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Posting an image in a forum message, Blog entry, or for your avatar

One of the most common things that people want to do when posting to the forums or their Blog is to post images.

Lottery Post uses a very powerful "rich-text" editor that looks and feels like a powerful word processor, so when it comes to adding pictures, people naturally try to do so using the same methods that they use in their word processing software.

For example, sometimes people find a picture on a web site and click "copy", then go into the Lottery Post editor and click "paste".  Or, maybe they try dragging and dropping the image, or else insert the image from a file stored on their hard disk.

All these things are reasonable assumptions, and most of the time they even appear to work.

That is, they work right up until the point that they click the "Post" button, and they see that the message they carefully crafted in the editor is missing all the nice pictures.  They see the empty box with the red "X", signifying a missing image, like this: Broken image

Why didn't it work?

The fact is that posting an image to someplace on the Internet, such as a Lottery Post topic, or a Lottery Post Blog entry, is much different than looking at a picture in your word processing software.

The most important concept to grasp is that the image — which is really just a file — needs to exist in a place where everybody can access it.

For an illustration of why this is true, go back to the example of a person trying to post a picture from their hard disk.

Let's say "Joe" wants to include an image in his forum post.  Joe drags or copies an image from his "C" drive (hard disk) into the Lottery Post editor, and combines it with some text he types, and everything looks great.

However, what Joe cannot see is that the editor did not really make a copy of the file and place it inside the editor.  Instead what happened was that Joe's computer says to the Lottery Post editor, "Display the image located on Joe's "C" drive at this specific place in the body of the text you're editing."  And it does indeed work properly, because the editor running on Joe's PC has access to his hard drive, so it is able to load the image file and display the image just fine.

So what is getting embedded in the forum post is not a copy of the image, it is an instruction to display the image located on Joe's hard disk.

When Joe clicks the "Post" button, the text in the editor, along with the instruction to display the image file is uploaded and posted to the Lottery Post forum.

Then, let's say "Sally" comes along and wants to view Joe's message.  When she goes to view that message, she can see all the text in the message, but when her computer sees the instruction to display the image, the instruction says to read the image file from the hard drive ("C" drive), which her computer attempts to do.  Naturally, the image file does not exist on Sally's hard drive, it resides on Joe's hard drive.  Therefore, because Sally's computer is unable to see the image file that is on Joe's hard drive, her Web browser shows the dreaded empty box with a red "X" in it.

So, the trick to posting images is that the instruction included in the message needs to tell the computer viewing the message to fetch the image from some place where everybody can access the image file, not just the person who created the message.

In Internet terminology, the instruction is referred to as the URL.  URL stands for "Uniform Resource Locator", which is the Internet's way of specifying where a file exists, sort of like the way you specify on your hard disk the location of a file (for example, c:\directory\filename.jpg).

For images, the URL will almost always start with "http://".  For example, the URL of the Lottery Post logo you can see in the upper-left portion of this page is

http://www.lotterypost.com/images/lp_logo.png

Same concept applies to avatars too

Although all the examples above deal with posting forum messages and blog entries, the concept of the URL applies to avatars as well.

If you want to change your avatar to your own custom image, that image must physically exist someplace where everybody has access to it, such as your own home page space.  You cannot specify your hard drive as the source of the image.

The instructions below for uploading images and finding images on the Internet applies to avatars as well.  The difference is that after you have uploaded or found the image, you'll be typing or pasting the image's URL into the "Change Avatar" option page, instead of using the Insert Image function of the Lottery Post editor.

How to post pictures

Hopefully the above description makes it clear that in order to post a picture into a message, you need to place the image file someplace where anybody can gain access to it.

