Imgur Transition from Image Hosting Service to Social Community

Imgur LogoOn February 23rd 2009, Reddit’s user MrGrim (A.K.A. Alan Schaaf) had expressed his ample discontent from the existing cramped image hosting services and announced he built a new service “that doesn’t suck,” and aligns with Reddit’s almost pure freedom of speech viewpoint. This unsuck photo hosting service has been named Imgur.

Imgur empowers users the option to upload images to the site with full anonymity- while in other image-based services creating an account is mandatory, in Imgur an account is only optional. If the user chooses to, after an image has been uploaded the only way to find it is if he/she will publish its link or embed it in another website.

Interestingly, while Imgur was initially created to support Web communities such as Reddit, eventually it became a sensational popular destination by itself, and even leaving those communities behind. According to Imgur’s publicly disclosed stats page, the site musters a whopping volume of 1.3-1.6 billion image views EVERY DAY.

The amazing, and perhaps unexpected, success of the site has led MrGrim (possibly MrSunny by now) to begin a gradual roll out of new features to the site last week which will be entirely implemented today (Monday, October 29th). Those are not just frivolous additions, but changes that signify an core alteration of Imgur from a mere image hosting service to an independent vivid social community.

The most notable change that reflects this transition is Imgur’s new gallery, which will drape the site’s homepage. Until this refinement, only images that have been circulated on social networks like Facebook or Twitter could have been featured on the gallery. Now, users will have the option to add image directly to the gallery as they upload it (meaning public by default).

Once the image has been uploaded and the “add to gallery” has been marked, it can appear on the gallery regardless if the user has shared its link on other places online (again, it isn’t private). Here’s an example of Imgur’s homepage for the most recent images uploaded, sorted by time:

Imgur Gallery Screenshot

The change is pushing Imgur forward as a standalone image-based social community, where its users can upload, vote and comment about images with less dependency on other social networking sites. This transition also makes the site much more alike to other image-based social networks such as Pinterest and Instagram.

Even with the dissimilarities between Imgur and those other social networks, it will be fascinating to see if the Web still has more room for another image-based social community.