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Imgur pushing it's own website over direct image links is the exact reason I've stopped using it. I understand they have to make money by but I just want to put a damn picture on the internet and send the link to others. I don't want to have to deal with Imgur's album/site link crap and dumb expansion into being a social network. It's hard now to even find the direct link, nevermind avoid Imgur's annoying messages about downloading its app and using its other features.



As it turns out, it's really hard to monetize an S3 bucket at scale.


Things like that makes me wish NDN[1] would succeed.

Essentially in this network instead using addressing to address hosts, they address the data. This brings interesting properties, since routers are aware what data is being transferred they can start caching it.

In the end no CDNs are needed (network takes care of it) so people can host data themselves without worrying of it getting too popular.

[1] https://named-data.net/


Except the end-user ISPs are quite content with requesting traffic from the providers; they like the imbalance as it gives them something to negotiate with (that's why inbound is free on cloud - they're happy to fight the imbalance). Why would they start caching your images for free?

Also doesn't that mean everyone in between know you're requesting degeneration.jpg? Vs now where they'd only know the domain and maybe could do transfer size analysis? Sort of the opposite direction of TLS everywhere (CloudFlare exempted)?

Also how do you bootstrap it? If I upload some image and it's instantly popular on reddit and generating many Mbps of traffic, don't I have to stick around long enough to get it up and cached? Or would there be free seed services that will get the first several GB out?


> Except the end-user ISPs are quite content with requesting traffic from the providers; they like the imbalance as it gives them something to negotiate with (that's why inbound is free on cloud - they're happy to fight the imbalance). Why would they start caching your images for free?

Normally that would benefit ISPs (they do have a network of routers so it would naturally help them, since they would not need to send the same thing over and over again, they do pay for traffic to their uplinks).

But, on the other hand ISPs artificially reduce their bandwidth and expect companies like Netflix to pay and do peering with them. Well, this won't help against it, but while it can replace TCP/IP it can also work as an overlay network and you can skip the ISP.

> Also doesn't that mean everyone in between know you're requesting degeneration.jpg? Vs now where they'd only know the domain and maybe could do transfer size analysis? Sort of the opposite direction of TLS everywhere (CloudFlare exempted)?

The protocol itself doesn't leak that information. Remember, there are no addresses to individual machines to people, only addresses for the data. When you request something the routing protocol will route the request to the source of data. Each router remembers the previous hop the request came from. On each hop a router checks if it already caches the data and responds, otherwise forwards request further. So even the source website doesn't know who requested it. I suppose the issue might be that router immediately would know what you requested.

You can mitigate it in two ways:

- encrypt the data and only give key to decrypt it to subset of people who supposed to be able to access it

- encrypt data individually per user, in that case you no longer can rely on caching properties of the network and the source server needs to be aware who requested what (since it is encrypting the data). i.e. you falling back to the way how TCP/IP now operates.

> Also how do you bootstrap it? If I upload some image and it's instantly popular on reddit and generating many Mbps of traffic, don't I have to stick around long enough to get it up and cached? Or would there be free seed services that will get the first several GB out?

Well you're expected to host it all the time. The network won't be caching it forever individual packets have TTL and also routers can purge data if they need to make space for other data that is now popular.

I suggested NDN as a response to that S3 bucket doesn't handle highly popular content well. The NDN properties allow highly popular content being hosted even from places with low bandwidth, because the network will handle the load.


Sounds exactly like https://ipfs.io.


Not really. IPFS from what I understand is a P2P application, with filesystem like functionality.

NDN on the other hand is a network protocol that is capable to run without TCP/IP (it's actually designed to be able to replace it). They actually built a testbed: https://named-data.net/ndn-testbed/

Similarly to TCP/IP you can build application that utilize the protocol. In fact I suspect implementing IPFS in NDN would be much easier than in TCP/IP.

In fact looks like someone did just that: https://named-data.net/publications/techreports/ndn-tr-27-nd...

and source code: https://github.com/named-data/NDNFS


Is there a 140 word summary of what that is? It's website is a confusing mess of consortium speak.


