Once conveniently posting photos at imgur.com was introduced I see many users uploading photos right from their camera. For example, here the second photo is 2,5K by 2K pixels and has size of 680K.

I can't see why this photo could not have been downscaled to much smaller size without any loss of useful information. Firefox downscales it to 630×471 before displaying it to me and it still looks great.

Downloading heavyweight images consumes a lot of traffic and that's an issue in many cases.

Could you please invent something that would encourage downscaling images?

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    I'm not sure the linking should be automatic, unless it is smart enough to see if something was linked manually already. Some users very nicely link cropped images to full versions, or link images to web pages. It would be nice if that is still possible. Also, in the majority of the cases you describe, nobody needs to click through anyhow? Related: Link embedded images to their URL.
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 7:32
  • @Arjan: Agreed. This is a good idea, not just for bandwidth reasons, but also for aesthetic reasons: things just look better with a few standard image sizes. But, whatever the details, it needs to preserve any link that's been manually added, only adding a link to a larger image if none is present.
    – orome
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 18:32
  • And, @raxacoricofallapatorius (thx, tab-completion!), also maybe only link if there's indeed a larger version. But I guess that's difficult to determine without actually evaluating the image or using some Imgur API.
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 18:46

3 Answers 3


I'd still like the full-resolution photos available, but scaling down the image included in the post is good idea.

In fact, Imgur already automatically produces scaled-down versions of uploaded images. For your example image, I just need to add an l before the .jpg extension to get an image that's scaled to fit in 640x640: https://i.sstatic.net/8IlR6l.jpg. Stack Exchange could also extend the custom image sizing behaviour they added for profile pictures (?s=128) to allow resizing to the actual max-length on each site (630 here on beta).

The image upload control has been updated to insert images as links pointing to the image URL. This helpfully ensures that the full-sized images will always be available, even if they're not embedded in the post.


[![bike locked to railing](https://i.sstatic.net/8IlR6l.jpg)](https://i.sstatic.net/8IlR6.jpg)]

bike locked to railing]

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    That sounds good - insert a scaled down image together with a link to a full-size one.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 8:04
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    I agree: the image uploader should automate the down-sizing where needed. Make it automatic and part of the SE platform; otherwise if you make the user take extra steps, it becomes a barrier to uploading images (and improving questions and answers). Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 11:28
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    You can also use m and s to get even smaller images.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Oct 3, 2011 at 20:23

I would just propose the even simpler solution of having ![description][X] automatically scale down to an image of some standard size and not link at all, leaving that to users to do manually as they wish.

I expect that more often than not, the downscaled image will be adequate for the intended purpose, and either something totally different, or nothing at all, is an appropriate target for a link. This solution also avoids hosting a bunch of huge images that are linked to for no really good reason.

  • So, basically only adding the l in the URL and have those who want more link to the original manually? Yes, easy, and nice!
    – Arjan
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 18:48
  • @Arjan: Yes, that's all. That seems to be the use case to target. Those who want finer control will know how to get it (e.g. adding a link to whatever), and it doesn't punish those who already know what to do (crop, resize, link to external sites, etc.). Note that that a standard dimension is also a key part of the idea (to create an appealing layout). And while we're at it: the images should be centered.
    – orome
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 18:56

I'm not sure if a technical solution would do anything here. If the picture is too big, there's also a good possibility that whatever the user wanted to show us is somewhere in that picture. Just downscaling the image wouldn't help in this case, it needs to be cropped to the important parts.

A manual edit is in my opinion the best solution.

  • Crop (to the important part)
  • Resize (that it fits on the site but you don't lose too much detail)
  • Freehand Circles (important!)

You also should leave a comment, explaining that the user should not upload such big pictures. If such stuff is changed automatically, the users will keep doing it...but that's not a good thing.

  • 13
    In real world here's what happens: cropping/resizing takes time and users just don't do it. About 95 percent of users just take a gazillion megapixels photo of a brick and upload it and say "I have a brick that looks like this" and a 400 by 300 image is more than enough. I believe only 5 percent of images require a hi-res version and those will be served when the user clicks onto the image. Anyway people who don't want the high-res version will not be forced to download it on opening the page.
    – sharptooth
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 7:11
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    cropping/resizing takes time and users just don't do it. I might be a little bit deadlocked in my attitude about that, so please excuse me...then the users need to learn to do it! Users need to be educated and taught about markdown, and we've seen that they can learn how to use it. Why not this, too? Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 7:23

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