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Posting Pictures: Uploading Preferred vs. Linking to Third Party Photo Sites

Glenn MacGrady

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You can insert photos into posts either by (1) uploading them from your computer to our server, or (2) by linking to them as they reside on third party photo sites such as Photobucket, Flickr or Imgur.

I'd like to explain why I believe uploading is the better alternative for the site in the long term.

The long-term value of this site are the detailed threads about canoe trips, canoe routes, equipment, and boat builds, restoration and outfitting. These kinds of detailed threads will likely serve as informative reference material for readers decades into the future, and they are all heavily dependent on the pictures they contain. So also with our photography threads such as photo of the day, photos of canoes on vehicles, photos of tents, wildlife, etc.

If the pictures in these threads are linked from third party photo sites, or from internet URLs, they will literally disappear if those photo sites go out of business (as has happened), or if the dues are not paid, or if the owner passes on and no one keeps up the third party site. In all those cases, the linked photos will all simply disappear from our most important long-term informational threads.

If, on the other hand, the photos are uploaded to our server, they will last as long as this site and its database stay alive. I don't see any reason why that can't go on for many more decades, assuming effective administration and membership support. Whatever happens to third party photo sites won't affect the pictures on our server and in our threads. Of course, if this site goes kaput, then all will be lost no matter where the photos reside.

In addition, photos that are uploaded to our server load faster when they don't have to be fetched from third part web sites.

Everything I've said also goes for pictures you pluck off the internet to insert into a post. To make sure they live as long as this site does, download the pictures to your computer and then upload them to our server in your posts, instead of just linking to their internet URL addresses.

It is a little more work to upload photos if they are not already on your computer. You have to download them to your computer and then upload them to our server. But I hope you will give this some consideration to this in order to preserve our photo-centric success for future generations who will read and research our threads.
 
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Glenn,
I assume there’s a limit on the size of the photos, I haven’t checked recently to see what that limit might be.
Photos from my DSLR occasionally reach over 20 meg.
I intentionally link from third party sources so to not overload this sites storage capacity.
I certainly agree that loss of third party source data can lead to gaping holes in archival threads.
In fact, I have downloaded and archived all of my threads on “another” site precisely because I fear a loss of those threads.
While I can’t speak for everyone, some of my postings are not just for the paddling public, but also to serve as a fail safe memory jog for me personally.
I am curious to know if this site would need additional storage if most members directly upload their pics.
I’m certainly willing to contribute to increased storage needs if it comes to that.
 
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I routinely resize photos before uploading. I use the free version of "Photo & Picture Resizer" app on my Android phone and reduce to 1024 x 768. Easy peazy.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Glenn,
I assume there’s a limit on the size of the photos, I haven’t checked recently to see what that limit might be.
Photos from my DSLR occasionally reach over 20 meg.
. . . .
I am curious to know if this site would need additional storage if most members directly upload their pics.
I’m certainly willing to contribute to increased storage needs if it comes to that.
20 mb is a huge image. I could accept uploaded images and attachments of that size, but I've chosen not to because they are so rare.

The site will currently accept attachment or image uploads of up to 8 mb. However, images are currently set to automatically re-size and display at no greater than 950 pixels in height and 950 pixels in width in the reply box. With the controls thus set, members don't have to worry about resizing images before uploading as long as the images are smaller than 8 mb. The upload system will accept them and automatically display them proportionally at no more than 950 pixels in height or width (whichever is greater). Members can, of course, re-size images smaller than those values via the image edit controls after the image is uploaded into the reply box.

I don't think storage space is currently a problem. The last time I asked our webmaster, Ken Payne, in October, he said our site was "hardly touching the capacity of the server" of the plan we are on.

I routinely resize photos before uploading. I use the free version of "Photo & Picture Resizer" app on my Android phone and reduce to 1024 x 768. Easy peazy.

