I've seen users posts and refer content on "external" sites.

Where should I upload mine, and where should I not upload mine, and why?


Note that this question serves more of a reminder than anything else.

Think in terms of future visitor experience: favour content in the post rather than an external link, and favour stable external sites rather than rot prone ones.

  • Images should be uploaded to StackExchange's imgur server, using the Image <img> Ctrl+G icon in the edit bar of every Question and Answer post. They'll end up with an URL starting with https://i.stack.imgur.com.

  • Code should be posted right in the question/answer, and formatted using the Preformated text <pre> <code> Ctrl-K icon in the edit bar of every Question and Answer post. There are many reasons why code should not be posted as an image / screenshot.

  • Videos should be converted as much as possible to animated gifs and uploaded to StackExchange's imgur server, as described before. If not, YouTube links tend to not rot that much.

  • Whole projects should not be needed. If you think you need to upload a project, you probably should re-scope your question or your answer. If you must upload it somewhere, favour "open source" repositories such as github¤. And when linking to the project, browse the history of the project and link to a specific commit instead of linking to the 'head' of the master branch. This way the question and the project will make sense for future visitors (you'll most likely keep on working on your project, which will render the 'head' irrelevant to the StackExchange post).


This being said, it's important to not rely on less stable external resources. There has been stories in the past that made some questions and answers completely irrelevant because they relied on resources that were no longer there, and no longer available.

So here is a (incomplete) list of sites that should be avoided mainly because of a high risk of link rot:

Images:

Files/projects:

Code:

Other considerations:

  • codepen.io Although the code will not technically rot ¤, StackExchange posts allow users to put JavaScript, HTML, CSS and images in posts using the JavaScript/CSS/HTML snippet Ctrl-M tool bar icon, so this should be favoured (plus that the history of the code will be visible in StackExchange posts, whereas the code on codepen can change ¤¤).

¤ I have not yet encountered an occurrence of a rot there.
¤¤ From what I understand of the service. Has to be confirmed.

  • What's the protocol when the link is already dead? I.E. the imageshack one doesn't seem to be in the Wayback Machine or the Google cache for the page. I searched SE Meta too, but didn't find an authoritative solution. – Pikalek Aug 22 at 3:01
  • 1
    I usually remove the link from the post and adapt it however I can to make it readable. If the post still makes sense, I leave a note to the author suggesting them to re-upload, and if I can't figure out what the post is about after the removal, I vote to close as unclear (I also leave a note). – Alexandre Vaillancourt Aug 22 at 12:51
  • Thanks for the guidelines. Should we ✅ the entries when they clear? – Pikalek Aug 22 at 14:29
  • I don't think it's necessary here, as we'll have to keep on checking for these once in a while, (a bit like the "blacklisted tags list"). – Alexandre Vaillancourt Aug 22 at 17:10
  • If we find old http URLs for i.stack.imgur.com, should be we edit them them to be https instead? – Pikalek Aug 27 at 20:46
  • @Pikalek I saw that I found it odd that the bot did not fix them. I might try and have a word with someone else about that. I would not focus on these, but if you encounter them when working on something else, sure, fix them! – Alexandre Vaillancourt Aug 27 at 23:11
  • Yeah, I did a quick search & saw mention of the bot, but didn't know if it was an 'already done' thing or a WIP. I found them in here when editing to remove quads. They end up at an https page, but the source is http. – Pikalek Aug 28 at 0:47
  • I'll ask around tomorrow and see what's going on with that :) – Alexandre Vaillancourt Aug 28 at 0:51

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