Remote hosted images gone from Forum

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dizt3mp3r
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Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by dizt3mp3r »

I know this issue has been under discussion - well just for the community here is my penn'orth.

The trouble is all my images are full screenshots, will look very poor compressed so a 512kb attachment is not going to cut it and is no use for something like the Epic Win Thread where high quality images sell ReactOS to the general public.

For the historical posts, manually resizing each to upload and re-attach is just not going to happen, especially as I have to identify which posts had an image and then I need to find locally or re-download each image from imgur first. That's a sizable bit of work for every image I have uploaded, especially with my memory, I just don't know what I posted and when.

Now, if I won't do it and I'm quite a committed person, then certainly no-one else on the forum will so the forum is effectively broken.

In the future, I don't mind adopting new rules and attaching instead of remote hosting but there needs to be an automatic resize feature or it just won't happen, I won't resize all my images that I fling at the forum on the fly, all image attaching will simply come to a halt and threads such as the Epic win will die. The old rule "a picture or it didn't happen" will come to mean that it didn't happen as we won't bother to post images any more.

I chose imgur as a stable image hosting platform and I'm happy with it. If the images die sometime in the future, so be it.

If image tracking is the problem then please provide an alternative but you'll soon find the cost of hostin large numbers of big images is prohibitive and comes with its own technical challenges. That's why these image hosting sites exist, to take the workload and they can't do it for nothing. The tracking is the way you pay for the service. Is it that big a deal?

The rest of the world uses these image hosting sites and so we need to bow to the inevitable.

My suggestion is that a tool could trawl through the posts and extract the images so that a local resized copy is maintained for historical purposes but the remote-hosted images remain.
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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by Colin Finck »

As the main actor behind the recent changes, I guess I'm the right one to reply to your questions.
dizt3mp3r wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 2:03 pm
The trouble is all my images are full screenshots, will look very poor compressed so a 512kb attachment is not going to cut it
I checked your first 5 screenshots from page 83 of the EPIC WIN thread and not a single one even gets close to the 512 KB limit.
What am I missing?
I'm all for increasing the limit to a reasonable one, but first show me that this is actually necessary for screenshots.
dizt3mp3r wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 2:03 pm
For the historical posts, manually resizing each to upload and re-attach is just not going to happen, especially as I have to identify which posts had an image and then I need to find locally or re-download each image from imgur first.
When I visit a forum thread like this one and press F12 in my Firefox, I see a list of all embedded images blocked by the Content-Security-Policy (with clickable URLs!)
As you see, nobody has to look up the images locally. They are still available on imgur today, but we shouldn't wait until imgur shares the fate of imageshack.us.

If the burden turns out to be too high, we obviously have to think about automating that process. But I cannot promise a timeline for that.
dizt3mp3r wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 2:03 pm
Now, if I won't do it and I'm quite a committed person, then certainly no-one else on the forum will so the forum is effectively broken.
I don't remember that anybody called the forum broken when we lost all linked images from imageshack.us from one day to another.
But I agree that we have to prevent such situations in the future. Which is why the move to self-hosted attached images is actually the most reasonable thing to do. We cannot guarantee that any external service is still available tomorrow.

I'm glad that some people have understood this and are already attaching images to their previous posts in the EPIC WIN thread.
dizt3mp3r wrote:
Wed Apr 01, 2020 2:03 pm
If image tracking is the problem then please provide an alternative but you'll soon find the cost of hostin large numbers of big images is prohibitive and comes with its own technical challenges. That's why these image hosting sites exist, to take the workload and they can't do it for nothing. The tracking is the way you pay for the service. Is it that big a deal?

The rest of the world uses these image hosting sites and so we need to bow to the inevitable.
We are hosting a static site with images. We have been hosting a Wiki with image uploads for years. Why do you expect hell to freeze over now that I have enabled image uploads in the forum?

And yes, tracking is a big deal. ReactOS shall be an operating system you can trust, and this also applies to its website.
Gladly, this position is also shared by at least some of our users.
Even without tracking, any dependency on external services must be well-thought. More than once I already had to find an alternative to an external service, because it suddenly became unavailable, or simply unavailable for certain users (e.g. SourceForge for people affected by US embargoes).

There is certainly a lot to criticize about the European GDPR. But it finally puts an end to website owners blindly embedding external services and letting them track every move of their visitors.
As a website visitor, I cannot know what services are going to track me on a particular website before visiting that website.
As a website owner, I have full control over that, so it's obviously my liability to protect my privacy-concerned visitors from tracking.

