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Imgur Raises $40M From Andreessen Horowitz (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
207 points by jmduke on Apr 3, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 138 comments



I'd add that one of the reasons they became so popular is largely due to a very tolerant reddit admin team.

Try to make a similar service today and get growth on reddit the same way and you'll likely get added to the global spam block list.

Reddit has also invested an undisclosed amount, which Mr. Schaaf said was “very small in comparison.” Regardless of size, the investment from Reddit represents a formal business connection between two entities that have so far shared only a legacy and community.

Imgur was originally created as a gift to the Reddit community for easy image sharing, and now has grown to be larger than Reddit itself, pulling in over three billion monthly pageviews. What began as a platform for uploading images, Imgur has become a vibrant and shrewd community of commenters, uploaders and up-voters.

edit

Here's the origin in case anybody's interested

http://www.reddit.com/comments/7zlyd/my_gift_to_reddit_i_cre...

If you look at MrGrim's early post history, it's a blatant violation of reddit's anti-spam rule. However, it was (and is) insanely useful and entirely disrupted the image hosting "industry". Even today, the vast majority of MrGrim's posts are imgur posts, which is an explicit violation of the "rules".

It's not a knock against imgur or reddit (I love both), just an interesting observation.

You can violate the rules if you're not obviously a bad actor. In this case, imgur and MrGrim was clearly spam, but it wasn't the bad kind of spam that everybody hates, it was the good kind of marketing where people actually get something useful from the exchange.

edit #2

IIR imgur also had an explicit no porn policy for a very long while, except for NSFW reddits.

edit #3 and an AmA

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/y81ju/i_created_imgur_...


I have tried to build a similar service (https://mediacru.sh), and made a lot of choices that would supposedly increase goodwill:

- No ads

- Open source

- Extremely transparent

The opinion of Reddit's userbase was almost universally positive.

However, the Reddit admins did not like that at all. They banned the domain for weeks right after launch, and only unbanned it after quite a lot of begging. They also shadowbanned my personal account for a while, and that wasn't too easy to get lifted, either.

They're very hostile to anything but Imgur these days. Hell, I worry about writing this here, because if they see it, we might get into another round of bullshit with them.


For what it is worth, I think Mediacrush is awesome. I'd use it over imgur. However, I do not use image hosting in general enough to consider spending money on it.

And honestly, I worry about the long term financial sustainability of your project which is why if I ever had a need [a reason I'd spend money], I'd probably host it myself. That is one reason I think transparency [while nice in theory] is dangerous if implemented too early in practice. I know I'd have dropped it the first month I went -$400. :/

Do you have any plans beyond donations to plug that hole?


You can host it yourself if you worry about it going away, instructions are available on GitHub [1] and support is available in #mediacrush on irc.freenode.net

That being said, we've tossed some ideas around. We might use ads if we can find a privacy-friendly way to do it. We also have some thoughts on other routes for monetization, but we aren't working on that much.

We can support it out of our own pockets, and intend to do so for the foreseeable future.

[1] https://github.com/MediaCrush/MediaCrush


I was aware but thank you for the reminder. I just don't have a need for an image hosting service that meets the"worthy of financial expenditure" qualification. :)

Have you considered ads that don't do retargetting, etc? They would not be as profitable but if it was simple CPM/CPC display ads with the level of transparency you've shown to date, I'm not sure how that would conflict your privacy principles.


Can you suggest an ad provider that meets our needs? We haven't found one yet (fwiw, we're not looking very hard).


https://www.projectwonderful.com/privacypolicy.php

Seems reasonable to me. If you feel it isn't, I'd suggest you just try to start your own ad network. It would be more work...but you'd have complete control.


Thanks for the tip! They look pretty good from the offset, we'll start a deeper evaluation among ourselves and see if they'll meet our needs.


You could try http://buysellads.com/

It's really clean. They have a lot of control though.


We did look into them, but they don't meet our privacy needs.


Wow, what a great service! I've heard of several other cases like this which is why I brought up reddit's unusual leniency towards imgur at all. As we can see by reddit's investment there was clearly some kind of out of band discussion that helped legitimize imgur on the site.

In their defense, before imgur came along, image hosting was a pretty terrible affair, front to back. Imgur was such an obvious improvement over what came before that it was hard to argue against.


Image hosts start out well and go bad once they've run out of money.

kth.cx aka imageshack aka yfrog was just as good once, but now see where they are, covered in ads. Of course, they had to pivot after getting banned from SA.

Imgur and tumblr have so much money they can continue pointlessly providing a free service for at least a little longer.


The nice thing about being open-source is that you can self-host if you're getting worried.


You must be doing something correct since RES updated to better support you.


We actually contribute a lot of code to RES. Improved RES support was my doing.

https://github.com/honestbleeps/Reddit-Enhancement-Suite/gra...

It's worth noting that RES has nothing to do with the Reddit admins - it is not an officially sanctioned extension.


Yes, a lot of the big subreddits have whitelists that your site has to get on by being popular--kind of a catch 22.


Can't you get the .com domain? Every time I see your site being mentioned I avoid using it because of the domain name for some reason. It just sounds weird and not too legit.

How do you even say it out loud? "It's Media C R U dot S H. Mediacrush, get it?" :-). Then again, Imgur isn't much better...


