TwitPic

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TwitPic
TwitPic logo
TwitPic mainpage in 2011-01-12
TwitPic mainpage in 2011-01-12
URL http://twitpic.com
Project status Special case (content to be possibly moved)
Archiving status In progress...
Project source twitpic-discovery, twitpic-grab, twitpic-items, twitpic-cloudfront-grab twitpic-grab2
Project tracker twitpicdisco, twitpic, twitpic-cloudfront twitpic2
IRC channel #quitpic
Quitpic.png

TwitPic is an image hosting service. The service is designed mainly for Twitter users - the images uploaded on the service are given short URLs for usage in Twitter posts. Twitter carries a 140-character post limit, the average Twitpic URL is 25/26 characters long.

On September 4, 2014 TwitPic announced they were shutting down on September 25. On September 18, 2014, TwitPic announced that they'd been acquired and would "live on". However, on October 16, 2014, Twitpic announced that "agreeable terms could not be met" and that the service would be shutting down on October 25th. On the shutdown date, it was made public that TwitPic would be taken by Twitter, thus the data would be kept, in read-only mode.

Contents

Shutdown

Twitpic's erratic demise

Posted on September 4, 2014 by Noah Everett on blog.twitpic.com:

"Twitpic will be shutting down September 25th. You will be able to export all your photos and videos. We’ll let everyone know when this feature is live in the next few days.

This is an unexpected and hard announcement for us to make and we want to lay out what led us to this decision.

A few weeks ago Twitter contacted our legal demanding that we abandon our trademark application or risk losing access to their API. This came as a shock to us since Twitpic has been around since early 2008, and our trademark application has been in the USPTO since 2009.

Here is some backstory on the history of our trademark:

We originally filed for our trademark in 2009 and our first use in commerce dates back to February 2008 when we launched. We encountered several hurdles and difficulties in getting our trademark approved even though our first use in commerce predated other applications, but we worked through each challenge and in fact had just recently finished the last one. During the “published for opposition” phase of the trademark is when Twitter reached out to our counsel and implied we could be denied access to their API if we did not give up our mark.

Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic.

On a personal note I (@noaheverett) want to thank you for letting us be a part of your life and helping you share your experiences over the past 6 years, it’s truly been an honor. I have learned so much through running Twitpic over the years. Through the many mistakes I’ve made and lessons learned, to the bad days and the great days. Thank you again everyone…I will miss and cherish the days of Twitpic we had together."

Won't (?) shut down

Twitpic writes on Twitter, on September 18, 2014:

"We're happy to announce we've been acquired and Twitpic will live on! We will post more details as we can disclose them"

However, ArchiveTeam goes on downloading TwitPic, for safety.

IT INDEED WILL

UPDATE on blog.twitpic.com:

"It’s with a heavy heart that I announce again that Twitpic will be shutting down on October 25th. We worked through a handful of potential acquirers and exhausted all potential options. We were almost certain we had found a new home for Twitpic (hence our previous tweet), but agreeable terms could not be met. Normally we wouldn’t announce something like that prematurely but we were hoping to let our users know as soon as possible that Twitpic was living on.
I’m sincerely sorry (and embarrassed) for the circumstances leading up to this, from our initial shutdown announcement to an acquisition false alarm.
You can export your data and photos at: http://twitpic.com/account/settings "

But wait! There's more!

On October 17th, 2014, Twitpic began blocking public access to images,[1] replacing them with a shutdown notice. Comments are still available for now, but the images are not.

Saved by Twitter; full access again

Noah Everett on October 25, 2014, on blog.twitpic.com:

"[...] I’m happy to announce that we have reached an agreement with Twitter to give them the Twitpic domain and photo archive, thus keeping the photos and links alive for the time being. [...]"

Read the full entry: http://blog.twitpic.com/2014/10/twitpics-future/

At the same time, public access to the pictures was given back. So the site basically became what is was like. However, we don't know anything about the potential changes that may occur upon the agreement. ArchiveTeam decided to make a full copy of TwitPic as it looks like now.

Site structure

Image page urls:

where * = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z

where ****** consists of up to 6 alphanumeric characters. Leading zeros are irrelevant, e.g.: /000joe = /0joe = /joe. Like incremental numbers in base-36 numeral system.

Progress

Phase 1: content discovery

From September 5 to 6, until ArchiveTeam got banned, ~41 million of the possible ~900 million urls were discovered. The discovery was suspended.

On September 6th, someone claiming to be Noah Everett showed up in #quitpic[2]:

[16:21:14] <n00b957> hey guys
[16:21:16] <n00b957> Noah Everett here
[16:21:26] <n00b957> noticed the site was really bogging down due to ArchiveTeam requersts
[16:21:30] <n00b957> *requests
[16:21:55] <n00b957> didn't know what it was at first so we blocked it to continue normal site operations and users can get their data easily
[16:22:27] <n00b957> just wanted to give a heads up so you don't think we are trying to be malicious
[16:23:00] <n00b957> we're working on getting our export tool out the door right now
[16:23:14] <n00b957> I'd like to let our users get their data off the site via that first as quickly as possible

Unfortunately, he left #quitpic shortly afterwards and has not returned any of Archive Team's repeated inquiries about archiving Twitpic.

Phase 2: content grab

After some testing, actual content grab began on September 14. Its progress can be followed on the tracker. (One item contains 36 images and/or other elements of the image pages.)

