Sunday, February 17, 2008


One of my long-term goals is to use more Chinese websites to carry out daily business: share pictures with family, schedule events, manage information, connect with friends. It's not easy to do this when the US is at the forefront of internet because original and innovative sites tend to come in from the States. At last year's barCamp Shanghai, an attendee asked Luyi Chen to give an example of a Chinese Web 2.0 site that isn't a copy of an American site, and he was hard-pressed to think of one. I offered Douban as an example but that's really the only one that I can think of.

Still, Chinese sites have known all along that you can't just copy American design because Chinese internetizens use the internet in different ways and have different expectations of the sites they use. These sites adapt and evolve in ways that suit the Chinese internet, limiting but also expanding themselves in ways that diverge from their American counterparts.

Take Yupoo. Ever since Yupoo came out it has caught and kept my eye. When it was conceived, it was a pretty close copy of Flickr. In many ways, it has not been able to keep up. Flickr has evolved to offer paid accounts, editing and printing services, geotagging, censorship of adult content... all features that Yupoo has not implemented. But Yupoo has also evolved: the site's BBS is much more advanced and "Chinese-style" than the Flickr Help forum; and official events and photography contests award extra bandwidth to the winners (paid accounts are due sometime this year, I speculate).

One of Yupoo's recent "evolutions" has to do with bandwidth and has caused some discussion. Earlier today when I wondered on Twitter whether it was worth switching from Flickr to Yupoo — a couple of Flickr's image servers remain blocked in ChinaIsaac Mao noted that Yupoo has begun to limit pictures that it hosts from being linked from external sites. I had already noticed this on Jodi's and Mojo's weblogs (Mojo, for the third time: fix your picture links ). Citing an explosion in bandwidth usage, Yupoo has changed the URLs of its photos so that hotlinkers who don't use Yupoo's official links, which include a link back to Yupoo's site, will get an error message instead of the photo they intended to hotlink:

("Friendly reminder: Photos uploaded after Jan 10, 2008 can only be linked in this manner on the Yupoo site itself. If you would like to use this photo on your site please go to the photo's individual page and obtain the appropriate external link.")

Hotlinking is a problem that Flickr has been able to ignore by financing bandwidth with revenue from Pro accounts, venture capital money, and with support from Yahoo. The farthest that Flickr goes is to request in the Flickr Community Guidelines a link back to Flickr for photos linked off-site. While it does appear that Yupoo is preparing to launch paid accounts sometime this year, it doesn't have the depth of Flickr's resources. It is interesting to look at the way in which Yupoo is setting up its framework for dealing with hotlinking. Here are the new rules (gradually being phased in):


Users posting original images (原创用户) are defined as users who post pictures for the purpose of communication and interaction on-site and off-site. Users posting non-original images (非原创用户) are ones who just use the site for collecting and storing images. [Flickr asks that users only use Flickr for works of their own creation.]

Type Users posting non-original images Users posting original images
External linking Supported Supported
Bandwidth resources Ordinary Priority
Watermarking Added Customizable
800/1024 px thumbnails Unsupported Supported
External link protection Unsupported Supported; watermarking or disallowing.
Trusted sites Unsupported Supported; up to 3 sites
Size of linked images 100 kb 300 kb (only on trusted sites)
Dormant sites 10 days 45 days
Yupoo public areas Can't link to own images Can link to own images
Linking back to Yupoo Required Recommended
  1. Users posting original images (OU) will be have special hardware and bandwidth resources.
  2. Images by users posting non-original material (NOU) will be watermarked.
  3. OU will have access to 800×800 and 1024×1024 px thumbnails.
  4. OU can set three trusted websites; other sites will see watermarked images or be forbidden from linking to Yupoo images.
  5. Image size linking rules: ① NOU will be limited to 100 kb images; larger images will be served thumbnails. ② OU will be limited to system capabilities when linking from trusted sites, other sites will be subject to the same rules as NOU.
  6. OU will enjoy special links: ways to link entire image albums, multiple images, etc.
  7. Dormant users: NOU who do not log in for 10 days and OU for 45 days are dormant, and their external links will not work. Links will return after the users log in.
  8. System-wide rules (these rules take precedence over all others, and serve as a base for rules 4-6): ① porn sites or harmful sites linking to Yupoo images will be blocked or served watermarked images, ② externally-linked images must link back to the Yupoo site and Yupoo reserves the right to place restrictions on offending users, ③ externally linked images may not exceed 300 kb in size, and links to images that exceed this limit will be served over-sized thumbnails.

For Isaac Mao, this is enough to motivate a move to Zooomr. Myself, I'm willing to work within the new rules because I've managed a server before and I've had to deal with hotlinkers in my own way (wait for it...). There's support for paid accounts among the Yupoo user base; when I met a Yupoo marketing guy at barCamp I pressed him on that point but he was evasive. So I'm hoping that Yupoo sticks long enough to get on its feet and grow even more in its own, special way.


At Feb 21, 2008, 7:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

I'm lazy... I'm sorry!

I might even just fix the sizes on google picassa and then just upload em... This stuff is hen ma fan!

-- MoJo

I'm going to refer your site on my blog. Enjoy!


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