The .com used to be in use, but appears to be defunct now. In any case, we have no money, so we can't buy it for the usual cost of a squatted domain.


Nice, thanks for building this service. I'm all for diversity.


I'll check it out. It's nice to have another option. Drop a link on Hubski. Most of us there use imgur. (I run Hubski)


Does the Reddit community/admins also tend to downvote any picture not submitted via imgur?


I don't know about the admins, but I haven't noticed a lot of downvotes just because things aren't submitted with Imgur. There are occasionally people who do complain about the choice in host and just say "because it's not Imgur", but they're rare.


I think that also usually only happens when people upload to hosts that are not supported by RES or are simply very slow to load.

I doubt most RES users would notice a picture being on a different host 99% of the time (I know I don't)


Anything not on Imgur usually loads really slow, especially gifs.


I use mediacrush all the time on /r/hockey.

Didn't know that the Reddit admins didn't like it.


Clearly reddit had an early vested interest and used their dominant media position to "pick a winner" in that space which enriched their portfolio.

This should certainly be illegal if it isn't already. Although, making anything related to money illegal in this society almost seems futile at this point with de-regulation so out-of-control.


Most people would call that a strategic alliance.

And as for "their dominant media position".. An alliance between Fox, NBC CBS and ABC would have a "dominant media position". A random internet forum.. not so much.


You either did something questionable or broke the rules.

Also in reality, you have no chance trying to compete with Imgur on their own home turf especially that late in the game.


The feature we brought to the table to compete with was turning GIFs into HTML5 video, so they save bandwidth and get extra features. This seems to be doing pretty well, though another competitor has shown up and seems to be doing better than we are in that space - even though they offer an inferior service.

As for questionably breaking the rules, we pretty much followed in Imgur's footsteps. Even if this was too much, it hardly justifies the crucification we received.


The difference is that you were too late in the game.

When image hosting started blowing up alternatives to Imgur were horrible, horrible ad farms with low quality images that took several seconds to load.

Comparing to what Imgur brings to the table and what you bring to the table, the different is not that drastic.

Also you can't compare rules Reddit has in place now with rules it had years ago.

There has been weeks where multiple image providers with shitty off the shelf solutions would be doing same thing you were trying to do after seeing Imgur take off every single day.

Like I said, it's just too late at this point. Find another market.


Thanks for the discouragement, but I'll continue trying. We aren't doing so bad now: http://www.reddit.com/domain/mediacru.sh/new

There has been a great response to "HTML5 GIFs", though. Many people are very eager to use them instead of Imgur. The problem we face there is that a competing service has shown up and attracted more attention without consequence from the Reddit admins, so we're trying to get back into that area.


Theres a lot of naysayers on HN :) Don't be discouraged and continue on -- I think you have a good service at least in the technical sense.

PS: I'm guessing the competing service you're referring to is gfycat? They do seem to be increasing in popularity even though they offer a similar feature set to yours.


Yes, I am referring to gfycat. They actually don't really have a similar feature set - the only feature they have from us is the "HTML5 GIF" thing. MediaCrush does a lot more than that - but we do compete with them in that HTML5 GIF space.


@Sir as a long time reddit user, your total blameshifting of your services inability to compete with gfycat, coming right after listening to you blameshift on why you couldn't compete with imgur, stinks to high heaven from here.

At what point do you accept responsibility for the success and failure of your ability to create a service and make it popular?

At what point do you stop externalizing the blame and get down to the hard task (or simply lucky outcome) of succeeding?

For what it's worth, I just made a gfycat of a youtube video to share with my mom. So I decided to do the exact same process for your service that you tout as superior to gfycat.

With gfycat, it was super simple to paste the youtube link, select the time frame and output the html5 video/gif. Done in under a minute. Your service has not actually completed an "upload" of the youtube video from a link no matter how long I've waited. Whenever I click on the random floating microphone near the top left of your services homepage, I simply see "an error occurred". I don't know how long I'm supposed to wait for this to work, but I just made 3 more youtube->gfycats while waiting.

I'm not lying, here are the 3 youtube -> gfycats that finished while your service says "uploading" without a progress bar at all (gfycat has a working progress bar so I can helpfully tell that it downloads the youtube video in about 10-15 seconds). http://gfycat.com/UnitedGoodnaturedArcherfish http://www.gfycat.com/RemoteWelltodoLadybird http://www.gfycat.com/FeminineCapitalCob

No offense but gfycat obviously blows your service out of the water, so perhaps you should play catch-up instead of blaming reddit admins? Which is silly anyway, because gfycat succeeds through comments and people sharing it and talking about it, not through owner spam or something else.

For the record it's been over 10 minutes since I began a youtube -> html5 conversion on your site and it still says "uploading" and I think it's broken.


Here's the thing. I thought for a long, long time (MediaCrush has been around for 9 months, you know), about why gfycat might be more popular. I cannot arrive at an answer. MediaCrush is an objectively better service in almost every way imaginable. We tried to be better by making a better service, and it didn't work. So, I start looking for other reasons. The biggest reason I can think of is that our launch was botched on Reddit because the admins came down on us, and they did not come down on gfycat. More people know about gfycat. As for imgur, I haven't thought nearly as much about how to compete with them, they're just too ingrained in Reddit culture.

YouTube uploads are not supported, intentionally. That's legal hot water we don't want to be in, and frankly, neither should gfycat. The fact that it's not giving a user-friendly error is a problem - I will investigate it.