Here are a few ways that anybody can accomplish that:

  1. Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers — the company that provides you access to the Internet) provide you with some kind of "home page" space.  If you're not sure, you can contact them and ask.  For example, AOL has something called AOL Hometown, where you can post whatever you like.  You can upload images to your homepage space, but you need to ask your ISP what methods they provide to do the upload.  Some ISPs may provide a point-and-click interface for uploading files, while others may require you to use FTP (which I'm not going to get into here).
  2. There are some web sites that allow you to build free (small) web sites.  They make their money when people upgrade to premium packages, and they run advertisements on the free home pages.  An example of this is Tripod.  This type of service may limit the number of times per day that an image can be viewed, so this may not be the best option.
  3. There are free image services, like Imageshack, which allow you to post images.  Depending on the specific web site/company, this may or may not work well for you.  Like option #2, some of these sites will limit the number of views per day, and some won't even let you post images into other web sites (like you're trying to do here), so you will have to experiment with this to see if it works for you.
  4. The best option is available to all Lottery Post Gold and Platinum members.  Lottery Post provides free web space to all premium members, where you can upload your images directly from your hard drive with no technical knowledge required whatsoever.

At this point I will discuss the two possibilities for posting images, depending on your Lottery Post membership level.

Lottery Post Gold and Platinum Members

(See all premium features here

Premium members have the simplest way to post images.  It's just a matter of point-and-click:

  1. When posting your message click the Insert Image button –
  2. When the Insert Image box pops up, click the Image Manager button – (only visible by Platinum and Gold members)
  3. When the Image Manager box pops up, you can upload images by clicking the Upload button – Upload
  4. You browse your hard drive, find the picture, and click Upload.  In one second, your image is uploaded to your private image space, ready to go!
  5. The Image Manager shows a thumbnail view of all the images in your private image space, and you just click the image you want to post, and it automatically fills in the URL of the image for you — no need for you to do anything other than "click".

You can also open the Image Manager directly from Lottery Post's main menu.  In the Members menu, click the My Images (Image Manager) option.  You will be able to upload, view, edit, and remove images from your Lottery Post storage space.  It is very simple to use, and there are instructions included that you can view by clicking the "help" link in the upper-right corner of the page.

If you ever need to know the URL of one of the images you uploaded, it is easy to remember, because it uses your Lottery Post Username.  For example, the URL of an image in MY (Todd's) private space called "image.gif" would be:

http://members.lotterypost.com/todd/images/image.gif

Standard (Free) Lottery Post Members

Because Standard members do not get web space at Lottery Post to upload images, you need to upload it to a place like options #1, #2, or #3 above.

One the file is uploaded someplace, you need to obtain the location (URL) of the image.

The easiest way to do this is to browse to wherever you have uploaded the file, right-click the image, and select Properties.  In the box that pops up, there is a display entry called "Address (URL)".  You need to highlight all the text in that entry space, and then copy it by pressing Ctrl-C on your keyboard.  (Be careful, because the URL may be longer than what appears in the display.  When you highlight the URL with your mouse, start at the first character in the top-left, and drag all the way down below and to the right of the entry space, so that it will scroll and highlight the whole thing.)

Then, go into your Lottery Post message, click the Insert Image toolbar button – – and paste the URL that you copied into the Image URL space (then click OK).

What about posting images from other web sites?

You can easily post images from another web site into a Lottery Post message.

But the important thing is to be careful not to make the mistake of thinking you can copy and paste the image directly from the other web site, or dragging and dropping the image.

To post an image from another web site, use the method described in the section above for Standard (Free) members.

Simply go to the other web site, right-click on the image you want to post, and copy the URL as described above.  Follow the same instructions of clicking the Insert Image in the Lottery Post editor, and paste the Image URL.

Some Pitfalls

Here are some common things that can go wrong:

  • Anti-leeching.  Some web sites employ a technique that is designed to prevent people from displaying their site's images on other web sites.  Posting a web site's images on another site is sometimes called "leeching", because every time the image is displayed, regardless of which web site the image is shown on, it consumes bandwidth from the site that is hosting the image.  Most hosting companies charge hosting fees based on monthly bandwidth usage, so thrifty webmasters don't like when their bandwidth is consumed by some other web site that is "leeching" their images.  If you get blocked in this manner, you need to download the image file to your hard disk (right-click, and select "Save Image As..."), and then upload the image file to one of the places mentioned above.  Then follow either the Premium or Free member instructions above.
  • (I'll add some other things here later...)