Inserting Images Into VAF Forums Threads by Doug Reeves
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[ed. 7/12/2020 Update. Today we started test image hosting (attachments), a couple of weeks after migrating the VAF data from an older server based model to one utilizing cloud computing. So, there's a 99.9% chance you can ignore everything typed below.
When I'm happy with the image testing I'll kill this page.
(a.k.a. Doug's rule of free digital storage analogies) is an Internet adage that asserts that "As a VAF online discussion grows longer, the probability of a suggestion of VAF hosting terabytes of everyone's images and videos for free and forever, approaches one"; that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, eventually someone will suggest that if VAF hosted terabytes of imagery from thousands of people, their problems would be solved and they could get back to the business of wondering why their 'lawnmower for sale' classified listing got deleted.
In usage, when a 'Why won't Doug host terabytes of stranger's imagery' suggestion is made, the thread is considered finished and whoever made the initial reference loses whatever debate is in progress. The first reply of 'Doug's Law!' scores extra points.
Hypothetical person standing outside U-Haul Self Storage business:
"I demand you store my belongings for free and forever!!! I'll NEVER pay for storage!!!"
Doesn't that logic seem a little odd? I would bet the proprietor of the storage facility who is trying to keep his family fed thinks so. Surprisingly, it's the same mindset some apply to images, videos and audio files online here. Like the owner of the self-storage facility, I'm trying to keep the lights on at my house and keep a little food on the table. So....
Bottom Line Up Front:
Storing stuff like pictures online costs money, and companies like facebag store your pictures 'for free' because they harvest every keystroke and click you make so that you can be targeted with thousands of marketing ads daily. I don't track your clicks or 'harvest your data' here by design, so you need to host the image somewhere online and use the button to insert it in your post. It's less creepy this way, IMHO. Social media is hard core behind the scenes - if you don't believe me read these: More on this. Even more. And more.
I don't do social media, as you might suspect.
You are responsible for hosting your own pictures and videos online, but there are plenty of options in the links below, all of which are very affordable. My pics online cost me $6/mo for unlimited storage. Give up (1) cup of coffee a month and you can do the same. That I don't drink coffee makes it easier.
Note 'Doug's Law' at right..... ;^)
In More Detail:
A few folks occasionally ask why I don't host pictures or videos here, and why instead I choose to have the person taking the picture or shooting a video be responsible for their own hosting somewhere else. I lay out my thinking on this page. First though, let's start with a question:Translation: Nothing claimed to be 'free' is ever free online, and you can't make money hosting 'free' stuff. Heck, I can barely keep this site financially afloat as it is in its lean format, so those expecting me to host the images for nearly 25,000 people need to understand it would break my family financially regardless of the business model used. I've thought about this off and on for the past 15 years, trying to make it work. Since before YouTube existed.
Q: How much money do you think YouTube has made hosting people's videos 'for free'? Don't forget to take into account the commercials charged to businesses that are tacked on to the beginnings of millions and millions of clips for over a billion users?
A: YouTube has never made a profit (sources), and that's with over a BILLION customers watching paid commercials. With a 'B'.
And guess what? YouTube is experimenting with charging money to watch some of the videos. "In May 2013, YouTube launched a pilot program to begin offering some content providers the ability to charge $0.99 per month or more for certain channels, but the vast majority of its videos would remain free to view."
Having said all that, I model the front page of VAF a little bit after the Drudge Report. I spotlight those RV stories whether they be on YouTube, or a Flickr photo album, or of a person's blog build site showing some build progress, etc. It allows the initial creator of the content to use whatever platform, medium or device to showcase their work they want to. It rewards the free marketplace. Back to the Drudge Report, as this article says "it sends people away to keep them coming back". Doing things this way allows me to a) keep the site relatively small, lean and quick....and b) most importantly to my family....profitable. That last bit is really saying something, as my target audience is about a 1/53,000ths that of the Drudge Report (my ranking).
That's no accident. I'll mention above again (read it)....it lays out why, in the author's opinion, the Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web. I agree 100%. If I had to pay even a single employee to help me run this thing, it wouldn't work financially. It's that close.
