I was looking at a question concerning the redstone simulators in Minecraft when one of the answers was just a picture. I thought that it wasn't aceptable because it almost qualifies as a "Link only answer". Videos I can understand but pictures is a little skimpy. Should we flag the answers that are just pictures and say "This is the answer"?

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    To answer a tangential point: even if you answer the question in a video, you should still give a summary. Since videos on YouTube (for example) aren't necessarily permanent, the answer may outlast the existence of the video. The summary will help the answer survive over time. Aug 10 '13 at 1:02
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    Even video only answers are bad; just like link-only answers. They can supplement your answer, but should not be your entire answer.
    – Frank
    Aug 10 '13 at 2:44
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    It is if you do it right.
    – fredley
    Aug 10 '13 at 21:00

If the picture answers the question, then yes, it is perfectly acceptable to post an image as an answer. In fact, sometimes, an image is the best way to give an answer, such as when you're dealing with flow charts and the like. We should by no means treat them the same as link only answers and flag them. It is unfortunate that some users will not be able to see them and have their question answered, but is not a good reason to deny everyone else the useful answer.

Examples of useful answers where most of the info is in an image:



Yes, there is some minor text as well, but it is the image itself that answers the question, and that would still be true if the text was missing. Unlike link answers, images do not require a user to go to another site (assuming the link doesn't go dead) and then hunt around for the answer on a page that may contain 100,000 other words of text, or may not even contain the answer anymore. Likewise, videos are so much worse than an image, because often the answer is about 10-15 seconds worth of some 10 minute video that was linked. It often has the same problem of making the user hunt through all the extra noise to find their answer. Images embedded directly in the answer have none of these problems.

That said, if you think the answer doesn't need to be an image, feel free to edit it to be text instead if you can still maintain its quality and ease of use for the majority of readers. But don't flag it just because its an image.

  • On a gaming focused site, images are essential and usually very informative. "A picture is a thousand words" they say, and in this case, it's true.
    – 3ventic
    Aug 13 '13 at 8:51
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    I have no objection to image answers as long as there's at least some supporting text to go along with it.
    – Frank
    Aug 13 '13 at 23:03
  • Supporting text is definitely nice, but I think there are probably plenty of cases where it is unnecessary, and I would hate to see someone flag it simply because some extraneous fluff text wasn't added. For example, that XCOM Research Tree I linked. "Here's a chart with neat colors" or "Here's an alternative tree you might use" are completely unnecessary. The charts would stand on their own.
    – Sterno
    Aug 13 '13 at 23:31
  • Supporting text is definitely a must, and alt text is preferred. But pictures are great. I love having any kind of visual aid, other than the classic "Minecraft schematic in text form" crap
    – Unionhawk Mod
    Aug 19 '13 at 4:18
  • May I suggest specifically mentioning that the image should be hosted on SE's own hosting (i.stack.imgur.com) and not another site?
    – Kevin Reid
    Aug 22 '13 at 17:47

Good question. As such we've been having some discussions of late around accessibility, see these questions here:

The general consensus being we should be thinking about different users of the site, and how we can best cater to them.

An image only answer isn't very usable for people who use screen reading software, and filling in an alt text, (whilst helpful) doesn't quite give the whole picture (pardon the pun). As such, I think its best if you use videos and images as supporting artifacts only, and put the meat and veg of the question/answer as text.

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    -1 Strongly disagree. As @Sterno points out in his answer, sometimes an image is the best way to answer a question. Not every answer will be useful to every user, nor are answers only ever intended to help one user. There's no reason every answer needs to be useful to those with screen readers, nor for every answer to be that useful to those without screen readers. If you come across a question and feel that the current answers are completely useless to anyone who needs a screen reader then post a new answer that targets that specific user group...
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Aug 10 '13 at 11:34
  • ...editing another answer to make it more helpful to those with screen readers but less to those without is the wrong way to do things. Just like it would be to take answers most helpful to those with screen readers an then convert it to an image only answer.
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Aug 10 '13 at 11:35
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    @Wipqozn - I never said including an image was a bad idea, what I said was that an image should not be the only source of truth. Its not hard to include a summary of a post, with the image for backup, and that point stands.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Aug 10 '13 at 11:39
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    I know, but you did say to use "images as supporting artifacts only". Sometimes the text should be the supporting piece of information, not the image, just like in the examples Sterno provided. To quote Sterno from chat: "converting a flow chart to pure text would kill readability"
    – Wipqozn Mod
    Aug 10 '13 at 11:50

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