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Imgur, please don't be the next TinyPic or ImageShack (dillpickle.github.io)
63 points by dylz on Aug 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

Let's dig a bit deeper and ask why is imgur doing these things? The fact is image uploading is one of the most commoditized services you can offer. Long term, the most you could possibly get out of that is razor-thin margins, assuming Google, Amazon, or Microsoft doesn't just walk in one day and crush your entire business with one fell swoop. Clearly, imgur is trying to build some competitive advantages around their business - namely network effect by creating a community on top of their content destination. They're comparing the Facebook to Dropbox and asking which business model looks better. I'm sure they realize this makes straight image uploading slightly more of a hassle, but from their perspective the business benefits of community far outweigh the loss efficiency-oriented uploaders. They know it's annoying and they don't care.

> I'm sure they realize this makes straight image uploading slightly more of a hassle, but from their perspective the business benefits of community far outweigh the loss efficiency-oriented uploaders. They know it's annoying and they don't care.

Which means they'll most likely die quickly. Nobody cares about their "business side", they were an Internet No 1. image hosting because they were hassle-free and mostly bullshit-free. What I expect to see is most users leaving to someone willing to provide no-bullshit upload service, and imgur to crawl into hole and die, like PhotoBucket or ImageShack.

The sad thing is, many links will probably get broken. Web, unfortunately, is extremely fragile.

I think if there was profit to be had in this, Google, MS, or Amazon would have already bought or started an image hoster.

My personal favorite was omploader, which I used quite a bit to share screenshots.

I discovered the redirect behavior about 6 months ago, which generated a lot of controversy: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7190952

Interestingly, some of the arguments then were "What did you expect from a free startup?" and "Who cares? You still see the image."

Recently (post-$50M), I've seen this behavior when clicking random imgur links on the web from unaffected sites, but have been unable to reproduce it using spoofing tricks.

I kinda agree with them. Imgur has to make the money it needs to survive. It is really the only viable option in the long term.

That said, I do find myself using alternatives [e.g. mediacrush] more and more. Its just not worth bothering with Imgur.

I agree that they should make money, since they're a business.

However, when paid (imgur pro) subs also get redirected and their uploads also get redirected, and "I created imgur because the other image hosting sites forced you to see their ad-ridden pages (TinyPIC). I would never do the same to you. If you want to direct link to the image, then by all means do so."[0] no longer applies, it somewhat bothers me.

[0] http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/9tlwi/im_the_imgur_guy...

Imgur was profitable from day 1.

What they are doing now is called greed.

I don't really believe that. I know people circulate that alot but I know based on the time cost to build the site was likely 5 figures at market rates.

I doubt he brought that in. Discounting his labor? Sure it was profitable on Day 1.

But that is like saying I have a hobby that brings in 5% of my annual income and its "profitable". The fact I have to spend ~8 hours a week on it [about 20% of my $DayJob], means I'm still net negative in financial terms.

If I was doing contract work instead for those 8 hours, I'd come out with 300% more money.

Once you take VC money, greed is necessary - your customers are the VCs, and they expect a several multiples exit.

That's why we're probably bound to replace our image hosting services every few years. It's a waste of good links though, that will get broken in the desperate attempt to recoup for fleeing users.

Greed is always optional. The thing that is not is free and strong will to stand against VCs. Thats why VCs love to get in to sturtups run by geeks instead of business veterans.

Imgur is providing a valuable service. It doesn't ruffle my feathers if they want to expand upon it. I really don't think Imageshack.us, Tinypic, or Photobucket are fair comparisons.

Back in the day, imageshack & photobucket were all we had to upload photos into albums because Facebook hadn't taken off and MySpace didn't know what it was doing. After Facebook, the disconnect of User <-> Photos was gone. It was clear, these are my photos and look I'm even tagged in them. Imageshack and Photobucket seem to have pivoted to try to stay competitive. Tinypic is hardly worth mentioning because its quality is poor. Imgur's isn't.

So where do you go if you really just like popular photos? Imgur. The fact that they have a community that dislikes Reddit should be indicative of the success of their additions. Would you rather they stagnate and forever provide free image hosting? Who's going to pick up the bill after awhile? They need to do this.. and I think they're being pretty smart about it.

