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To be able to post images on the Scratch Forums, one must upload the desired image to a third-party image host that is white-listed by the Scratch Team. If one was to try and link to an image that was not white-list, they would get an error. This is to prevent spam images, the risk of viruses from unauthorized sites, and simply to avoid inappropriate content (usually from popular sites such as YouTube, Tumblr, and DeviantArt).
The current white-listed hosts are as follows:
- tinypic.com (discouraged)
- photobucket.com (costs money)
- cubeupload.com (used by most Scratchers, however a recent policy change means that users now have to register an account to upload images)
- imageshack.com (requires users to register an account to upload images)
- imageshack.us (users have to register an account to upload images)
- scratchr.org (The ScratchR domain is no longer owned by the Scratch Team, and is now a SMS sending service.)
- wiki.scratch.mit.edu (This domain can no longer be updated because of the Domain Transfer)
These are hosts which were formerly on the whitelist:
- imgur.com (removed for inappropriate images on the host)
- any .edu domain outside of Scratch (removed because it was used to exploit requests to Scratch APIs from the user viewing the post e.g. to logout the user or delete replies)
TinyPic was subject to debate by some Scratchers over the fact that it uses bad advertising techniques to generate revenue. For example, one user experienced warnings of hidden malware when a malicious ad was shown on TinyPic. The site also showed adverts that lead to downloading potentially unwanted programs. The Scratch Team also took part in the debate and decided it would be the best option to de-emphasize the use of TinyPic. The Scratch Team member, Paddle2See, said that they would be modifying all documents that mention TinyPic as a white-listed image host to warn Scratchers of the bad advertising practices.
Imageshack also came to a debate because of its subscription practices. In this debate, people also wanted Imgur back. The Scratch Team has yet to state their presence on the matter.
It has been also reported that the images can "expire" over time and be replaced with an advertisement.
Each image host has its own way of earning profit. Of course, money is necessary to pay the workers, supply the electricity, and maintain the server hardware. Many sites simply have ads, like with Tinypic and Photobucket, whereas some image hosts take a different approach of having paid accounts such as Imageshack. Some of the ads on Tinypic and Photobucket have been known to exploit malicious code on individuals' computers or use pop-ups since Tinypic and Photobucket do not regulate their third-party provided adverts. There is also the possibility of an image host earning profit by solely donations. This is the approach which cubeupload takes to maintain its site. xomf.com is financially supported by the owner with his own money, therefore, making it advertisement free. The owner of xomf.com mainly uses it's server for other websites and doesn't cost anything for him to make it free and public because he's paying for it either way.