What you are suggesting may work on a private site, but we are a serious website operated by a legal entity (ReactOS Deutschland e.V.)
Check any website from any big-enough serious organization and you will see that they also don't allow directly embedding content from arbitrary sources.


I hope I could explain my reasoning and motivation behind the recent changes.
It has never been the intention to kill the EPIC WIN thread or make forum life harder. I'm open for any reasonable solution to fix the broken images there.
But as a Board member of ReactOS Deutschland e.V., I'm also liable for the legal compliance of our website.
So please understand that a simple revert of the recent changes isn't going to happen.

Best regards,

Colin Finck

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binarymaster
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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by binarymaster »

Colin Finck wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:33 pm
But I agree that we have to prevent such situations in the future. Which is why the move to self-hosted attached images is actually the most reasonable thing to do. We cannot guarantee that any external service is still available tomorrow.
What about a caching proxy for external images that will work transparently for users?

There are many forums that use this technique, pros are:
1. Forum users don't expose their addresses to third-party image hosting sites (as embedded images via [img] tag are proxified)
2. The proxy saves the image forever (so we don't care whether external image hosting is down)
3. This technique will work for users' signatures (EmuandCo will like it) ;)

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dizt3mp3r
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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by dizt3mp3r »

Colin Finck wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:33 pm
I checked your first 5 screenshots from page 83 of the EPIC WIN thread and not a single one even gets close to the 512 KB limit.
What am I missing?
You are quite right, for most it will be fine but for some such as the one I had trialled as a replacement for one missing, it failed due to being too big, a large and high res PNG. I'd post it here as an example but it won't, of course.
Colin Finck wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:33 pm
They are still available on imgur today, but we shouldn't wait until imgur shares the fate of imageshack.us.
If the burden turns out to be too high, we obviously have to think about automating that process. But I cannot promise a timeline for that.
Well, I know it might happen but so far it hasn't and we ought to take steps to perhaps save that resource automatically, if possible.
Colin Finck wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:33 pm
I don't remember that anybody called the forum broken when we lost all linked images from imageshack.us from one day to another.
Well, perhaps we all now have higher expectations.
Colin Finck wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:33 pm
I'm glad that some people have understood this and are already attaching images to their previous posts in the EPIC WIN thread.
I'm sure some will but many/most won't, I'm fairly sure the older posts will not and that just feels... damaging.
Look, if it means my posts will lose a few images, I don't really care in the great scheme of things. ReactOS suffers for the loss of them, not me.
I'll do mine when I have time, I just don't have a lot of time to spend on duplicating something I have already done once. Life is tough enough without having to retrace already-trodden steps and it will stop some from going back.
Colin Finck wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:33 pm
Why do you expect hell to freeze over now that I have enabled image uploads in the forum?
That's a bit over the top Colin.
Colin Finck wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:33 pm
What you are suggesting may work on a private site, but we are a serious website operated by a legal entity (ReactOS Deutschland e.V.)
Check any website from any big-enough serious organization and you will see that they also don't allow directly embedding content from arbitrary sources.
.
.
.
So please understand that a simple revert of the recent changes isn't going to happen.
Well, if that's the case then there's nothing to be done but I know if that was my site and I'd just removed all the images from it, I'd consider I'd killed that bit of it or that I'd certainly shot it in the chest at close range.

Personally, I would be looking at a way to remove the IMG tags and replace those with links, then I'd look for a way to trawl and save all the images to a local resource, hopefully finding a way to replace those IMG tags with locally hosted versions. I wouldn't have migrated until that was done.

Good luck. Hopefully you'll take this not as personal criticism. We would all be rightly surprised if say, all the forum text went missing and so that is how it is with the missing images. This is just normal surprise.
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dizt3mp3r
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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by dizt3mp3r »

binarymaster wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:51 pm
Colin Finck wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:33 pm
But I agree that we have to prevent such situations in the future. Which is why the move to self-hosted attached images is actually the most reasonable thing to do. We cannot guarantee that any external service is still available tomorrow.
What about a caching proxy for external images that will work transparently for users?

