(This is a feature request following this Meta Photo-SE post: Is there some way that we can help new users to add EXIF data to their photo?)

At Photography Stack Exchange, when posters ask questions about their photos, we often have to ask them in comments to edit the question to include exposure information (shutter speed, aperture or f-number, ISO), and sometimes camera info (make/model, lens type, focal length). This is a constant dance we have to play with our new posters. Sometimes, the poster never edits the question, so either the answers are stuck speculating about the exposure conditions that could have caused their problems, or we're forced to close the question as unclear / needs details.

Rather than go back and forth with the "please edit and add exposure details" comments, can the image uploader be modified to parse / return exposure information from the image's EXIF data if it exists?

I realize this is a pretty narrow use-case, probably specific to Photo-SE only. I imagine this functionality would be undesirable for every other Stack. And I'm aware that Imgur is against returning or retaining EXIF data broadly and blanketly (ref: Is EXIF data removed from uploaded SE pictures?). But I imagine maybe a few possible approaches to the solution:

  1. Negotiate a modification to the Imgur API to return a defined subset of EXIF data such as ApertureValue, ShutterSpeedValue, ExposureCompensation, ISO, MeteringMode, etc., but certainly no identifying information). Likely? No. But probably the best technical solution.

  2. Pre-parse the EXIF information from a SE self-hosted CGI/script using whatever server-side EXIF library is available. This has the downside of requiring a temporary image upload to SE's servers just to get the EXIF data, but otherwise is unchanged with regards to the Imgur uploader process.

  3. Use a 3rd-party EXIF parser service in parallel with the Imgur uploader. Something similar to https://exifinfo.org. This is similar to #2, but is dependent upon a separate service agreement, contract terms, etc. Probably the least desirable option.

  4. Client-side solution. I'm not specifically familiar with Javascript-based EXIF parsers, but there seem to be a few, such as exif.js. I think this is probably the best solution. (thank you @nobody for this suggestion in the comments)

  • On some sites, I've seen some images that fail to render correctly with EXIF data removed; they only look correct with the data intact. There's no way to upload those types of images to SE directly. Feb 13, 2021 at 4:14
  • @SonictheCuriouserHedgehog I don't think we've ever had that kind of issue over at Photo-SE. Everything uploaded via the Imgur uploader renders correctly, and is devoid of EXIF.
    – scottbb
    Feb 13, 2021 at 4:42
  • While there currently exists no means to automatically extract and display the EXIF information of uploaded images on Stack Exchange sites it is possible for the uploader to manually add the "description of the image" to the ALT and add the "EXIF Data" to the Title area of the image; that would show the EXIF information on mouseover in the Tooltip. See also: meta.stackexchange.com/q/271135/282094 and the Markdown Help. --- You could ask (possibly on Stack apps) for someone to create a UserScript for Photo.SE that uses a site to extract the EXIF and upload the image to stack.imgur ....
    – Rob
    Feb 13, 2021 at 8:01
  • @Rob A custom UserScript is a great idea for regular posters, but I find that few of the Photo-SE regulars use Greasemonkey/Tampermonkey. Also, this doesn't solve the problem motivating this question, because new users by definition wouldn't know about UserScripts in the first place.
    – scottbb
    Feb 13, 2021 at 8:18
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    There's actually more than Photo.SE that holds photo competitions, and might want this implemented (or not): travel.meta.stackexchange.com/q/6885/90750 cooking.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1422/72373 drones.meta.stackexchange.com/q/197/716 outdoors.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1578/17365
    – Rob
    Feb 13, 2021 at 8:54
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    There's precedents for site specific features. I almost wonder if a specific upload option that's not inline, with the option of ticking/unticking what tags you want might be an option, or just removing stuff like geotags. In theory, where a SO user is working/asking questions on image processing, it might be useful too :D Feb 13, 2021 at 9:23
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    Your feature request wpuld benefit from listing already available third party tools that could be implemented as a solution to your request.
    – Luuklag
    Feb 13, 2021 at 13:30
  • @Journeyman The Photo, Travel, Outdoors, and Drones sites might want the option of including GeoTags from the EXIF, frequently that is why people enable the GPS to record the exact location of the photo; and provide a link to a map - people photographing in their home are unlikely to want such a feature, and that's why it must be made abundantly clear exactly what information will be available (further cluttering and complicating the UI). --- Indeed the Cooking.SE would benefit from imagemaps so you could rollover the food for recipes.
    – Rob
    Feb 13, 2021 at 16:58
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    "Pre-parse the EXIF information from a SE self-hosted CGI/script using whatever server-side EXIF library is available." - I guess that could be done client side too?
    – nobody
    Feb 13, 2021 at 17:46
  • @Rob re: uploader interface would have to really spell out the details: partially yes, partially no. It should link to the MSE page announcing the feature, where all of the details are specifically spelled out. But I'm not asking to keep certainly EXIF data embedded in the image; I'm asking to have certain non-identifiable tags pasted as Markdown text in the user's post along with the image link & URL Markdown. If a person wants to remove, edit, or format that pasted data, it's visible to them while they're editing.
    – scottbb
    Feb 13, 2021 at 21:13
  • @Luuklag I'm not familiar with any 3rd party sites that might be appropriate to partner with, only because I have no idea of SE Network's business partnering process or what they would require. But for example, in the original discussion at Meta Photo-SE, exifinfo.org was a suggested example.
    – scottbb
    Feb 13, 2021 at 21:17
  • @nobody That's an excellent idea, didn't occur to me.
    – scottbb
    Feb 13, 2021 at 21:20
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    @Rob I hear you, and I appreciate your inputs. But none of those are my concern to solve. Our site is getting declining participation. Long term high-rep users have left. These days, several blatantly off-topic questions that should have been closed can't even get 5 close votes because of decreased participation in the review queues. So when a regular asks for a possible feature that would objectively remove friction with new users, and possibly increase retention of some new posters, I'm faced with a choice: do I wait until (probably never) to get some number of votes on the meta question,
    – scottbb
    Feb 14, 2021 at 4:55
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    and become just another example of how nothing is improving and nobody is being listened to; Or, do I come to Meta-SE and raise that feature request up the flagpole and try to advocate for my site's needs? That's what brought me here, now. I don't think we'll get a lot of people who "want" this, because they generally won't use it themselves. They want it on behalf of the 1st time posters, to make the first experience on Photo-SE better, and better for the regulars when having to first interact with the 1st time posters.
    – scottbb
    Feb 14, 2021 at 4:58
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    @scottbb - I wouldn't get too discouraged by meta comments outside staff saying something is unlikely, it's a tough crowd.and if we don't speak up about problems we face no one will know, whether they are fixed on the short term or not. I personally think, as a mod on meta it's something valuable to voice out. I wouldn't status review tag it now, but it's very something I hope the company considers Feb 14, 2021 at 14:47


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