I recently posted an answer to this question by deep-linking an image from this (great) site. I also included a link to the source but another user pointed out that this deep-linking is questionable.

What do you think? Can we deep-link to other resources as long as we mention the source? Or should we use only links to point to other resources?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ The core issue in this seems to be the usage of image links in answers, as such I think it is important enough to be added to the faq. \$\endgroup\$
    – chills42
    Commented Jul 21, 2010 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @chills42 - exactly in my comment to Mark answer I was questioning the use of the image, not the link itself. I asked that question simply as to have some sort of guideline of what is acceptable. I can imagine that many people would object if their pictures, photos etc. were inserted into the answers without their permissions. I also believe that is should be included in FAQ. @Marc - thanks for raising this question on meta \$\endgroup\$
    – kristof
    Commented Jul 23, 2010 at 14:14

4 Answers 4


In general I would say linking is perfectly acceptable (and citing sources for any answers should always be encouraged)

However, as a general rule I try to ensure that the question is answered within the text of my answer. I then often offer a link for further extended information.

Specially, with regards to your cited answer I would say that you have answered the question in your own text so that is fine, but unless you have permission you should link to the blog post rather than direct linking the image.

So in summary: yes links in support of an answer are fine. Links on their own I think should be discouraged. Without permission prefer linking to pages rather than resources.


The web is defined by linking; I'd be concerned if we couldn't link to public external resources like that. We aren't (hopefully!) copying and hosting the image, we're just linking to it. (And hopefully crediting the source, out of respect.)

The bigger concern I'd have with including content from external sites like this is one of long-term availability of the content; if lightroomkillertips.com is ever shut down or sold, the link could become invalid (or worse). Or, someone deletes a particular image from the Flickr photostream, etc.

It's an issue on all of the Stack sites, though, and a quick search for "external images" on meta.so turned up a few threads (note the first one, in particular, which covers the idea of being able to attach images to SO posts as a feature request, something I think this community could benefit from immensely):

...etc. :) So, my position would be: deep-linking ought to be just fine (it's the foundation of the web), but we may want to encourage avoiding it for the purely pragmatic reason of the content not necessarily being available indefinitely.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well said! Fully echoes my thoughts. \$\endgroup\$
    – gabr
    Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 6:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ The ability to "attach" images to posts sounds like a good idea on the face of it, but I think the result would be a lot of people using images without permission. If you are using an image from an external site that is not your own work you should link to the page not the image resource and you definitely shouldn't copy the image to your own host without permission from the author. The concern of links becoming dead is a valid one but it should be addressed by favouring the creation of original 1st party content directly on SE sites rather than copying or mirroring 3rd party content. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 15:29

I think it depends greatly on the source, and following their rules; so Flickr may be acceptable, as long as the photo links through to the Flickr page for it, but linking through to use another site's glossary may be seen as unethical.

I always revert back to the "how would I feel if someone did it to me" test, and think that works well, and would discourage most usage without prior permission (after all, I have a question about discouraging usage of photos without permission).

  • \$\begingroup\$ One should follow the license given for the image on Flickr. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 3:37

Copyright licensing is also a factor.

Content on the site is automatically licensed as Attribution-ShareAlike. If the content you are including is not already under a similar, compatible license and you do not have permission to make it so, you should not include it in your answer.

Deep linking is ambiguous here, but it is reasonable to consider a post which features embedded images linked from a different server to be a derivative work, even if the images are technically only included by reference.

I'm not a lawyer; I'd just prefer the site to stay far on the clean side of things here. If there's an image that would help illustrate your point but doesn't fit the above, point to it with a hyperlink.


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