Saying gfycat blows our service out of the water is nonsense. Stop spewing nonsense. That's a single simple feature that is intentionally not supported. Do some actual research.


I think it's simply a branding issue. "gfycat" is a catchier name which also hints at the GIF-related features. I have a pretty good idea of what it does from the name alone. "MediaCrush" on the other hand could be just about anything.


Quality and success are not directly related. Growing a product is a grind. A good launch can help build momentum, but is not critical for success. It sounds like you are blaming others for your failures when you could be looking for other opportunities. There are undoubtably reddit competitiors that you could target.


"MediaCrush is an objectively better service in almost every way imaginable. "

I disagree. You're very protective of your work and obviously deluded to the quality. It's a shame.

As a reddit user I will continue to use gfycat as in my 25 minutes of testing over 5 different sources, gfycat worked in under 15 seconds and for 100% of the time, and provides an objectively superior feature set at every stage of the process.

At this point I don't even know what you support. You don't list it on your webpage (gfycat does), and you don't fail when bad input is brought in (gfycat does). You don't give a progress report for uploads (gfycat does) and you don't support speed changing on html5 videos (gfycat does). Your service brands all pages with your logo and naviagation links, gfycat hides the entire UI except for at certain times, for a much much cleaner look that almost appears like a native gif.

Just did multiple gifs as a test and gfycat is just objectively much faster at uploading and encoding. Gfycat finishes the whole process while your service says "pending" before it begins! I'm sorry, I don't see a single way your service is better. Maybe outline them instead of just claiming it is?

Sorry you don't agree. Keep blaming admins, I'm sure that'll help you build a truly competitive service.


I wrote three responses to this comment, and three times you edited it. I'm not going to try for a fourth.

Update: Actually, there are some points you've edited in that I need to refute here to prevent the spread of misinformation.

>Your service brands all images with your logo, gfycat hides it except for at certain times, for a much cleaner look.

What? No, we don't do anything like that. What on Earth are you talking about?

>You don't give a progress report for uploads

Yes we do.


>"What? No, we don't do anything like that. What on Earth are you talking about?"

I mean that if you view a gfycat it's a totally white page, if you view a mediacrush your logo and navigation are all over the page. Gfycat appears unbranded most of the time, your service does not.

As for progress bar, gfycat shows you a real-time indication of the status of the upload. Yours is a dummy progress bar that gives no indication of progress and will run even if the service is doing nothing (as the "we don't support youtubes we just 'upload' endlessly until you quit" test proved to me).

Your fake progress bar and lack of error handling caused me to wait 20 minutes to upload a video for converting with zero indication that there was anything amiss. As I performed during my test, gfycat handled multiple youtubes and large gifs (1-10MB) in under 5 minutes total, while I waited 20+ minutes on Mediacrush before giving up on many of my inputs.

I had to contact a creator of the service to find out it didn't support one of the most popular and most used features of the competitor he claims to be superior to!

I understand I'm downvoted, I understand this community is rewarding you.

But sorry buddy: outside of HN, Gfycat beat you with a superior service. Not because of the admins, but because users like me who willingly make the choice. Who submit links from gfycat not mediacrush. Who convert everything we see into gfycat. Because we compare services with videos, large gifs, small gifs and everything in between and pick what we like best. You didn't convince me: quite the opposite, you attacked me for judging your service and took zero criticism fairly, even when gfycat is easily and objectively better in the eyes of the users who you have to win over to see any viral success in subreddits. To see someone say "we're superior in every way" is such a heartbreak to me. How can you compete if you're unwilling to have fair perspective?

I will promote gfycat on reddit comments wildly, as I have in the past, as so many hundreds of users have loudly and strongly done so-- and thats why gfycat will succeed. Because of users like me who go into comments and convert every gif and video to gfycat and become the most upvoted comments. Gfycat succeeds because of viral attraction to it.

All the best luck, but you might consider adding basic error handling, upgrading your UI to meet parity with gfycat, and might want to add features like youtube if you want to compete. You can find legal reasons why you can't, but that just means I pick gfycat over mediacrush every single time. Your legal concerns are not mine-- I want the best service, not the "most proper" service or whatever. I'd move quick though, gfycat is already moving to become a mainstay in many video/image subreddits and your window to displace it is closing faster than you might believe.


It's not a discouragement, so don't take it as such.

I founded similar service before Imgur was born and was trying to compete with them way before you did.

Word of advice, stop allowing NSFW.

You do not want to go down that path, there is no money in it and it will impact your business in a negative way when you decide to become profitable.


"It's not a discouragement, so don't take it as such."

This after:

"you have no chance trying to compete with Imgur on their own home turf especially that late in the game."

"it's just too late at this point. Find another market."

Reads like you're trying to discourage them to me.


Suggesting to focus on a different market is a discouragement now?

You are on HN last time I checked.


Always has been. We're speaking English here, last time I checked.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discouraging


As far as I'm aware, he did nothing that was more rulebreaking/questionable than MrGrimm/Imgur did [self promotion via links to imgur].

http://www.reddit.com/r/awwnime/comments/1mlr4o/a_little_mik...


Which is of course explicitly against the rules. Turns out reddit was an investor which was not revealed until today.


Actually, it's not. Reddit runs with a loose "10% rule", where you should strive to make 10% or less of your activity promotional.