As a normal internet user, your points don't really stand out to me as a reason why I should start to become weary of imgur. If they piss enough people off, they'll get burned and another image hosting site will rise up to replace it (because seriously, it's not that hard of a technical problem).

Finally, as a personal note, I don't really appreciate commentary that doesn't at least try outline the pros of what they're doing. Oh no, they added a small button to create memes with? oh the horror..

Thanks for the constructive criticism at the bottom -- I'll try to be more neutral and remember to give arguments for both sides (this was my first blog post).

Thanks for understanding :)

The direct link redirecting and the extremely annoying "memebase" rebranding were the last straws for me as well.

http://mediacru.sh is a great alternative with a much more minimalist interface, and is free and open source (https://github.com/MediaCrush/MediaCrush)

Thanks for mentioning us! I'm one of the lead devs for MediaCrush. I think what sets it apart from the traditional list of promising but eventually failed image hosts is two things:

- It's open source, so you can fork it if we screw up

- We are not a business and do not have a bottom line

I've recognized this pattern as well, and we hope to end it.

And I think those things will cause Mediacrush to overtake Imgur in the next few years; if not, something similar to Mediacrush will. Thanks for helping to create it.

My only one complaint is that Imgur has a catchier and shorter domain name, as well as shorter paths, which makes links quite a bit more condensed.




We plan on eventually making a URL shortener of some kind, but I like the elegance of the current URLs. They're hashes of the files you upload, which makes a lot of sense. And you can get shorter URLs and support us with eyeballs on ads if you don't use a direct link ;)

MediaCrush is indeed nice. I didn't know about it. Imgur can be painstakingly slow. A fast and right to the point image uploading service is quite refreshing.

I have a few questions.

1. Do you have accounts to store pics?

2. It would be nice if after uploading pictures the page would show all possible links like embed and share.

3. Do you plan to implement something like delete in 30 days?


1. No, but you can use the default localStorage mechanism. We've been slowly working on accounts for a while now, but it's not a priority.

2. Click "share" on the view page

3. No, but an external service could hook into MediaCrush to provide that

How long do you keep media?

All media is automatically deleted upon the heat death of the universe.

Imgur is just following in the fine tradition of software that hit a sweetspot then kept adding new features.

See ACDSee, Nero Burning Rom, etc etc.

Jeff Atwood wrote about this in 2007. It's a great shame that websites aren't listening to the mistakes made by previous software authors. http://blog.codinghorror.com/why-does-software-spoil/

Nero... Perfect for a brief moment... Then WtF waaa is al this stuff and why does it all work poorly?

I've been more annoyed by websites removing features than adding them.

Imgur is of little consequence. When it becomes too annoying to use it will no doubt be replaced.

"This is the sixth time we have destroyed Zion and we have become exceedingly efficient at it."

I'm just sad for the content that will go missing. Internet is a fast-forgetting place, it's damn hard to find anything beyond few years ago, because most of the links are broken.

Please donate to the Internet Archive, then!


They constantly have (or fund) projects archiving services being deleted, etc.

For example, right now they are archiving an immense amount of Twitch.tv VODs which will be deleted in just a few days. This is an example archive which has recently been uploaded:


It seems that breaking point when all changes to bad is when smart, fun and game changing startup accepts round of funds let by one of the main Tech Funds.

Is it coincidence, or are they legally or in any other way pressured to do it?

It seems most startups follow this route and I thought Imgur will be one of those exceptions. I was wrong it seems.

I read a book by Felix Dennis (was featured on HN when he died), in which he strongly recommends against taking VC money for the very reasons pointed out in commends here - VCs will want to get their returns, they'll be merciless, so you'll have to either become a shark or let your company die.

> Flash being enabled even very shortly drains the batteries of a lot of mobile and laptop devices.

Flash enables multiple uploads on legacy browsers. Just enabling Flash for something simple like an uploader should not drain batteries.

Back in 2010, when Steve Jobs wrote a letter demonizing Flash, he had some points. Many complex banner ads were being made in Flash, and disabling the plugin led to static image ads being shown. Static images are much easier to display than streaming videos. What's worthwhile to note is that as HTML5 banners progress, with animations and video, we'll be faced with the same problem.

Regardless, Jobs' letter had a noticeable and lasting effect on many worldviews.

