Why sharing a picture goes pear-shaped in many cases

by Michael Scharnagl

This article has been updated the last time on March 7, 2012 and the given information may be not accurate anymore. Feel free to contact me on twitter to get more details.

As it happens a lot that you get a link from a friend saying “Look at this cute cat” and once you open the picture you actually get to see a “big pink dog”, I went on and tested some of the most visited news sites in Germany to see if it’s possible to share a specific image out of a gallery just by copying the URL from the address field.

Here is what I came up with.


The link I tested on this site was this one. Sharing on non-mobile devices works well however once viewing this link on mobile you get this. #fail


I tried to share Image 4 in this gallery. Impossible as you always get to see the first image. #fail


Here I tried to share Image 6 from this gallery. Nope, again no chance to share this specific image. #fail


On this site I wanted to share this image of a wale. And surprise, surprise this is the first image I can share between different devices. #good


Seems like we now have a run. Sharing this picture works like a charm as well. #good


Oh look at the tiger on picture 4. What you actually see is not a tiger at all but some other animals. On my Android 2.3 device you even have to close 2 Pop-ups (asking if you want to install the App) before you get to the article, but no wonder still no tigers. #fail


Here I tried to share picture 13. Unfortunately this is not possible, as you always get to see the first picture, on mobile the same of course. #fail

Results are frustrating

To sum it up, out of 7 tested sites only 2 provided me with a link to a specific image which I could share with whatever device I like. One (spiegel.de) is doing his job on desktop, but once you go mobile they fail completely. As a side note – sueddeutsche.de was the only gallery where you could use your keyboard to navigate through the images, which is a terrible quota.

I really don’t know why so many sites have problems changing the URL while clicking through there “fancy” JavaScript Gallery. It’s just some lines of JavaScript, to add a different hash to the URL for every image and on the other hand checking if a hash is present to show the image the user asked for. If you don’t like hashes in your url you can also use the HTML5 History API like this cross-browser Solution.


I am really the only one who is pissed of, that fancy effects seems way more important than some of the basics? I absolutely hope not.

One thought on “Why sharing a picture goes pear-shaped in many cases

  1. Christian says:

    Great research Michael and I totally agree. Although some hard core web veterans don’t even like the hash-tag practice since the content url cannot be retrieved by non-browser clients, so each image should have its own dedicated url, that’s how the web is supposed to work right? Either way, better a hash-tagged url than none at all.

Michael Scharnagl

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A freelance front-end developer focusing on HTML5, CSS, progressive enhancement and web performance.