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I sometimes use SO to upload images to i.stack.imgur.com, but without posting any questions. I found this trick very convenient when I need a permalink to previews or thumbnails.

What is the risk that imgur deletes images that are not genuinely in SO questions?

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According to this blog post (emphasis mine):

Alan Schaaf, the man behind Imgur, generously provided us a network-wide “pro” account that keeps any images hosted through our websites around indefinitely.

Staff has the option to request deletion of certain images (abusive ones, or ones containing PII), but otherwise it'll be around forever (or until they switch to another image hoster).

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