that "a bunch of mods think it's a good idea" ever convinced moot to do something, really)
fun side note: moot is the most paranoid person I've ever dealt with.
I've literally known paranoid schizophrenics with less paranoia than that strange little man.
I was literally writing code for 4chan and he wouldn't let me see the source code to 4chan, instead having another coder design an interface that my code would use and having me send in individual PHP files to incorporate into the code, and that other coder modifying it to work
he literally sent me paychecks from a FAKE NAME because at the time his real name was not public, and he was afraid that I might leak his real name.
The funniest part of working at 4chan is that while I'd asked for a long while to work on the code (because I had some ideas on how to actually improve it and do a better job of fighting some of the horrible elements), he didn't want to do that, because Reasons.
then some 6 months after I'd started a job working full-time for the government and was no longer remotely active working with 4chan, even as a moderator, he sends me some pictures out of the blue of some rented office space in Virginia, which he'd spent all week painting
"hey foone"
"come move up to Virginia and work for me full time as the 4chan programmer"
yeah, no. that very didn't happen.
anyway as for the other "good thing" I did while I was there:
the old politics board had turned entirely into a shithole of racist talking points. You might think "lol isn't that all 4chan?" but this was clearly bad even for 4chan.
any actual political discussion had stopped and it was just a bunch of racists trading racist news stories so they could be more racist. 4chan's /b/ at least had the excuse that it was "unmoderated" and everything there was pretty ephemeral, but this was neither.
Given what we now know about various russian and alt-right groups trying to recruit and subvert communities, I'm not sure it was homegrown hate. It's very possible this was an attempt to create the kind of shithole we're now all too familiar with.
but I convinced him to shut it down.
and then later he designed a bunch of new boards and guess what, politics came back.

but yeah, you can't convince moot of things. moot is gonna moot.
BTW being at 4chan back in those days really gave me a lot of deja vu later in the 2010s.
4chan had a huge community thing of the ironic racism stuff and the incel stuff, before we had the word.
in the 2010s the internet has finally mostly realized that "ironic racism" isn't and what a mess the incel community is, but OH BOY these things were definitely around in the mid-2000s and we just didn't understand how bad they were.
Anyway, I don't mean to excuse it all as "we didn't understand"
We understood a bunch and just didn't care or think it was that bad. I definitely made a lot of mistakes in all of that. I'm sorry.
anyway, talking about 4chan wasn't the point of this thread.
the point of this thread was that "isn't it annoying that we replaced one sub-par-for-current-uses standard with a bunch of different ones so we lost compatibility in the name of bandwidth?"
but I do want to correct "I'm not sure it was homegrown hate".
I'm sure a lot of it was. 4chan had enough racism already. /pol/ just had a very clearly driven narrative that made me think it was being done by a more organized force than the kind of usual idiot 4chan had.
4chan's problem posters tended to be the "just want to watch the world burn" assholes, they just wanted to cause trouble.
You saw this in things like raiding habbo hotel, where they'd shut down parts of the game virtual flashmobs.
/pol/ was quite clearly building a community that was solidifying and concentrating their racism and it was a very bad scene. maybe the average /b/ user was just as racist, but /pol/ was too obvious of a symptom to be ignored.
and by saying outside influences may have been involved, I mean that it in the wake of the known social networking interference in the 2016 election, it wouldn't surprise me if similar things were being done much earlier by some of the same groups
as well as the other sorts of groups that want to recruit these kinds of people.
Communities of disaffected young men are often prime candidates for recruitment into fascist movements and boy, 4chan was one big festering boil of them.
but I may have inadvertently come across as if I was saying "4chan was fine with some minor bad elements but then THE RUSSIANS SHOWED UP AND TAUGHT US HOW TO RACISM" which isn't what I meant or what happened.
Anyway this switch from a compatible (if not great) format to a bunch of incompatible ones annoys me, even if it seems to be "just the way things are" with video.

