I've been using Photobucket for a long time, certainly more than 10 years, and have even paid for a bandwidth upgrade a couple of years back. I was a fan for the greater speed over Flickr, the easy way it displayed catalogues of images (again, at the time a long way ahead of Flickr) and for the general ease of use.
Last week all that changed.
Things had been going downhill for a while, I was aware of that, with increasingly intrusive advertising, the site getting slow and not always displaying newly uploaded images. There was a road bump too, where they wouldn't offer users an ad-free option for visitors to a users site, even if that user paid a premium, so I many others looked elsewhere for somewhere to host galleries which cost them business. But I'd been wondering about paying for a subscription in order to get a bit more speed, aware that I'd not paid anything recently for hosting.
Then one day last week I heard that they no longer hosted images linked for display on external websites.
Including my images.
And they want $400 per user to restore that linking.
I've read a lot of muttering about this, varying from suggestions that this is blackmail through to wishing harm to PB employees and for the site to disappear. It's certainly a damn nuisance - I won't be paying them $400 which means that there will be lots of gaps in my personal blog and a fair number in this one until I get the images hosted elsewhere - not something I'll be doing for older posts. It's also puzzling behaviour, because there were so many things they could have done to monetise this effectively much sooner than this, and the internet is an unforgiving place with a long memory.
So I'm sad to see them go. This may also be the catalyst I and many others need to start hosting photos in my own online space: I'm not sure how much automation and how much coding is required to do so at this stage, so it may not get further than wishful thinking. It just seems a very strange and un-necessary way to commit commercial suicide.