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I sometimes write long posts with dozens of links to both images via imgur and web pages. From time to time a link will "disappear" or get eaten by the UI. I believe this is happening when I upload an image via the imgur tool and I have a reference at the end is not yet linked-to in the text.

edit: It is not yet linked-to because I'm still in the process of composing the post.

When images are uploaded, the numbering of links is rearranged, and I think in this process there is a function that detects unused links and quietly, secretly, purges them. I am not sure if this happens all the time, or just occasionally.

I'd prefer that it either just leave them alone because I haven't finished composing the post, or if there is a need flag them, push them to the end of the list, or anything else besides a silent purge with no way to recover them.

In general, expected behavior of text editors is not to "disappear" items that the software feels you "won't be needing".

Question: Is this detection and silent deletion behavior in fact the case, and if so, why was this done in this way?

edit: Comments suggest that this silent, irreversible purge may be because "the code is mostly just taking the easiest approach to renumbering them" which begs the question Why is the code renumbering the links in the first place.

Further Question: Why not apply the same Light Touch policy here as well? If renumbering turns out to be the cause of unexpected behavior and turns out not to have any significant benefit, then why not just leave the authors text as they've written it?

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Why is the code renumbering the links in the first place[?]

I have been bitten by this, and I still prefer what the editor does. It makes sense to have the links numbered in order of appearance in the text (yes, I prefer the Vancouver system).

It's trivially easy to have unused links in your text: just paste them as is. An https://example.com appearing in the text is left untouched by any reordering. Alternately, if you're still in the process of composing, I find it helpful to use named links instead of numbered ones:

[This][foo] is a link.

[foo]: https://example.com

Besides being clearer, the reordering leaves named links alone, even if they are unused.

  • I appreciate these very helpful suggestions for working with the current system, thank you! However, since the numbers are invisible to the reader, I am not sure why spontaneous, enforced, machine-renumbering upon posting each image during the composition process would "make sense" for all authors. – uhoh Apr 24 '18 at 7:26
  • Not necessarily all, but if it works for most, that's a good enough compromise, I'd say. The numbers aren't invisible when editing the post, and you should always assume that your post will be edited by somebody else - editing is a large part of what makes the system tick. I suppose they could have added a button to cleanup links, but then having it done automatically is probably the best way for most users. Power users have ways around. – muru Apr 24 '18 at 7:33
  • You've piqued my interest! How can I become a power user? Is there an alternate editor for SE posts? I'm a big fan of the SE ecosystem and though it's a bit on the clunky-scrolly side, the editor has helped me post over 1,000 questions, probably a few hundred of which are (too) long and substantially sourced. I suppose it's that most things work so well that is making this one thing stand out for me so much. – uhoh Apr 24 '18 at 7:40
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    I'd say you're already a power user. Look around stackapps.com. There are a number of scripts that enhance the editor (but I don't know if any completely replace it). – muru Apr 24 '18 at 7:42

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