For the last few days I've been involved with SU's image cleanup project. As part of this, I've come across many questions where the linked images are unavailable due to inevitable link rot. My usual response to this has been to remove the links and clean up the question to make it clear what's being asked.

However, this question here is giving me pause for thought. The question is highly dependent on the two linked images, which are both currently unavailable. In this case, removing those links entirely would leave behind a question that won't make sense to anyone coming across it in the future and won't be useful to them.

In contrast, leaving the links there keeps the context of the original question and leaves open the (admittedly unlikely) possibility that a dead link will be resurrected again some day and make the question wholly useful again.

Personally, I'm leaning towards the latter, just because, although it might look unseemly, from a UX perspective users typically understand what a dead link is and can act accordingly, whereas removing all traces of links or images in such an image-dependent question would likely be a little jarring.

What should I do in this situation?

I'm asking here beforehand because I don't want to follow my gut and then have it overridden anyway by those approving my edits.

3 Answers 3


Read the post in the context of the images not working.

If there is nothing that can be made from it and it's a question, it should be closed as unclear.

If it's on an answer, either leave a comment nudging the person to better their answer to not rely on a broken image, or just downvote.

Do not rely on the hope that the broken images may one day appear again. They most likely will not.

  • 1
    This serves as a cautionary tale too: Make sure your question makes sense as much as possible without the images, and use the images as backup, as evidence, as helpful rather than necessary. Mar 28, 2017 at 16:43
  • And whilst doing that make sure your question makes sense without the text as well incase Stack Exchange does something that breaks that... Apr 5, 2017 at 16:01

Just to add, some i.stack.imgur links are apparently badly autofixed or point at the wrong thing. You'll need to change them to i.imgur links.

Here's an example where we needed to do it.

Essentially whatever script changed http://i.imgur.com/ to https://i.stack.imgur.com/ assumed that the images would have the same filename - in these cases one was empty, and one didn't belong. Changing the links back to i.imgur should give you the original images. Then reupload them to get the correct image on i.stack.imgur and you should be good.

  • I can't really make out from that example how you managed to salvage the images from the broken links. Mar 25, 2017 at 1:46
  • 2
    @Hashim. In the dim and distant past, when you uploaded an image through SE, it went to i.imgur.com. And if you uploaded an image to Imgur yourself, and then linked it here, it also went to i.imgur.com. Then SE changed things so that their uploads went to i.stack.imgur.com, and also ran a batch edit on their sites rewriting all links to i.imgur.com to i.stack.imgur.com. This broke links to images which people had uploaded themselves.
    – TRiG
    Mar 30, 2017 at 11:30
  • 2
    The fix is to (a) remove the stack from the URL, and (b) reupload through SE, as those links are permanent, while the personal ones may eventually expire.
    – TRiG
    Mar 30, 2017 at 11:30
  • That makes it a lot clearer, as does Journeyman's edit. Thanks to both of you. Mar 30, 2017 at 22:04

I think we should replace image links with text something like "bad image was here" or something like that.

  • 1
    The edit history can be viewed, but the post should always be the best that it can be as it exists now. Pointing to where a dead image used to be isn't useful to people coming for the knowledge. A dead link or reference to it is just flotsam. If the post can't survive without it, it's not really useful in the knowledge base. BTW, I've been able to salvage a few by finding archived copies, but it seems most dead links have been to sharing locations that don't get archived. A few posts have been clear enough (and useful enough), that people have been able to create a replacement image.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 27, 2017 at 0:32

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