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icons and shit.
Bandwidth Exceeded: Icons, Hotlinking, and You. 
archangel

I think a lot of people throw the term "hotlinking" around without really understanding it. Whenever they see the infamous "Bandwidth Exceeded" image, the usual assumption is that some "asshole" has right-clicked, selected "Copy Link Location", and didn't bother reuploading the image. And while I'm sure some people would end up doing that, I don't think it can happen enough to topple Photobucket's bandwidth. Photobucket gives you 25 gigabytes free. Let me repeat that: 25 gigabytes. Most of my icons of PNG format are between 15-25 KB (approx. 0.00002 GB for a 20 KB icon).

What I'm saying is, a couple of errant hotlinkers aren't going to bring your icon empire crashing down. Even if you have a thousand-something watchers praising your every coloring layer, chances are most of them are going to be using your icons on LJ, which entails uploading said icons to LJ's server, not hotlinking. Even if you do have a hotlinker, he/she'll probably only use a handful of icons on a forum or something. And -- if you take my earlier observations about filesize into account -- that won't dent your bandwidth all that much.

So, you ask, why do I get that annoying Bandwidth Exceeded image? It must be those motherfucking hotlinkers!

Wrong.

I don't think most people realize that they are the very hotlinkers they're calling out.

Photobucket doesn't discriminate. Every icon uses up bandwidth, regardless of whether it's displayed on LJ or on Forum #235. Say you make a post with 60 icons at approximately 20 KB each. You view your own post to make sure the table coding is all right. This already draws 0.0091552734375 GB off of Photobucket's server.

Now, say you have about 50 people who faithfully watch and use your icons. This brings the count up to 0.457763672 GB, with another ~0.0091 GB added to the total each time a new person loads that particular post. Now, imagine what will happen when 100, 200, 500 people look at those icons... And we're only talking one post.

By copying the URL's from Photobucket's handy dandy page, you are hotlinking. In fact, the very purpose of Photobucket is that you can hotlink from a server without having to pay.


But what do I do?
Generally, most people assume that the only thing they can do is make their community members-only and/or moderate membership. While this would undoubtedly cut down on the number of people who casually add to your bandwidth counter, it's also annoying. Especially if you moderate membership. However, I'll save that vitriol for another post; I tend to have some pretty inflammatory opinions concerning the whole graphics/icon-making culture on LJ and this isn't the place for them.

I believe in keeping things like icons open to the public, with as few strings attached as possible. I've never been a ~super popular~ icon maker so I've never had too many bandwidth issues, but I've taken precautions nevertheless:

  1. Use multiple accounts. Spread your icons across several accounts, and I mean spread. Don't register a new one only when you see the bandwidth meter creeping up on its tail end -- do it when you see it hitting the middle mark. This gives the account room to handle all of the requests.

  2. Use a different service. If you're fed up with the Bandwidth Exceeded images, get off Photobucket, find another hosting site.

  3. Pay for your bandwidth. If it bothers you that much, pay for a premium account, or get a Paid account here on LJ, where you can host your icons in the Scrapbook.

  4. Look away from the computer screen and breathe. Welcome to the Internet -- shit happens, and crying about it isn't going to get anything accomplished. Trust me, I've been there, and now that I've regressed (progressed?) into a state where I just don't care, it's so much better. You will feel better knowing you aren't getting worked up about a bunch of 100x100 squares, trust me. Flipping a shit and hiding behind moderated membership is not the best way to deal with it. Whoops, I said I wouldn't inject my inflammatory opinions -- oh well. 8)


TLDR: Hotlinkers aren't out to get you. You, your icon posts, and the people who look at your icons are the ones causing your bandwidth issues.

End Note: If someone more technically-inclined than me would like to correct or add something in this post, please feel free to leave a friendly comment. :)
Comments 
Feb 7th 2009 12:58 am (UTC)
OMG, THIS. Thank you so much, people throw this term around without any idea what it means.
Feb 7th 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
^ and thank you.
Feb 7th 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
I totally agree. And it is very annoying when icon communities become members only. They are only 100x100 squares, as you said, no use crying or getting so worked up over them.
Feb 7th 2009 01:09 am (UTC)
My top choice for uploading is tinypic.com
However with larger images imageshack.us will allow images of larger sizes.

:) But for icons, tinypic is easy and quick.
Feb 7th 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
oh, this was very informative, thank you for posting it!
Feb 7th 2009 03:02 am (UTC)
thank. you.
Feb 7th 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Feb 7th 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
*applauds* THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE.
Feb 7th 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
Amen. :D :D
Feb 12th 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, I do spread my icons in different acounts (I'm not a very famous icon/graphic-maker but just in case).



Oh btw:

Flipping a shit and hiding behind moderated membership is not the best way to deal with it. Whoops, I said I wouldn't inject my inflammatory opinions -- oh well. 8)

We both think the same about this.
Feb 16th 2009 07:48 pm (UTC)
I'm late, but THIS. so hard. Thank you for taking up the time to write it out. ♥
Mar 18th 2009 07:26 pm (UTC)
thanks for taking the time to write this, I mean, I had no idea of how we can all be hotlinkers... I already keep 2 pb accounts, just in case, i'm not a great icon-maker anyways, but i definetly x-post a lot and i'm always ensuring my posts are ok, so i'd better take care too...

is it case to say "i'm my own worst enemy"? :|
(Deleted comment)
May 4th 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
nope ^^. Hotlinking is when you're using the SAME EXACT URL and posting it willy-nilly as < img src = "IMAHOTLINKER.JPG" >. When you upload "from file", Photobucket/LJ/Imageshack/etc. you've created a brand new file.

Um, yeah this is late and I don't know if that made sense.
Apr 3rd 2009 10:13 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for this.
This certainly helps those who don't know they're being hotlinkers realise what they're doing!
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