Gaia Online, for the most part, exists as heavily modified PHP-based CMS (or Content Management System). In other words, most all images submitted by users are hosted by a third-party. And until recently, the long-time popular hosting service, Photobucket, was go-to for most Gaians.

Unfortunately, as Photobucket has failed to keep up with more significant costs of image hosting, the company is now requiring users to pay-to-host. Here is an image located on Photobucket's website vaguely announcing the "dust up" of its services.

At first glance, the broken links in user signatures and thread posts were slightly unnerving and annoying. The real problem though was the sheer level of dependence Gaia's thriving community of art shop artists have had with Photobucket to host their galleries and user-bought art.

The entire situation has created a unique situation where artists could be perceived as scamming art buyers who have paid for art that was originally hosted using Photobucket. Due to this conundrum, the admin lead, Xya, had the following to say regarding the issue:

Despite a somewhat confusing explanation, here's some key take-a-ways:

For artists/buyers:

  • Gaia Administration is expecting that the Photobucket situation will result in artists' "scamming" art buyers.
  • While it is clear administration knows this "scamming" would be unintentional and not malicious, they will only wait until August 31st, 2017 before they start banning artists for mishaps related to Photobucket's demise
  • Artists (including those in pause or hiatus) are expected to not only comply with the four-week timeline to change their store, but also must inform buyers, twice, that they expect their buyers to re-host images upon recieving.
  • Administrators are expecting that Artists provide documented proof they 'let the buyer beware' of the expectation that the buyers will need to re-host images upon receiving them
  • Administrators demand that artists provide buyers a 'reasonable' amount of time to re-host, but ask that they not expect an 'extended' amount of time.
  • There is no clear differentiation between 'reasonable' and 'extended' as per Xya's post on July 25th, 2017

There is no clear understanding of how this will be enforced after August 31st, 2017 but early indications seem to reveal that administrators have given less than five weeks for Gaia's entire system of user-run art shops to change their shops' policies and hosting services or face steep consequences.

Gaians United will look to follow up with this article in September with a report of how administrators enforced what looks to be administrators expectation of 'Gaia users' negligence as a result of Photobucket terminating long-time free services'.

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