Take a look at MrGrim's posting history for yourself.

http://www.reddit.com/user/MrGrim

It's not 100% imgur anymore, but he's well over 10%.

It turns out having Reddit be a secret investor in your company gives you all kinds of leeway.


Oh, I thought you were implying that our own promontional stuff on Reddit was over the line.


You promote your site on reddit very aggressively, and consistently smear reddit's moderators as bad guys. You're a liar, and definitely not some poor victim.

edit:

Things you have done include running a bot to constantly promote MediaCrush on reddit (which you refer to as, "a little spammy"), vote-gaming by upvoting your bot's posts, removing any and all of your posts where you receive negative press, and slandering reddit moderators.


Now that I notice you've edited in some arguments, let's clarify these points:

- We ran a bot that, upon explicitly being asked to by a user, would convert a post to HTML5 video

- Yes, we upvoted the bot. We didn't realize it was a problem, and stopped once it was pointed out.

- We don't remove any posts where we get negative press.

- I've shared some choice words about a few moderators who I've had a bad experience with. However, I've qualified myself every time, providing plenty of reasons for why I feel the way I do.

The bot was a problem during the first few days of launch. It's hard to argue that it was spam when it only worked when summoned by a user. The vote gaming argument has merit - but we did stop once we realized that it was a bad idea. Even with all that in mind, these problems were only relevant during the first week or so of our lifetime, and doesn't really justify the relationship we've had with the admins from then out.

You'd think that when the users of Reddit were clearly so excited about the service, the admins would take a moment to get in touch and talk to us about it civily, instead of taking such a hostile (and really, anti-user) stance towards the service.

Side note: there are numerous bots that arguably generate much more spam for competing services - bots that don't wait for a user to request their help. These bots haven't had a negative impact on the competing services.


> We ran a bot that, upon explicitly being asked to by a user, would convert a post to HTML5 video

Your bot's account is gone, so there is little evidence to cite. However, I remember how present and obnoxious it was. Promotions for MediaCrush definitely did not appear solely when a user mentioned MediaCrush. It was enough of a problem that an admin on reddit asked you to stop:

http://i.imgur.com/CDykpWp.png

> Yes, we upvoted the bot. We didn't realize it was a problem, and stopped once it was pointed out.

Many other domains have been blocked from reddit for the same behavior (e.g. http://www.dailydot.com/news/reddit-ban-the-atlantic-phsyorg... ), but you consistently portray reddit's admins as people who had it in for your site in particular, which is dishonest.

> We don't remove any posts where we get negative press.

Yes, you do. They cannot be found from your user page anymore, but I've personally watched you delete your comments in threads where you promote yourself and get bad press.

> I've shared some choice words about a few moderators who I've had a bad experience with. However, I've qualified myself every time, providing plenty of reasons for why I feel the way I do.

You've said things that are explicitly untrue about reddit's mods and admins. Mainly that they were big, bad, imgur-partial bullies. Here is the supposedly hostile, anti-user stance that moderators took towards MediaCrush:

http://i.imgur.com/iuMFUOO.png

http://i.imgur.com/GI8MFje.png

http://i.imgur.com/boKDi3I.png

These quotes come from a thread that you started, when you thought that you could push around reddit's mods:

http://www.reddit.com/r/KarmaCourt/comments/1k6ig4/the_creat...

You're the one at fault for your problems with reddit, and it is low of you to pretend reddit's mods and admins are the bad guys.

> The bot was a problem during the first few days of launch. It's hard to argue that it was spam when it only worked when summoned by a user. The vote gaming argument has merit - but we did stop once we realized that it was a bad idea.

The bot that you ran promoted your site obnoxiously in many subreddits, and there are plenty of accounts banned via /r/reportthespammers that do exactly the same thing. I don't feel that you can argue it was not spam.

> there are numerous bots that arguably generate much more spam for competing services

This is a tu-quoque, and doesn't justify you in any way.


For what it's worth, I can vouch for what ghani is saying. It matches up with my memory of the events of Mediacrush on Reddit. I was actually going to compose a similar comment.

That said, the way ghani is phrasing the comments is upsetting. They're very rude. There's no reason to be rude even if you're right.

Also, the mods of Reddit are a huge problem. They are both the source of Reddit's strength and its greatest weakness. Having those kinds of moderators is the best solution anyone's thought of so far, but it's still horrible (at times).

I'm getting the feeling that you're defending the mods so vigorously because you're either a mod or friends with one, but from the perspective of someone who just wants to see good content, they are at times the exact opposite of what Reddit needs. And since they have so much power, the few bad apples make a really big splash.

But, yeah... Cmpwn may want to consider being more transparent about their aggressive promotion of Mediacrush on Reddit. For what it's worth, I think it was just a miscommunication issue. People don't understand new things, and you can't blame them for not thinking that your new service is the best thing ever. It takes time, patience, and calmness to get your message through.

Dismissing hoverzoom as a non-issue was a very unfortunate decision. It was one of the most damning things you could have done. If I remember correctly, it happened before the recent hoverzoom controversy, and back then everyone on Reddit (me included) was in love with it.

Dismissing the inability to link directly to the mediacrush'd gif was also not a good move. If it's impossible to link directly to it, then you have to explain what can be done in order to give users something that simulates a direct link.