You can resize before uploading if you want, Bill, and that could be an option for stripperguy, too. It may save us some storage, but as I said above, the system will automatically resize photos as long as they are less than 8 mb. In your case, the system would reduce the 1024 to 950 and reduce the height proportionally. Experiment with resizing or not before upload, if you like.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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The site will currently accept attachment or image uploads of up to 8 mb. However, images are currently set to automatically re-size and display at no greater than 950 pixels in height and 950 pixels in width in the reply box. With the controls thus set, members don't have to worry about resizing images before uploading as long as the images are smaller than 8 mb.

HERE is an example of how this works for storage purposes from the Xenforo literature:

An example:
Photo xyz.jpg
File size 4 MB
Original: 2816x2112 = 5.947.392
Maximum set to 1200x1000 = 1.200.000
Photo will be resized to 1200x900 and uses only 350 KB.
 
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It seems if I try to attach several photos and there aggregate size is large - guessing larger than you 8 mb limit - it rejects it or doesn't take them all, at least not at once. Does that seem possible, that the 8 MB limit applies to the total size of all the selected photos together?
 
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I have found resizing easy via Irfanview. There are several apps that do the sane thing
I have a dedicated hard drive for photos. Some indeed are huge and I want them that way for sale but on a forum I am nit peddling pix. Not hard to save a resized cooy ( as long as you name it differently from the original. . Don't ask me how I got massively confused the first time I resized(
 

Glenn MacGrady

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It seems if I try to attach several photos and there aggregate size is large - guessing larger than you 8 mb limit - it rejects it or doesn't take them all, at least not at once. Does that seem possible, that the 8 MB limit applies to the total size of all the selected photos together?

My understanding is that the 8mb attachment size pertains to each individual attachment. It has to resize each attachment individually.

To be honest, I hardly ever use the Attach Files (paperclip) button for pictures, but rather use the Insert Image (mountain) button to upload pictures into the text of my post. I did not even know you could try to attach several photos at once. I'll guess that if the aggregate of attached all-at-once files is greater than 8 mb, the system will reject the aggregate as too large. I'd probably attach photos one-by-one if I were using the Attach Files button.
 
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Here's the thing - and I'll preface this by saying that I will hold no ill-will if you decide my post should be deleted. They're MY photos. I've been a member of discussion forums long enough to have experienced a change of ownership whose philosophies "go against the grain," so to speak. I may not be in perpetual control of the text I post, but by linking photos, I retain the ability to do as I please with them. Apologies if this comes off as a little terse.
 
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HERE is an example of how this works for storage purposes from the Xenforo literature:

An example:
Photo xyz.jpg
File size 4 MB
Original: 2816x2112 = 5.947.392
Maximum set to 1200x1000 = 1.200.000
Photo will be resized to 1200x900 and uses only 350 KB.
Glen, I don't know if you're aware, but those without a Xenforo license cannot read the linked post, even with an account there:Screenshot at 2022-09-03 15-09-34.png
 

Glenn MacGrady

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They're MY photos. . . . I may not be in perpetual control of the text I post, but by linking photos, I retain the ability to do as I please with them. Apologies if this comes off as a little terse.

Scratchypants, no apologies needed. If you link pictures, you do indeed retain the technical ability to remove them from your posts by disabling the connection to your third party photo site. And they are your photos and you retain the copyright in them. However, to continue being technical in the legal sense, with respect to all words and pictures posted on the site ("Content"), members grant the site "a non-exclusive, permanent, irrevocable, unlimited license to use, publish, or re-publish your Content in connection with the Service."


Every discussion site software platform on internet has or should have similar standard legal terms and conditions. This means I could put anyone's linked pictures on the site server. However, I would never do that because I don't have the time or any motivation to do so.

Folks are free to link or upload pictures as they see fit without any tampering by me. I just posted this thread to inform folks that they shouldn't be reluctant to upload pictures for storage saving reasons, and that it may be preferable to upload in many cases for permanence sake.

Glen, I don't know if you're aware, but those without a Xenforo license cannot read the linked post, even with an account there:

I didn't realize that. Here is most of the information for those who may be technically interested:

Some useful info about attachments/fotos in Xenforo:

Where are attachments stored?

