When reviewing this post through the First Posts review queue, I was going to edit to convert links to images to inline inages, but when I saw that the images were not hosted at imgur, I decided against it, as there might licensing issues when moving someone else's files around.

I have done this in the past, but I stopped doing it, when it was pointed out that there may be legal issues if moving people's .blend files to Blend-Exchange. This was pointed out in this question on Meta, in a comment by X-27 and and answer by GiantCowFilms. I thought that this would likely apply to images, or files of any type, as well.

I tried to use the <img src="URL"> syntax, but the URLs weren't https, so it didn't work.

A few minutes after leaving the question, I noticed that it had been edited, and out of curiosity I opened it up again, and realised that someone else had done more or less exactly the edit I decided against.

What exactly should we do in these cases? I'm especially keen to know, since I just recently got edit privileges, so no one has to review my edits.


3 Answers 3


Images and files don't carry the same weight here in my book. If someone added an image to a post asking for help with some problem using an external image hosting site I think it's fair to assume that...

  1. They are somewhat new to SE and don't know that they can upload images here
  2. They already shared the image knowing it would be viewed by random strangers on the interwebs so it's open

Moving it to a permanent host will only serve to benefit future viewers and prevent link rot as well as get provided benefits for SE hosted images to make more concise posts.

I say use your best judgement* and go for it whenever you get the chance. Not to make this any more complicated with that clause but if you spot some PII in a post or something NSFW a flag or a comment to the user should take priority instead.

* The whole point of reviewing is to use your judgement following some guidelines put forth to decide what a post merits, whether it be closure, some editing or a comment.


Replace them.

Aside from the obvious dead-links-are-bad thing, many external images are not accessible over https. Soon only https images will be allowed, and non-imgur http links will have to be manually converted (assuming they aren't already dead). There is already an ongoing effort to change these on SO. In addition, most images here are screenshots, over which copywrite/licensing isn't as much of a concern.

The main exception is if the image (ahem, gif) is too large to fit on i.stack.imgur. If such an image is hosted somewhere which is known to delete them (or even just looks like the kind of place that will delete them), especially if the image is in an answer, consider at least leaving a comment and suggesting that the OP upload them to a more permanent host (gfycat is one option for oversize gifs).

  • $\begingroup$ Good point about the gifs, forgot about those! $\endgroup$
    – iKlsR
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 14:40

Yes always move images to SE's image host. Having an externally hosted image is just plain bad. Either the post can do without the image, or it should be hosted through https://i.sstatic.net. Else we will end up with more posts like this: What to do with questions based on links once the links have expired?

Now in cases where the OP does not own the image (say an image from wikimedia commons), you must still host the image through SE's system. However in this case you need to give attribution for image (I happen to have an example of how I did it).

If you did not already read my answer on dead links, I will restate my opinion that all images outside of i.sstatic.net should be banned. So if you happen to catch one in the First Post review before it is a dead external image, then fix it now before we have to edit out another dead image.


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