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It happens in all of them, but to give a concrete example, if you go to see this answer and click on the image to take a closer look, we are automatically redirected to a new URL, specifically to the image's URL.

Particularly for me, this behavior is quite annoying, since it forces you to navigate back to return to the question/answer.

I imagine that there's a good explanation for not using another type of "tool" to display images, but I really think that it is something that could be improved/changed.

(Originally from "¿Por qué las imágenes en las preguntas no se abren sin tener que navegar a otra URL?". I'm posting this here since it happens on multiple sites in the network.)

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    Could you elaborate on why having to navigate back is worse than dismissing a popup (which is the only alternative I can think of - perhaps you have a better idea though)?
    – Glorfindel Mod
    May 26 at 18:53
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    You can use a browser extension to show the image on hover (optionally, delayed) so you don't have to navigate or dismiss a popup. May 26 at 18:57
  • @Glorfindel Yes, sure! For example, I think it's better tab/click to open/close an image than navigate back to the original website. Another example, if you start writing a comment and click on the image to take a closer look... you lose the comment. I think that are better ways to zoom images without having to leave the original post.
    – Marcos
    May 26 at 19:02
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    You know you can Windows/Command + click on the image to open it in a new tab (in most major browsers)?
    – Glorfindel Mod
    May 26 at 19:11
  • I always open in a new tab unless I really want to leave a particular page. I even have a macro key to open the link under the cursor in a new tab (both on the Ducky and own built separate macro keyboard). May 26 at 19:12
  • @Glorfindel yes, and on Windows it's Ctrl + click. But that is not the point. We can think of multiple workaround to avoid the "problem". Open the image on a new Tab/Window creates a new "need" to move between tabs/windows.
    – Marcos
    May 26 at 19:15
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    My point is: on most sites (e.g. Wikipedia), clicking on an image will navigate to the URL of that image. Should Stack Exchange be an exception to that and adapt its behaviour, or should the users who have problems with this adapt their behaviour?
    – Glorfindel Mod
    May 26 at 19:19
  • @Glorfindel, I see your point. But Stack Exchange is were you ask and reply (like a chat perhaps?) I don't see how is a good UX having to leave a page to zoom images and then navigate back to reply or start all over if you already had started.
    – Marcos
    May 26 at 19:28
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    @Glorfindel It looks like Wikipedia does open images in a popup (albeit a full screen popup) and you can click the X icon in the top right to close the popup. May 26 at 19:29
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    There's a userscript for this, which lightboxes them on click instead of navigating to the new page. I agree that the current behavior of navigating to the image feels disruptive... I'd personally prefer it to open a new tab at least, so I don't have to potentially lose my place/ unsaved content on the page after clicking an image.
    – zcoop98
    May 26 at 22:05
  • "I imagine that there's a good explanation..." Probably just a matter of either no one asking for it to behave differently or any feature request about it not getting any traction.
    – BSMP
    May 27 at 2:14
  • I don't see any value in spending developers time and efforts on fancy feature that will just show images, when you can simply navigate to the image itself like we do now. It's nice and dandy, but I really don't see any added value in having images open inside popups. May 27 at 5:56
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    Anyway, such thing has already been requested May 27 at 5:59

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