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Commercial? Yes
Type of site photo/ video sharing and media networking
Available language(s) English
Brazilian Portuguese
Chinese (simplified)
Owner Fotki, Inc
Created by Fotki, Inc
Launched 1998
Current status Active

Fotki is a digital photo sharing, video sharing and media social network website and web service suite; it is one of the world's largest social networking sites[1]. In many ways, the site appears to be similar to the majority of other popular photo sites which support a number of so-called Web 2.0 features, such as use of Ajax, tagging, RSS feeds, social bookmarking, GPS location information and Exif info display.

The service offers unlimited storage space for digital images to Premium (i.e., paid) account holders and also to free account holders from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia. It also offers blogging (similar to LiveJournal or Blogger), online printing and selling of prints at custom prices, as well as email and co-branding.

Fotki community tools allow tagging photos and videos, detailed profiling, saving and organizing links (similar to, as well as photo and member search using folksonomic tools.

Fotki is licensing photo-sharing software for many global companies, such as Telecom Italia,, Sears, Mark Travel,, etc[2].

As of May 2008, Fotki claims to have over 1 million 250 thousand registered members from 241 countries and hosts over a billion digital images[3]. It ranks in the 1400s in popularity by Alexa.



Fotki was founded in 1998 by Dmitri Don (current President) and Katrin Lilleoks (his wife) to store and share digital photos and to communicate with friends and relatives around the world. In 2001, the commercial version was launched. Since 2003, Fotki is a registered trade mark in the USA. Since March 2004, Fotki Inc. OÜ registered in Estonia represents Fotki Inc. in EU.

In June, 2007, was recognized by CNET as one of the best Web 2.0 applications[4].


In Slavic languages, like Russian or Polish, "fotki" (Russian: Фо́тки, Russian pronunciation: [foˈtkʲɪ]) is short for "fotografii" (Russian: Фотогра́фии, Russian pronunciation: [fətɐɡraˈfʲɪɪ]) ("photos").



The primary purpose of the site is to allow and facilitate the process of sharing digital photos online[5] which includes 4 phases:

  • Upload - transferring an image file from a local device, such as computer, camera phone, pocket PC etc to Fotki's server. Fotki provides several tools and applications to simplify the process and to accommodate users of multiple platforms. Some upload applications support the transfer of multiple files at a time.
  • Storage - storing uploaded files on Fotki's servers.
  • Organization and presentation - ability to organize uploaded files into a structure based on the user's tastes and preferences and present them to viewers. Users have access to various management and customization tools.
  • Access - making the digital media available online for viewing and download. The company provides a user interface for viewing and navigation, search tools and different security options to restrict access to the content if necessary.

Upload Tools

As of May 2008, the following upload tools are available on Fotki:

  • One at a time: allows uploading one photo at a time through the browser.
  • Java uploader: opens an embedded Java application which allows the user to navigate the local folders, select photos and add them to the upload list. Allows uploading multiple files at a time. Supports image preview for some formats. Requires Java installed on the user's computer.
  • Fotki Desktop Beta: allows selecting multiple files from local folders and sending them to Fotki using the right-click menu. Requires installation of a plug-in (provided).
  • Web Publishing Wizard: allows uploading multiple files from a local folder using the Windows "Publish to the Web" function. Requires installation of a plug-in (provided).
  • Fotki Upload Bookmarklet: creates a bookmark for a JavaScript function which can be run while viewing any web page. All images contained on that page will be extracted and made ready for upload. Internet Explorer is not supported.
  • Fetch from the Internet: a browser-based function that allows the user to copy an image from any web page to Fotki by specifying the image's URL. Supports one image at a time.
  • FTP: allows using a standalone FTP program for image upload. Available to Premium, Trial and Free Unlimited members only.
  • E-mail/mobile phone upload: allows upload via e-mail or from a mobile phone. A unique user-specified e-mail address is assigned to the album. Image files can be e-mailed to that address as attachments.
  • Using image management software: supports PicaJet, PictureSync[6], CompuPic, Pictavision[7] and Spb Imageer for pocket PC.


Owners of Premium, Trial and Free Unlimited accounts get unlimited storage space. Free accounts have a space limit of 100 MB plus the option to get an additional 50 MB every month.


