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While reviewing first posts and low quality posts, I come across images liked the following way too often:

enter image description here

And this should come as no surprise, as this is the default text inserted for new users (who can't inline images). This post from 2011 talks about a similar situation with inlined images, where the alt text is "enter image description here" (but nothing has been done about it since).

This situation makes for some truly low quality posts. Shouldn't the site at least try to prevent this from happening?

Two fixes immediately come to mind which sound rather trivial to implement:

  1. Show users a warning dialog or prevent them from posting if the following regex matches any part of their question:

    \[enter image description here\]\[[0-9]*\]
    
  2. As suggested here in 2014 ask users for an image description when they insert an image.

Maybe after 7 years of dealing with this situation it is time to implement a fix for the problem?

  • 2
    As someone who edits hundreds of questions to inline images, the only thing this will accomplish, is make me remove a character from the default text. I will not spend time to create my down description and most users who don’t have the reputation to inline their own image don’t create a description – Ramhound May 27 '18 at 13:53
  • @Ramhound this post is really not about the two suggested solutions, but about kindling a discussion. I don't care which solution will be implemented in the end, as long there is some. – Lonely Neuron May 27 '18 at 13:55
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    The point is that no solution will really solve the problem. We've seen time and time again that blocking things like this just results in workarounds - sometimes ones that are even worse - and achieves close to nothing in the end. – animuson May 27 '18 at 14:34
  • It sounds like this is coded as a preset rather than a placeholder. – Elin May 28 '18 at 12:47
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This isn't a concern for most people. Its an accessibility concern, and one I actively try to keep in mind but most users aren't going to realise the importance of it, and its really about education. And well, unless you're editing, no one's going to see it.

When forced to type in stuff, most people would type in gibberish. The site with the best accessibility of that sort is facebook, and they have significantly better resources, and use some kind of AI image recognition magic stuff.

That said, I try to make it part of my edits to fix stuff like that as I go around. I'm aware people with impaired vision use the site and I tend to actually write descriptions with my images these days.

Educating a broad swathe of people about this is hard though. I for one haven't gone to meta to go "hey guys, we should be better about it"

So, IMO there's not much to be done - other than editing in descriptions with other edits.

  • I think you misunderstood what I was talking about. I tried to be clear, but maybe I wasn't clear enough. I am talking about posts where there is just a link, not "enter image description here" hidden as a caption. Look at my quote, this is literally how it looks like. Look at this earlier version of a post so see what I mean – Lonely Neuron May 28 '18 at 18:01
  • Other than the bit about the visually impaired - mostly still true. And the restriction on image uploads was removed... four years ago? – Journeyman Geek May 29 '18 at 0:19
  • But they still don't have the privilege to inline images until they have 10 reputation. I have explained everything in my post and included explanatory links to everything. – Lonely Neuron May 29 '18 at 7:34
  • On Mi Yodeya we were able to make this part of our site culture -- meta to raise awareness and organize a cleanup effort, occasional discussion in chat, and people actually making those edits when they see them. It's possible to get people who wouldn't otherwise notice the problem to care, but it's not free either. – Monica Cellio Jul 7 at 18:45
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Shouldn't the site at least try to prevent this from happening?

The system already does by asking the user to ... enter image description here. If the user can ignore a simple directive like this one, they can as well ignore the warning or the "caption would go here" alternatives. If you force users to specify a "proper" description by such means as preventing the upload until they do so, you will end up seeing a lot of gibberish descriptions like "image 1", "AAA", "caption for my picture", "???", etc.

I'm afraid we cannot fix this problem completely without employing some non-trivial algorithms to "validate" the caption, which is an overkill here.

3

Soooo many people don't bother following the simple instructions filled in automatically for alt text (old stats). Posts are rife with "enter image description here" which leaves content inaccessible for the visually impaired.

I realise that in many cases we cannot prevent this — lazy peeps will be lazy.

However, if we block post submission when images are present with "enter image description here" and prompt people to provide real image descriptions, we may improve results by some percentage. Sure, some will just try to enter an empty string (block that too!) or some meaningless nonsense. But surely others will go "ah, okay, I should do that".

Worth an experiment?

  • Conterpoint, having "enter image description here" in the body makes it possible to find all of the posts and then fix them. The OP probably isn't going to do it even with a reminder – Charlie Brumbaugh Jul 7 at 17:49
  • @CharlieBrumbaugh True! Unfortunately that's like saying "don't worry we'll do it"! – Lightness Races in Orbit Jul 8 at 10:15

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