On the Image Uploader:
It's common knowledge that we have an image uploader (see the original request, the community FAQ, and the blog post). When someone uploads an image to another location and links to it, it's often edited to use the image uploader, and when an externally hosted image goes down, we parrot something like the following excerpt from that FAQ entry:
Whenever possible, use the Stack Exchange provided hosting as described below. This uses an imgur.com Pro account, which ensures images are never lost. Images on free Imgur accounts, and on many other free image hosters, will expire if not requested every now and then! Your post is useful for future visitors too, right?
There was initial resistance, but the utility for sites like ui.stackexchange.com and photography.stackexchange.com is undeniable. The image uploader caught on and now no one protests.
Electronics.stackexchange.com has few links to external images anymore, but we have a huge number of links to PDFs. Datasheets, appnotes, and whitepapers are crucial to many answers. Currently, we link to the manufacturer's page, to compilation sites like datasheetcatalog.com, and sometimes to PDFs hosted on distributor websites.
Where should we keep these PDFs? Options include:
- It's fine the way it is; just link to the original location. The links don't rot fast enough for this to be a problem.
- All PDF links should point to the original publisher's source. No datasheetcatalog.com, digikey.com, sparkfun.com, etc. etc. etc. links.
All PDF links should point to (pick one):
- (Insert your favorite document host here)
because they have:
- Unchanging URLs and a policy to not delete documents,
- All the links we'll need and/or or a way to generate new ones,
- A decent interface,
- An API (optional, but preferred so we can have scripted/integrated uploading)
Stack Exchange (or a service they could subscribe to) should host the PDFs. Storage is cheap, and they stand to loose a lot of value when these links start to rot.
- Something I didn't suggest here, or a combination of the above in some fashion. For instance, one idea to reduce bandwidth costs associated with hosting these is that the original link could be used until the link became rotten, and only then the backup could be used and a suggested edit added to the queue to have someone try to find a new link.