On October 25, 2014, when Noah Everett announced that TwitPic would be saved by Twitter, ArchiveTeam decided to start a new, full, fresh grab of the site as it looked like before any changes caused by the new situation.

A brand new grab

ArchiveTeam is getting the images (and image pages) first, in reverse order, from newest to oldest. Meanwhile: building a database of users and tags from the downloaded pages. After the images are done, the users and tags are going to be downloaded.

This is a brand new grab, the data earlier downloaded is being kept only for safety reasons, until things are correctly downloaded again.

How can I help?

Important notice: TwitPic staff may ban ArchiveTeam members' access to their site through AT tools, or completely (IP address ban), and for a long time. If you want to use TwitPic outside ArchiveTeam tools (e.g. if you have an account there and you want to access it), consider running the Warrior/script with low concurrency, or, if you're paranoid, not running it at all.

UPDATE: TwitPic staff seems to have introduced a limit in serving requests from the same IP, instead of banning. (Anyway, ArchiveTeam can't be held responsible if they still hand out bans and you become a victim, we warned you!) AT members report that running the Warrior/script with concurrency more than 2 invokes HTTP 502/503 error responses, so if you see them, there is no use in increasing the concurrency any further. (This applies per IP; should you have several IPs, you can run the script/Warrior on each of them with concurrency 2.)

Running a Warrior

You can start up a Warrior and there select TwitPic Phase 3. (If you don't really care what you are archiving, select ArchiveTeam's Choice instead, as at some points ArchiveTeam may priorize another project.)

If you see "Project code is out of date", simply restart the warrior.

Running the script manually

If you use Linux and you're a bit familiar with it, you can try running the script directly.

The instructions can be found at twitpic-grab2.

Don't forget to replace YOURNICKHERE with your nickname.

The number after --concurrent determines how many threads run at the same time. You can increase this number if your resources (RAM, CPU, bandwidth) are sufficient. However, if you constantly see messages about rate limiting or you start receiving 502/503 responses, there is no need to increase the concurrency. Note: the higher the concurrency is, the more the chance is to be banned by TwitPic staff.

If you want to stop the script, please do it gracefully if possible. To do so, create an empty file named STOP in the folder of the script (terminal command: touch STOP). The script finishes the current item(s) and stops only after that. (If you kill the script immediately, the items get broken, and they will need to be reassigned to another user.) – Before starting the script again, don't forget to remove the STOP file.

If you see "Project code is out of date", kill the script, go to its folder (cd twitpic-grab2) and issue git pull https://github.com/ArchiveTeam/twitpic-grab2. After the updating has finished, re-launch the script.

Donating to the Internet Archive

Contents saved from TwitPic will be given to and stored by the Internet Archive. The amount of the data is approximately 100 terabytes. That's a lot, and storing it will cost thousands of dollars in the long run, so if you an afford, please donate to the Internet Archive so that contents of TwitPic can be available forever. http://archive.org/donate

Joining us on IRC

Either you run the Warrior or the script, you should join our IRC channel #quitpic to catch the latest news about the project and its progress, and there you can also put questions if something doesn't work. You can use the web interface at http://chat.efnet.org:9090, or if you use a standalone IRC client, connect to irc://irc.efnet.org.

Archives

As TwitPic is probably not shutting down, it seems to be needless to store the downloaded data (more than 100 terabytes). However, TwitPic cannot be considered a reliable service anymore. So, archives should be stored somewhere. But the Internet Archive will probably not be willing to ingest this amount of data also present on the internet.

To solve this problem, to decide where to store the data grabbed from TwitPic (and from sites in similar situation), Project Valhalla has been established. Read more about it on the linked wiki page.

Archives of TwitPic will be stored by the Internet Archive. Please donate if you can so that the costs of storing can be covered in the long run.

Archives will be stored in WARC format available at archiveteam_twitpic.

Download Your Data

User elise81 writes on Reddit:

"Log into Twitpic.com, click settings, scroll to bottom and click the request your data button. It takes a little while, but you'll eventually get a .zip file of all of your data."

"You can export your data and photos at: http://twitpic.com/account/settings"

When it's about your content, don't rely on ArchiveTeam's archives, as they may be incomplete, and are not made in a way that a single user's content can be extracted from them. Use the export-tool!

Export Tool Bugs

Twitpic's export tool is buggy, handing out seemingly empty zip files[3] and 503 errors.[4] The empty zip file problem can sometimes be fixed:

The problem is twofold. If the problem is on a non-Windows computer, it is probably a corrupted download (which happens way too often). On Windows, the built in zip file handler is not able to reliably handle zip files. 7-zip seems to have the most success with the zip file but others have worked as well.

General process to follow:

  1. Download and install 7z
  2. Download the zip file and rename it something short.
  3. Open a command prompt.
  4. run the command 7z t zipfilename.zip
  5. If it tests successfully run 7z x zipfilename.zip
  6. Browse to the photo directory.
  7. Pictures should be visible and a text file with the metadata.

Downloaders

  • Downloader by tag (it saves the full resolution image and metadata: uploader, date and description)

References

  1. https://twitter.com/textfiles/status/523160196672409600
  2. http://paste.archivingyoursh.it/raw/xesequhogi
  3. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8473393
  4. https://twitter.com/textfiles/status/522837349676236801

External links

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