I don't like it when it gets harder to share things between different websites.
It's like how the shift from VHS to DVD lost something.
Yeah, sure, DVD had way better quality and neat features and was more compact, but VHS was recordable. That was actually a prime feature! I've heard it argued that VHS really took off because of recording TV.
which DVD couldn't do, at least not for a long while until we had DVD recorders (but raise your hand if you DVD player has play/record buttons and acts like a VCR. Technologically? totally possible. We just don't want to do it).
And DVRs like Tivo stepped up but lost something...
I remember as kid sometimes a friend would bring over the latest episode of Star Trek: Something Or Other and we'd watch it together, because they'd had their parents tape it.
Or having VHS collections half full of SLP recordings of movies shown a few years ago on some random saturday afternoon.
the local CBS station aired Empire Strikes Back sometime in the late 80s, and a distorted VHS copy of it is how I got introduced into that whole series.
And the move to DVD+DVR was great for quality but we effectively lost the sharing element, the community element, the home preservation element.
You might not think it's important but it's definitely something we had and have mostly lost.
Amusingly there's still people out there taping TV and copying it and sharing it around freely, and instead of "the nice grandma who'll loan you her VHS copy of the MASS finale" we now just call them "pirates" but it's a regional dialect.
But yeah. Similarly we're losing something if you can't cross-post pictures and animations and movies from one site to another. Much of the community parts of the old web were built on that kind of thing.
I was in very active forums in the mid-2000s (NO NOT 4CHAN) that were filled with pictures we found elsewhere.
No movies yet because no one had the bandwidth but lots of pictures, sure.
And yeah, there's issues of sourcing, but that's a separate thing, really. Being able to source the picture is good, and it's a community thing where having norms to do so helps make sure artists get credit, but not a technical one.
instead this is arbitrarily making it difficult to copy files from one site to another.
Which is hilarious, given that that's what so many of these sites were built on in the first place.
heck, places like tumblr and reddit and pinterest have "upload image FROM URL" options where you don't even have to bounce the image through your downloads folder, you just tell the site "upload this, but instead of from me, steal it from that site over there"
They became social media powerhouses through their users building these communities IN PART from things like pictures reuploaded from other sites.
And now that they're on top, they want to close the door behind them.
and really that's kinda like what happened with VHS/DVD.
In the beginning Hollywood hated the VCR and were worried it would destroy their profits.
The head of the MPAA testified in front of congress that "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone."
But in the end the supreme court ruled that VCRs were legal and time-shifting TV content was legal and VCRs exploded into the mainstream because of that and Hollywood started selling pre-recorded films on VHS/Beta and that became a major revenue stream for them.
And after the home taping element helped push VCRs into every home and then Hollywood was making tons off their sale & rental of movies on tape, they go and design the next format to not have home taping.
You can't help but feel it was a bit of "Thanks for helping us get here, now fuck off we don't need you anymore, we've got ours".
And I see a bit of that in how these sites are all implementing shitty different transcoding versions of GIF.
Yeah, there's good technical reasons why we should probably be moving away from GIF, the format no longer matches how it's used in the modern era.
But one of the reasons why it go to BE used like that is because it was so easily intercompatible! Sites love you posting pictures everywhere and GIF is arguably a picture.
Posting movies is usually a step up: you have to match formats, or wait for encoding, or whatever
GIF was technically inferior but it WORKED. And it worked EVERYWHERE.
And now we're "fixing" the technical problems with GIF and at the same time breaking the practical aspects that made it so popular in the first place!
I dunno. A lot of this is excusable by just being a lot of independently made technical decisions from a lot of sites moving in their own little ways without care for what other sites are doing, which is a problem of ignorance, not malice.
But looking at the bigger picture of all these sites doing similar sorts of things you can't help but build this image of something that used to be a more free environment where people were happily exchanging content and now it's getting harder, and users are more locked in
yeah there's technical ways to work around these problems with wgetting fallback images and ffmpeg transcoding but the fact you didn't have to do all that command line nerd shit is what made GIF the go-to movie-clip format that it is today. It just worked, simply.
and the fact that the films were so small and short and silent meant it didn't attract the same kind of Copyright Police attention that other formats have done.
I've seen GIFs widely reposted on dozens of sites that you would get a copyright strike for if you'd posted them on youtube, even if you muted the sound.
The internet is always changing, and not always in good ways.
Even if it's not some giant company like Facebook trying to control it, lots of little things add up to affect the flow of community, and it's worth paying attention to.
Because noticing these things while they're happening is often the only chance we have to address them.

There's a lot of Big Problems that seem unstoppable now that could have been prevented all together had people noticed and spoke up at the beginning.
I dunno.
This is just another site doing another GIF->NewFormat conversion and that's happened plenty of times. It feels overly dramatic to write this much on it.
as Kosh from B5 said, "The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote"
But sometimes you get the feeling that not all these pebbles are innocent and just getting caught up in the flow.

Some of these pebbles are pushing hard to make the avalanche happen, because they're hoping to be on top once all the dust settles.
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to foone
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!