Not 140 words, but: https://named-data.net/project/execsummary/

Essentially the big change is that instead of using addresses for servers what if you put addresses on the data itself. That approach gives some properties:

- network can cache the data - no CDNs needed, no slash dot effects etc - free multicasting (a hard problem at scale with TCP/IP) - better handling of slow/lossy network - easy multipath routing

etc.

It's very efficient for things that can potentially have many people interested in. Like streaming popular videos, hosting images (like discussed here imgur). The benefit for these sites is that they would have lower costs to operate because they would require less bandwidth, because anything that's popular will be cached by the network.

Edit: Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Named_data_networking


Sounds like a less shady version of Freenet.


In a way, it also was created by people who contributed to developing Internet and is NSF founded. The head behind it is Van Jacobson[1] who was responsible for implementing congestion control in TCP/IP also creator of popular tools such as traceroute.

Unlike FreeNet it was designated that while it can work as an overlay network it is actually capable to run without TCP/IP so it could even replace it.

Also unlike FreeNet it's not trying to obscure who is hosting the content. Basically you get a prefix (which looks like unix file path) which you start advertising to neighboring routers (like IP is advertised in TCP/IP) so then all requests under it (as long as no cached version is available anywhere) will be forwarded to you.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Jacobson


What if they moved to their own infrastructure?

I imagine being an image hosting service it would be cheaper in the long run, although I have no idea by how much and if it would make sense all things considered.


Unsplash wrote a nice piece last year on how much it cost their site to run.

https://crew.co/blog/what-does-unsplash-cost/


Thanks for the great article.


Would it be easier to monetize a small S3 bucket?


No, but my $3 AWS bill is much easier to ignore than their $300,000 one.


An interesting side effect of imgur integrating a social feature is that imgur-only users now push back against reddit users using 'their' site.

https://www.reddit.com/r/IgnorantImgur/comments/6cowy8/imgur...


It's hilarious, I see it all the time on /r/fitness. Someone will post progress pics and get huge upvotes because the reddit post goes into detail on their lift schedule, diet, etc. Post will be hovering at 2-5k upvotes on reddit, but meanwhile will have been downvoted to oblivion on imgur, where I doubt the OP even meant for it to be a "post."


> I just want to put a damn picture on the internet and send the link to others

Either put up with the free-image-host cycle of crap[1], or pay for your own domain and hosting.

[1] Free image host N is awesome, bandwidth is expensive so free image host N needs money, free image host N starts to add shitty anti-features, free image host N+1 enters at the start of the cycle, free image host N closes...

Before Imgur there was Photobucket, Imageshack, and many others. Now Imgur is at the end of the anti-feature cycle. Reddit's own hosting is entering the cycle, right on cue.


ironically, image hosting sites being crap was the reason imgur was created in the first place. turns out you have to pay the bills somehow


And most of them were crap because of mess, noisy sites with intrusive ads.

The basic problem seems to be that the web has a trust issue, not between users and services. But between services and advertisers.

Until that trust issue is solved, so that sites can bring ad hosting under their own domain rather than embed unsupervised ads from third parties, there will be no end to this runaround.

That said, inhouse ad management do not always do a good job either. Right now i have Reddit ads killed because i got tired of having some rotting face glare at me from the sidebar just because i visit the odd gaming sub-reddit from time to time.


Do you think it's possible to create an ethical ad network? It's something I wonder about at least once a month, but I'm not sure if it could compete.


There was one that I recall: The Deck, which shut down recently [1] after more than ten years. Could be seen originally on sites like A List Apart where its ads were small, felt relevant and were of good quality (they had a limited monthly pool of decent brands and artists that used them last time I checked).

I actually liked them, though after switching to uBlock Origin years ago I'd forgotten about the network and to whitelist them, sadly.

[1] http://decknetwork.net/


> Do you think it's possible to create an ethical ad network? It's something I wonder about at least once a month, but I'm not sure if it could compete.

I'm highly skeptical, in that I believe the nature of ads makes this inherently unfeasible.

