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... and it is a complete mess. They try to to decide which format you want based on your client. Thus if you hotlink an image directly you don't know anymore if it will load or even if the format the next guy will see has sound.

I've linked "images" purely because of the sound and other viewers got a version without it. And many times it just won't load. This is supposed to be simple...

Some sites (looking at you, imgur) are really bad about that.

Doing what this article recommends shouldn't cause those problems, though. The only notable risk is linking a format that mobile can't load.

How is that not a complete dealbreaker though?

I as a user can't possibly be expected to know and deal with whatever the recipient of my link uses.

A magnitude or two of data and worse quality is a small price to pay for something that actually works and still loads in realtime, even on mobile, anyway.

Often you can just load the same url with .gif on the end and it will work, since they make many formats available with the same base filename.

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