We all will agree that there should not be images hosted externally.
However in the past it has been accepted to host gifs larger than the 2mb size limit of i.stack.imgur on external sites, I even said to do so in my gif post.

This needs to end.

Well a few years have gone by and technologies have changed, those gif hosting sites we used have stopped serving the gifs as gifs. I came across yet another post today with a dead gif and was greeted with this at the top of the answer: This content is not available

Under no circumstance should we have "no image available" animated images on BSE.

I made a quick data explorer query, and it appears there are 167 externally hosted gifs on the main and two more on meta. Thankfully not all of them are dead - yet.

A preliminarily investigation reveals that at least some of the gifs on these main hosts are gone:

  • gfycat.com
  • giphy.com
  • i.imgur.com

Mind you that these were hosts that were never going to remove the images...

This is a big problem. Gandalf's legendary quest in Stackexchangia is just not right without the gifs.


What to do about all the now dead links? I would use the methods in the last part of this answer. Try leaving a comment for OP below the post with the dead link, maybe the OP can reupload the gif, to i.stack.imgur this time.
At least for images on gfycat a smaller version (tiny in some cases) of the gif is still available. To find the new url for the gif you will have to follow the link (https://gfycat.com/loathsomecostlybufflehead) click on the paper airplane to "Share." Next on the bottom click "GIFS" then copy the url of the larger one.
Hopefully there will be no cases where the post was so dependent on the gif that outright deletion is the only option, but don't count that out.

The cleanup so far is relatively minor (painful, and with lost data no doubt) but the bigger issue is stopping the usage of externally hosted images altogether now.

Next steps

I propose BSE creates a unilateral ban on external images. I do not remember which pages in the help docs are editable (mod only feature). If a suitable page is found, then add something about external images. Edit, or add a post notice to historical posts (like this one). After there is no conflicting information lurking in the depth of the meta, then ruthlessly edit any new images that are not hosted on i.stack.imgur.

Unrelated, but in investigating this I was reminded of Glorfindel's bot. A huge shout out and thank you to user Glorfindel who has had a bot running for years fixing dead images.

I'll spare you of my rant about images hosted externally.



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