Use of graphics in the forum

With more people starting to use the custom graphics option in WD, we’re seeing a larger number of dynamic graphic signatures. Some of these are fairly large in both pixels and bytes. Please bear in mind that not all users of the forum have 4Mbps cable modems or even 512kbps ADSL Internet links. A single signature image could easily consume 20-30 seconds of a normal modem users on-line time. Some pages now have multiple images on them, so could take modem users many minutes to download. The use of dynamically created WD images also means that the local browser cache doesn’t work very well because nearly each time the image is viewed it’s been updated and therefore must be downloaded again.

Also some of the images are starting to get quite large (in horizontal and vertical pixels). Viewing a thread including these on your 40963200 pixel 36" TFT monitor is probably OK, but some users are probably still using 800600 on 15" CRTs (or worse still on a PDA). Some of the threads must take a lot of scrolling to get to read the text.

I think sig images and avatars add a bit of colour and fun to the forum, so I don’t want to ban them. All I ask is that each user takes a look at the size of their own sig image/avatar and decide whether they’d like to download them as a modem user. As a guide…a 10k sig image isn’t too bad, but a 100k image is pushing the limits of acceptability.

PS. I’m not addressing this at any specific user, so if you currently have a large sig image or avatar, please don’t take offence…but do take a look at it and see if you can shrink it!

PPS. bristolwx and lknweather have reminded me that modem users can tick the options for ‘Don’t show other users’ avatars’ and ‘Don’t show other users’ signatures’ in the look and layout preferences section of their profile. This is true. I would add a couple of extra points though…

  1. I need to consider my server bandwidth. The forum is getting busier each month and a lot of avatars (but not sig images) are stored on the server, so have to be downloaded each time someone accesses them.

  2. Large (in pixels) sig images add extra ‘noise’ between the forum message text that I assume is the main reason people come to the forum!

A few large sig images (in pixels and bytes) are starting to creep in again, so it’s time to highlight this message once more and encourage people to take a look at downsizing their sig images.