This question (and probably others) have a link that is no longer valid and not linking to the file/website/example it should be.

Should there be a close reason added for such a thing? Since the original poster is probably the only person who would reupload the image and from the context of the question was time sensitive anyway, so there wouldn't really be a reason to reupload the image.

I don't really think the question is useful since no image is available. I think it would still be a valid critique question had the link not rotted.


Ideally, questions should not exclusively depend on images. Of course that's a tricky requirement for a graphic design site, because critique ones can indeed become instantly obsolete.

That particular question is a link to a PDF file. The OP should have posted an image as part of the question, if he/she would have used the built in image uploader (which uses Stack Exchange's Pro imgur Account), we probably wouldn't have a broken link. Images uploaded in this manner will not expire.

So, in this particular case, I notified the user. Hopefully he/she will have a copy around and can edit it accordingly. If he/she can't, I don't really see a point in keeping it open.

I suggest we do the following when finding a broken link:

  • Add a comment asking the OP to re-upload
  • Flag for a moderator's attention so we can follow up in case it needs to be closed

And when someone links an image or file they own, we can suggest they upload it to Imgur or a similar service that will keep the image up as long as someone loads it every 6 months or so.

Interesting related discussion in meta.stackoverflow with some statistics:

What smart ways to prevent "image rot" can we come up with?


This was a recent concern raised for me because of this question. The asker provides a link to their EMF file which is awesome and definitely helpful, but unfortunately uses File Dropper to do so. From their about page:

How long are the files kept?

The files are kept forever as long as they are being downloaded. If the files are not downloaded even once within 30 days consecutively they are removed. If you have a premium account your files are never deleted.

So basically after 30 days, that link is useless.

How should we handle these posts?

If it's a question that is pivotal on the external link, I would close it as unclear what you're asking. "Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking." If the question has an answer, there's no need to delete the entire question since someone might come back looking for it. A close vote will put it in the review queue, but that might confuse some who overlook why it should be closed. Instead you could flag it for moderator attention explaining the issue and we can handle it.

If it's an answer that depends on the external link, then it probably shouldn't have been an answer in the first place. I'd strongly consider deleting the answer if it has no value without the link.

How can we prevent this from happening?

Certainly re-uploading any images using SE's image uploader is always preffered. However, since imgur only allows image links, perhaps there is another service we could use for other types of files (PDF, PSD, AI, EMF...). It might be a good idea to set up a Dropbox account for GD (and give the credentials to trusted users?) to preserve these types of uploads.

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