Is it time to revisit the idea of attachments, now that images are self hosted? (Stack Exchange’s image hosting arrangement with Imgur is ending - advance notice)

See the old question here:

Please add a system to allow file uploads attached to questions and answers

On Stack Overflow, time and time again, helping out would be easier if the original poster could upload the whole project/solution for diagnosing the issue. As an example, see this question: Visual Studio is not running the code I want

Where the user isn’t facing a problem with code, but some unknown setup issue on solution/project level, but without actually seeing it its hard to diagnose.

  • 1
    "where the user isn’t facing a problem with code, but some unknown setup issue on solution/project level, but without actually seeing it its hard to diagnose" - you mean the user needs a copy of the manual and to knuckle down for several hours reading it? Remember, external links break, anything not in the body of an answer can be almost guaranteed to be a dead-link at some point in the future. Are you expecting SE to host files uploads for downloading?
    – W.O.
    Commented May 23 at 23:53
  • @W.O. - yes, the idea question is for SE to host the attachments, hence why I mentioned that SE is now hosting the images - therefor maybe give it a thought to extend the hosting abilities for other files Commented May 24 at 0:00
  • Right now its a very small subset of even image files. While a 'bigger' text file upload, almost like a gist or pastebin might be 'nice', letting people upload arbitrary files, even small ones has a whole load of potential compliance and 'safety' issues. Its all fun and games, till some smartass uses uploads as a C&C server Commented May 24 at 0:16
  • 23
    Also, we already have people pasting everything rather than focusing on the essentials. The end result of this would be "here's the universe, what's wrong with that small thing waaaay over there" Commented May 24 at 0:17
  • 15
    At least for Stack Overflow, this seems like a bad idea. Commented May 24 at 0:32
  • 1
    @PresidentJamesK.Polk - everything is a bad idea, when you only look at the bad side of things. why only think about lazy people posting giant projects? why only think about malicious upload? (side note: image hosting has the same potential eg. child pornography) why not evaluate the idea based on positive examples where someone can’t figure out what setting on solution/project level is wrong for the problematic behavior, and the user is simple at the end of their wisdom and is begging for help Commented May 24 at 0:44
  • 5
    @PresidentJamesK.Polk - any S.E. site. Learning how to distill a question down to the essence is an essential skill for learning, well, anything really.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 24 at 0:44
  • 8
    Regarding inappropriate images there's a {status-review} {feature-request} for image filters (since 2022) to supplement the efforts of curators and Charcoal HQ in stalling this current issue. Your idea if implemented would create more, much more work for the volunteers.
    – W.O.
    Commented May 24 at 1:08
  • 4
    I'm for the idea of SE file hosting (for specific applications like large log files and blender files), but I'm not sure that this is necessarily a great motivation for re-raising this. hosting images is not the same as hosting arbitrary files. with images, there's a smaller set of security and metadata privacy issues to worry about, and at least slightly less technical stuff to deal with in implementing.
    – starball
    Commented May 24 at 2:30
  • 6
    I agree that (some!) attachments would be useful, but code files/projects for debugging is not one of them. I also envision legal issues when people inevitably upload files that are under a more restrictive license that doesn't allow them to be freely shared. I would rather see more support for auto-link previews (i.e. embeds and oneboxing), for files like PDFs, docs, and spreadsheets, links to news sites, social posts, and even other SE questions/answers. (Some sites already support a YouTube embed, more of those please!)
    – Robotnik
    Commented May 24 at 4:08
  • AFAIK, only 1 site has such a feature: Blend Exchange for Blender.SE. Commented May 24 at 9:42
  • 1
    That looks like a community run host - which is probably its own things Commented May 24 at 11:50
  • There's hints of a CSAM scanner built into the image uploader from some previous bug reports. Not sure how good it is, but there's some built in filters that MIGHT exist. Commented May 24 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


Most of the 'uploads' supported on SE are embeds organic to a post. Images are often useful in questions, YouTube embeds are useful on sites about media and so on. There's an exhaustive, and hopefully complete list here.

