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yahoo_logoYahoo’s Smush.it image optimization service has been taken offline without warning, leaving hundreds of thousands of websites in the lurch. The free service, which allowed website administrators to upload an image and receive a smaller file optimized for use on websites, hasn’t been available for weeks, breaking a key workflow for sites on the web.

Posts to Yahoo’s “Exceptional Performance” web development group show that the service went down around the week of March 13, and it hasn’t been back up since. Yahoo hasn’t responded to any questions about the service, so it’s not clear if the company plans to bring it back at some point. For now, web administrators must turn to tools like imageoptim and Kraken.io to optimize images.

One of the key tools impacted is the WP Smush.it plugin, which connected WordPress websites to the service so that images uploaded to a website running the plugin were automatically optimized when someone uploaded them. That plugin is installed on 300,000 active WordPress sites, and its developer has had to remove the Smush.it integration in order to keep it functioning.

Smush.it was created by Stoyan Stefanov and Nicole Sullivan and launched in 2008 at the Ajax Experience conference in Boston. The service took off, but was laid low by its hosting provider cutting off access to some of the command line tools needed to make it work. After that, Yahoo took over running Smush.it from 2008 to the present.

It’s not clear why the service went down, though the shutdown comes at a time when Yahoo is trying to streamline its operations. The company is undergoing a reorganization, and has reportedly terminated hundreds of employees. It’s entirely possible that the people at the company who were maintaining the service lost their jobs, and Smush.it departed with them.

We’ve reached out to Yahoo for comment

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