And,

We don't remove any posts where we get negative press.

It's disingenuous of you to be deleting your posts on Reddit that reflect poorly on you, and then claiming that you haven't ever done so. Here's an example: http://www.reddit.com/r/KarmaCourt/comments/1k6ig4/the_creat...

I know how tempting it is to do that. I used to do it on HN. But trust me, letting your words stand and then pointing out what you've learned since then is way better than trying to censor yourself.


> Also, the mods of Reddit are a huge problem.

I hold the exact opposite opinion. And I believe reddit's growth over the last 6 years is affirmation of my opinion.

Before reddit had subreddits and mods, it was a virtual clone of this website. It was roughly the same size (possibly smaller) and had similar content. Then in 2007/2008 (can't remember, it's been a while) Reddit made the big change and added the new subreddit feature, each with its own set of mods. Mods who became responsible for the growth and health of their own communities.

Immediately after this change, reddit exploded in growth, and it still continues to see exponential growth today. One can easily correlate it's explosive growth directly due to subreddits and their mods. Mods who put in a lot of work and basically do the admins job for them (promotion, community outreach, fighting spam, etc).

Sure, you occasionally hear about a few bad apples here and there, but those cases are rare when you factor in the thousands of mods (150+ just for the defaults) that you don't hear about. I think risk and trade-off is more than fair and if I was an admin on reddit, I'd do it every single time.

Reddit's biggest asset is its mods, that I guarantee. I wonder how many man hours the mods put in collectively that reddit doesn't have to pay a dime for? I bet it's a large number. It's unfortunate because the admins don't seem to give a shit about their mods despite being the very engine that keeps their site tolerable. They've let them languish for years now with subpar mod tools.

> Having those kinds of moderators is the best solution anyone's thought of so far, but it's still horrible (at times).

Seems to work for wikipedia. I think it works for reddit too. It's just the users and mods over on reddit have more of a community platform so the dirty laundry is more visible. Everyone loves drama...

> but from the perspective of someone who just wants to see good content, they are at times the exact opposite of what Reddit needs.

Making exceptions to rules is a problem in of itself. Just because it's something "you" want to see, doesn't mean someone down the road isn't going to bring it up and throw it in your face a week, a month even years down the road. "You let this guy do that, why not me! Censorship! Censorship! Witch-hunt!" There are drawbacks to making exceptions to rules which were laid down for (usually) very good reasons. It's easy to ignore them when you're not the one who has to look and deal with the bigger picture every day.


You can't be serious? What about that moderator who was recently censoring every single post about Tesla off of /r/technology? Then he posted "this website is for insulting people and cat pictures" or something similar in his comments.

Moderator actions like that are unacceptable, there is no oversight, and the admins are way too lax about letting mods get away with blatantly being so user-hostile. And let's not forget that companies are figuring out that bribing moderators + paying for votes is one of the best ways to get their content featured.


Now that this conversation has developed a bit, I'll leave my response.

>Your bot's account is gone, so there is little evidence to cite. However, I remember how present and obnoxious it was. Promotions for MediaCrush definitely did not appear solely when a user mentioned MediaCrush. It was enough of a problem that an admin on reddit asked you to stop:

>

>http://i.imgur.com/CDykpWp.png

"Promotions" did appear only when asked. There were two occasions where we used the bot ourselves to introduce it to the public - you can't use a bot you don't know about, we had to do it ourselves. From that point out, it was never manually triggered.

>> Yes, we upvoted the bot. We didn't realize it was a problem, and stopped once it was pointed out.

>

>Many other domains have been blocked from reddit for the same behavior (e.g. http://www.dailydot.com/news/reddit-ban-the-atlantic-phsyorg.... ), but you consistently portray reddit's admins as people who had it in for your site in particular, which is dishonest.

Automated vote gaming and bad-faith use is what got those domains banned. I do agree that the admins weren't entirely wrong in that, but I maintain that much better communication should have been in place. We weren't promoting things in bad faith, no matter how you spin it. The actions of the admins beyond this point are more nails in the coffin, though - it's not _just_ that they shadowbanned the bot.

>> We don't remove any posts where we get negative press.

>

>Yes, you do. They cannot be found from your user page anymore, but I've personally watched you delete your comments in threads where you promote yourself and get bad press.

The bot was shadowbanned, and its comments and posts deleted by moderators. Not by us.

>You've said things that are explicitly untrue about reddit's mods and admins. Mainly that they were big, bad, imgur-partial bullies. Here is the supposedly hostile, anti-user stance that moderators took towards MediaCrush:

The majority of Reddit users (not including moderators) supported us. I lost my temper, but I believe I was in the right when criticising the moderators for their choices. The KarmaCourt thing was a mistake, but it was at someone else's suggestion and seemed like a good idea at the time. The moderators were clearly in the wrong - their own userbase overwhelmingly supported us.

>The bot that you ran promoted your site obnoxiously in many subreddits, and there are plenty of accounts banned via /r/reportthespammers that do exactly the same thing. I don't feel that you can argue it was not spam.

It _only came when asked for_. This is a _very_ important distinction. Do not spread misinformation by claiming that it spammed Reddit without being asked after - it did not do that.

>> there are numerous bots that arguably generate much more spam for competing services

>

>This is a tu-quoque, and doesn't justify you in any way.

