So, I'm developing a forum and I'd like to allow people to attach images to their posts (1 image per post) if they want. Now, I could do this the way Facebook does, that is, if there is a URL in the post, parse it and if it's an image, show it. Or I could just allow image uploading.

Of course, the first option is easier to develop, cheaper and probably more secure. But from a user standpoint, would it be too much hassle for the average user to upload an image to a service like ImageShack and then post the link?

  • And how would you know that your user has the (copy)right to upload the image? Sure, facebook and others make you tick a checkbox to say you do, but most people just tick and without knowing what exactly it is that they are confirming or simply don't care but want to dismiss something that is a barrier for what they want to do. Jun 8 '12 at 6:53
  • @MarjanVenema well, posts would last a certain time and then "die", so copyright wouldn't be much of an issue. Besides, no one really cares about copyrighted images
    – federico-t
    Jun 9 '12 at 9:15
  • Really? That is what you think? Then why is DRM such an issue to the point of trying to pass legislation that would give publishers more rights and individuals a lot less? Jun 9 '12 at 11:24
  • It's kind of true that nobody cares about copyrighted images. I rarely see images being removed for copyright. Videos are a hundred times more likely to be taken down.
    – JoJo
    Aug 11 '12 at 7:27

Yes, the need to upload an image to a 3rd party server, then going there, retrieving the URL, going to your site and pasting it there - is annoying. It makes you work much harder to share an image and many users just decide it's not worth the trouble.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean you need to develop the whole image hosting infrastructure by yourself. I think that StackExchange found a great way to do this - it looks as if the user uploads to SE, while it actually goes to an external service (imgur) and you get back a link that's injected into the post. The 3rd party involvement is completely transparent to the user and is only visible in the URL itself.

  • Great tip about using Imgur as a 3d party image hoster, I didn't even know it was possible. I'm considering it now, it's either that or doing the whole hosting myself. But you're right, making the user do that would just disencourage form posting images at all
    – federico-t
    Jun 9 '12 at 9:19
  • @JohnDoe - but just remember that someone, somewhere is going to be paying for the image hosting. And they'll be keen to find one way or another to ensure you end up with that cost, somehow. See, for example, the imgur upgrade
    – 410 gone
    Aug 11 '12 at 8:53

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