It doesn't look like embedded pictures count towards post scores used to determine low quality posts on the review page.

If they do, they probably don't count enough. Sure, images can be superfluous and not contribute anything, but so can text (assuming text length is a factor).

The scoring algorithm details are apparently secret, so I can only suggest to review the role of embedded images in the scoring.

Recently on Apple Stack Exchange's /review page for low post scores:

enter image description here

And the answer actually looks like this:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Scoring algorithm? you mean, human votes?
    – Rosinante
    Feb 12, 2012 at 16:59
  • 1
    @Rosinante no, he means the algorithm that makes the question appear in /review
    – Pekka
    Feb 12, 2012 at 17:01
  • He could hardly have explained his point less clearly.
    – Rosinante
    Feb 12, 2012 at 17:03
  • @Rosinante Better? Feb 12, 2012 at 17:25
  • @DanielBeck yes.
    – Rosinante
    Feb 12, 2012 at 18:28

4 Answers 4


I agree in essence. However, I'm not convinced there are many useful answers that come with absolutely no text at all. Even the answer you show could do with a "You need to change the 'When performing a search' combo box and set it to 'Search the current folder'" (or whatever).

Image-only answers are like link-only answers - surely often useful, but not really what the community deems good style.

  • You're right, but even if, instead of an image, the post contained an additional 20 words, I think it wouldn't have shown as low quality (I need to guess here though). While it doesn't make the answer detailed by any means, included images should count, and it seems that they don't. Feb 12, 2012 at 17:27
  • 1
    @DanielBeck: You can't take a low quality question or answer and make it a good quality one by adding an image. If it uses poor punctuation, spelling, and grammar, a picture won't make it suddenly OK. Most posts hit for being low quality aren't strictly about text length; it's about the quality of the text. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:24
  • Note that I never suggested image only answers should be able to pass the low quality filter, or be creatable at all. The example isn't an image only answer either. It could also stand alone. While not exactly verbose, it's (just) sufficient to find the option. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:55
**Finder -> Preferences -> Advanced**

![enter image description here][1]
  • A picture needs alt text (Though I don't think this will affect the review quality score)
  • Including images should be seen as part of a supporting appendix section. If the answer cannot stand on its own without the image, then it needs review.

Of course there must be a middle ground in which an image or chart is vital to the explanation. I don't have a catch all reference but in this specific case

Use can achieve this by going to Finder preferences.

To view Finder preferences, click the Finder icon in the Dock, and then choose

Finder -> Preferences -> Advanced

At this point you should see options for "When performing a search"

![Search the current folder within Finder Advanced Preferences][1]

If the point of the short post was to direct an already knowledgeable apple consumer, then the information will be grepped in the first line. If not, they can read on. If they are having trouble understanding the instructions, an image is included so they are not lost. At least this is how I would like to view answers when I see them. Grep the first line or what ever is emphasized in bold and if I have not been able to understand read in further.

For a lengthy post, I think a middle ground applies as well. I have seen a few posts with 4-5 full size images in it and a mere 20 words of text. Adding images doesn't necessarily make it more comprehensible.

I still stand by my first point though, that image descriptions should be included in the quality filter.

  • Please provide a reference or more thorough explanation for your second argument. While it seems to be reasonable in theory, many posts would become lengthy and incomprehensible without use of well-placed images. Feb 12, 2012 at 18:17
  • @DanielBeck attempted to expand on second argument
    – phwd
    Feb 12, 2012 at 18:51
  • Good point on the image descriptions. They should probably be included as an indicator of bad post quality (saying this as someone who never provides them), but should at most offset the improvement otherwise achieved through including the image. Feb 12, 2012 at 18:55
  • Just curious, how often do you repeat the same basic instructions in your answers? I've probably explained the basics of using a certain program 50 or more times on SU, and some of those were probably way shorter than what can be considered good, just because I was tired of the boilerplate text. In this case, getting to the preferences of a program is the same across all native applications on the entire OS, so there's hardly any value in making this any more verbose. How'd you solve this? Feb 12, 2012 at 20:33
  • Note that alt text needs to have punctuation at the end otherwise it creates a run on sentence with whatever text comes next when read by screen readers.
    – BSMP
    Jul 26, 2020 at 22:26

No, picture-only answers should not be allowed to exist. It's almost as bad as link-only answers to external sites.

Case in point, browsing the site for me at work is somewhat confusing when viewing posts with images in them. Behind a corporate firewall, sites such as imgur (where all network user images are being hosted) are blocked as not being work related. In fact, your question ends up looking like this:

broken images

What if that answer didn't have the path pointing where to look? What would it look like then?

broken image-only

Considering that one of the goals for the network is to be work friendly, we shouldn't allow picture-only answers (outside of meta). A lot of traffic comes from people searching from at work. It would not help at all if people who also have images blocked saw answers looking like that.