Fotki users can organize their photos into a structure by grouping albums into folders, creating sub-folders, moving albums between folders, moving sub-folders between folders, moving and copying photos between albums. Photos, albums and folders can be rearranged.

Users are also encouraged to add tags (a form of metadata) to their photos so they can be found in search.

Management Tools

When logged in, Fotki users have access to management tools which allow editing, moving or deleting their content, changing properties of the content, changing account settings and restricting access to the content if needed.


By default, all content created in the "Public Home" is available to all viewers. No registration is required to access the public content[8].

  • Security options

To restrict access to their content, Fotki users can use several security options, such as passwords for albums and folders, hidden albums, private section, shared folders, protection from right-click copying, restriction to view originals and to order prints.

Fotki features XML-based RSS[9][10] and Atom feeds.

  • External linking

External linking (a.k.a Hotlinking) allows Fotki users to post photos from their Fotki albums on other websites. This feature is helpful for people who write and post pictures on forums, blogs and auctions.

  • Invitations

Members can invite other people to view an album through a special invitation form.

Customization Options

  • Layout

Users can customize the look of their Fotki site by using different pre-designed skins or manually selecting colors for each element on their page. The selected skin will automatically apply to all pages in the user's account. Members can choose to hide the folder tree or not to display albums in it, and also to display or hide various information pertaining to their content. A number of pre-designed photo frames (23 as of May, 2008) is available to adorn the photos. Those familiar with HTML can design a completely new look for their photo site using the Co-Branding feature. Premium members have access to more customization options than Free members.

  • User profile

Members can create their own profile pages which may contain as much information about them as the user cares to provide. Filling out the profile is optional.

  • Co-Branding and Name Forwarding

This feature (available to Premium members only) allows the user to completely customize their Fotki site, to use a short name (e.g. as URL of their site and to even use their own domain name to access their Fotki site while having their photos stored on Fotki's servers. To achieve a high degree of customization, the knowledge of HTML/CSS is very helpful.

If the image has any embedded info in it, it will be extracted and displayed. Public display of EXIF info can be disabled by the account owner.

Fotki supports Google Maps integration for photos with GPS.

Community Features

The site offers both member search and photo search. Members can be searched by name, profile type, location, gender, age, interest, marital status and more. IPTC keyword searching is supported.

Each Fotki member gets an e-mail account. Fotki e-mail system features a spam filter with 20 levels of sensitivity, address book and the ability to create custom folders to organize messages. Each member has a Guestbook which can be enabled or disabled. Guestbook messages can be public or private. Each individual photo can be commented. Members can create any number of personal blogs and forums.

Fotki runs photo contests on a regular basis. Participation is open to all registered members. Usually, first 3 winners receive a one-year Premium membership, but sometimes there may be other prizes involved if the contest is sponsored by a third party. Effective May 11, 2007[11], Fotki runs a weekly "My Photo Of The Week" contest.

Printing offers printing services which include (as of May 3, 2008) digital photo prints and photo mugs at competitive[12] prices[13].

Professional Services

Professional photographers can sell their photos at their own price, higher than the printing cost imposed by Fotki. The difference in price minus 15% commission fee goes to the photographer. Earned money is remitted by PayPal, check or bank transfer. Photographers who offer their photos for sale can upload small size, low-res or watermarked images to avoid theft. When such photo is requested, the photographer has the option to securely upload the full size image for printing.

Video sharing

Fotki does not store videos per se, but members can store links to videos hosted by other websites. Video collections are displayed as a list of embedded previews which will enlarge when clicked on. To be accepted, the video has to be stored on Google Video, YouTube, Metacafe, Vsocial, MySpace, Vimeo, or Dailymotion.

Privacy And Security

Each account has a private and public area. Private areas are visible only to the account owner. Users can set viewing options to allow certain categories of people to view their albums (everybody, Fotki members only, Fotki friends only, or just the owner). Albums can be hidden or password protected or both.

Adult content can be marked with a "viewers discretion advised" flag. Such content requires age confirmation to be viewed. The site's Terms Of Service[14] policy prohibits public display of adult content. Users can report photos in question using a complaint form. Copyright infringement is also prohibited.

Users can view IPs of people who write comments and guestbook messages on their site. Login names of visitors to a member's personal site are logged and stored in the member's "Guests" section. These options can be turned off.

