SE relies on Imgur for hosting images and avatars on public sites. Most of the content is text, but the images are often important as well. So the part that is delegated to Imgur is a pretty important part of the entire stack that powers these sites.

Imgur was acquired by MediaLab. To be honest, I've no idea what this means for the future of Imgur. It took me a moment to track down the homepage of the right Medialab, and I still don't know anything about them. The homepage seems devoid of any information at all (and the "don't sell my personal information" button at the bottom doesn't exactly inspire confidence in me).

Does this change anything for us here? And does it still make sense to have this kind of dependency on an external company for an integral part like images? Some limits here have been annoying for a long time, like the lack of transparency for avatars. Is it time for SE to integrate image handling into the platform just like they did with Teams?

  • 1
    In theory - I believe SE has a contract with imgur for services and some 'exit' option from what was said in the past. In theory building an image host from semi scratch is the hard part. Then one VERY busy bot...
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Sep 28, 2021 at 11:25
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    @JourneymanGeek they have image hosting on Teams that doesn't use Imgur. That probably needs a CDN in front to be usable for the main sites, but the basic functionality is something they already added to the software Sep 28, 2021 at 11:36
  • At least for the 100k questions and answers or so that make up 80% of the traffic. Doesn't have to be for every image. Or maybe just a backup, just in case imgur gets thrown under the bus. Before one should make sure that the content license really covers also the images. So far, they are only linked external content that is embedded in the web view somehow. Not sure if this constitutes any legal claim on them being also CC-BY-SA? Maybe SO Inc. wouldn't even have to right to host them. Sep 28, 2021 at 22:16
  • @Trilarion when uploading you only license them, not sign away your copyright. One could argue that if you use the SE site to upload the image you also license SE at the same time, just as the rest of the post body.
    – Luuklag
    Sep 29, 2021 at 12:37
  • @Luuklag "One could argue that if you use the SE site to upload the image you also license SE at the same time, just as the rest of the post body." One could, but one also maybe could argue to the opposite, i.e. that all externally hosted content is not included in the content license of StackOverflow and that SO let imgur (and its successors) handle the visual content on purpose because SO didn't want to bother with images. One would need to look thoroughly at the terms of service. This is a very good question here, but an answer would also include a legal discussion, I guess. Sep 29, 2021 at 13:48
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    @Trilarion I guess this would be a debate to settle for the once that speak legalese ;)
    – Luuklag
    Sep 29, 2021 at 13:49
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    Probably time to revive this conversation in light of imgur's upcoming TOS changes that include deleting all content which was previously uploaded without an account.
    – nhinkle
    Apr 20 at 21:41
  • @nhinkle the change is unlikely to affect anything, see: Is the change of policy of Imgur going to create problems for all posts with images on SO? Apr 20 at 22:25


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