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Recently I asked this question on global Meta. The problem is when users upload huge photos to illustrate something they usually don't need very high resolution - for example, it might be a photo of a bicycle lock and it doesn't need to be 2000K by 1500K and weigh 700 kilobytes - it can be much smaller and will still look good. Downloading huge pictures is a problem for many users.

Turns out (thanks to user Jeremy Banks for that answer!) imgur.com allows to downscale images automatically by appending letter l between the name and the extension.

So you upload an image and you get a link like http://i.stack.imgur.com/Xulw9.jpg and when you insert l you get http://i.stack.imgur.com/Xulw9l.jpg (notice l before .jpg) and that automatically makes imgur.com serve a smaller version of the image that weighs much less.

I kindly ask all users who add pictures to use this feature unless of course you need that super high resolution to illustrate some super fine details.

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This is (or could be) a platform (StackExchange software) thing.

I use the edit box's toolbar to insert an image (I haven't memorised the markdown for an inserted image so that I could type in the markdown manually). The toolbar command also takes care of uploading to imgur, etc.

Because the markdown is created/inserted by machine, it (the machine) could specify the smaller version of the image.

I'm uninclined to care about something (image resolution) when a machine could care about it for me. Perhaps you could propose this as a platform feature request?

Why does image resolution matter to you: are you on a slow and/or costly network, or using a mobile device with a small screen that can barely display an image anyway?

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  • We have a rather harsh usage quota on our network and once it's exceeded we have to pay extra. You could upvote the question I linked to and the answer to it to support this idea. – sharptooth Aug 19 '11 at 13:10
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    The software should handle it all for you. Period. Wordpress and almost any community platform does it all. It should also show low res images for mobile users by checking the browser type. The original image should be on a click through. – ʍǝɥʇɐɯ Aug 21 '11 at 16:53
  • @sharptooth - have your user agent (i.e. your browser) download image files only on request. – ChrisW Sep 30 '11 at 2:46
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Nice point; the whole net isn't on high-rate broadband. While we don't need to make all of our posts dialup-friendly, there are people who access the site over cell phones and androids, which can be slow.

You can also get smaller versions of pictures when using images from Flickr, but the process takes a little bit longer. From the photo page, click on the "share" menu above the photo. Under the option "Grab the HTML/BB Code", make sure that "HTML" is selected, then choose a small version of the image, as small as you can use yet maintain the amount of detail you need.

Flickr also has a nice feature: Links generated in this way are automatically clickable, with a link that leads you back to the photo page where you can view a larger version of the photo at your leisure. Here's an example of a scaled-down file taken from a very large original image:

Chopper

Note that this is clickable. The site will also give you even smaller versions:

Chopper

How large you can get depends on what the photo owner has uploaded, and how they've set it. (They can disallow linking to the photo all together if they want.)

Flickr also lets you search for photos by license, so you can find creative-commons licensed pictures to illustrate a post. This is handy, as it lets you avoid using copyrighted stuff.

(In general, hotlinking to images elsewhere on the net is discouraged, as it steals bandwitdth from those servers, but imgur and Flickr are both designed for hotlinking in this manner.)

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