Julie & Kevin,
I have spent some time looking at this problem of servers blocking remote linking and see it as follows:
On Sunday 7th March 2004 all was fine. Some of us had heard of problems with AOL and Yahoo in the USA, but it wasn't our problem and didn't seem to matter - at least it didn't affect us too much.
Black Monday, 8th March, dawned and we found that Britain's flagship ISP, btinternet / btopenworld, had been incorporated into the Yahoo system as BT Yahoo. It has taken me fourteen days as a non-specialist to work out some of the implications.
Prior to Black Monday, BT had spent considerable time and effort coercing its clients into long-term contracts through free or low cost broadband installation. The American giants must have looked on enviously at this rich and ripe plum, with a huge customer base not only in the UK but throughout many parts of the Commonwealth. So, on Black Monday, the plum was well and truly picked.
I spent some time trying to work out the implications from the BT Yahoo Help system. Unfortunately for us, the whole system has been written from the viewpoint that BT Yahoo cannot envisage anyone wishing to utilise services outside the Yahoo network. So I have not been able to find any mention of the fact that you cannot use BT Yahoo's Geocities webspace for hosting remotely linked images or web pages. I emailed BT Yahoo support with this query and they confirmed that this is true. You can still use your BT internet / openworld web space for such links, but from Black Monday BT Yahoo clients without this webspace cannot gain access to this service. So, if you failed to start utilising your web space before Black Monday, it is too late now. You will have to utilise an independent photo / web hosting service. BT Yahoo's Geocities web space will not work with eBay, this message board, and many other systems.
So, why is Julie's use of what was the No. 1 British independent photo/web hosting service before Black Monday causing problems? I believe that retaliation is the most likely explanation. Major ISPs will probably be implementing similar censorship techniques to squeeze out Yahoo and its clients. Many small independent services may have to find new homes, and may well have to move their own ISPs every now and again to avoid these restrictive practices.
How to avoid the worst of these problems. My own draft checklist (in no particular order) is shaping up along the following lines:
1. Check with well-known independent consultants' websites, such as http://www.bulls2.com/indexb/blockedservers2.html
although both of these sites do not appear to have been updated since Black Monday at the time of writing.
2. Always remember that you get what you pay for. If a service is "free", how is it financed? Advertising? Selling client profiles to others?
3. Look for an uncensored, thriving and popular discussion board system with any software or service you are considering. If such a system is not there, then what are the proprietors of the service attempting to hide?
4. Ensure that everything you develop is easily transferred to another service.
5. Don't commit yourself long-term to anything.
6. Investigate services aimed at small to medium businesses rather than the general public - they are likely to be far more stable and cost effective.
7. Get as much advice as possible from independent experts, and be prepared to pay for it.
I would welcome better-informed views on this from others. Please remember that I am not an authority in this field, just a glass enthusiast who is trying to work out what is going on.
Regards, Bernard C.