Meaning that the status-quo was set, and other bots were on Reddit doing similar things and not being punished for it. We had role models.

>[sillysaurus3:] I'm getting the feeling that you're defending the mods so vigorously because you're either a mod or friends with one, but from the perspective of someone who just wants to see good content, they are at times the exact opposite of what Reddit needs. And since they have so much power, the few bad apples make a really big splash.

I get a simliar feeling myself.

>Dismissing hoverzoom as a non-issue was a very unfortunate decision. It was one of the most damning things you could have done. If I remember correctly, it happened before the recent hoverzoom controversy, and back then everyone on Reddit (me included) was in love with it.

This was after the Hoverzoom ad controversy. I don't think this was a major contributor to slow adoption.

>Dismissing the inability to link directly to the mediacrush'd gif was also not a good move. If it's impossible to link directly to it, then you have to explain what can be done in order to give users something that simulates a direct link.

I did, on a few occasions. Keep in mind that these screenshots ghani posted are out of context, don't represent the full extent of our communication with moderators, and are intentionally chosen to paint us in a bad light (not that they aren't valid criticisms - they're just not the whole story).

>It's disingenuous of you to be deleting your posts on Reddit that reflect poorly on you, and then claiming that you haven't ever done so. Here's an example: http://www.reddit.com/r/KarmaCourt/comments/1k6ig4/the_creat....

That was deleted by moderators and admins, and the account it was posted from has been shadowbanned. We had nothing to do with that. I will admit to deleting some of my own posts - ones that happen to use MediaCrush as a drop-in Imgur replacement, but not as a promotion - when they don't do so well.

I think that covers all the points here. The message to take away from this is that MediaCrush participated in some activity that might be considered a bit spammy, but that there was a precedent we followed, and the response from Reddit's admins and moderators was unwarranted - especially in the months later.


The moderators deleted your comments of you defending yourself? If that's true, then that's terrible.

My first inclination is to be suspicious of your claim, but that's just evidence of how thoroughly Reddit moderators have convinced people that they rarely do terrible things.


You're a liar

Absolutely no personal attacks on Hacker News, please. People who do that repeatedly—or even once, if they have no good history as a contributor here—will be banned.


This is what I dislike about reddit. They let MrGrim in and now imgur is almost as bad as the conventional image hosts. Everytime I visit imgur, the interface has gotten more complex and now its trying to be a social photo sharing site of its own, instead of a just a simple host.

So lets say I went out and created a competing service, which is something I've considered. Now the reddit admins will ban me for violating the rules while MrGrim gets a free pass because of community politics.

Its incredible to me that reddit sells itself as being above the fray and an alternative to sites that had more patronage, when its a lot of ' meet the old boss, same as the old boss.' I suspect popular sites have a typical lifecycle. Launch, buzz, a golden period, then a decay once monetization becomes a concern, then another group of hungry 20 somethings eats its lunch.


imgur is not almost as bad as conventional image hosts. I guess you haven't used any conventional ones lately that block the image after bandwidth exceeded? Also, most of the other ones are even more spammy than imgur. Imgur still allows direct linking of the image and has less ads than most of the competition.


Well, they kind of still allow direct linking[0] and they also no longer provide the direct link after upload.

[0] http://minimaxir.com/2014/02/moved-temporarily/


Blagh. I want to be mad at imgur for this behavior, but I can't bring myself to.

Is it really bad to show people, once, what site they're being linked to? The whole "no ads, direct links" has always been framed as a thing imgur does to be nice, and in return reddit likes them. Does it matter if people who've never been to imgur before see the site once instead of a direct link?


Reddit has never been above the fray. Look into their terrible record of admins censoring content and the violentacrez fiasco.


I think this is an unfair characterization. The only time I'm aware that the reddit admins have actually censored anything was the /r/jailbait subreddit, which given that /r/jailbait contained lots of borderline child pornography could hardly be called a massive freedom of speech violation.

(This is in fact the "violentacrez fiasco", if I remember correctly).

There have also been a couple of instances where subreddits have been banned due to violation of laws (/r/creepshots), organizing voting rings (/r/niggers) and vandalizing other reddit communities (/r/gameoftrolls).

I am no expert on internet history, so if there are any blatant errors in my understanding, please correct me. I understand reddit to be very strong on the principles of free speech and "lassez-faire" web policy. The same can not be said of the moderators of various subreddits, but this is not an admin issue.


there also have been subreddits banned without violation of laws(/r/pcmasterrace), or still stays while its clearly a voting ring because some of admins decided to support them(/r/shitredditsays)

Dont get me wrong I like reddit, but free speech and rule enforcement? no, the site is a mess.


Oh! The censorship I meant was more-so in regards to banning Gawker links when they outted violentacruz. I think the child pornography subreddits being banned was fine.


The admins never banned gawker, a few mods banned gawker in some of their subreddits to protest the "doxxing" of reddit users.


> largely due to a very tolerant reddit admin team.

... and a very tolerant reddit user base.

Even though direct links to images are available, many people share the imgur page link instead (with the intention of helping imgur show more ads)


And the comments on Imgur. I'd say the comments on there are what makes the site. They are witty, funny, and sometimes extremely informative. Whenever I link to Imgur I use the "regular" link, not the direct one, because people will get a kick out of the comments. Don't particularly care about their ad revenue.


Funny that they are taking the "gift to reddit" thing at face value. He launched it on Digg first.


