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 Post subject: Tutorial: Posting Links and Images on the Forums
PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 11:11 am 
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Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 8:56 am
Posts: 2132
Class: Tutorial: Posting Links and Images on the Forums
Difficulty: Straightforward: Understanding of the Internet, some simple bbcode, image editing (optional)
Time: Allow quarter of an hour for creating accounts, etc.
Desirability: If new to forums in general, essential for posting images and links on the forums

Update:The screenshot tool shipped with Peppermint OS has changed. This is in the perennial interest of lowering overhead and increasing efficiency. The new tool does not offer the option to capture only part of the screen - it takes a capture of the whole screen. If cropping is desired, the easiest way is to edit the image on Pixlr, as usual (see below). The principles in this tutorial therefore remain unchanged. Further, the tool that was shipped before is still available on the repositories: package name 'xfce4-screenshooter'. Others are available too for every taste, from command line to full on bells and whistles, search for 'screenshot'.

Description

This tutorial describes the steps a forum member can take if they wish to post image links and urls to the forums. It also covers relevant aspects of netiquette.

Posting links

BBcode

Simply typing in a url when posting will result in it being rendered in plain text, e.g. http://www.peppermintos.net.

To make it more convenient for readers to navigate to the link, simply use the URL button on the post interface, or wrap the url in the appropriate tags:

Code:
[url]http://www.peppermintos.net[/url]


renders as http://www.peppermintos.net.

Some users might want to name the link something else in the text, similar to using <a href="http://www.peppermintos.net">Peppermint OS forums</a> in html. To achieve this, use the following code:

Code:
[url=http://www.peppermintos.net/]Peppermint OS forums[/url]


renders as Peppermint OS forums

It may not be necessary to include the protocol part, but it is probably for the best. Not everyone uses the same browser, and this ensures that any browser will be able to benefit from the link.

Netiquette

Rule of thumb: Be considerate.

Don't spam. Seriously.

Even with the best intentions in mind, links to commercial sites may well be regarded with suspicion. Link to the native Linux driver page, rather than to a sales or manufacturer website, if it is to make a compatible hardware recommendation. The reader will find their own way to making a purchase if that's what they decide to do.

Secondly, do not take attribution for another person or organisation's resource, under any circumstances. This does not mean that it is always necessary to cite the owner of content that is linked to, although it might be wise to do so if the post might make it look like the content is the work of the poster when it is not. For example, if linking to a news article or review about Peppermint OS on the appropriate board, it is probably best to always cite the writer of the content.

It definitely means that deliberately making it look like someone else's work is the poster's when it is not is an offence.

Thirdly, check links. The preview button on the post interface permits the poster to test that the bbcode is correct and that the post renders correctly before committing the post; use it. It is always best to do this simply to ensure that the link is valid, since accidents do happen. Links to family-unfriendly, suspicious or malicious sites are intolerable. Linking is the poster's responsibility - if the poster is unwilling to visit, or even has the slightest doubt about a link, then it is impermissible to link to it for others.

Bottom line, when linking in plain text or using bbcode, avoid spam, give proper attribution, and do not link to something which would hurt children.

When clicking on other members' links, check where they lead first. Most browsers, including Firefox and Opera, display this information in the lower status bar of their window.

Posting Images

It is possible to embed images into a post. This is useful for sharing screen captures of how beautiful your Peppermint OS desktop is, or for the purposes of guiding readers around a GUI, or for giving diagnostic information that relies on a visual (e.g. if a GUI app is behaving strangely on screen).

In order to capture, edit and share an image, it is first necessary to host the image somewhere online, most commonly with an image host. There are a great number of options, but by far the most straightforward for users of Peppermint OS is to use the screenshot tool and pixlr, which are already installed by default as a Prism app, and requires no registration to use.

Screen capture

The screen capture tool's launcher is located in the Accessories submenu. The GUI is self-explanatory.

Once you've taken your screenshot, you can upload it to the photo hosting service of your choice. imagebin.ca, imageshack.us and photobucket are all popular choices. The ins and outs of uploading and (for some) editing the image are well documented on said sites.

BBCode

Most services provide a 'sharing' facility which will easily reveal the appropriate bbcode to put into your post to display the thumbnail or image itself inline.

The code for putting a thumbnail inline which links to a larger image on the image host might look like this:

Code:
[url=http://imagehost/link.to.larger.image.png][img]http://imagehost/link.to.thumbnail.png[/img][/url]


Netiquette

Rule of thumb: Be considerate.

If it is not necessary to embed an image to get the point across, then don't.

Controlling the image size

It might be necessary to edit an image to make it acceptable.

Users with limited Internet connections do not want to be faced with downloading megabytes of image data. Users with smaller screens or lower resolutions do not want to be faced with massive overflow, as this also causes text to stretch across the screen, which means needing to scroll from left and right to read the post and replies. A good rule of thumb is that inline images should be no larger than 640x480 pixels in size. This ensures that on a resolution of 1024x768, even with browser toolbars and the forum's GUI, no overflow occurs, and pictures are kept to an acceptable file size.

If a forum member wishes to post a larger image, for example to show off their wonderful Peppermint OS desktop, it is perfectly acceptable to post a small thumbnail image linking to the large version.

Courtesy

The same rules as with linking to web content apply to embedding images in a post, with a couple of further provisos.

Do not, without express permission, embed images held on other people's servers/hosts, under any circumstances. Better yet, don't do it at all. This practice is referred to as hotlinking or, more perjoratively but equally correctly, bandwidth leeching.

If you wish to share the location of someone else's image held on their server, this is fine: link to the page the image is on and not to the image itself.

Under no circumstances steal attribution for an image that is not your own.

In the majority of, and arguably all circumstances it is also not permissible to upload a copy of an image to your own hosting solution and link to that; this is commonly referred to as theft. There are exceptions to this rule (images under a Creative Commons share-alike licence are an example), but the best advice is to not do this at all. At best the practice is redundant. Just link to the page you wish to share, and not to the image.

It is not permissible to post, or link to, images which are not family friendly.

It bears repeating once more; use img tags sparingly. Ideally, restrict their usage to the appropriate board (e.g. Artwork), and only use them in tech support boards if they really are helpful (e.g. diagnosing graphical glitches, providing precise information about a GUI application's layout).

Security

When sharing screen captures in particular, it is worth exercising caution as to what is being shared. Any personal or sensitive information, for example what page your web browser is displaying (don't post your Amazon account details by accident!), network details (e.g. if you're sharing a Network Manager window for debugging purposes), open irc windows, and even your local login name and hostname, should be ideally cropped out or at least painted over, ideally using a locally installed application rather than Pixlr (e.g. the GIMP). Better yet, never take screen captures which display personal or sensitive information at all.

Finally, and at the risk of sounding redundant, images with hidden code are not allowed under any circumstances. Posting images to deliberately mislead or spam is a serious offence.

If clicking on another member's thumb nail image, check where it leads beforehand. Most browsers, including Firefox and Opera, display this information in the lower status bar of the window.

Conclusion

The url and img capabilities of the Forums are powerful and convenient tools, but they shouldn't be abused. Members should be considerate and exercise a minimum of care in their use, and certainly shouldn't put these tools to bad ends.

Clickable links and inline images providing ready access to useful resources, cross-referencing with other forum posts, and the ability to present your artwork in line. Use them well, and they will enhance your posts in an easy to use and powerful way.

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