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When I just viewed this answer, I got two lines with "enter image description here" for almost 10 seconds. Then, it seems, imgur decided to provide the actual images. This happens from time to time, and it does annoy me a bit. Just for demonstration purposes, here's an image link with an invalid url enter image description here, and with the default text ... (As Arjan points out in his comment below, this looks annoying with Firefox, but not with Chrome or Safari.)

I'd like to know how many people actually follow the request to enter an image description after uploading an image with the "image" button. Own research here on meta suggests that more than 50% do it, but "enter image description here" does show up quite a bit, and I guess the meta folks are rather educated in how the site is supposed to work.

My suggestion: Either change the text to something that would make a little more sense in a submitted post, e.g. "this should be the image description" (please improve!), or get rid of the default text altogether.

For some history: Until 23 Jan 2011, the text just was "alt text"; then Jeff changed it (trying to encourage people to enter an alt text, but doubting that it helps).

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Which in Firefox looks like this but in Chrome and Safari shows this. –  Arjan Apr 25 '11 at 17:05
    
@Arjan: You get the default when you use the "add image" functionality. This results in the markdown ![]() syntax, and then in the HTML file there no width and no height specified. –  Hendrik Vogt Apr 25 '11 at 17:28
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As an aside: Chrome and Safari would show it too, but only if it can fit the text. Both do actually increase the width of the image to match the length of the text, but still won't show the text unless that width is also explicitly specified... That requires one to increase the default dimensions a bit, like <img src="http://not" width="184" height="48" alt="enter image description here"> does show it. Not sure if that's specific to the Stack Exchange CSS? (Like maybe some other dimensions from the SE CSS are used, when image dimensions are missing.) –  Arjan Apr 25 '11 at 17:46
    
(Source of the above comment in the formatting sandbox, for whoever wonders about this too. But: it's only slightly related to the above feature request!) –  Arjan Apr 25 '11 at 17:50
    
Hendrik, just FYI: the odd http://this-does-not-link-to-an-image.com/ might one day get you something like We detected an invalid domain linked in your post. This is likely caused due to sample code not being in a code block. (this message will be automatically removed when the link is fixed) – Community ♦ Or it might actually tell you something different, about the domain being non-accessible. Just curious, so please @mention me when you get such message ;-) (See: Does Stack Exchange crawl websites?) –  Arjan May 14 '12 at 21:40
    
@Arjan: Thanks for letting me know! I read about that new feature, but didn't remember that it would apply to me. I'm looking forward to getting that Community comment :-) –  Hendrik Vogt May 15 '12 at 9:45

2 Answers 2

I'd like to know how many people actually follow the request to enter an image description after uploading an image with the "image" button

There's 3586 posts with the default text, 21365 posts with the old default text, and 2335 posts with no alt text, out of 38284 posts with images, so about 29% fill it in

(Thanks Arjan for the old default text query) GRATITUDE RETRACTED

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@Arjan Oh, wow. I was shocked the percentage was so high; 29% sounds much more like the SO I know and love –  Michael Mrozek Apr 25 '11 at 18:57
    
Well, still nice to know :-) (I cleaned up my comment. And no need for the "thanks"!) –  Arjan Apr 25 '11 at 19:00
    
Thanks for the numbers! So lots and lots of default texts indeed ... I feel confirmed in my feature-request. –  Hendrik Vogt Apr 25 '11 at 19:06
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@Arjan Taken care of :) –  Michael Mrozek Apr 25 '11 at 19:07

The big objection I can see to getting rid of it all together is that is would make SO less accessible; it's probably safe to assume that some SO users use screen readers / Braille readers / lynx, and this could play badly politically.

Of course, the reality is that it should be clear from the post what is in the picture, and a default ALT text helps no-one. It's tempting to say make it mandatory, but then some people would type in gibberish.

As most users won't see the alt-text, there's little value in changing it; typically it will only be see if the imgur is down, or when the page is opened by a user that won't see images.

One way to attract attention from editors is for the server/js to add a wiki-style note at the top of the page saying 'These images need descriptions', and this might persuade more rep-conscious posters to fix it themselves.

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I can't quite follow your objection: I only meant to get rid of the default text. Of course it's good if people enter an alt text. EDIT: Tried to make this a bit clearer in my question. –  Hendrik Vogt Apr 25 '11 at 17:31
    
@Hendrik I may have misunderstood 'get rid of'; I though you meant removing the attribute altogether (when blank) would reduce accessibility, and violate the HTML specs. –  Phil Lello Apr 25 '11 at 19:12
    
I'm not exactly sure what you're saying here - did you mean "... altogether (when blank). This would reduce accessibility ..."? Then no, I certainly didn't mean that. –  Hendrik Vogt Apr 25 '11 at 19:18
    
Ah, you mean don't offer a default, but require text? –  Phil Lello Apr 25 '11 at 19:28
    
No, I mean than alt="" is better than alt="enter image description here". –  Hendrik Vogt Apr 26 '11 at 17:53

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