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Some sites in the Stack Exchange network allow images to be posted inline even by newly registered users. (For others, this has been disabled, as spammers and abusers also like to post images, and disallowing that has apparently helped reduce noise.)

When new users are allowed to post images, could the UI prevent them from also posting clickable links? And vice versa, I suppose -- if there are outbound hyperlinks, disallow images.

This should allow even newcomers to communicate graphically (this is perceived as important e.g. on the Graphics Design site; see discussion in this related meta post) but would deter e.g. SEO spammers, for whom posting an image is pointless then because they cannot drive traffic to the site they are promoting.

This will obviously not prevent spam altogether, but it will dissuade some spammers from posting, and constrain the options for those who continue to spam.

I'll note here that online marketers generally prefer to post ads with both images and links. Absence of one or the other reduces the response rate significantly in experiments - informally, text-only spam is less persuasive, and spam without links raises the threshold for those who would perhaps otherwise be persuaded to the point where they abandon clicking through. If you have to decipher a non-clickable link and type it in in order to visit it in your browser, or pick up the phone, or send a fax, many people will just not do it, and inhibit the impulse to go spend money on the advertised service or product there and then.

I tried to resist linking to XKCD#810 but of course, I failed.

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    FWIW Which SE sites require 10 reputation points to post images? lists the sites where new users are not allowed to post images, so those would obviously be exempted simply because new users cannot post images in the first place. – tripleee Nov 3 '16 at 7:00
  • I like the idea; however I believe it would be important for past data to be checked in order to make sure that not too many people would be affected by this. – angussidney Nov 3 '16 at 7:14
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    This seems like a complicated restriction for no good reason. Spammers are fairly rare on SE in comparison to legitimate users. – hichris123 Nov 3 '16 at 10:42
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When new users are allowed to post images, could the UI prevent them from also posting clickable links?

The default image format is also including a link to that image, so this would mean the default image generator should change.

But that isn't the biggest problem I think. We expect users to do research and show what they have tried. Often, that includes reading some material from a blog or documentation site (like MSDN, MDN, Adobe, etc.). If we block those links, we block users of showing their effort (or maybe the source of the problem: "I followed tutorial X and now I am stuck in creating Y using Photoshop. This is what I have got").

I like the idea of making it harder to post spam, but I doubt if this will really help much.

  • The markup would look different if the hyperlink is not the image itself, so that should be easy enough to avoid. It complicates attempts to query for this pattern, though. Still, here is a simple SEDE query (you can switch it to query data from a different site in the box down below the SQL; or, just edit the URL): data.stackexchange.com/graphicdesign/query/569794/… ... It reveals that this proposal is not unintrusive, but that doesn't mean it's not worth discussing, IMHO. – tripleee Nov 3 '16 at 8:24
  • Looks like the query returns some spam posts as well. Where you see "unknown" in the title, that means a post was deleted. There are many closed posts in the results, too. – tripleee Nov 3 '16 at 8:30
  • The query should not return site-internal links but I'm not good with SQL so just take that into account when looking at the results, for now ... – tripleee Nov 3 '16 at 8:48
  • @tripleee that query is returning posts with only internal (i.stack.imgur) images as well – Cai Nov 3 '16 at 9:13
  • You can upload spam there too @Cai – Patrick Hofman Nov 3 '16 at 9:13
  • @PatrickHofman of course, but the whole point of triplees query there was to show posts with both images and external links – Cai Nov 3 '16 at 9:15
  • I see those as external too. There is no mechanism to prevent spam, like content on SE servers do. @Cai – Patrick Hofman Nov 3 '16 at 9:16
  • @PatrickHofman I don't disagree but that isn't what this question is about, the question says to disallow images or external links—if images are external links then that is logically impossible – Cai Nov 3 '16 at 9:18
  • The proposal is to disallow posts which contain both an image and a hyperlink which is not an image. This should not be hard to grasp, or to identify technically from the Markdown source. – tripleee Nov 3 '16 at 9:19
  • @tripleee You mean this query I guess: data.stackexchange.com/graphicdesign/query/569980/… – Patrick Hofman Nov 3 '16 at 9:34
  • The forked query you link to would exclude anything with a locally hosted image (even if it also contains externally hosted images) and does nothing to identify an external hyperlink, so no. – tripleee Nov 3 '16 at 9:43

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