Is there any plan to take care of broken imgur image-links?

They look like this:

(This picture is taken from Bill Dubuque's answer here which was posted not even two months ago—look at the revision history and scroll down in order to see how it looked before I fixed it a moment ago)

Hitting ctrl-G inserts a link of the form i.stack.imgur.com/...

After a few months, these links seem to expire, but they can be fixed by removing the .stack-part of the link.

An answer using or even depending on images can be rendered rather worthless when these links are not guaranteed to be persistent, as witnessed by Bill's answer which changed from an interesting answer into a mere and imprecise reference.

My understanding is that imgur.com guarantees that the images are preserved as long as they are accessed frequently enough.

So, I guess I stated the question at the beginning, but here's a short version again:

What should be done about this?

Added: Of course, it would be advisable to formulate questions and answers in such a way that the images are only supplementary information (if possible), but e.g. a question on elementary geometry can often be asked and answered much more easily and comprehensibly by posting a picture.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I added the bug-tag, but I'm not sure if it's a bug. It certainly is undesirable behavior of the software. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Jun 30, 2011 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks much for fixing the link rot. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2011 at 3:33

3 Answers 3


The image in Non-unital rings: a few examples on May 7 was not uploaded through our image support:


Compare with the image in Help me to solve with equivalent functions to Disjunctive.normal.form on May 26:

{"stack":{"owner":"Stack Exchange"}}

This is important, because images not properly uploaded through our Imgur network pro account are subject to removal after 6 months:

Normal images that are not viewed for 6 months may be removed. However, images with pro accounts can only be removed by you.

We replaced all the imgur links within the timeframe that we've had an officially supported image host (that is, since Aug 17 2010) network-wide, changing them from




... so that we can flag these images that are in danger of being lost. In other words, things that are broken, should look broken.

Replacing it with the old form is undoing that work.

What I suggest is re-uploading it using the toolbar button in the editor, so the image is no longer at risk of being removed after 6 months. It's either that, or have the user pay Imgur $23.95 / year for a pro account to ensure the images stick around.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ (I optimized and re-uploaded the image in question..) $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2011 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ @jeff Are you implying that said image was uploaded directly via imgur instead of via the MSE interface? I don't recall ever doing such. Nor can I think of any reason why I would do so (except perhaps if there was some problem with the MSI interface). $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2011 at 5:05
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    $\begingroup$ @jeff: Please look at revision 1). The img url is i.stack.imgur.com/Zrwfd.jpg which I would presume is through the SE upload. If not, do you automatically insert the .stack in the url (which possibly intrudes with the case when the user actually has a premium account)? $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jun 30, 2011 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ @aryab we globally replaced the strings on the network, so we re-wrote history. You can check the google cache to see the difference. $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2011 at 5:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: Ok. Glad it is not a bug :-) Btw, how did you determine the owner information? (and apologies, I should have read your answer more carefully). $\endgroup$
    – Aryabhata
    Jun 30, 2011 at 5:56
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    $\begingroup$ Jeff: While I'm very happy to know that using the built-in feature for uploading images guarantees them to be reasonably persistent, I do have a follow-up question similar to @Aryabhata 's: I didn't know about this handy built-in feature until recently and thus uploaded some images manually and anonymously to imgur. How can I find these posts and do it properly? Even if I were to click through some 250 answers, I wouldn't know how to recognize the pictures having {"stack":{"owner":"Imgur"}} instead of {"stack":{"owner":"Stack Exchange"}}. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Jun 30, 2011 at 9:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Theo: I guess you'll just have to look for those where the image link is broken; the others are safe. (In those where the link is broken, removing stack. from the URL will make it appear again, and then you can re-upload it via the add-image button.) $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2011 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Jeff Could you please answer my query above. Also, how are your checking the imgur owner info? $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2011 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ That makes no sense. Instead of deliberately changing the link to a non-working one as a "flag that it is in danger of being lost", why not just un-lose them from the beginning rather than depending on random passers-by to telepathically know the right thing to do? $\endgroup$ Dec 30, 2011 at 15:38

Here is the procedure I use for fixing a broken image link:

  1. Remove the .stack-part from the broken link and check if the image is still on imgur by looking at the preview. If it is still there the image should appear. If it isn't, skip the rest and look for a replacement elsewhere.
  2. Copy the link with .stack removed to the clipboard
  3. Move the cursor to the appropriate place in the post and hit ctrl-G
  4. Select "from the web" and paste the link into the form.
  5. Click "upload"

Somehow, though I distinctly recall following the procedure outlined in Jeff's answer, the (single!) image in the answer to this question has gone kaput. Unfortunately, I no longer have access to the machine that produced the picture (or any machine with a current version of Mathematica), so I'm unsure what to do here...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I fixed it for you. Here's the procedure: Copy the old image link. Hit ctrl-G at the appropriate place, choose "from the internet", paste the link, remove .stack from the link, click upload. Done. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Jul 17, 2011 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Great, thanks! :) $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2011 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ Could you have a look at the answer I just posted and tell me if it makes sense? Feel free to edit it in whatever way you think would serve its purpose better. $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Jul 17, 2011 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ Looks good to me, @Theo. :) $\endgroup$ Jul 17, 2011 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks!${}{}{}{}$ :) $\endgroup$
    – t.b.
    Jul 17, 2011 at 19:03

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