Don’t Link Directly to Images

I’m noticing more and more people participating in an unfortunate trend. It’s always been around, but for whatever reason, I’m seeing it more and more. This is where people link directly to images on servers that they most likely don’t have permission to link to. I’m not talking about embedding images so that they display on the page (what would traditionally be known as bandwidth theft or hotlinking), I’m talking of a hyperlink to the image, like this.

Why is this bad? Because people place images on their website to bring people to said website or to enhance the website in some way, generally speaking (or, at least, that should be the presumption unless otherwise stated or indicated). When you link directly to the image, they don’t get a visitor, but they do have their bandwidth used, which costs money and/or resources.

What should you do instead? Link to the page with the image on it, not the image itself. If the image isn’t readily visible on said page, just tell people where to look. But, using people’s bandwidth by direct linking isn’t a cool thing to do.

(As I mentioned, this is with the exception of sites that specifically allow this – like many free file hosting services, for example).

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

4 Comments

Adam Polselli

about 11 years ago

Oops, I did just the thing today. Post updated. Thanks, Patrick.

Reply

Patrick

about 11 years ago

No problem, Adam. I'm glad to hear that! Patrick

Reply

Phil Stricker

about 10 years ago

Great point. I think it is important to point out though, linking to scripts, like javascript libraries (jQuery, Prototype...) is safe and functional.

Reply

Patrick

about 10 years ago

Thanks for the comment, Mr. Stricker. Glad that you liked the post. I have to say I'm not well versed on JS libraries! :) Patrick

Reply

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