There are many forums that use this technique, pros are:
1. Forum users don't expose their addresses to third-party image hosting sites (as embedded images via [img] tag are proxified)
2. The proxy saves the image forever (so we don't care whether external image hosting is down)
3. This technique will work for users' signatures (EmuandCo will like it) ;)
Sounds good, if we have the knowledge,time and resources to implement it.
Skillset: VMS sysadmin 20 years, fault Tolerance, cluster, Vax, Alpha, ftSparc. DCL, QB45, VB6, NET, PHP, JS, CMS, Graphics, Project Manager, DOS, Windows admin from 1985. Quad Electronics. Classic cars & motorbikes. Artist watercolours. Historian.

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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by Colin Finck »

Thanks to the phpbb-ext-external-images-as-link extension I just installed in our forum (after also upgrading it to latest phpBB), the lost images now appear as clickable links inside posts.

I've also enabled the official avatar feature in our board, so you no longer need to hack your avatar into your signature, but can put it where it belongs. Don't ask me why that wasn't enabled before..

Together with file attachments for new posts, I think we have found a good solution for future posts, and hopefully a good-enough solution for the existing ones.

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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by EmuandCo »

Yeah Avatars!!! :D
ReactOS is still in alpha stage, meaning it is not feature-complete and is recommended only for evaluation and testing purposes.

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dizt3mp3r
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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by dizt3mp3r »

Colin Finck wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 12:12 pm
I think we have found a good solution for future posts, and hopefully a good-enough solution for the existing ones.
Very good. You've done some CPR on the Epic Win thread and the forum in general and it has come back to life. We can start caring for it now and get some of those external links turned into local attachments. At least I can see now which of my posts need attention.
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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by dizt3mp3r »

Colin, FYI, I have replaced 5-10 remotely-hosted images so far. Most have gone well but three, full screen higher res PNG shots have had to be downloaded, resized twice until I found a quality small enough to fit under the limit and then saved as Jpegs rather than PNGs meaning that the end result was of lower quality than I had originally wanted. Just so you know that the change to the underlying method of hosting images does have an overhead on the poor user who has to do the uploading.
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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by hbelusca »

dizt3mp3r wrote:
Sun Apr 05, 2020 3:16 pm
Just so you know that the change to the underlying method of hosting images does have an overhead on the poor user who has to do the uploading.
What about an automatic conversion with user warning when the user uploads an image that is larger than the limit?
(like: "Warning! Your image is too large to be uploaded as it currently is, and will be automatically compressed and resized instead to try to limit its size. Press OK to continue, or Cancel to cancel the image upload.")

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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by Colin Finck »

I'm glad to hear that we're going into the same direction again :)
Kudos also go to Mark Jansen for actually pointing me to that phpBB extension.

What do you think would be a reasonable file upload limit for the forum? I'm still open to adjustments in that regard.

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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by dizt3mp3r »

Well, generally, I post PNGs when I am trying to show off the quality of a screenshot, I know PNGs are a bit OTT for general posting but when you are trying to show off a desktop screenshot at reasonable res. a PNG can vary. On all of my images I used Photoshop's Save for Web when creating the PNGs and the size varied enormously according to the content from less than 50kb to approx 1.3mb.

JPEGs are clearly better from a size optimisation site viewpoint but often I find the reduction in quality doesn't always get the message across and makes ReactOS look as if it has poor resolution when it is merely the upload mechanism and file type. In general it doesn't matter but on the Epic Win thread I think it does.

I would have thought 1.3mb to 1.5mb as a max would encompass it and most will fall below that.

Really it does not matter for me and people like us that are persistent and dedicated to ROS already but for those that are visitors and just casual posting on the thread, any overhead in workload can put a casual users off posting. That's my thought anyway.

I will keep my images to JPEGs and small ones elsewhere. I'd just like the flexibility to show off good quality images on the Epic Win thread. Other than that I'm easy.
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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by Colin Finck »

I also prefer PNGs these days, in particular for screenshots. You are right that JPEGs shouldn't be used for that as their compression can make a screenshot look really blurry. And this is the last thing we want, considering that the EPIC WIN thread also serves as the source for future ReactOS release screenshots.

Based on your thoughts, I have increased the attachment file size to 2 MB now.
Looking forward to the next row of awesome screenshots! :)

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Re: Remote hosted images gone from Forum

Post by dizt3mp3r »

Very good indeed.

If it is possible with the plugin that adapts the remotely hosted images to links, can it please cause the link to open in a new tab rather than replace the current page. At the moment when anyone clicks on the links it takes them to the remote host and away from the forum thread they were looking at.
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