Originally I was going to take a PAD for every remaining day of December, then I got hit with some cellulitis in one leg and lost 2 days shooting. So no, this is not a photo, it's a screen capture. It is from something that I started on the 27th but didn't finish until New Year's Eve.
Those two days gave me some time to think about something. Now at the outset, please note that this is not a "bash PBase" image. In my opinion things have been working exceedingly well over the last couple of years, a far cry from the dark days of 2010/2011 when there were regular crashes and performance issues.
What set me down this path of investigation were two things. The first was that I've noticed a marked drop off in the number of views of my galleries as per StatCounter. They seem to now be falling into three classes:
(a) Google searches for rather esoteric shots which just happen to be in my galleries (a small sub-group that gets hit over and over again for the most part);
(b) People searching PBase for sample images of the gear that I use;
(c) My regular fellow PADers. Or at least most of them.
The second was that for the first time in literally a couple of years I had cause to venture into the forums after I noticed that there was a glitch in some of the links. I had deliberately withdrawn from them because things could get a little unpleasant in there. However to my extreme surprise, Q&A was a ghost town. Back in the day it had several postings per day at least. Now it would go weeks without a single one. (Unfortunately I got a reminder of why I had pulled out almost as soon as I got there. Someone had posted a quite reasonable request to PBase admins in the thread about the broken links. A jackass that I still remembered vividly from my earlier time there tried to "one up" himself on the previous poster by suggesting that the poster was a bit dim. Unfortunately when Mr. Jackass does that he often comes down with a severe case of foot in mouth disease, making himself look like a far bigger idiot than he tried to make the original poster look. As he did again here. Having run out of patience with this guy a couple of years back I ripped him a new one and he crawled back into his hole. Yes, yes, I know, turn the other cheek, tolerance and all that, but this guy really has been a habitual offender.)
Also some people who were once PBase stalwarts have vanished from the face of the site. Michael Martin a.k.a. PineMikey, for instance, has not merely removed his photos from his galleries but the account itself was obliterated sometime between late 2012 (his last forum post) and now, something that I haven't seen happen with PBase in the past. Previously galleries which had been dormant for years had just been left alone. Some still have been. But others, from once-well known PBase names, are now just vapour. I don't know whether that's at their request, or PBase housekeeping to try to reduce server usage.
This set me to wondering about the health of PBase in general. It's a little husband and wife outfit, not a corporation, so if they can't make a decent living out of it it's not like they can afford to carry losses. Nor do they seem to have the resources or inclination to reinvent the place (nor should they, in my view). So let's get down to the worrying bit.
PBase photo numbers seem to be added sequentially with no gaps. You can't pick the very first image uploaded in a year nor the very last one but you can get close enough. By looking at the image numbers of uploads on 1 January vs 31 December you get some idea of how many images have ben uploaded in a year. And the tale is ugly. In 2010 the number of images pushed 11 million. 2011 saw that number drop by around 15%. In 2012 the drop was closer to 19%. In 2013 21%. In 2014 the percentage had stabilised somewhat being near to 22%. However the trend is clear; we're haemorrhaging photos. It would be comforting to think that the same number of paying members are merely uploading fewer images, but that would seem to be illogically foolish in its optimism. It's more likely that there has been a corresponding drop in the number of paying subscribers as well. The percentage may not be exactly the same, but it's likely to mirror it. Even if the percentage drop has stabilised, losing a fifth of your revenue every year is hardly a sustainable business model.
This of course has potential implications for those of us who have put a lot of effort into our PAD galleries as well as in commenting and receiving comments.
With services having racked up a decent track record of stability of late, it would be no bad thing to put the word about regarding PBase as a hosting site. It may not stop the flood, but might help slow it a bit.