Monday, 10 July 2017

The future?

A quick update - like others in this hobby, and indeed many other hobbies, I have used Photobucket as an image hosting service.  By now I expect most readers will have heard about Photobucket's change of terms and the global reaction to its removal of (largely) free third-party hosting services.  Photobucket's decision at the end of July to vary their terms and conditions without any notice, so causing millions (I assume, using their own published figures) of photos to vanish from blogs and forums, has not gone down well.  As plenty of others have said, this has cost them the goodwill and trust of customers, even those who are prepared to pay the "ransom demand" or are, like me, on existing plans.  I have a paid account with Photobucket: I have been on their "plus-20" plan for several years, paying around USD 60 a year.  I've no idea whether the company made money out of that USD 60, but I didn't mind paying an annual subscription for the use of an enhanced service with greater bandwith that presumably ultimately cost Photobucket something to provide.  USD 60 seemed reasonable; I'd probably be prepared to pay USD 80-100.  However, what I'm not prepared to do is pay the USD 400 that Photobucket are now asking for. 
 
Now there may in the near future be a sea-change in people's opinion, and a realisation that for something as important in our lives as social media activity a price has to be paid.  I'm not the only person who's happily been blogging and Facebooking away for years on the basis that doing so is basically free.  I even started a Twitter account earlier in the year, largely to berate the train company that operates my local commute (not in my own name, of course - my Twitter persona is an Australian-born South African called Wesley who likes cricket and ballet; he sounds fascinating and I'd love to meet him).  That's also free.  I don't even have to pay for my mobile phone - work picks up that tab.  All of us enjoy spending a great deal of time using services, websites and online accounts that we haven't had to pay for; and now we resent being told that, actually, the people who provide these things want to earn some money from doing so.  It was about 2-3 years ago that I noticed just how many newspapers and journals now charge for access to websites that had been free to use since the internet was invented.  Next, it seems, will be the turn of social media providers to move to a similar model.  I don't think that stamping one's foot and shouting "it's been free so far; how dare you charge for it now" is that helpful, although it's certainly understandable.  These providers are businesses and if advertising, which brought in revenue on the basis of the numbers of users who could be targeted, is no longer proving financially viable then I can see why other avenues should be explored.  Nor do I think that shouting "it's corporate greed" is really justified.  The market sets its own price, and I sense that people will shortly have to decide just how much their social media activity is worth to them.
 
So I understand that nothing in this world is "free".  But my feeling at the moment, given all the other claims on my wallet, is that no blog is worth USD 400 each year. Photobucket have described this amount as being "competitive", and maybe it is when compared with the cost of building your own hosting website from scratch.  But for the casual internet user, it's currently unjustifiable.  My plan was paid for in advance, so I understand that the photos on this blog will not vanish until that plan expires.  I'm trying to work out exactly when that will be - I think in November/early December, but possibly earlier.  But unless Photobucket drastically reduce their new fee, at that point my images will disappear and this blog will become redundant.  So like many other people I'm currently trying to find a cost-effective alternative for third-party hosting, although I've noticed that a couple of popular alternatives don't appear to allow third party hosting.  For the reasons above I don't have much hope that we aren't seeing the beginning of a major change in the cost of social media usage, and that what's "free" today is unlikely to be so in two years time.  In the meantime, if you have any suggestions for alternative hosting options....

13 comments:

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Yes indeed things are now coming to head with photobucket it seems and like you I have the same paid plan so it hasn't effected me yet. My blog has been run entirely off my PC so I still have most the pictures that I've done on file and in fact I already started posting directly from my PC to my blog for a few months now as I didn't like photobucket sending the viewer back to photobucket when clicking on pics. That said, I'm not looking forward to reworking all my previous posts, but it might need to happen. So, basically my blog is safe from whatever photobucket does, because of the direct link from my PC.....unless blogger gets in on the act and starts charging for usage....

The problem is forums.....this is where I need something like photobucket and is where I'll have to decide if I want to continue with them or go on to another provider. Also, it would be a heck of a lot more work to re-post items on forums then on my blog. I'm not that happy with photobucket and thought it was much better earlier, but frankly to lazy to switch. The question is do I want to pay 400 for a service I'm already not that happy with or try something new? Honestly I just cannot say, but the decision will have to made unless they scrap the idea and make it cheaper again.