Blender has a file upload someone in the community setup, because their site needs it.

All those 'enrich' a post with appropriate content, rather than acting as a store of things that wouldn't fit into a post. In the Stack Overflow version of how to ask a good question (which goes into more depth than ours) it says

Not all questions benefit from including code, but if your problem is with code you've written, you should include some. But don't just copy in your entire program! Not only is this likely to get you in trouble if you're posting your employer's code, it likely includes a lot of irrelevant details that readers will need to ignore when trying to reproduce the problem. Here are some guidelines:

Include just enough code to allow others to reproduce the problem. ...

DO NOT post images of code, data, error messages, etc.—copy or type the text into the question. Please reserve the use of images for diagrams or demonstrating rendering bugs, things that are impossible to describe accurately via text.

The proposal as written encourages users to dump entire environments, voluminous logs and other artifacts as a whole, rather than spending the effort to sift through it. It also moves information needed to answer a question away from the question, which practically means a lot of users are going to be frustrated because question quality can suffer, or someone dumped everything they had and no one reads it to answer.

Generally I don't think most random strangers are going to download your entire environment and troubleshoot the whole thing for you.

There's also the risk of secrets leaking when you do something like upload your entire environment. Private keys, passwords and so on. Least in a actual post we can redact that information; it’s not as easy with a file host.

  • The proposal as written encourages users to dump entire environments, voluminous logs and other artifacts as a whole, rather than spending the effort to sift through. - out of curiosity do you see this behaviour on eg. github where people can write issues (questions) and attach files? do you see the behaviour you are fear mongering there? Commented May 24 at 12:46
  • 1
    People accidentally dump secrets on github proper a lot. for example theregister.com/2022/10/11/toyota_source_code_email_leak . As a moderator, I've redacted passwords and such on super user more often than I'd like. Its a practical problem Commented May 24 at 12:59
  • It seems you missed the passage I was refering to, I didn't refer to security leaks. I was refering to the lack of efferts users put into a question, because an attachment option is available. So, does github "encourage" people to write lazy issues because they allow attachments? Commented May 24 at 13:22
  • 2
    I've seen people just post a screenshot, or a error dump and nothing else. I've seen people just link a zip file... trust me, it'll happen, and I've seen so many antipatterns. Commented May 24 at 13:25
  • Okay, but do you believe those bad apples outnumber the good apples to such a degree that you would be in favor of github eliminating the attachment feature, because ultimatly it is a bad idea, and encourages bad behaviour. OR isn't it rather a small minority will engage in bad practice which should not undermine the ability to upload data to seek the help needed. Commented May 24 at 13:29
  • 2
    I'm not talking about github though, I'm talking about SE, from the experience of being a long time user and moderator. Commented May 24 at 13:33
  • I don't see a difference. On github uploading files can help solve the issue at hand. On Stackoverflow uploading files could help answer the question at hand. Both plattforms will have bad apples, not like github only has angles as users. Low effort issues/questions, unneccary files uploaded, security leaks and so on. Therefor because I see the simlilarity between github/SE, I was curious on your take. If you would also argue against attachments on github, which overcome all those challenges and allow attachments. Commented May 24 at 13:39
  • 2
    What people upload on their repositories on GitHub does not have impact on other GitHub users. But Stack Overflow is collaborative platform mean to host questions and answers, not whole kitchen sink. Any question that is not self contained it almost certainly off-topic for Stack Overflow. When we are talking about bad actors, even moderating content in the questions and answers is too much for all active curators and moderators. Adding additional work on top which would require inspecting huge amounts of data would be impossible to handle. Commented May 24 at 18:06
  • 1
    Also when we are talking about bad actors and not following the rules... for over a year and half, posting AI content is not allowed on Stack Overflow, and yet we have numerous people posting AI on daily basis which needs handling. So even if adding file uploads would be helpful for questions (which it is not) we would still have to consider how could bad actors exploit that first before anything else. Commented May 24 at 18:11
  • But what if I want to back up my hard drive and use SE for that???
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 25 at 17:04
  • Well, just use youtube Commented May 26 at 8:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .