So I've read today about image rot and I need to start using imgur if I want to make my answers more durable.

Knowing that now, I just answered a question and guided someone to a shape builder tool tutorial on YouTube and I am now wondering if there are best practices for linking to YouTube videos?

Also, wouldn't there be some potential copyright problems, taking the video out of YouTube and hosting it on a different service? (and can that be a potential problem with imgur?)

  • 1
    We discourage link-only answers across the SE network for this (and other) reasons. YouTube videos can be excellent supplemental material, but if YouTube blows up tomorrow, answers still need to be informative and useful without their videos.
    – hairboat
    Feb 17 '14 at 14:16
  • I did have a thought that a link only answer might come across as lazy but text-only definitely didn't cut it and the other option of making my own video seemed overkill to answer the question of someone who didn't seem to have bothered looking that much. And if I had made my own video, the problem remains because I probably would have hosted it on YouTube. @Ryan, I know some differences about YouTube and Video but mostly about the type of content they host. Is there a reason why Vimeo might be better or is it just as a backup plan?
    – curious Mod
    Feb 17 '14 at 14:31
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    As far as Vimeo vs YouTube. I've done simple YouTube clips for answers on here only when required (ie: needed to show cursor changes) and it was in addition to the rest of my answer. Vimeo is an alternative because on there you can update videos without changing the URL.
    – Ryan
    Feb 17 '14 at 14:35
  • Thanks! Didn't know that about the link. Yes I was referring about SE but maybe it's been discussed in other boards. I just find video works so well especially when showing software tricks.
    – curious Mod
    Feb 17 '14 at 14:36

What I'd suggest is to link to the video and also include a quick text/image summary of whatever the crucial part of the video is, like a couple of quick bullet points, and/or an image and a line or text saying what's happening.


  • The answer still has value if the video goes down
  • It helps people understand what your answer is about faster. Some people (including me) get a bit grumpy and impatient trying to wade through a video past lots of stuff they already know for the crucial bit that contains the new or unusual trick.
  • People who like watching the whole video still can, and benefit by knowing what part they need to pay extra attention on.

So for the example you linked to, you'd link to the video, say that it's the Shape builder tool that is shown, show a snipped screenshot from, say, 0:45 which shows the key basics people could get started with...

enter image description here

...then just say that after applying the shape builder tool you can click, drag etc etc and it switches between different intersections of the shapes.

While the video is still there, you're giving people an idea of what they're getting and helping people get straight to the important part. If the video goes down, there's just enough that people can muddle through without it.

On Windows, you can get screenshot snippets with the Snipping Tool from the Start menu under All Programs > Accessories. On Mac, it's command + shift + f4.

I'm no lawyer but I'd be amazed if one partial screenshot linking back to the original wouldn't always be considered "fair use".

  • Looks like the asker found his own answer, I would have been tempted to update my answer with the info you've provided but I'm not sure that would be proper etiquette! I think it's a great workaround, although I still think videos can be more effective in some cases. Maybe steps in an animated gif?
    – curious Mod
    Feb 17 '14 at 17:28
  • Just do both! If there is a video, use it, if you feel like making a video, make it (plus you'll get extra hits on youtube etc as well as here), but just also include a quick summary so people know what they're getting before watching the full video! Feb 17 '14 at 22:58

Adding to what's been discussed in the comments, and to user568458's answer, I'd say an animated gif is - when available - a great option. But since creating one would probably take as much time as explaining a video, and sometimes video is the only option, you could use a comment instead of an answer.

In both cases, if a link breaks it can be flagged for deletion. Now, if the answer was the accepted answer, then the whole question needs to be deleted or left orphan again.

  • I didn't know the specifics about deleted comments vs. deleted accepted answers, it explains quite a bit. Thanks!
    – curious Mod
    Feb 17 '14 at 19:34

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