  • Note that I never advocated picture-only answers. Again: pictures should count towards increasing a post's quality score, and they don't seem to. Random gibberish probably provides more quality score than an image. That's it. I don't want image-only answers to automatically escape the filter. // "Considering that one of the goals for the network is to be work friendly"? If that is a goal, choosing the commonly blocked (I also suffered before) imgur is a really bad choice. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:13
  • @DanielBeck There has been discussion about this before. My understanding is that as soon as contractually possible, it won't be used any longer. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:20
  • @Daniel: The picture should not count (positively) toward the quality score. We want to get these posts reviewed as images should only be used to help drive the point of the supporting text, not a replacement. (Sorry, is that the point of your request? That wasn't very clear to me) Feb 12, 2012 at 20:22
  • Yes, that was the idea: Including an image can be used in place of lengthy explanations. I think the text length is a factor in determining post quality, and so an image should also be considered. If you have an idea how to better convey it, feel free to edit the question. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:27
  • @Daniel: In that case, I disagree with your suggestion that an image should allowed to be used as a replacement for lengthy explanations. If on the other hand your suggestion was to make it so images do not contribute (positively) to a post's quality score, then I could agree to that. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:34
  • It's a judgment call. How much of an explanation needs to be in text form? While the example is certainly too short to be a particularly good answer (probably the bare minimum for a useful answer, and as such probably should still be listed), it's reasonable to assume that almost all users know where to find a program's preferences. The window that opens almost looks like the image. From there it's clear where to click and what to select. Without the image, they'd check 5 options for what looks good, and change the relevant one. I see no need to include the text mentioned by Pekka or phwd. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:40
  • @Daniel: When it comes to images in posts, it should be IMHO following the same kind of rules that we have in place for link-only posts. The post has to stand on it's own without the link/image. If that link dies or image doesn't show, the post should still make sense despite the link/image being gone. All we ask for is a simple summary of what is being linked to/shown. e.g., (not saying this would be on-topic) Consider someone asked for driving directions to some place. What's better? A picture of a roadmap with the path marked out? Directions giving street-by-street instructions? Or both? Feb 12, 2012 at 20:52
  • @JeffMercado Neither alone is a particularly good answer (I prefer the map to the list, but the metaphor isn't that good...). But it seems to me that having the map alone is treated the same as having no directions at all. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:59

"A picture is worth a thousand words" But, what thousand words did you have in mind? If you made a post that was 1000 words, but many of them were not related to the question/answer, that would be of low quality. You never know what someone will take from a photo - unless you direct them by having appropriate text. This stands no matter what quantity you wish to assign a picture.

My point there: They really are of no value (positive or negative) without appropriate explanatory text. So, in my view, they should not add any 'value' for the algorithm of which we speak.

Another problem: Without appropriate alt values, images have exactly zero benefit for finding the question/answer, either via search engines or the internal search. If I had to guess, the quality filter is probably made with searchability in mind, to a large degree.

Also; on mobile, images are often of less use than on the full site. It can be difficult to determine what is being displayed on an image on a small screen, and while zooming/panning help (after loading the image in a new tab), it would be so much easier if the text of the question/answer described what was in the image first.

Images can be very helpful, but they should never be considered a vital part of the answer/question.

  • Where do you see image-only answers being discussed? And I don't want a post that includes an image to automatically pass the quality filter either. Here's what I meant to write: Images should improve a post's quality score, and it doesn't seem like they do. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:17
  • Note that the topic title refers to a well-known saying and is not meant to be taken literally. The equivalent quality score of an image should probably be around a sentence. Since the algorithm isn't public, I can't know what the exact criteria are. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:19
  • I trust the implementers would be able to fine-tune the scoring. It should be no problem to reject image-only answers (maybe that already happens, I don't know), or make the quality score contribution of an image dependent upon the amount of text around it. I am not saying that posts with images should get a free pass, far from it. Maybe the example I selected was a bad one, but it is the post that made me think about this issue, and it's not easy coming across low quality score posts with images in them. For some reason, there seems to be a correlation... Feb 12, 2012 at 20:24
  • @DanielBeck I've edited my answer to be about the 'post value' of images more than 'image only answers'. If your question is, "should images count toward 'post value', my answer is still a firm, "No". Feb 12, 2012 at 20:27
  • This isn't Jeopardy. You don't generally find answers. Other than that, you have some good arguments. Feb 12, 2012 at 20:34

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