Yahoo recommends a number of things to improve web page performance. There’s a couple of WordPress plugins that help with image performance.
Yahoo has a service called Smush.it that optimizes images. The WordPress plugin, WP Smush.it, reduces the file size of most images added to posts and pages automatically behind the scenes. It’s non-lossy, so the look and quality of images isn’t altered. Through the Media Library, existing images can be run through Smush.it.
Something else Yahoo recommends is not scaling images using HTML code. The plugin Image Pro lets you resize images in the editor, by dragging the corners, like you’d do in Word. The resized version is saved as a separate image so in the post it isn’t scaled using HTML. However, sometimes there’s a slight quality loss using the plugin.
I thought I recognized one of the photos in one of the presentations at TEDxEQChCh, and I was right. It turns out that I recognized it because it was my image. Kind of.
That’s my original photo on the left, which I posted on Flickr. The modified image on the right was used in the talk Tragedy Plus Distance (the other TEDxEQChCh talks are up on YouTube now too, and you should watch them). I’ve looked on Google, Flickr and Facebook and can’t find the modified image anywhere (if you see it let me know). Unfortunately free reverse image search engines like TinEye only index a relatively small number of images.
I don’t know if the site the modified image is on is making money or provided attribution to me. I’m not having a dig at the TEDx speaker—few if any speakers attributed the images used in their presentations and any attribution would likely point to the modified image, not my original one.
The stolen scream
Unlike mine, this is an extreme and interesting case of image plagiarism: Noam Galai‘s photo of himself screaming made it into 30+ countries, on book covers, in magazines and on t-shirts.
Watermarking photographs is an option. But an ugly one. The lesser evil of watermarking on the edge of an image rather than in the middle presents the option to someone who is determined of just cropping it off. Is a casual sharer going to go out of their way to crop an image? Unlikely. Let’s assume they would provide attribution either way. Are they going to want to share the image at all? Unlikely. The comments on this post about watermarking are worthwhile reading.
In a survey of professional photo buyers, PhotoShelter found that “an overwhelming majority of them stated that an image with a prominent watermark is less likely to be licensed than an image without any watermark at all.” Co-founder Grover Sanschagrin agrees that watermarks result in people being less likely to pass your images on to others and says that prominent watermarks send a subtle signal to buyers that you’re a difficult person to work with.
The Internet copyright conundrum
I think the interesting thing for me is that the person who modified and posted the image is probably a content creator too. They likely have at least some content they place usage restrictions on.
What does All Rights Reserved mean to an Internet user? Is personal and noncommercial use (like blogging, Tumblring etc.) of a reasonable amount of a person’s content with attribution accepted practice? Some Flickr users don’t want their photographs being shared at all. I disagree—the more people who see my photos the better. A large side goal of that is to promote my other content, which requires attribution.
Should I put my photos under a Creative Commons licence then? I’m hesitant. Among other things: some of my photos have made me money—would buyers be put off if the same photo was available for ‘free’ under a noncommercial licence? Creative Commons is essentially irrevocable and the format of the original content can be changed under any licence—attribution is not linkable offline.
I think I’m happy with the status quo. All Rights Reserved with the knowledge that because of the nature of the Internet the image will be shared noncommercially no matter the licence, but that hopefully a link back will be shared too.
Blog posts are better with images. Posts look better and are easier to read when text is broken up by something. Posts with images catch the eye better in RSS readers too. It doesn’t have to be hard to find good and free images to use in posts.
Flickr Creative Commons
Searching Flickr is a great way to find Creative Commons (CC) licensed images which are suitable to use in blog posts.
Using Advanced Search, Flickr gives the option of only searching within Creative Commons-licensed content. If you make money off your blog or think you might try to in the future you should also tick the commercial use box. If the search term is popular you’ll likely get better quality results by clicking on the Interesting search filter, which is a magic algorithm that appears to take into account things like image views, clicks, comments, favorites and tags. If the search term isn’t popular, the Interesting filter will probably show up irrelevant images, in which case you can switch back to the Relevant filter.
The images that are returned by the above CC Commercial search need to be attributed back to the uploader; if you haven’t ticked the modify box, some licenses might require the image to be used as is, and not cropped or otherwise changed; other licenses allow modification but require the modified version to be released under the license the original image was under.
I use a WordPress plugin called LinkWithin, which along with similar plugins could be argued unintentionally violates No Derivative Works licenses by modifying images to create square cropped thumbnails which are displayed below related posts. However the thumbnail is effectively advertising the original image, which isn’t modified in the post, so I think it’s still in the spirit of the license. Flickr does the same sort of thing with their thumbnails and it doesn’t seem to be a problem, however it’s likely covered in their terms of service.
Questionably licensed images
The best candidates to be genuinely a Flickr user’s photos to upload are personal photos, pictures of landscapes, buildings, monuments, and other tourist type photos, and pictures of celebrities at public appearances, such as conventions, ceremonies, and book signings. –Wikimedia Commons
studio type photos and posed portraits that don’t look like they’ve been uploaded by a professional photographer, who usually say so in their profile and plug their website and social networking sites.
photos from red carpet type events.
uploaders that upload images from more than a few different cameras. However it wouldn’t be uncommon for uploaders to upgrade cameras regularly, but it’s likely they’ll show brand loyalty, especially for more expensive cameras.
Searching for images versus finding them by looking through a uploader’s photostream who generally uploads under a CC license introduces the possibility that some photos have been inadvertently licensed, either under the wrong CC license (eg. they typically upload under a different ‘flavour’ of CC license) or incorrectly licensed under CC altogether. It may pay to check the uploader’s other images. It’s also collegial to leave a comment letting them know where you’ve used their image, because it’s a nice thing to do, and because if they didn’t intend for the image to be CC licensed, they’ll let you know in a nice, non-lawyery way.
The Commons on Flickr hosts some great old school photos contributed by 50+ worldwide cultural heritage institutions with the aim of increasing access to publicly-held collections.
So read the rights statement for the institution who uploaded the photo which is linked to in the right sidebar first.
Do you know of any other places to get quality images for blog posts from?
Sometimes someone will accidentally reply to a comment on a WordPress post instead of starting their own comment thread. This can create a set of replies that aren’t actually relevant to the original comment. They’re hard to follow and are ugly, the replies that are relevant to the original comment are hidden by the additional conversation. There’s no way to fix this through the WordPress Admin interface, but you can using phpMyAdmin. You can also use this to change what comment a comment is replying to.
Backup your database first.
Open up phpMyAdmin through cPanel.
Click on the database WordPress uses.
Click on search.
Search for the comment that shouldn’t be a reply (the comment that you want to outdent) inside the comments table, search for something semi-unique to the comment eg. the IP address of the commenter.