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rschneider

Postimage.org "Hosted Images" Went Offline Oct 27, 2016

Oct 28th, 2016
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  1. Postimage.org "Hosted Images" Went Offline Oct 27, 2016
  2. (although their homepage remains online)
  3.  
  4. (1) ALL Postimage HOSTED IMAGES WERE UNREACHABLE / NOT BEING SERVED UP / HAD DEAD LINKS, starting Oct 27, 2016.
  5. (2) Postimage Hosted Images became available again sometime before late-day Oct 29, 2016. ALSO, sometime between 9:30pm ET (US) and 11:10pm ET (US) Oct 29, 2016, the following Notice on Postimage.org's homepage (first posted the preceding day, Oct 28, 2016) was GONE - it had been REMOVED:
  6.  
  7. "Websites violating our ToS (using images without backlinks) have been restricted to low-resolution hotlinks.
  8. If you need an exception, please contact support. Premium subscribers are not affected."
  9.  
  10. There is no way to know at this time whether Postimage.org will have consistant access to their hosted images in the future - though image access was initially restored within 2 days of the first outage - but for how long?
  11.  
  12. The cause of Postimage.org's images shutdown appears below the boxed-in headline "Below is the NOTICE Posted..." (see below).
  13.  
  14. ****************************************************
  15. UPDATE - NOV 5, 2016
  16. Postimage.org added the following update to their homepage:
  17.  
  18. "V IS FOR VICTORY"
  19.  
  20. "Thanks to your tremendous efforts and generous donations, the crisis has been averted. The victory belongs to you, our users. Your donations bought us enough time to keep our servers humming while we were figuring out what to do. Your technical expertise allowed us to cut some corners and employ clever tricks. Your connections finally allowed us to establish contact with parties that made a long-term solution affordable. Your emails kept us going on extra-long workdays, because we knew that you were counting on us. We hereby wish to thank everybody who extended their help and advice, and would especially like to mention and recommend the following parties:"
  21.  
  22. • AdvancedHosters for their stellar tech support and for offering great terms for their CDN service.
  23. • SG.GS for their technical expertise and generous bandwidth consumption terms.
  24.  
  25. "Also, the following parties readily came to our aid, although our needs did not exactly match their expertise:"
  26.  
  27. • DaciHost for offering us a powerful dedicated server for free.
  28. • Aba-Soft for designing a custom private cloud solution to help us handle the uncached load.
  29. • Greta.io for offering their ingenious peer-2-peer CDN technology.
  30.  
  31. "A special thank you goes to every single one of the 159 people who contributed a total of over $1700 of donations via PayPal. This would not be possible without you."
  32.  
  33. *********************************************************************
  34. WHAT CAUSED POSTIMAGE.ORG's IMAGES TO DISAPPEAR FOR ABOUT 2 DAYS? ...
  35.  
  36. CloudFlare terminated services to Postimage due to "excessive bandwidth usage", even though CloudFlare (www.CloudFlare.com) does NOT have bandwidth limits (see NOTICE below). [NOTE: CloudFlare.com should not be confused with another CDN with a similar name, Cloudfront.net.]
  37.  
  38. Excerpted from Postimage.org's NOTICE posted on their website, from the "WHAT SHOULD WE DO NOW?" section (the full Postimage NOTICE is reproduced below):
  39.  
  40. "A likely outcome is that Postimage.org will have to shut down, terminating nearly 140 million images embedded into some 450 thousand websites - first and foremost a number of great message boards (although a lot of online auctions, personal galleries and corporate websites will be affected as well)."
  41.  
  42. On the next day, Oct 28, 2016, Postimage.org's website was updated with the following plea:
  43.  
  44. "Postimage.org IS IN DANGER AND NEEDS YOUR HELP"
  45.  
  46. "Please contact us if you have a CDN that is capable and willing of serving 1.8 Petabytes of outgoing traffic per month free of charge, or if you can make a donation to help us pay a monthly $12,000 bill from CloudFlare that we are now facing."
  47.  
  48. ("$1000 worth of donations received; $11k to go. Thanks to everyone who is contributing; you rock!")
  49.  
  50. ********************************************************************************************************************************
  51. ********************************************************************************************************************************
  52. ** **
  53. ** Below is the NOTICE posted on the Postimage.org website Oct 27 through Nov 4,2016 (taken from "http://postimage.org/") **
  54. ** **
  55. ********************************************************************************************************************************
  56. ********************************************************************************************************************************
  57.  
  58. "As of this moment, Postimage.org faces not a mere technical problem, but an existential threat."
  59.  
  60. WHAT'S HAPPENING?
  61.  
  62. "On October 27, 2016, CloudFlare abruptly cut us off from most of their services, except DNS, for abusing their system. This came as a bit of a surprise, since although we've been using one of their cheapest plans for a long time, we had reached an agreement earlier this month that we would be upgrading our account when the next billing cycle started. A couple of Skype calls later we learned the following:
  63.  
  64. * CloudFlare was very unhappy that the total traffic usage of our project had surpassed a staggering figure of 1.8 petabytes in the last 30 days.
  65.  
  66. * The amount of money we had to pay monthly, to make them happy again, grew after each Skype call as more people at CloudFlare got involved in examining our case: $200 became $1000, which in turn became $12,000.
