I recently posted an answer and wanted to include a figure I made for it. I ended up putting it on my institutional account, but I realize that this is not ideal (since the account will probably be closed in the next year). Is there a standard solution for this? Where should one place figure files for answers and questions for this site? The best place would be on the site itself since they would "live" exactly as long as the site does, which is of course the optimal timespan. But how to upload figures, and how to avoid spam?

We should probably have a good solution and guidelines for this so that images do not start going stale and the questions/answers that contain them, with them.

One solution I can think of is to have the website download the image and place it internally changing the link to point to the copy. This solution would mean that even if I link to an image on Wikipedia or some-such, and then the article changes, the image remains here (As it should) with no extra work.


BTW, there's a post over on StackExchange Meta regarding this exact issue. it is quite old already and I don't know if anything is happening about it...

5 Answers 5


For everyone who has not seen it yet: As of today there is official support for image uploading in the stackexchange software. :)

  • Fantastic! When I get a minute I'll upload all those TikZ drawings I've been doing. Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 19:36
  • Actually, I'd say that this warrants an announcement. How about posting a new "question" about it. Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 19:36

This is an important feature request to Stack Exchange sites in general (but I think posting it here is fine for the moment).

Yes, images are an important part of the content and relying on storage elsewhere is a very frail solution. I predict that very soon (if not already!) many Stack Exchange answers will have image dead links, due to the short-livedness of the web. Not a good prospect.

Sooner or later, this must be fixed.


What about this: Images have first to be hosted on external sites and, if their parent answer/question gets enough votes, then the image is cached by the site and the link moved to point to the cached version. We prevent abuse as only images with significant votes from the community will get to be saved, useful images are never lost, and it's pretty much automatic! No explicit moderation or anything like that would be required.

  • I like the idea, but I think that perhaps should be more lineant than what is implied. How about something like "wait a week, if there is no vote to close question (if question) nor is the answer flagged as abusive (if answer) then cache"? Caching only question that gets enough votes risks missing out on interesting stuff for the future. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 13:04
  • Also, I'm "privileged" in that I have somewhere to post images, but what should a non-privileged person do? Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 13:06
  • Sure, we can be more relaxed or more strict on the "bar" that answers/questions must meet before getting to the cache. I guess only by experience we will figure out where the bar should be. And for the later comment, there are many free image hosting sites out there. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 13:34
  • 2
    The problem with “no explicit moderation” is always copyright violation. Giving users the choice of explicitly uploading images (and thus explicitly claiming copyright, and granting that right to Stack Exchange) is probably safer than just assuming a user’s rights on every linked image. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 15:15
  • That's actually a good point we should take into account to suggest a better solution. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 15:58

A link can be to any image. Hosting images locally will imply license restriction and permission not obtained from the author. I hope the images here will be generated by the site users. For TeX an image can be great but if the code is not available to regenerate it, i don't see how it can still be useful.

There is wikimedia commons, and tex examples website as well as many "image pastebins". But with all of these can be "outlived" the the stackexchange question as well.


What I'm trying to say is that a reference to a figure from wikimedia commons, texsamples and texdoc might be better then turning this site into TeX-flickr. For figures that demonstrate particular aspects it is best to provide code on how to generate the figure hense hosted compiled images might be better (since local installation can be customise to a point of compiling non-standard files) similar to the arXih reference below (i haven't used that service before).

My personal position is that we should use link/api type of thing to embed latex code which gets generate server side (either on this stackexchange server or using other providers). It might be hard to show the difference of processing same syntax using different version of, e.g. TikZ. In that case posting picture to something like yfrog will be sufficient as these differences will become unimportant with time.

It should not be easy to upload huge graphics in one click for embedding.

  • 1
    Hosting textual answers (like yours, and like this comment) also implies a license. That's why the Legal link at the bottom - here, you don't have to scroll: meta.stackoverflow.com/legal - has Section 3, Subscriber content, which states that: You agree that all Subscriber Content that You contribute to the Network will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license. You grant Stack Overflow the right and license to ... copy, cache ... and store such Subscriber Content and to allow others to do so (“Content License”) in order to provide the Services. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 15:10
  • 1
    Also, an image is useful, because it's a pain to copy the code, compile it, [debug problems from the copying, recompile it] and then open the resulting image. Much easier to see it in the browser. For the purposes of this site, the user will probably want the code to be visible as well. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 15:14
  • @Dima: I'm not sure I understand what you are trying to say....do you mean that we don't need images? that we don't need hosting? that we need to submit latex and have the site generate the code a-la arXiv? Please elaborate.... :-) Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 15:38
  • I like the part of this idea that suggests having a tool, maybe as part of this site, on which you can type say TikZ code and get an image to post in a question/answer. Having a "view source" for such images would be really useful for those "wow, how did they do that?" moments. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 16:03
  • The problem with having a tool onsite (rather than a local installation) is that is can only deal with one standard install (by definition) so we will not be able to help debug/solve/demonstrate what happens with non-standard installations/setups nor new packages or personal hacks. This will slightly dumb-down the site. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 18:06
  • BTW, I agree that it should not be easy to upload huge graphics. I'm not sure what to do about it. This might be a good place to take suggestions...because it seems that the StackExchange people aren't sure what to do with it either. One idea (that I don't like) is to use user rep in one way (allow upload only if you have enough) or another (have an image "cost" user rep) or perhaps other that haven't been thought of. Another idea is to simply use the voting to limit abuse...others? Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 18:09

I just put an answer to the Sand-Box question, that is also appropriate for this question. Instead of duplicating the answer, I'll just link to it:

LaTeX sand-box?

You must log in to answer this question.

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