I had disabled images/Flash/videos in my browser globally for all websites (due to a very low-speed internet in my village). Of course, it also affected SE. Anyway, when I entered SE, the site seems not well-readable.

Neither vote buttons are shown:

No vote buttons

Nor main top-bar buttons, and, what's more, I have problems while I'm writing these sentences, as I can't see the editor buttons at all:

No editor buttons

So, I think there should be alt or title attributes for <img> tags. Also, notice that many buttons texts are fully white, Maybe it's good that with background: imageUrl CSS tag, there was also additional Background-color or shadow behind these texts, which might increase readability when images are not loaded.

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    That would really only be beneficial on the first fetch, after that the images only return a 304 Not Modified, and some are even not fetched at all.
    – rene
    Aug 10, 2016 at 12:53
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    That's a Stack Overflow developer. And his tweet is spot on. Your bug report is nonsensical; there's no way to make images display if you've disabled image display.
    – bjb568
    Aug 14, 2016 at 1:37
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not a bug. Result of disabling images is site shows no images. Of course :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Aug 21, 2017 at 10:09
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    He is not asking that images are displayed with images disabled. He is asking for the buttons to be still visible in some alternative way when images are disabled. Still, SO does good use of caching, so I don't agree with the need to fix this.
    – Pablo
    Jun 21, 2018 at 16:37

3 Answers 3


Consider switching to the mobile web interface (by clicking the "mobile" link in the page footer). I just tested it (by turning images off in my Firefox for Android), and it seems to be fully functional even without images.

As a bonus, the mobile view is optimized for low-bandwidth mobile connections, so it's likely to load faster than the usual desktop version of SE regardless of whether you disable images or not. The down side is that the mobile view lacks some features of the full site view, such as live Markdown preview and the Hot Network Questions sidebar (although some people might consider the absence of the latter a feature).


Aside from the question about whether such a thing is useful or not, this is also something you can fix yourself relatively easy. For example you can load this style in your browser:

.vote-up-off,  .vote-down-off {
    text-indent: 0;
    font-size': 14px;

or if you need more jQuery (we all need more jQuery!):

$('.vote-up-off, .vote-down-off').css({'text-indent': 0, 'font-size': '14px'});

There are more things to fix, and you could perhaps use the content style to use fancy Unicode icons to make it a bit more like the original with images. But this should give you a start.

Good luck!


I am wondering which problem you are trying to solve.

The content of images are just loaded once, every time the browser asks the server if they have been updated (and they have a 7-day cache policy as mentioned by Nick Craver). If not, the content is not sent! SE is moving more and more to SVG, which aren't real images any more.

And also, if you choose to disable images, JavaScript, etc. that isn't really the problem of SE. I don't think is it useful to invest a lot of time, just because you don't want the initial download of images.

  • here are the re-load results from this page after it's initial load, with the network throttled on GPRS: i.sstatic.net/iKSt9.png
    – rene
    Aug 10, 2016 at 13:40
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    So it is mostly statistics, a few sprites, and the post images. The core images just take a few ms. Aug 10, 2016 at 13:42
  • Yeah, but there is still a request going out per resource but I don't expect they want to change that as they can update the site while live, which might require new/fresh image / svg files
    – rene
    Aug 10, 2016 at 13:44
  • So that isn't important right? The 304 will take care of that as you see in your diagnostics. Aug 10, 2016 at 13:45
  • Yeah, but the 304 is still an http call, while the (from cache) ones don't require any network traffic at all. So from the OP's perspective they would want to see the number of (from cache) increased.
    – rene
    Aug 10, 2016 at 13:48
  • Not from my POV. I think OP doesn't want to have any images since he thinks that will minimize network load. But it doesn't. Aug 10, 2016 at 13:50
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    @PatrickHofman no , you are not right. Once i disable images/script in my browser (from settings), i dont want each time i firstly visit any particular domain, to enable the images on first load, then disable it.. and so, i should play all time i visit some domains first time..
    – T.Todua
    Aug 10, 2016 at 17:40
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    The 304s mentioned here are people in dev tools, not normal pageloads. We have and use proper cache breakers. Static content is cached for 7 days, check the headers yourself: Cache-Control: max-age=604800. What problem are we trying to solve here? A 7 day cache and breakers seems far more than reasonable to me. Aug 11, 2016 at 13:29
  • Indeed, and that for a few bytes @Nick Aug 11, 2016 at 13:38
  • well, if you havent read my posts fully, then you cant understand. the problem is not "few bytes", but the problem is that i cant everytime enable/disable the option whenever i visit certain domains first time. thanks anyway
    – T.Todua
    Aug 12, 2016 at 9:13
  • Sorry, but I still fail to see the use of that. The initial few bytes extra you get, is that the issue? Why would you disable images? Aug 12, 2016 at 9:16
  • i have exhausted with arguing and cant talk anymore with you, sorry, seems you dont understand that. whenever person disables images in browser globally , then browser wont load images at all, doesnt matter if they are cached or not.
    – T.Todua
    Aug 12, 2016 at 9:22
  • You could disable Javascript too. Would you argue SE should make a site that works with JS disabled? Images are a core part of the UI, if you disable them it is on you. Aug 12, 2016 at 9:29
  • hm.. so, you cant see the difference with JAVASCRIPT disabling and FLESH/IMAGES disabling? quite seems you havent understand my problem, and didnt read. and what's more, do what you want, i just described the drawback of SE, i dont have huge problem with it.
    – T.Todua
    Aug 12, 2016 at 9:42
  • SE doesn't use Flash, so it are just images. The only reason you give for disabling them is that the internet speed is low, which is only a problem the first time you visit a page. SE works with images, that is how they built it. If you don't like it, then don't use it. Aug 12, 2016 at 9:48

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