Christopher

clibinarium said...

My blog has effectively been torpedoed by this change, though I haven't updated it in a long time anyway.
What I don't quite get is photobucket's complaint that programs like adblocker were ruining their income from advertising. Couldn't they have made use of photobucket conditional on turning off adblocker on their site? Probably there's some technical aspect I don't get.

Will McNally said...

I'm like Axebreaker and just uplad my pictures direct from my PC onto blogger, provided I keep the picture size limited (I can't remember the exact rule) I have unlimited storage and I can post the images from blogger into various forums. That said I'd be in a pickle if blogger started charging but hopefully not - fingers crossed etc.

El Grego said...

I believe that Will is referring to the 800-pixel limit for Blogger - if the largest dimension of a pic uploaded to Blogger is 800 pixels or less, that pic does not count towards Google's 15GB limit of free storage space. I use the same restriction on my blogs.

Perhaps that is your solution, Giles. Carefully monitor your pic size, it does not need to be 800 pixels which is a bit small at times, and pay for more storage through Google. It should be cheaper than Photobucket, at least for now. Worthy of more investigation perhaps?

Greg

Der Alte Fritz said...

I also upload my photos from my computer directly into my blog with blogger and have had no problems with storage so far. I don't even mess around with picture size ( because I don't know how to change them). I think that Blogger is part of the Google empire and you can store photos in their Picasa service for free.

Also, I have had no trouble uploading my photos onto various Proboards forums, such as my own or LAOG etc.

For TMP, I have to copy and paste photos from my blog, which is easy to do.

Finally, isn't there a similar service called Flickr? I've never used it but it sounds like it does the same thing as Photobucket.

Jim

Crazycoote said...

I would subscribe to your blog for $100 a year. Your posts bring me such enjoyment (and a little envy and frustration at my own pathetic efforts) and everything you write is useful and informative. This blog cannot die - 3 more subscribers and we are there!

Littlearmies said...

There you go Giles - monetise your blog! Anything over 40 subscribers at ten dollars a time and you are in the money! Say 'stuff your job' to your employers and paint soldiers, blog about new releases blah blah. Make your fortune, if you can't beat them, join them!

By the way - six weeks and I'll be doing the big move so if you fancy a drink one day...

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Like a number of the others I use Blogger/Google to host my pictures...

Tas 1812 said...

I feel your pain Giles! I am using your fantastic blog as a reference/inspiration for the Black Powder AWI forces I'm building for my local Club (Camp Cromwell)and have encountered the same issues with photobucket as now all my forum pics are dead over on the Warlord Games site (see the threads published by tas 1812). I'm using Flickr as it's still free (for now) and has automatic resizing options when you get the code for forum boards which is really easy to post, just pic the size you need for the forum without worrying about having to use some clunky online photo editor.

Keep posting please,

cheers,

Tas 1812/Dave.

John said...

Giles, it would be a tragedy for me not to be able to access your blog! It's my first 'go to' place for ANYTHING on the AWI.
I'd have no complaints if you had ads on your blog- or charged a few dollars for access.

Pan Marek said...

I think you are wrong in immediately disregarding corporate greed.
Internet companies are already making significant money. Its just that they want significantly more. The $400 quoted to you is very much a test as to what the market will bear. If charging for previously free services becomes widespread, the companies will either see a huge dropoff in business (who pays big money for a hobby site?), or they will have to be more realistic in their charging.
Of course, the USA is full of examples where competition does not work to ensure better price and quality.

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick said...

I am going to start hosting new photos for new posts at Google photos. But the problem is what to do with my existing posts and blog photos. I have been blogging for 15 years, with over 13,000 blog posts. Changing the photos in so many old posts is quite impractical. So my blog is going to look a little naked & colorless for a while.

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick said...

I am going to start hosting new photos for new posts at Google photos. But the problem is what to do with my existing posts and blog photos. I have been blogging for 15 years, with over 13,000 blog posts. Changing the photos in so many old posts is quite impractical. So my blog is going to look a little naked & colorless for a while.