There's a very popular topic on Stack Overflow's Meta asking to Ban ImageShack Images. This was created because ImageShack deletes old images to free up server space, making images within older posts fail to load.

Unfortunately the situation is much worse than just deleting; it seems they're reusing old URLs for advertising purposes. In the post here about Stickers for Stackers I've just had to edit out the ImageShack images from two separate posts because they've been reused as advertisements:

Example

Can we block ImageShack across the entire Stack Exchange network?

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    ImageShack is not holding up and is desparate to make money by any means possible. Looks like a failing business... – bwDraco Aug 17 '15 at 12:01
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    A more radical solution would be to block all image hosts other than the SE imgur account. – Mad Scientist Aug 17 '15 at 12:03
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    @MadScientist if this is done it should only be done from this time onwards since it will needlessly break existing posts with good images. – Motti Aug 17 '15 at 13:07
  • @Motti Well force changing it in an edit? – Tim Aug 17 '15 at 13:19
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    @Motti That is part of my old feature request, it doesn't disallow them retroactively. – Mad Scientist Aug 17 '15 at 13:20
  • @Motti Is there any precedent of incentivising users to fix a mass of content? In this case ideally users could edit a mass of posts with soon to be disallowed links and reupload the image to the StackExchange hosting instead. – SuperBiasedMan Aug 17 '15 at 14:44
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    @SuperBiasedMan: If you or anyone else want to help with that, here's an SEDE query showing posts with embedded ImageShack images. Some of those are already broken, some not yet; a few are false positives where someone already fixed the images, but left the original URL in the alt text. For SO specifically, you may prefer to use this variant query that only shows posts with 10+ score. – Ilmari Karonen Aug 17 '15 at 16:13
  • @IlmariKaronen I think that site search url:imageshack is preferable, because it avoids the already-fixed posts, and also because some posts by low-reputation users have non-embedded links due to new user restriction. – user259867 Aug 17 '15 at 16:20
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    @NormalHuman: AFAIK, searching for url:imageshack only returns posts with links to ImageShack, not those with embedded ImageShack images. (Of course, some posts may have both.) So both of those are useful tools for finding posts to fix, but neither one is sufficient alone. – Ilmari Karonen Aug 17 '15 at 16:23
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    yeah +1 to this. i keep getting comments on ancient posts (that pre-date the SE imgur option) telling me that my images are gone and i don't have any of the original images from 6-8 years ago – Kip Aug 17 '15 at 19:08
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    Woof. Gone are the good ol' days of "image not found" or whatever they used to show instead. Good for Imageshack on coming up with another source of revenue, I guess, but we're gonna be blocking this. We're currently investigating options - may end up just blacklisting imageshack outright. Not sure if there's a way to retrieve these images and upload them to our image host or something, but we can at least stop the proverbial bleeding. – Adam Lear Aug 17 '15 at 23:51
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    @AnnaLear Would there be much notice of this decision happening? I'm trying to reupload some still existing ones to SO's own hosting so ideally I could catch more before ImageShack gets blacklisted (assuming it does). – SuperBiasedMan Aug 18 '15 at 8:40
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    @IlmariKaronen Wouldn't it become hard to search them if they were mass edited out though? Unless they were somehow tagged as previously containing a link. – SuperBiasedMan Aug 18 '15 at 10:19
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    I have reached out to ImageShack to see if we can get some cooperation between us and them. Ideally we would like to have all of these images restored, but that might be a long shot. Just to let you know we are working on it. – Geoff Dalgas Aug 26 '15 at 16:56
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    @SuperBiasedMan One can use a similar SEDE query for that, just for PostHistory table instead of Posts table. – user259867 Aug 26 '15 at 17:14
up vote 17 down vote accepted

We have started showing a warning message when images are uploaded to Imageshack. We are planning on doing more such as sweeping through and uploading all images to our hosted image server over time. Old images in historical posts that no longer exist are very difficult to track down, so we may need your help finding them and re-uploading them as they are discovered.

I completely support banning ImageShack images in new posts. The fact that it's an unreliable image host would be reason enough in itself, but the replacement of images by ads just adds insult to injury.

If implemented in the same way as most content bans on SE, this would presumably mean that trying to post a question or an answer containing an image hosted on ImageShack (or trying to edit an existing one) would trigger an error popup stating why such images are not allowed, and suggesting to use the SE image upload dialog instead. Here's a quick rough draft of what such a message might look like:

Images hosted on ImageShack are not allowed in posts, because they may get deleted and replaced by advertisements. Please use the image upload button in the editor toolbar (or press Ctrl+G) to upload your images instead.