He actually launched it on reddit first, but deleted his announcement post and then re-posted it a few days later. He said as much in one of his interviews, I think it's linked in a comment above.


Link to the deleted thread or it didn't happen.


It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. VCs want one thing - money (note - that's not a bad thing). If for some reason that this motivation (and more importantly the implementation of this motivation) pisses off Reddit users, then Reddit will ostracize the hell out of Imgur, it will lose a large chunk of traffic and something will replace it overnight.

As Gabe Newell once said "You can't lie on Reddit".


I thought the saying went: "You can't get laid on Reddit" but whatever...


It's a symbiotic relationship, no tolerance needed. Reddit would be less popular without Imgur.


> Try to make a similar service today and get growth on reddit the same way and you'll likely get added to the global spam block list.

I completely disagree. Unless you are being scammy, spammy, or otherwise violating reddit rules, you'd be fine.


The way the admins went after Sir_Cmpwn makes me think this is incorrect.


Success in startups require 2 ingredients: 1) hard work and 2) luck. Hard work alone is not enough.

Looks like imgur's "lucky moment" was Reddit admins allowing it despite it being "spam".


I once suggested a HN style about box on Reddit partly to resolve problems like this.


I build image hosting service which was 'great' for it's time (2006) called Image Socket (http://www.imagesocket.com).

It became extremely successful in just a few days due to support from another (popular at the time) web site called SomethingAwful.

Alternatives at the time sucked. Unfortunately I failed to pivot it into something that does not rely exclusively on one or two popular web sites as it's source of traffic.

Congrats to Imgur for jumping on Reddit early and a becoming somewhat independent at this point.

It's funny that I had an opportunity to compete with them because my site was already build and widely utilized when Reddit came out but I never imaged that Reddit would blow up so fast and by the time it did, competing with Imgur was impossible.


Seeing the comments below., the similar questions could be raised for a even bigger bandwidth beast. Youtube. And imgur is essentially the Youtube of images.

And speaking of profits, 140 Characters is barely generating any revenue despite it would be the only service of its size consuming the least (hosting) resources.

So I guess investors do not see the value in profits rather in popularity when it comes to crazy start-ups. Considering Instagram which got acquired for the ‘notorious’ 1 Billion. If we use the same mathematical formula, I guess imgur is worth at least 2x of Instagram.


Which really make one question the valuations that are out there. If reddit isn't at least a billion dollar company by this measure I don't know what is... Yet they continue to struggle to make operating expenses.


Run rate and valuation are not always directly tied. In all of these cases--Twitter, Instagram, Imgur, Reddit, 9GAG--it's about the community.

Reddit may certainly be worth $1B+, but no acquirer wants to buy them and lose money keeping the site up.


Well yeah, but they arguably should be part of the valuation model. I realize there's a lot of speculation, past investment history, etc. involved in the valuation, but at some point how much money a company is making and can realistically make should be part of the figuring.


I walk past Imgur's office reasonably often. There's a slightly crumpled-up, inkjet-printed piece of paper with their logo on it, taped to the glass of the front door.

Makes me chuckle every time, I hope they don't blow any of this on a fancy door sign.


maybe they'll get a frame for it.


I'm really interested in this deal. It's always been a bit of an enigma to me how imgur makes money, especially since they have been bootstrapping. I wonder if the numbers looked good to a16z, or if they saw the incredible growth potential of having a large interest in the youtube of images (as frade33 characterized it).


They make money by showing ads that get millions of views per day and most likely selling information about their users.


Well, duh ;) I'm just impressed, given the significant bandwidth, that the advertising has been capable of sustaining itself so far.


A high traffic image sharing site can actually be pretty cheap to run. Cloudflare gives you an unlimited bandwidth CDN and incoming bandwidth to S3 is free (uploads can be done directly from the browser).

Source: I help run https://surfer.io/


I think your idea of high traffic is pretty low, Cloudflare will expect you to be on the enterprise plan when you have actual high traffic.


…which is, on average, $5K/month. Not exactly a ton of money.


An average without context is not useful information.

When I last checked, a sample price for Cloudflare is $3k for 100TB. Cloudflare is far from the cheap option when it comes to serving content.


Hmm, I hadn't thought about them using cloudflare. I wonder what the costs are at that scale.


Nothing is unlimited, Cloudflare won't bother you until you use a lot of bandwidth.


Oh yeah, CF is a life-saver for sites on a budget


I don't get how such a bandwidth hog can run only off a few ads.


The bandwidth now is cheap, when I launched Image Socket I was on two dedicated machines at FDC that served closed to a thousand requests per second.

The revenue on advertisements would be 10x (from what I recall) of what I spend on the hardware.

The trick is to approach the problem smartly via bandwidth control techniques (ip rate limiting, proper bandwidth queues via ipfilter, etc) and identify abuse early.

In 2014, their margins would be (again my opinion) double of what mine where.

Hardware is cheaper, bandwidth is cheaper and you have easier access to really fast and complex caching solutions.


It looks like in 2012 they transferred 42PB of data, which is pretty crazy. I assume their numbers are far higher now. It's impressive they can make it all work.

I didn't know that Reddit had invested money in the company either, that could potentially be a pretty big boon for them.


