Server Fault chat has turned into make-fun-of-bad-questions-with-funny-pictures chat and we're totally fine with that. We do still have a lot of serious conversation, but the star wall is constantly littered with links to images.

I'd like to propose one of three ways to improve starred images:

  1. Show an image preview when a user hovers over a star-wall image link
  2. Replace star-wall items that contain only a link to an image with a thumbnail of the image itself
  3. Add a thumbnail next to star-wall links that contain an image

I'm personally a fan of #1.

Edit: I do not think that starred (funny) image links are a problem. Kevin's answer makes it seem like he (and maybe others) have taken it that way. My suggestion is for these images to be more deeply integrated into chat by having star-wall previews. We think they're funny and relevant, so we star them. We don't want to get rid of them or cover them up.

  • I'm not sure where the preview in Suggestion 1 could go. Should it displace some other content in the star wall temporarily? Should it be an Ajax image gallery? Should it be a Flash window attached to your mouse(Answer: NO!)? Suggestions 2 and 3 would take up extra space and thumbnails wouldn't often be readable. Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 14:08
  • 2
    @KevinVermeer I was thinking something along the lines of the Google site previews from the results page in regard to #1. It should only be visible while the mouse is hovering, so I don't think it needs to displace anything else. As for the implementation, that's not my strong suit so I'm unable to provide an example other than the Google preview reference that I made earlier. If it would temporarily replace the rest of the star wall only while hovering, I suppose that's probably a good solution to keep everything tidy.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 14:13
  • After this, we fix the glitches caused by chat inception.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 14:54
  • 4
    I approve this message i.sstatic.net/8GQhk.jpg Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:00
  • 2
    This would be awesome.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:13
  • How would no. 2 play out in regards to NSFW (or potentially NSFW) images?
    – tombull89
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:48
  • 2
    @tombull89: Obviously, they would be removed by mods.
    – user1228
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:49
  • 1
    Warning to anyone thinking about clicking on Wont's link: Potentially NSFW. Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 16:19
  • I believe this is very related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/235178/… Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 13:33

3 Answers 3


I built a userscript that takes stars and turns them into thumbnails.

Direct install link: Click Here (Needs Greasemonkey on Firefox).

Please note it's still heavily under development, and things may rapidly change. Also see the StackApps thread.


A different approach

I understand that the culture in the chat room encourages funny pictures. I also understand that these funny pictures can be responses to bad questions, nooooooooooooooo.com being especially useful. They're more useful when followed by "Don't migrate shopping questions to SuperUser!" text-based posts following the image. However, you've got 7 posts in the last 21 hours that have funny pictures and have been starred, once or twice.

Just have three people (not a lot) star a half dozen (not a lot) truly useful posts (hopefully not too hard to find), and these will be pushed away.

Funnies are OK, but it's not really necessary to star them, is it? They're quite visible in the transcript if you want to scroll back through. If you don't they're probably not necessary in the sidebar.

  • 3
    "star a half dozen .. truly useful posts" - I really don't think that many exist in The Comms Room
    – Chris S
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 16:40
  • Spend a few days chatting with the regulars in The Comms Room, you'll see why we star all the images :)
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 16:49
  • 1
    I think that you are assuming that starred images are a problem. We don't think that we are. In fact, we embrace them, which is why I suggested this. I want images to be more integrated into chat. It is very common for 20-30 images to get 2-3 stars per day in Comms Room. We have short attention spans :) I don't want the images "pushed away," or to have them replaced. I want them to be more deeply integrated into the room.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 17:30

Another idea

I'll add another idea, similar to the one proposed in Display onebox title in starred/pinned messages list:

4. Display the image title/alt text (if either/both exists) in the star wall link.

This would be simple to implement, and consistent with the display. It wouldn't be distracting, and the text would be readable. The #1 problem with this suggestion is that people don't use alt text or titles. I'm not sure that getting more stars if they reach the star wall would be sufficient incentive.

Just a reminder: The format to get an image link can be as simple as:


With normal markdown, this would be

![alt text](http://path.tld/img.png)

To add a title (hover text), use

![alt text](http://path.tld/img.png "Title")

It would be awesome if this happened more frequently in Chat.

  • 6
    Honestly, I just don't see people using the additional markdown in chat. Chat markdown is a tricky bitch already.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 15:07
  • @MarkM - I admitted that. I still stand by my assertion that this would be a good solution to the problem, but understand if people don't like the idea. However, the first portion is almost unrelated, so I'll separate them. If you don't like the alt text display, downvote this answer. If you dowvnoted this answer because of the first portion, you can now retract your downvote and add it to the other answer. If you don't like both, downvote both! Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 16:14

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