Reddit has rolled out native image hosting across 16 separate communities on the site, with plans to extend the feature to 50 more next week. However, users have been slow to embrace the new feature, continuing to use third party options like Imgur and Gfycat.
The roll-out of the feature represents a break with Imgur, a site which once enjoyed a special relationship with Reddit. Imgur’s creator, Alan Schaaf, initially created the site as a gift to Reddit users after growing frustrated with other third-party image hosts. Imgur relied heavily on Reddit users for much of its early growth.
Its close relationship with Reddit has led to problems for the latter in the past, however. Reddit’s shutdown of the “fatpeoplehate” subreddit last year, which sparked the first of the site’s tumultuous user revolts, was marked by accusations that the subreddit had been singled out because it got on the wrong side of staff members at Imgur. This was compounded by the fact that openly racist subreddits like “coontown” remained unbanned for months to come.
Nevertheless, it looks like for the moment, Reddit users are still happy with Imgur and other third party image hosts. Redditors have been slow to adopt the site’s native image-hosting, with /r/pics and /r/gifs, two of the site’s biggest image-focused communities, still dominated by links to third-party sites.
Reddit’s biggest problem is that users from their image-focused communities may eventually migrate to third-party sites altogether. Sites like Imgur and Gfycat have been moving towards Reddit-like features like upvoting and commenting for some time now, and now enjoy a substantial number of users who visit the site to find and engage with content, as opposed to hosting it and then linking back to it on other sites. Right now, it’s hard to tell if Imgur needs Reddit more than Reddit needs Imgur.