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Can we Get Image Hosting for this Forum?

Started by RJBowman, March 15, 2020, 06:49:10 PM

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I'm seeing a lot of dead images on old posts on this forum, and I'm thinking that Brass Goggles should have it's own image host. It would cut down on dead images, and it would make things easier for those that don't have access to online image storage.

Is there a technical or legal reason why this can't be done? Is it financially feasible?


It's mostly finances at this point, considering this forum has no monetization and is run on an entirely volunteer basis. Image hosting poses the following challenges:

  • Storage - images take up a lot of space very quickly; the last time I looked at this, I estimated well over a terabyte of space would be needed just for images that were already hosted here, not to mention room to grow. Disk is expensive, whether you use S3 or local or any other service

  • Bandwidth - we get a lot of traffic. We don't have a bandwidth usage cap on our hosting plan, but our connection speed is only so fast. We already saturate it. Higher speed needed to serve all those images would be expensive. We could host on a service like S3, but that also has high bandwidth costs; in the hundreds of dollars a month for what we use. And that's not accounting for the upload bandwidth for posting new images.

  • Compute overhead - processing uploads to make sure they're safe and reasonable takes compute resources. We already have periods each day where the forum is slow due to CPU and RAM needed just for core operation, and where intensive things like search are temporarily disabled. We'd need more or faster machines, which costs.

  • Moderation requirements - if we host the images, we could expect many more copyright takedown requests, to which we must respond promptly or risk liability we can't afford. Our volunteers are already stretched thin, and we can't afford to pay anyone to handle this.

  • Forum software modifications - if we do anything more complex than just enabling uploads in our forum software, we'll need to modify the software to use whatever system we put in place. Again -- volunteer time or money we don't have to pay someone.

If someone wants to take on providing an image host and committing to keep it online long term, I'll definitely listen to the proposal. It would be cool not to have to rely on people hosting their images on something reliable like imgur, or on that service never going away or being weird about acting as an image host. But right now, the complexity and direct cost just make it too expensive -- donations already only cover about half the hosting bill, with the rest coming out of my pocket; adding image hosting would at least quadruple the costs (not to mention take time I don't have for the foreseeable future) and I'm not willing to take on that burden right now.

"Politics and religion are just like software and hardware. They all suck, the documentation is provably incorrect, and all the vendors tell lies." — Andrew Dalgleish

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