I just inserted an image-link into someone's answer (uploading the picture from my computer), and I notice that the image now resides at http://i.stack.imgur.com/. Is that an SE site, assuring that linked images there will be preserved as part of the answers in which they appear? (The expected obvious answer is "yes", but I haven't seen it documented anywhere.)

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, essentially because of this concern, I encourage users to avoid posting pictures if possible: e.g., instead of uploading a scanned picture showing steps, type them out using TeX. $\endgroup$
    – Srivatsan
    Nov 30 '11 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Srivatsan: Rather than avoiding posting pictures altogether, I think it's more reasonable to say that an answer that includes images should be written in such a way that it remains intelligible when/if the image-link expires. $\endgroup$
    – r.e.s.
    Nov 30 '11 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, I should've been more clear. My comment mainly pertains to users who don't want to use TeX and hence post a scanned image of their work or a page from their textbook. Such pictures can be easily avoided. $\endgroup$
    – Srivatsan
    Nov 30 '11 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ On that note: please do fill out the image descriptions (in between the ![ and ]) with something useful! "enter image description here" is of no help in reconstituting pictures if need be. $\endgroup$ Nov 30 '11 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ Hum, since this has come up again, I think we should probably make this an FAQ item. $\endgroup$ Dec 1 '11 at 8:43

Here is the meta.SO post about stack.imgur.com.

Unfortunately it is not the case that this site preserves images indefinitely (see the comments on Jeff Atwood's answer); however, they will remain significantly longer than most images hosted on the imgur site.

Hooray! I was mistaken earlier; it is the case that images uploaded via stack.imgur.com will be hosted indefinitely, or at least as long as the SE team continues to renew the contract for the imgur pro account, which we can certainly expect to be as long as the world keeps turning.


  • $\begingroup$ Just wondering - on some filesharing sites you can prevent links from dying by downloading the files regularly (say once in two months). This can, of course, be automatized. Would something like that work for imgur? Would it be unwelcome for too much load on servers? $\endgroup$ Nov 30 '11 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting, and important, I think. From now on, if an answer includes an image-link, I'll make an effort to (re-)write the answer in such a way that when/if the link expires, the answer remains intelligible without the image. $\endgroup$
    – r.e.s.
    Nov 30 '11 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin: That is an interesting idea, and I'm afraid I don't know the answer. My sense was that this does work for imgur, at least for some number of times, but that there was still some absolute time frame for removing images. However, I don't see any place I can justify that impression. I also don't know if, or to what extent, doing this would be unwelcome. $\endgroup$ Nov 30 '11 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ Well, at least it should be possible to automatize checking whether the links are alive. Of course, this requires effort on my side: I have to run the script from time to time and I have to keep somewhere the information which image belong to which post, so that I can replace it if it expires. $\endgroup$ Nov 30 '11 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ I'm under the expectation that we'd renew the contract once it ends, not that we'd just let it expire. Letting every image across the entire network fail after a year when we setup the system explicitly to avoid image decay would be very... ill-thought-out. $\endgroup$
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Nov 30 '11 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @GraceNote: Of course :) But am I correct in my understanding that the contract is not actually for permanent hosting? $\endgroup$ Nov 30 '11 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Zev I would say the intent is for "effectively permanent" hosting. It's just not internal so it isn't literally permanent, but in practice, images uploaded through us to i.stack.imgur are intended to be indefinitely available enough. $\endgroup$
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Nov 30 '11 at 18:52
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the clarification, I had thought I'd seen images on posts created after this change still go missing, but I must have been mistaken. I will correct my answer. $\endgroup$ Nov 30 '11 at 18:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Zev Things have gone missing, but that wasn't because of decay. Rather, it was the result of our global replace of i.imgur with i.stack.imgur picking up things that were uploaded just to plain imgur (which would make the i.stack.imgur link null). It's something that's still in the process of getting cleaned up, haha. $\endgroup$
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Nov 30 '11 at 20:33

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