All sensitive, personal and financial information is transmitted using SSL encryption (https). Personal information including email is not available to the public.

Customer Support

The Fotki Customer Service can be contacted[15] through an online form, by email or phone.


Free account

Has advertising, 50 MB storage space limit and 50 MB e-mail space limit.

Premium account

  • No ads are displayed when browsing other Fotki sites, no ads are displayed when other people browse a Premium account.
  • Unlimited photo storage space.
  • Co-branding.
  • Ability to sell photos at custom prices.
  • FTP upload.
  • Ability to control download of originals.

Trial account

Trial Premium Account. New Fotki members automatically get a two-week-long free Trial Premium membership. There is no space limit during the Trial period. A Trial account is automatically downgraded to Free after 2 weeks unless the user upgrades to Premium by making a payment. Users who choose to let the account revert to Free are allowed to keep all the photos uploaded during the Trial period even if the limit has been exceeded[16].

Fotki also offers unlimited storage space to free account holders from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia[17].


As of August 5, 2008, the site is partially translated to Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese Simplified, Japanese, Polish, Dutch, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Estonian, Icelandic, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Ukrainian and Hebrew. With the help from volunteers, Fotki continues to translate its pages and improve the existing translation. Volunteers are rewarded with Premium memberships for contributing to the project.


Fotki has been mostly criticized for not providing enough storage space to its Free members[18], no video upload functionality[19], problems with hotlinking[20], no month-to-month membership[21], and traffic limit[22].

Controversies and Discussions

Censorship and Artistic Nudity

In May 2006, a photo of a nearly-nude female was removed from a Fotki contest by the moderators. This initiated a prolonged discussion on "artistic nudity". The author of the disqualified entry criticized Fotki for censorship and questioned its policy on nudity. After exchanging arguments, the Fotki side agreed to review the site's policy in favor of artistic photography while the decision to prohibit adult content in public sections of the site was upheld. As a result, the Fotki administration decided to run a separate, non-public photo contest[23] once a month in which nudity is allowed.

Contest Rules

In October 2006, several Fotki members posted messages in the Fotki blog protesting against the then-current contest rules which apparently allowed the earlier entrants to receive more exposure and thus get more votes. Other major issues brought up by the users included maintaining anonymity of entries while voting is in progress, allowing non-paying members to participate, working out a better formula for calculating the scores, allowing image editing and enhancement. A heated discussion[24] that involved many Fotki members quickly gave rise to a vigorous campaign to make the administration change the contest rules. As a result, a new contest system was introduced and new rules developed.


  1. " is one of the world's largest social networking sites". Retrieved 2007-08-31. [dead link]
  2. " powers world’s giants with Photo Engines". Toivo Tänavsuu, Next Web. 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  3. Fotki "Timeline And Details" page
  4. "Fotki". Webware, a CNET site. 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  5. "No need to build your own digital photo Web site". David Einstein, SFGate. 2002-08-26. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  6. "PictureSync Overview". 2007-09-01. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  7. "Pictavision - Fotki". Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  8. "Flickr vs Fotki". Halcyon Nancy, Travelers Blog. 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  9. "Fotki -> mediaRSS -> PicLens!". Danny Thorpe, 2008-03-08. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  10. "Fotki updates site, announces new pricing". 2005-09-19. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  11. "Fotki Weekly Contest Is Back!" blog entry
  12. "The buck stops here". Fotobit, (customer comment). 2006-09-16. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  13. Fotki Pricing
  14. Fotki Terms Of Service
  15. Fotki "Contact Us" page
  16. Account Types: Premium Membership vs. Free Account (Help article)
  17. "Fotki". 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  18. "7 Alternatives to Flickr". Eric, Photography Bay. 2007-12-03. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  19. "Fotki Reviewer's Comments". Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  20. " picture hosting problems". forlogos, B Stuff et cetera. 2007-06-12. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  21. "Review at Star Reviews". 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  22. "Fotki Traffic Limit". Roland Lim, The World According to Roland. 2007-09-03. Retrieved 2008-08-05. 
  23. "Welcome to Blue Ribbon Contest!". 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2008-10-23. 
  24. Comments to the ""My Pet's Coolest Pic" Test Photo Contest" blog entry

External links

See also

Personal tools

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