You're going to have to be responsible for your own pictures, and there is an upside doing it this way. It'll cost you roughly a dime a day to host your pictures and videos online somewhere - for example SmugMug.com costs $6/mo for UNLIMITED disk space. I host thousands of pictures and videos in a SmugMug.com account myself. Backups of all my family's iPhone photos and videos, video tours of our house in case of fire, etc. All in private folders that only I can see. Other photos for the world to see in other, public folders. I have total control over it. It's WELL worth the money just for peace of mind.
But guess what? I have another copy of all the 'important' pictures on a different website just in case.
It's a cup of coffee each month. That's the amount we're talking about.
There are many photo-sharing websites online and just about anything will work, but as with everything in life you get what you pay for. 'Free' sites aren't free, so spending $20/yr for a high capacity, high res photo sharing account somewhere is the smart move. Thank goodness these things exist, because the last thing in the world I want to be responsible for is the pictures from ~25,000+ people!!! I work hard enough now, and don't want to add THAT headache to the pile! Every now and then I'll get an email along the lines of I *should* be hosting my own pictures, that it's my responsibility to take care of these images forever, even after the original poster passes on. I would ask those folks to consider just how much disk space that would require (the pictures uploaded by over ~24,000 users), what that might cost to host, and what effort it would take to manage. MUCH more than the money coming in would pay for, I can assure you that!
Related: Do you know how many Facebook users die daily? Ten thousand (428 every hour). My point is that users come and go in all forms of social media, they live and die. Nothing is forever. It's life. If you see a picture you really like, please save a copy to your local drive.
So hopefully now you see why I have folks host their pictures elsewhere. It's your choice to host them on a 'free' site that may or may not stick around, or pay to have them hosted for decades. It's the same reason I don't host videos. Or podcasts. It would take up HUUUUUGGGGEEE amounts of both disk space and bandwidth, which would cost me money I don't have.
Those that say 'disk space and bandwidth are nearly free', I respectfully disagree.
OK, so how to insert a picture into a forum post:
Pick a photo sharing site, and once you've uploaded your picture use the embed image button in the forums to display it.
- Scott Schmidt currently uses SmugMug. I use SmugMug also.
- Flickr.com also seems to be the choice of some.
- How one guy is using Google Photos (some tips)
- 'bkervaski' set up a image hosting site (RV builder). Requires answering emails periodically to keep images online - that's their fee.
- Some are using
TinyPic.comwith success. [ed. 2019 update: TinyPic is gone. Another 'free' site bites the dust...]
- Some set up a free blogger.com site and embed pics from that.
Occasionally a photo hosting site will go out of business or will change something internally, so if a thread full of pictures is important/meaningful to you, you might want to get a copy on your local drive for backup purposes. It happens. It's capitalism at work. A recent example is Google absorbing Picasa (they bought it) into their Google Photos product (2016 story). While the pictures aren't going away, some of the embedded pics might break.
2019 Update: The www.ExperCraft.com builder log website went offline for the time being. Like I said earlier, it's a good idea to keep a LOCAL copy of all of your data and to not depend on some other company's servers to host your stuff forever. Storage sites come and go...
2019 Update: TinyPic (the 'free' site) is going away. Remember, I tried to warn ya...
Embedding a picture in a post:
- In your photo sharing site, look for the 'direct link to image' URL, or something similar to that. This is the address you will copy/paste into the forums. Tip: You can paste the image URL into your browser address window to see if it's going to work before you try it in the forums.
- While replying to or creating a thread look for the 'Insert Image' icon . Click on the icon where you want your pic to be.
- A user prompt box will appear. Put your cursor in the text box and paste the address from your photo sharing site. Click 'OK' to embed the image.
- I get my text and picture all squared away using Notepad before copy/pasting it into a forum post. I keep a little notepad doc open on my desktop all the time with little pieces of text that I use often. One section has a few [IMG] tags that I can drop in a photo URL between, and insert some descriptive text above/below. Wrapping [IMG] and [/IMG] tags around the picture link is what the 'embed pic' button does - you can also do it manually is the point I'm trying to make.
- You can embed up to (10) pictures in each post.
- Making the image around 900 pixels wide or less preserves the proper word wrapping best on most monitors.
- If you have a 'build log' type thread with many pictures of your project in it, and you want a backup in case your photo sharing site goes out of business someday, you can bring up the thread in question and select Thread Tools, Show Printable Version, then select File/Save As......or 'Print' to a PDF or XPS file depending on your browser.
PS: As a parallel regarding those who use online build log sites.....if you think that data is there forever, I would beg you to get a backup every so often.