Disclaimer: I am the poster of the contested answer on gaming.se. I am also not a native English speaker, so I might not get all the connotations behind every word or sentence.
Good question, or should I say, good questions? Your post actually touches so many subjects it almost seems to consist of lots of different questions, all lobbed together. Since you also only pick one example, it kind of comes across as if you were attacking that specific answer, instead of touching a more general matter.
Still, the questions in themselves are valid:
- Should every image (or more specific, comic) used in an answer be properly attributed?
- Is using an image as an answer acceptable?
- Is irony/tongue-in-cheek a valid way to construct an answer, or should the first/last paragraph summarize in all seriousness so no possible misunderstanding can occur?
Should every image (or more specific, comic) used in an answer be properly attributed?
While the particular image in question was non-modified and can easily be tineye'd to the original, and most gamers know what Penny Arcade is, I still think a few guidelines about images could benefit our community. Some proposals:
- Always make a duplicate of the image, as to not hot-link to the site itself and 'steal' its bandwith, unless the site explicitly states hotlinking is OK (as for example XKCD).
- Always make the image clickable, with the href going to the page where the original image is found
- Always add a footer text, explaining where the image comes from, on what date, and (if applicable) that the image is copyrighted.
Is using an image as an answer acceptable?
Sometimes, an picture is worth a thousand words. On a question about MySQL injection, the XKCD Bobby-Tables comic really makes a strong point. Where needed, a few accompanying lines could be added to explain the comic (as was the case in your skyrim example).
As yx demonstrates: when another answer gets accepted, the image answer becomes just "additional" information - not even above the fold on the printscreen you can see. So the community and the owner can regulate: if there is a better answer, thanks to the StackExchange way of working, it will be shown first.
Is irony/tongue-in-cheek a valid way to construct an answer, or should the first/last paragraph summarize in all seriousness so no possible misunderstanding can occur?
This is a hard one. Irony is riskier when using a written medium, because much of the ways to communicate the irony are not available: tone of voice, facial expression... still, when brought well, I think in some cases an ironic/funny answer can be easier to grasp or remember than a neutral straight-to-the-point answer. On a question like "Should I use telnet to connect to firstname.lastname@example.org", an answer stating "Sure, if you want to make it easy to the world to see your root password and take over your box" might get the point accross.
One might argue that a last paragraph explaining that the post was meant ironic, could help the answer. Still, anyone can add another answer with this contents, or add it to the existing answer should it be accepted. In your example, the "But seriously" aims to make this clear - but maybe it was not clear enough for you?