I'm a little surprised that this hasn't been requested already, as far as I could tell. I've recently encountered 3 users who used Google Drive links to share images in their questions, rather than using Stack Overflow's built-in image-hosting. For example, see this question,

So I have a website where we have a background image that we change every now and then. We also have a blurred version of the image that we create which is set behind so when the window etc is too large, the blurred image extends out the sides. See screenshot in link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2dZTsK2lVi8bUlucXVwT1R5eXM/view?usp=sharing

In one instance, the user didn't even have the link set to be viewed publicly, so anyone wishing to view the image would need to request permissions in Google Drive first (awkward).

Please Ban File-Sharing Service Links

Questions (and answers) on Stack Exchange sites need to stand the test of time. When users use 3rd-party file-sharing services such as Dropbox and Google Drive to share images (and code, etc), their posts are subject to link rot (as pointed out by Will many years ago),

I hate these just because someone uses them to answer a question, then the link dies, and the answer is now useless. Just had an accepted answer become useless because of this not too long ago.

Its [sic] a worthless way to answer a question.

Stack Overflow already does certain kinds of link detection when users post content, e.g. when low rep users are forbidden from posting X number of links, so it seems relatively trivial to implement something to always disallow links to things such as Google Drive (unless I'm gravely mistaken).

  • But the question is, does this happen that frequently? For most images that I've encountered, at least, Imgur or StaEx's own Imgur domain tends to be used.
    – user299123
    Sep 23, 2015 at 4:12
  • @Texenox I tried looking it up on SEDE, but my queries are timing out.
    – Bob
    Sep 23, 2015 at 4:37
  • Your query's not timing out at the moment; realistically you need a count, looking at individual posts doesn't help. If that fails try PATINDEX() or CHARINDEX() (on a phone - sorry) Sep 23, 2015 at 4:56
  • @benisuǝqbackwards adding a SELECT COUNT(*) makes the query timeout. Weird.
    – Bob
    Sep 23, 2015 at 5:20
  • Not really, there's a big difference between finding the first few rows on disk and finding all the rows that match your condition. Sep 23, 2015 at 5:33
  • @Texenox 3375 posts
    – rene
    Sep 23, 2015 at 7:30
  • @rene Huh. Fair enough, I suppose.
    – user299123
    Sep 23, 2015 at 7:32
  • Yeah, pointing stuff out since Jan 20 '11... Hey, don't [sic] me! Go check the original, it's correct!
    – user1228
    Sep 23, 2015 at 15:50
  • @Won't oh sure, it's correct now that you just fixed it :P.
    – Bob
    Sep 24, 2015 at 4:52

1 Answer 1


I don't think blocking those links would work at all. It will go down the same route as the pr0blam filter. Jeff is also not a fan to ban curse words and I think the same reasoning goes for url's.

Searching for drive.google.com renders at the time of posting 3375 results, by refining the search I probably end-up on 2,652 instances where is linked to a file, so roughly 1000 posts reference drive.google.com legitimately. Banning that site will impact those answers, frustrating edit efforts

The number of resource sharing sites is way bigger than the two you linked here. I think about code.google.com, github.com, jsfiddle.net, sqlfiddle.com to name a few. You're correct that linking to off-site resources introduces link-rot.

The real problem is that the user linking to an external site didn't get the guidance that the post should be self-contained. Users who get nagged didn't care to much about guidance in the first place so they probably go find a file sharing service that isn't on the blocklist.

And then there are cases where a better option is to link a log file, a zip file with an Unity project to support the post, enabling the few people that are willing to take the risk of downloading those files are able to verify that their answer will actually answer the question. To be clear: without the external files the question should be answerable.

You already employed one tactic you can follow to counter attack these external resources: you included the image as upload to imgur. Other options include leaving a comment for the OP, flag/close vote questions off-topic/No MCVE or unclear that don't have the code in the question (I close voted the example question as unclear), flag link-only answers (but make sure you fully grasp that post from Shog9), down voting in cases where the link went 404 (or the domain vanished altogether).

There are enough users with privileges to step in, judge what the corrective action should be and act on it. Following the human approach there is a greater chance that those OP's improve and will not post such links anymore and maybe even start helping out guiding other users.

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