The point of ads is to be seen by as many people as possible. In dramatic terms, you could say the purpose of ads is to invade your mental space against your will on behalf of product makers. How could that ever be ethical?

That aside, ads also present a conflict of interest for content makers. You want your site to be nice and high-quality. But you need money, so you put up ads and comprise on the aesthetics. You want more people to see your ads so you're tempted to make more content, or arbitrarily divide your content into smaller pieces (fighting the end user's ultimate desire which is to peruse your stuff).

And then there's the whole "biting the hand that feeds" problem. I personally don't believe anyone showing ads can be truly objective regarding them. So maybe Google is evil, maybe not, are you going to turn down their money either way? Most smaller ad networks seem shady to me.

I think this seemingly theoretical problem is why ad blockers are still on the rise, going so far as to be baked into browsers (Brave on mobile is awesome). Not only do people dislike ads, I think they don't trust advertisers, and I think most users nowadays are aware of these ethical conflicts at least on a semi-conscious level.

In short, this is why I've personally made a promise to myself never to rely on ads. Maybe that means I can't get rich off of "killer apps", or even earn a living. But part of me believes that anything useful is worth paying for, so I'm focusing on building something useful.

Edit: Didn't mean for this to turn into a rant. Oh well!


> I think they don't trust advertisers

Considering malvertising is a thing, attempting to spread malware through ads, users shouldn't trust advertisers.

I don't just run an ad blocker to prevent annoyances, I do it to increase security.


There is projectwonderful, which is serving ethical ads and has a uncomplicated bidding method (bid for a day on a website).

They're explicitly on all my adblocker whitelists since their ads only amount to a PNG image with a link.

The advertisers know where they are advertising, the site owners can control who advertises, the payment is transparent and everyone is happy.


Wow I haven't seen Project Wonderful in a long time. Good to know they're still around.


No. See http://www.cluetrain.com/ - paid advertising is inherently unethical on a network where genuine mass interaction is free.


They used to offer a paid account which I gladly signed up for.

Apparently they saw that the ad model was the way to go and discontinued the paid accounts.

Which is too bad because that's where we stand right now. I wish they would still offer an ad-free paid account.

I guess in the long run we'll see how Imgur current business model will last.


I too was a (happily) paying customer of Imgur and was surprised when they refunded my prepayment for the year and went free. I had a feeling it was going to go downhill quickly thereafter.


They really have some dark stuff going on. When I upload an image, right clicking to copy the URL copies a useless blob URL the first time. When I try again, it copies the proper URL.


Why not use Dropbox public links or something similar?


Afaik, they discontinued offering public links as a way of hosting.


My friend links me to pictures he's put on Dropbox all the time, usually screenshots. Is that what you're referring to?


No. Dropbox used to have a folder that let you share direct links.

https://www.dropbox.com/help/files-folders/public-folder

It's been retroactively removed from accounts.


What do you mean by direct links? My friend can link me to things, but they display in the "dropbox viewer", and I can download them by clicking "download" in that webpage.


Direct links, as in <img src=""> usable, etc.

Not viewer, not ad/conversion/signup/referral filled bloated javascript page.

It was pretty much the only reason I even kept a dropbox account. No point after that.


There's limits on what you can share. imgur's big benefit is no cap on hosting, so if your meme goes nuclear you're not going to get a "bandwidth exceeded" page.


Fair enough, wasn't aware of the bandwidth limits. Thanks!


I've used imgur in the past because it is upload->url, no further messing around required.


If you're sharing with a limited option all you have to do is right click the file in your Dropbox folder and click "get public link" -- others are suggesting there's bandwidth caps so this isn't ideal for a Reddit post or something that might receive large amounts of traffic.


That link does not go to the image. You have to manually edit it.


Because they have traffic limits.


Unless I'm mistaken, that requires an account, accounts suck.


It does, but it was just an option.

Really you have three options, free services have ads, paid services which require an account, or host your own.


Or, for now, use imgur.


That falls under the free service with ads


Didn't even realize they had ads, I guess I should have assumed. Does it really count if you link directly to the jpg though?




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