They use Edgecast's CDN (which is now owned by Verizon?)

https://www.edgecast.com/company/news/edgecast-powers-imgur

Off the top of my head, I think they offer their bigger clients pricing of $0.02-0.04 per gigabyte. I could be wrong though.

44040192gb *0.02 = $880,803 / 12 = $73,400/month.


Looks like they don't anymore

$ curl -sI http://i.imgur.com/S1iGm2E.jpg | grep Server

Server: cloudflare-nginx


I wonder if 42PB of data would trigger a bandwidth cap on my T-Mobile unlimited 4G plan.


Most "unlimited" plans have caps where they throttle you bandwidth. So you would never reach 42PB per month anyway, let alone 42PB ever.


That was sort of the joke, but T-Mobile has real unlimited with no throttling or caps.


I think that if you got to the point where you're using a significant amount of mobile data and you alone are impacting other customers' experience significantly, they'd ask you to knock it off.


Oh, you still haven't reached the point of pissing them off with your abuse.


That's not their only revenue stream. They also sell Imgur Pro accounts.


If I remember correctly they use Cloudflare quite a bit. This probably decreases their actual traffic by a tremendous amount, since they vast majority of their bandwidth comes from easily cacheable images.


CloudFlare doesn't bring your bandwidth costs down, it just makes them get sent out faster. It is indeed impressive that they can serve so much based on ads that many people never see (due to embeds and the like).


This is not correct. If you set the correct headers, Cloudflare routinely caches files on their edge servers and serves them from there. My traffic dropped noticeably after activating Cloudflare, and I am not doing any file hosting.


I think what is meant is that CloudFlare or no CloudFlare, cat pictures have to be transferred and traffic is generated. imgur will have to pay it either way, even if its CloudFlare doing the delivery.


You don't pay for the bandwidth CF uses (well, I don't know about their most expensive package but with the others you don't) and using a CDN drastically reduces your bandwidth bill


using cdn increases your bandwidth bill cause cdn bandwidth is pricier than your dedicated-server/rack/colo bandwidth


Cloudflare is free.


Much like your cable modem is "unlimited" bandwidth. It's free until it's not. For Imgur it most certainly would not be free.


Don't you know? HostGator gives you unlimited bandwidth? :)

Realistically, bandwidth is relatively cheap and the type of advertising they show on Imgur is likely pretty expensive. Anything to do with home buying (what I've been seeing lately) is usually pretty expensive CPC-wise.


My experiences with HostGator indicate that, even though they may offer unlimited bandwidth, your site will stop at the first slightest increased usage


That's the joke. Unlimited in all cases I experienced means "limited in a fashion you do not know and cannot control". For anything serious, stay away from unlimited plans (think Backblaze's unlimited storage), else suffer the wrath of the acceptable use policy.


Their 'unlimited bandwidth' pitch is just marketing BS. The shared hosting industry has thin profit margins and so they needed to come up with a way to lure in customers and distract them from the fact that they have such strict resource limits that you couldn't use huge amounts of bandwidth anyway.


They don't. They are running off of a few ads plus 40 million dollars.


These days, I goto imgur frontpage to view the gallery, viewing the daily "funnies" is not done via reddit anymore.

My reddit usage is more directly into specific communities, less of the general sub-reddits.


I'm looking forward to see what they come up with, the first thought that hits me is "how are they going to make money?". Reddit is clearly not profitable, how do they differentiate from a business perspective?


Imgur has been profitable since the beginning[1]. There are massive differences business and infrastructure-wise between Reddit and Imgur. Imgur has much better ad/pageview ratio than Reddit and is much less dynamic and infrastructure heavy.

1 http://www.neowin.net/news/from-rags-to-riches-the-story-of-...


My guess is that they're probably going to spend some time building their own CDN / image storage. I think they used some combination of dedicated servers, RDBMS, CloudFlare, and AWS.

They could save some significant operating costs, without sacrificing a lot of of customer happiness by putting together their own datacenter, and hosting a handful of edge sites (a rack or two, and then fast failover out of the rack). I imagine that the traffic curve on images drops off pretty quickly after a point, and stays down.


With their traffic, AWS is not cost effective in the least.


With their traffic I'm sure they haggled a better deal than the default AWS prices..


imgur should shoot big and host videos. Let people upload videos without an account, just like images. Fuck YouTube and its toxic comments. imgur's comment system and quality of comments are way better.


The site Sir_Cmpn linked above (https://mediacru.sh) apparently allows video uploads.


If imgur approaches Youtube's scale won't the comments on imgur also become toxic?

This still appears to be an unsolved issue (although, one could argue whether it is really an "issue"). Google's G+ approach (barring anonymous comments, etc) does not appear to have addressed the core concern.


i have been getting tired of all interface complications on youtube, I think this would be a welcome place for interesting and funny videos - old you tube style. number of things I have too look at and click to get to my channels is slowly growing which is pita.

Although I tried using imgur a few times, I could not upload images a number of times, subjectively I don't know how they get that much money for such service... bubble is it?


Transcoding videos is very, very expensive.


I didn't even think of this possible vertical for imgur.. great observation.


I believe that is the thinking behind vidd.me


where is Andreesen's email? I want to ask him if he wants to invest in my startup.


Raises = gifted and never will see a return of investment????


Marc Andreessen is on the board of Facebook. My guess is he wants to pump it up and then get Facebook to buy them.


This is my fear.


Like Oculus?




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