I already loathe uploading images there to quickly share something because I have to wait for the home page to load all the thumbnail, and all the heavy javascript. Then I click upload and I have to wait for the javascript for -that- to load.

Imgur used to be so fast and quick to use, feature creep is going to be the death of it.

Something as simple as image hosting should not really take so long to load.

I actually enjoy the community at Imgur.

To me it seems Imgur has 2 uses:

  1) Image hosting

  2) Viral image community
One doesn't have to go with the other, but also they can work together.

As for their redirect behaviour? I don't think that's an issue at all. If you don't want to get that page, host it yourself.

>I actually enjoy the community at Imgur.

I couldn't disagree more. Comments in the reddit default subs are bad enough when compared to the kind of discussion you see on HN, but comments on imgur are a mixture of the kinds of things you'll see on 9gag or funnyjunk fused with some of the worst of reddit's default subs' communities. They're absolute drivel, and they're only going to get worse because Imgur is specifically trying to attract these kind of people now.

Comparing Imgur to HN is comparing apples to oranges in my opinion, they have different purposes and target audiences.

Target audiences:

  Imgur - General public.

  HN - Technical people, hackers, business people, founders.

  Imgur - People submit funny/touching/stupid/whatever images and people post comments

  HN - People post interesting/thought-provoking articles/sites and discuss them.

Imgur used to have a great community. Even though it was a large community it was still good fun.

Now? Not so much.

I'm not sure how the community collapsed so fast or if it can be rescued.

Worse was when they ran noisy auto-play video adverts last month. Every time I viewed an image, I was faced with "HEYY WAZAAAPP!!! JUSTIN BEIBER!!!" nonsense.

I'm in Europe, the USA didn't get them, so there wasn't so much of a fuss. They managed to get away with it. Appalling and cynical.

That probably wasn't deliberate on their part. My own experience with running ads is that the networks sell slots to each other in some sort of human centipede-esque manner. And some of the lower levels of this selling centipede get shady and will run abusive ads. You just have to watch out for them and block them / report them to your own network when you can.

Too late, sorry.

"Oh no, a free web site isn't behaving the way that I want it to!"

I don't know if it's just because I'm old, but people need to stop whining about how free websites are behaving. If we were paying customers, then I believe we should have a voice in how the product works but if we're using it for free, then this feeling of entitlement has to stop.

Beggars can't be choosers. And whoever owns imgur has to make money as well, they're entitled to do whatever it takes to make as much money as they can, and if they lose you as a customer but make more money, that is their prerogative.

Beggars absolutely can be choosers here, because there are tons of competing sites, many of which don't have any of the annoying features that imgur has been adding in recent months.

Imgur obviously needs money to stay afloat, but there are less annoying ways they could have gone about it.

Reddit has been bleeding money for years, probably more money than Imgur has yearly and for a longer time span, but they still have not compromised the integrity or usability of their site to gain money. They rely only on non-intrusive ads, Reddit gold, and donations.

4chan is in an even worse state, and has also only been making money through their 4chan Pass semi-donation feature.

Imgur could have created a new subdomain for the "new" site, or could have setup some entirely different applications that integrate with the main site, instead of detracting from the main product. As a company, they have a right to do what they want to make money, but as users most of us will always keep moving to the best solution once the old ones start shooting themselves in the foot.

Companies whose business model is to provide only a single free service for a massive userbase will always have to balance revenue and user alienation. Reddit and Imgur are leaning on opposite sides of that scale at the moment.

Honestly, I would consider an acquisition (by Google or whoever) to be a much better solution for everyone involved compared to the things they're trying now in desperation to get more revenue.

Then switch. Stop whining about it. If this is as big of a problem as the OP purports, and if people start leaving in droves, then imgur will die. This is the risk that they are taking, and they know this and so do you and the OP. So just switch. Stop whining about it.

Whining about it is switching. Since nearly everyone views far more images than they upload, which image host they spend the most time interacting with is dictated by what other people choose. Complaining about the currently popular choice is perhaps not the most effective way to get people to switch, but it is also not entirely ineffective.

I did switch, and immediately after began complaining about it, because I've been a big supporter and user of Imgur for years until now. I switched to mediacrush weeks ago and am spreading the word to others so they can realize it's a better alternative, and then do the same.

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