  67.  
  68. * CloudFlare's sales team was adamant that although CloudFlare did not officially have bandwidth limits¹, our violation of "Section 10"² of their "Terms of Service"³ could not be remedied by serving less image traffic and more HTML traffic (although, being an image hosting company, we have no idea how we would pull this one off anyway without blatantly gaming the system), and that at our level of petabytes of data, they would never allow that on a $200/month Business plan.
  69.  
  70. * We were officially screwed."
  71.  
  72. ¹ https://support.cloudflare.com/hc/en-us/articles/200172656-Does-CloudFlare-have-bandwidth-limits-or-charge-for-bandwidth
  73. ["CloudFlare does not have bandwidth limits. As long as the domains being added comply with our Terms of Service, CloudFlare
  74. does not impose any limits." (Taken from the "CloudFlare Support" webpage, URL immediately above.)]
  75.  
  76. ² SECTION 10 of CloudFlare's Terms of Service appears at the bottom, following the Postimage.org NOTICE.
  77.  
  78. ³ https://www.cloudflare.com/terms/
  79. [EDITOR - CloudFlare's "Terms of Service" webpage was OFFLINE when I checked the afternoon of 27 Oct; it was restored ~ 9pm
  80. Eastern Time, US). - R. Schneider]
  81.  
  82. "Let us make this absolutely clear: we do not hold a grudge against CloudFlare for refusing to foot our traffic bill any further. We do realize that we are costing them a ton of money, and it is solely our own fault that our current business model is not sustainable. We also recognize that the deal they offered is probably as good as anything we could reasonably expect from other CDN (aka "cdn" = Content Delivery Network) providers. The only thing we disagree with is that instead of publishing estimates of how much traffic customers are actually allowed to consume at each service plan, CloudFlare insists that their bandwidth is unlimited and declines to comment on the actual terms of service."
  83.  
  84. WHAT SHOULD WE DO NOW?
  85.  
  86. "A likely outcome is that Postimage.org will have to shut down, terminating nearly 140 million images embedded into some 450 thousand websites, first and foremost a number of great message boards (although a lot of online auctions, personal galleries and corporate websites will be affected as well)."
  87.  
  88. [EDITOR NOTE: The above sentence is the Oct 28 modified version - the original version Postimage posted on Oct 27 started
  89. "The most likely outcome is that Postimage.org will have to shut down..."]
  90.  
  91. "While we are definitely bothered that the project on which our modest livelihood depends is shutting down, this latter circumstance bothers us much more. We will hopefully find other jobs to pay our bills, but a huge historical layer spanning more than a decade of some of the Internet's most vibrant communities will be obliterated forever. Thus, at this point failure is not an option; we must fight tooth and nail to keep Postimage.org running."
  92.  
  93. WHERE'S THE MONEY?
  94.  
  95. "Historically, advertising revenue has been our main source of income [approximately a 50/50 split between AdSense and content recommendation systems]. While we've recently decided to experiment with header bidding platforms, we have yet to collect a single dollar from these experiments, so we don't really know if this will work."
  96.  
  97. "We are also considering the option of running a crowdfunding effort a la Reddit Gold or a donation system. Our main website is seeing 8 million unique users per month, and if just 0.125% of our userbase sent us $1 every month, that would be enough to cover our traffic bills and stay with CloudFlare."
  98.  
  99. "Finally, there is an option to try a different role in the digital marketing industry, perhaps even become a DMP (Data Management Platforms) data source as well as a publisher (our recent measurements indicate that we're serving over 28 million unique daily users over our whole network of 450k websites). However, we have to first answer a couple of important questions such as if this data is actually worth anything, and if such a privacy-impairing tradeoff would be acceptable for our users if that's what it took to keep their images online."
  100.  
  101. "P.S. If you have any suggestions or bright ideas, please contact us at admin@postimage.org."
  102.  
  103. **************************
  104.  
  105. ² CloudFlare.com "TERMS OF SERVICE", "SECTION 10":
  106.  
  107. LIMITATION ON NON-HTML CACHING
  108.  
  109. You acknowledge that CloudFlare’s Service is offered as a platform to cache and serve web pages and websites and is not offered for other purposes, such as remote storage. Accordingly, you understand and agree to use the Service solely for the purpose of hosting and serving web pages as viewed through a web browser or other application and the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) protocol or other equivalent technology. CloudFlare’s Service is also a shared web caching service, which means a number of customers’ websites are cached from the same server. To ensure that CloudFlare’s Service is reliable and available for the greatest number of users, a customer’s usage cannot adversely affect the performance of other customers’ sites. Additionally, the purpose of CloudFlare’s Service is to proxy web content, not store data. Using an account primarily as an online storage space, including the storage or caching of a disproportionate percentage of pictures, movies, audio files, or other non-HTML content, is prohibited. You further agree that if, at CloudFlare’s sole discretion, you are deemed to have violated this section, or if CloudFlare, in its sole discretion, deems it necessary due to excessive burden or potential adverse impact on CloudFlare’s systems, potential adverse impact on other users, server processing power, server memory, abuse controls, or other reasons, CloudFlare may suspend or terminate your account without notice to or liability to you.
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