I've always been under the impression that 1 reputation new users on SE sites can only link to images, not post them as direct display rendered images when you open the post.

Well, it seems that I was wrong. On this spam post, a spammer managed to post a complete image right away, and it was an offensive nsfw one.

How come SE allows such a blatant avenue for abuse? Wouldn't allowing linking to images be enough for new 1 rep users?

I haven't seen anything like this in the past between over 2000 network wide cast spam flags, it's only started happening in the past couple of weeks. Why did this change?


We generally don't have any reason to forbid it. On the majority of our sites, it's just a hinderance to new users who may have legitimate reason to post an image. They are still limited to only putting two links into their posts, though, which includes image links.

The 10 reputation requirement to post images is a per-site setting that is only enabled on a few sites. It is only turned on in cases where abuse actually starts occurring and it is deemed necessary.

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    Seems like spammers have caught on to this now. Why is it hindering to allow linking rather then outright posting of images? Anyone who wants to see the image can still view it, and a higher rep user can still edit it in. Considering the example I linked you, does that not constitute a cause to forbid this now? At least for user accounts with 1 rep and registered recently? – magisch Oct 21 '16 at 7:10
  • We can look into it further and see how many spam flags we're getting on posts which contain images. – animuson ModStaff Oct 21 '16 at 7:20
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    I've personally seen at least 4 now. Usually these images are from viagra or similar spam and are super inappropiate for work. Lots of users use SE at work, because its such a valueable ressource. Its one thing to accidentally read a line of viagra spam and then close it, its another to see a new question and have one of your coworkers run in when you click on that. – magisch Oct 21 '16 at 7:22
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    Maybe make it so that the setting still works, but if the user is new and/or 1 rep they appear as links to the images rather then the actual images. – magisch Oct 21 '16 at 7:30
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    animuson, I queried MS for some stats on this. On graphic design alone, in the past 8 days, we had over 10 confirmed instances of spam posts (all very inappropiate images) abusing this ability to inline images that are immediately offensive to users that click them. And these are just the ones that SD caught. – magisch Oct 24 '16 at 14:12
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    where MS = metasmoke, the web dashboard for SmokeDetector. – ArtOfCode Oct 24 '16 at 14:19
  • We would need to see stats for how many users with rep below 10 posted images in that time frame to make an informed decision. Unfortunately, my SEDE skills are inadequate. – tripleee Oct 24 '16 at 14:38

Graphic Design relies on images a lot more than most Stack Exchange sites.

See the relevant Graphic Design Meta post requesting the original 10 rep limit be removed (where it was decided to turn this off for all new sites by default): Don't give new users posting images in questions the "COMPUTER SAYS NO" treatment

Even without the limit in place we still have new users struggling with the 3 image limit there currently is. I can't speak for Stack Exchange in general, but on Graphic Design reimposing the limit would seriously harm new users experience for little gain.

Not rendering images (i.e. just showing a link) for newly registered users wouldn't really be a problem, but users need the ability to upload and post images.

  • The "little gain" is preventing a lot of spam. Each spam report needs to be handled by multiple volunteers. – tripleee Oct 21 '16 at 7:23
  • Like I said, the point isn't uploading & posting these images, the point is that they're being automatically rendered. This shouldn't happen for new users. A link to them is enough. – magisch Oct 21 '16 at 7:23
  • That's fair enough, not rendering images wouldn't really be a problem as long as users can post them (I'd like to see some stats on how how many spam posts with images we get though) – Cai Oct 21 '16 at 7:29
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    @tripleee it's not preventing a lot of spam, it's preventing images showing in a percentage of spam posts. The spam will still exist. – Cai Oct 21 '16 at 8:49
  • If this is a real problem then better spam detection and prevention is the answer not limiting new users. I'm not totally against it if it will solve a real problem but without very good reason we should be improving new user experience not harming it. – Cai Oct 21 '16 at 8:49
  • It's debatable, but certainly quite possible that some spammers are looking specifically for sites where their images can be embedded, as spam with a click-through is markedly less effective. – tripleee Oct 21 '16 at 8:52
  • It's possible of course – Cai Oct 21 '16 at 8:57

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