A suggestion for image hosts

If I made a list of all the things that annoy me every day, somewhere in the top would be the way image hosts handle hotlinking. When image gets popular on social bookmarking websites like Digg or Reddit, it shortly gets pulled down. Everyone who wants to view the image, will only get to see something like this:

image hosts

Ok, I know this is being done mainly to:
1. Make members use ad supported URL’s instead of hotlinking
2. Make members upgrade their accounts
3. Brand the name of image hosting service.

It just doesn’t work that way with social bookmarking websites. Instead, you get a bunch of people (actually thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands) taking note never to use your service in the future.

I’d like to suggest a couple of ideas how to avoid this.

1. Inspect traffic, redirect
If visitors are coming directly from social bookmarking websites, there’s really no need to pull down the image – visitors will see the URL, and that should help you brand your image hosting service.
If you really can’t afford this, at least redirect this traffic to your ad supported page. That way visitors will be able to see the image and you’ll earn some bucks. Win-win.

2. Include original pic in “bandwidth limit exceeded” image
When you really need to send the “bandwidth limit exceeded” message, there’s no need to remove the original pic. Let visitors see the image and let your user know he needs to upgrade his account in the same time. Just like this for example:

exceeded - a suggestion for image hosts

Of course, this image should be the same size of the original pic. Original pic should be scaled to fit in.

Now everybody visiting the site will still be able to see the image, but your user will be encouraged to upgrade his account. Another win-win.