That leaves the issue of dealing with existing posts that contain ImageShack images, and are therefore either already broken or liable to break sooner or later. If you wish to help fix old posts with ImageShack images, here's a quick outline of what to do:

  • Run this SEDE query to get a list of posts to fix.

    Notes:

    • The query only returns posts that have images directly loaded from ImageShack, not those the merely link to ImageShack. To find those, enter url:imageshack.us in the search box.

    • The links above give results for meta.SE; for other sites, use the "switch sites" box, or edit the URL directly. For Stack Overflow (which has way more than 1000 matching posts, and for which the query would time out without the arbitrary 1000 row cutoff), try this variant query that only shows posts with 10+ score.

    • SEDE data is not always 100% up to date, so some posts shown may have already been fixed. There may also be some false positives where e.g. the image alt text contains an ImageShack URL, even though the actual image is hosted on imgur. (Often, this happens because somebody already fixed the images some time ago, but left the old URLs in.)

  • If the images still work, edit the post and reupload them to Stack Exchange's imgur account using the image upload button in the editor toolbar.

    If they're already broken, try to recover them from the Wayback Machine by prepending http://web.archive.org/web/2/ to the image URLs, and reupload the recovered images to stack.imgur. (Please don't just leave the image links pointing to archive.org; while this does generally work, we don't really want to rely on them or cause them extra server load.) To make this easier, you may wish to install this user script, which automatically tries to reload ImageShack images from archive.org when you click them, and also highlights such images by graying them out and adding a red dashed border.

    If you can't recover the images, and the author of the post is still around, consider leaving them a polite comment to let them know that their post is broken, and asking them to reupload the images if they can. If the author seems to be long gone, see if you can simply edit out the broken images without unduly damaging the post, or perhaps even try to recreate them yourself.

    Finally, if the post really seems unrecoverable and useless without the images, you may wish to flag it or, if you can, just vote to delete it yourself. For locked posts, see this meta.SE thread.

  • Use an informative edit summary, preferably linking to this thread, e.g.:

    "reupload images from imageshack to stack.imgur before they get replaced by ads; see http://meta.stackexchange.com/q/263771"

    This is especially important if you don't have full edit privileges on the site, so that your edits have to go through review.

  • While you're editing the post, see if there's anything else (spelling, grammar, Markdown syntax, needless "Hi!" / "Thanks in advance!", etc.) that you can easily fix at the same time.

  • Having edited the post, see if other posts in the same thread also have ImageShack images (the user script helps here too) and fix them as well. A lot of broken images are found in old long threads, and it's better to only bump the thread once.

  • Don't make too many edits at once, to avoid flooding the front page. (What counts as too many depends on the site.) Also consider spreading your efforts across multiple sites.

For reference, I posted the original version of these instructions on meta.MathOverflow. It was suggested there that they might be useful to folks dealing with this issue on other sites, too.

Maybe Stack Exchange could gather up a list of all old ImageShack images urls, offer to pay the ransom for them, move them into imgur, and update the references server-side.

It is after all SE's fault that the built-in image uploader wasn't around until two years after launch...

  • What ransom? If ImageShack deletes old images to free up server space, aren’t they, well, deleted? – Emil Jeřábek Aug 18 '15 at 17:20
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    @EmilJeřábek nothing is ever really deleted on the internet, at least not on purpose. :) – Kip Aug 18 '15 at 17:39
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    @Kip Maybe, but imageshack did delete the images from their servers, so they don't have them anymore. Any other way to get back the images (wayback machine etc) could be achievable by SE itself. – user2357 Aug 20 '15 at 9:41

I think it's OK to ban some image hosting services going forwards but we should be wary of blocking existing content.

One thing that can be done is to automatically mask images from disallowed sites in the same way that spoilers are hidden but allow revealing them manually.

Like this Like this

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    Unfortunately, the single best way to give something a LOT of attention is to cover it up and say "don't look here." – Robert Cartaino Aug 17 '15 at 15:20
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    I get your idea, but this isn't resolving the problem it's sweeping it under the rug. A lift-able-up rug at that... – James Aug 17 '15 at 17:24
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    @James you seem to be assuming that all content from these sites is spam in which case, sure hide it. But if most of the content still has value there's no justification in my opinion to take it away – Motti Aug 17 '15 at 19:10

From the ImageShack Terms of Service:

Changing hotlinking/embed codes is strictly prohibited. Free ImageShack accounts are not allowed to link to direct links. Circumventing ImageShacks ability to enforces it's policies on free accounts and changing linking codes may result in deletion of your content and/or account.

Maybe the images in question has violated this rule?

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    That's not the point. The point is spamming with advertisements. – Shadow Wizard Sep 21 '15 at 22:26

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