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Imgur pictures itself as YouTube for viral images, by Jessica Guynn, LA Times

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1.5 million images are uploaded every day, and users spend about 10 minutes a day on the service.

Jessica Guynn writes:

"We want to be like a YouTube for viral images," Schaaf said. In other words, he wants Imgur to house all images that spread virally on the Internet in the same way Google Inc.'s massive video-sharing service is home to all viral videos.

"If there is a viral video on the Internet, you know it's on YouTube. You can search for it, find it, see the view count and then take that link and share it with whomever you want," Schaaf said. "That's what we are doing for images."

And Schaaf thinks an image will one day be worth a thousand videos. He expects Imgur to become a household name in just a couple of years.

Driving that expectation is the addictive nature of entertainment on Imgur that often comes in the form of animals that are ridiculously cute or just plain ridiculous. Millions of people have gotten a big laugh out of a bug-eyed cat being given a bath. And a Shiba Inu from Japan dubbed Doge became an Internet sensation for the dog's droll expression, eyebrows raised as he looks warily into the camera.

But of all the memes on Imgur, "banana for scale" may be one of the most famous.

In February 2012, Andy Herald, a humorist and father of three from Pasadena, came up with an infographic on the messy business of sorting kids' soiled tighty-whities.

"Skid Marks: When to Wash 'Em, When to Toss 'Em" was a huge hit on

So, too, was something Herald had put next to one of the diagrams of soiled underwear: An illustration of a banana with the phrase "banana added for scale."

It wasn't the first time the freelance designer had used the world's most popular fruit as a humorous way to show the relative size of an object in an infographic. But it was the first time the Internet took notice.

What's most interesting about the LA Times story is that it unbundles Imgur from Reddit: "Imgur started out as a side project, one of many Schaaf tinkered with in his spare time as a college student. Schaaf says it bugged him that the Internet didn't have a better image uploading tool that allowed images to go viral and be seen by millions. So he built one that gets images onto the Web quickly and provides a short link for each image to make it easy to share the image on blogs, Reddit or social networks."

I compare this with other Imgur origin stories I've heard that specifically mention Imgur being built as a gift for Reddit users.

Looks like Imgur is asserting its independence from Reddit.

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