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Like many people I edit some posts if formatting is bad or syntax highlighting isn't used. Because of the fact that images are also often from a different image hosting service other than imgur, I always upload them too.

But what should I do if the picture is missing because the other hosting service is offline or has deleted the file?

I do nothing now, but should some info like "picture is missing" be inserted?
Because sometimes I google a question and don't understand it, till I click on edit and see that a describing image is missing.

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Hey, it's Neysor! I just started noticing your suggested edits yesterday; good work! –  Pops Mar 29 '12 at 20:17
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Pro tip: If it's an imgur link, you can try reviving it by replacing i.stack.imgur.com with i.imgur.com or vice versa, and changing the file extension. There was that global replacement business that broke dozens of imgur links across the network. –  lunboks Mar 29 '12 at 20:23
    
@PopularDemand - Is this the Neysor of SU you were referring to? Or is it one of the others? –  M.Babcock Mar 29 '12 at 20:34
    
@M.Babcock Yes. –  Pops Mar 29 '12 at 20:36
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@PopularDemand and i thought to be compared with this gareth. And I'm only editing images if I'm to bored to edit other things. this is something i can do while watching tv :P –  Neysor Mar 29 '12 at 20:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, there's not much you can do...

If the post isn't very old (or if the person who posted it is still around on the site—check their profile), you might leave them a comment pointing out that the image is now dead, and inviting them to re-upload it to Imgur.

If that doesn't produce any results, or if the person is long gone from Stack Overflow, then the best you can do is delete the image altogether.

I agree this is not an ideal solution, but that's why we now provide a free image hosting service and encourage everyone to use it. You're doing the right thing by transferring existing images that are not hosted on Imgur to that service. That ensures their permanence, as all images on i.stack.imgur.com are backed up regularly.

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It depends on the situation. Most likely if it was a good question, the picture was only a visual aid and was not the primary focus of the question. That is how a good question should be. In this case, the post can most likely survive without the image without affecting its overall meaning. It would be nice if we found the image again in the future, but adding a note really isn't all that necessary.

If the post is heavily focused on the image, then it's probably not a real question to begin with. Posts that can't survive at all or don't make any sense whatsoever without the image should probably be closed and deleted, just like an answer which only provided a link that no longer works would be deleted. They didn't spend the time to explain the image and what was needed out of it and their link died; it's no longer valuable to us. A post with a note "this picture is missing" is just as unvaluable as a post missing the image with no note.

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When the image was provided by the OP, and the OP hasn't abandoned the SE network, I usually leave a comment asking if he still has a copy he can put up using the new Imgur uploader.

If it was from somewhere on the web, and the website still seems to exist, I've had moderate success using the third party site's search feature to find the new URL for the image.

When those methods fail, I'll hit up archive.org and pop the question URL into the Wayback Machine. Google Image Search and TinEye may also be helpful.

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