If you were used to vBulletin there was a setting if you want to store the attachments in the file system (doesn't stress your database) or in the database (prohibits synchronization problems if you use several servers).
Xenforo stores them solely in the file system.


How are the files organized?

vBulletin used the userid for the structure of the directories. In Xenforo its slightly different:

The directory for the avatars are based on the userid, for all other attachments a sequential number is generated, the attachment id, a number which shows up also in the file name.

location for attachments: internal_data/attachments
location for thumbnails: data/attachments

You can change this path in config.php:
$config['internalDataPath'] = 'new_internal_data_path';

To both types of attachments applies: for every 1000 files a new directory is created. Attachments with id 0-999 can be found in directory 0, id 1000-1999 are in directory 1 and so on....


How are the attachments linked to content (database tables)?
  • xf_attachment is the link between content (post) and attachment, it also contains the date and the number of views
  • xf_attachment_data is the link between user and attachment and also contains file name, file size, thumbnail size
  • xf_attachment_view is a memory-based table used for storing view data.

Important info for photo communities:

The problem:
  • If you set the "Maximum Attachment File Size" too small (e.g. the default 1 MB) your users are frustrated because a typical photo today is larger and they get an error message. Then they either give up or use one of the online picture tools
  • If you use a higher setting (e.g. 10 MB) the users are happy because they can upload all their photos, but now the admin has a problem due to increased disk space usage, increased backup time, increased traffic
The solution:
  • Set the "Maximum Attachment File Size" to something useable (e.g. 10 MB)
  • Set "Maximum Attachment Image Dimensions" to e.g. 800x600 pixels or 1200x1000 pixels
This way the users are able to upload large photos but Xenforo automatically resizes the photo after the upload to the maximum dimension!

An example:

Photo xyz.jpg
File size 4 MB
Original: 2816x2112 = 5.947.392
Maximum set to 1200x1000 = 1.200.000
Photo will be resized to 1200x900 and uses only 350 KB.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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Never noticed the mountain.

Click the mountain icon and you will get a tabbed choice to link to a photo URL or to upload from your computer. Using this icon lets you put the image anywhere you want in your text. If you use the Attach Files (paperclip) method, all your pictures end up at the end of your posted text.

The double mountain film icon is how you post a video from YouTube, Vimeo and a variety of other sources.
 
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On what I believe to be a related note: I'd like to ask if everyone could, please, post trip reports, etc. directly to this site.

I am currently trying to research some Canadian routes and Temagami & Wabakimi are high on the list. Because people linked reports that were posted on their personal sites, however, several of the trip reports are no longer available because the linked sites no longer exist.

As the owner of a blog that I have (admittedly minimal) hopes of monetizing one day, I understand the desire to drive web traffic to our own sites but I am quite sure that none of the creators of the now defunct sites figured they would someday cease to exist.

Personally, I write, first and foremost, because I enjoy writing and I love sharing the experiences. I would hate to think that, after I'm gone, the work I've done and the stories I've told will simply cease to exist but, in the event that my heirs do not maintain my website after my passing, that's exactly what will happen.

For my part, I resolve to post canoeing reports directly onto this site as well as on my own (very slight wording changes of course... just to make them make sense each place) and I respectfully request that others do the same. There are some really great stories here and, should the links go down someday, I'd hate to see all that info lost as it seems to have been on many of the older reports that I've been trying to read.

It is certainly possible that this site may someday cease to exist as well but it seems to have outlasted several of the sites where the aforementioned trip reports had been posted. Again, just my opinion but I would have appreciated it if the posters had put the info directly onto this site instead of linking to theirs.

(not sure if it's possible to load video directly instead of linking to YouTube but, at least for now, YouTube doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon)
 

Glenn MacGrady

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(not sure if it's possible to load video directly instead of linking to YouTube but, at least for now, YouTube doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon)

It's possible, but I have not currently enabled the ability to upload video or audio files as attachments, precisely because I expect YouTube to around for a very long time and also to conserve server space. However, I would consider allowing the direct upload of videos just for specific instances, upon request, if there were a significant need to do so. The server maximum would be 32 mb.
 
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