Hi, I signed up here because imgtc.com currently seems already to be the best image hosting site on the Internet. (Good job!) I thought I could offer a little feedback or assistance to (a) help you make ImgTC better, and (b) help you prevent ImgTC from getting worse .
Anyway, here are some of my thoughts about the features a good image host needs to have:
- Hotlinking always allowed (at least for static images)
- PNG and JPEG images are never reencoded / downsized (or a checkbox to easily prevent this)
- Signup not required for at least most features
- No social features; this is what turned Imgur into cancer. At worst, social should be opt-in only per image. (Your “favorite” idea sounds fine though, although I wouldn’t use it.)
- Name recognition. This is crucial because no one wants their image links to look sketchy. (And some sites whitelist image hosts.) I think you’ll get this easily by being the image host that doesn’t suck, kind of like Imgur did.
- Folders / albums. Already on your todo list.
- A reasonable retention policy. One nice thing about Imgur is that images seem to stay up effectively forever.
- A solid moderation plan. Any image host is quickly going to get hit with a bunch of bad and illegal stuff, as well as stuff that violates copyrights. What is your plan for when more stuff is getting flagged than one person can reasonably review, or for dealing with DMCA takedowns?
- A solid funding plan. More on this below.
Some nice to haves:
- Mobile friendly interface without an app.
- Open source code? Not sure if you’re interested in this, but it would make contributing easier (I’m a programmer), and I believe the Gnu Affero license would require anyone using your code to share any changes they make.
- No ads. Ads suck. I’m pretty skeptical that there’s any way to put ads in that doesn’t make the experience worse for users, and cause a bunch of privacy concerns on top of that.
Okay, so I think your biggest problem is going to be funding. It’s easy to run a site like this when it’s really small, but (see above) I think you have to expect and plan for it getting big. I just looked at one popular image on the front page of Imgur: given that it has 200k views, it’s used over half a terabyte in the last 6 hours.
Most sites go the ads route, but I think that’s a bad idea because:
- Ads are already pretty anti-user (see above).
- Ads simply don’t make enough money on a well-designed site. If you go the ad route, you eventually realize that you have to deliberately break your site so that (a) hotlinking is disabled most of the time, and (b) most users are channeled into social features so that they click through lots of pages with ads. Basically what happened to Imgur. I suppose you could just be trying to make the next Imgur, but you’re doing so many things right already that I’m hoping this is supposed to be a better alternative.
Some funding alternatives:
- Accept donations, including crypto
- Crowdfunding; similar to donations, but hosted on a site like Patreon with explicit donation goals.
- Freemium; one site I pay for (Inoreader) does this, where you unlock additional features with a small fee (~$30 / year). What could ImgTC offer that people might want be willing to pay for?
- Partnerships; many forums and smaller sites frequently use images, but don’t have a high quality free image host for them. Many of these sites might be willing to offset the cost of their hosting or pay for features they can use. For example, an API for uploading images they can build into their site, or unlimited hotlinking bandwidth - past the point that would otherwise be throttled for abuse.
- Sponsorships; having a high quality free image host is a huge quality of life improvement for the web. There’s been increasing recognition recently of certain widely used software that’s maintained by small teams, and efforts made to make sure these teams are funded. For example OpenBSD. Usually sponsoring corporations will get their logo on a Sponsors page or something like that.
Hope I didn’t drown you with too many thoughts. I have a lot of interest in seeing a good image host succeed, but neither the time nor the inclination to try to do something as difficult as run one myself. Best of luck to you!