# What to do with questions based on links once the links have expired?

Some questions are based on links to files and images hosted in external sites. Once those links disappear the question no longer makes sense.

Here's an example: Setting parent to armature with automatic weights deforms the mesh

Are those to be marked as "unclear on what you are asking?"

Super short tldr
Don't CV. Either edit, flag or leave a comment for the OP.

Before I answer your question, let me rant a bit :)

Here is the problem with link only questions (LOQ), link only answers (LOA), and like in this case "Here's my blend" questions; inevitably they all go bad.
Indeed this is a problem, which is why this is so heavily discouraged in the first place.

Here are some ideas I have to proactively combat this problem.

### Images

I think we should have an outright ban on any images coming from anything other then i.stack.imgur.com (stack exchange's special image host). 1
I recently when back to a forum that I'm no longer part of, and found all the images are gone. Those were hosted on a site (postimage.org) that at the time said lifetime image hosting. They still say:

You can upload unlimited images per post and you will never have to worry about your images being removed due to inactivity.

Well they are all gone, I don't want our questions (like the linked question) left without important context (and in some cases) the whole question.
Even i.imgur.com should be considered an outside source and get changed. Yes this would include gifs over 2mb.

### Blend files

I understand that there are many things that simply can not be answered without a blend. So in cases like that we need to be 100% sure that the blend file will stay around. We have Blend-exchange, a site created and maintained by a member of our community. All blends need to be hosted on that site. Pastall is the worst, they guarantee your link will be no good in 5 months, dropbox, google drive, onedrive, any all others should be banned.

There should not be such an emphasize on "the blend." Granted, blends are immensely useful, and help get questions answered quickly. Yet there is a balance, not everything needs a blend. Questions should use text as the number one tool through which information is conveyed.
I believe that in the right hands any question* can be answered without a blend.

As an example from the linked question (dead links underlined in red):

There use to be two images hosted on dropbox; and a blend file on one of those random file sharing sites. As the question is now, it is completely useless.

Now how to deal with posts after the links have gone bad (and to answer your current question). There are a plethora (1, 2, 3, 4) of discussions on this over on the main meta, here I will summarize them and add my own thoughts, specific for BSE.

There are four different cases, and you should take different actions for each.

There should never be a link only answer, and now that the link is dead the answer is worthless.
Flag for for moderator attention, use a custom message and explain that the link is dead. If you have enough rep to vote to delete, then do that too.

• Questions dependent on the dead link(s).
This is the case for the linked question. Add a comment and ask the OP to fix their dead links, also explain where images and blend files should go. Completely edit out the dead links.
If there are no useful answers, flag for moderator attention. Let us know why this should be deleted (dead links). There is hardly ever any reason to close these type of questions, either the answers are still useful or the whole thing can be deleted.

• Free standing questions with a dead blend.
Assuming that the link is non essential to understanding the question, which could often be a blend file, as we can not get the original file back, a comment to the OP is the only option. Then completely remove the dead link.

* "Any question" does not include questions that are so unclear, or of poor quality that their meaning can not be deciphered.

• So, if we stumble over a posting with external links to images and files, should we edit it and move the images to imgur then? It's most common for new users to post links to images due to their rep status. On the other hand, if someone posts a link to an image he doesn't own and asks how he can achieve that sort of mesh/shader? Some people are quite restrictive when it comes to that... Aug 21 '16 at 16:34
• @metaphor_set yes, if there is still a working link to an image hosted outside of i.stack.imgur.com then do edit and upload it to i.stack.imgur.com. For images where the OP does not own the rights, something as simple as "Image from <link to source>" will do. Aug 21 '16 at 19:48
• For Free standing questions with a dead blend., perhaps one should also contact the user who answered the question (if there is an answer) because they might have a copy of the dead .blend in their Downloads folder or somewhere else deep in their hard drive? Would have edited, but wanted to present my idea in the comments first. Aug 22 '16 at 21:25
• @ShadyPuck possible, but I would say unlikely. I know I delete all the blends I download when I'm done with my answer. Aug 23 '16 at 2:56
• @David I just thought I'd point it out because I haven't deleted the .blends. I don't know if what your doing or what I'm doing is the norm. P.S. Maybe in the case of these pasteall .blends, people should download them, upload them to Blend Exchange, and edit the question w/ the new .blend link? Aug 23 '16 at 11:24
• Whenever you upload an image, from file or URL, it is automatically transferred to the SE imgur. Jan 15 '17 at 17:06
• @JoshSilveous yes, but only if you use the image button in the editor. Like in the examples in my answer, the OPs here just inserted the code for the image from another host. Jan 15 '17 at 17:10

I'd say yes, but only if the question is un-answered.

If the question has an answer (as does the question you linked), then IMO it doesn't benefit anything.

One of the goals of closing a question is to provide an incentive for the OP to improve it, making it possible to provide a useful answer.
If the OP has already got their answer, closing their question will do nothing.

Plus, people arriving from search engines are likely far more interested in the answers. Chances are, they have independently discovered same problem as the OP. If they read the question, they'll probably only be doing so for the purpose of confirming that they are really reading about the same issue.