While reviewing the results of my script that repairs broken images across the network, I noticed there are many images where the alt text is "a busy cat". It might be an older version of the automatically generated "enter image description here", but I don't remember it, and it appears in posts as recent as 2019. Given its prevalence and the variety of authors, it's likely to have been generated by something, but what?

1 Answer 1


It is part of the inline help for the editor:

screenshot of inline help

Text version:

Images are exactly like links, but they have an exclamation point in front of them:

![a busy cat](https://cdn.sstatic.net/Sites/stackoverflow/Img/error-lolcat-problemz.jpg)

![two muppets][1]

 [1]: https://i.imgur.com/I5DFV.jpg "tooltip"

The word in square brackets is the alt text, which gets displayed if the browser can't show the image. Be sure to include meaningful alt text for screen-reading software.
  • This doesn't completely answer the question. I take it you're implying that many users copy/paste the code into the body of their post?
    – Joachim
    Apr 1, 2023 at 19:29
  • @Joachim this help text is most probably the source. There may be different ways in which these alt texts actually end up in posts, but indeed copy-pasting from this help text directly into the post below seems to be a likely candidate.
    – Marijn
    Apr 1, 2023 at 19:39
  • 4
    @Joachim it's the obvious conclusion we can draw here. Text appears in the guide for how to format links, users copied it from there. We know users. Thus, this shouldn't really be unexpected.
    – VLAZ
    Apr 1, 2023 at 19:39
  • 1
    @VLAZ Oh no, I completely agree. It just feels as if, while being logical and perhaps obvious, that conclusion could be drawn in the post :)
    – Joachim
    Apr 1, 2023 at 19:43
  • Great, that says something about how often I read those help pages :P
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Apr 1, 2023 at 19:58
  • @Glorfindel it is easy to miss, especially since the official help meta.stackexchange.com/editing-help#images provides different examples.
    – Marijn
    Apr 1, 2023 at 20:02
  • 1
    Yeah, and it's easier to use the built-in uploader anyway. It's no surprise that many of those busy cat images are broken ...
    – Glorfindel Mod
    Apr 1, 2023 at 20:18

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