When I just viewed this answer, I got two lines with "enter image description here" for almost 10 seconds. Then, it seems, imgur decided to provide the actual images. This happens from time to time, and it does annoy me a bit. Just for demonstration purposes, here's an image link with an invalid url http://this-does-not-link-to-an-image.com, and with the default text ... (As Arjan points out in his comment below, this looks annoying with Firefox, but not with Chrome or Safari.)

I'd like to know how many people actually follow the request to enter an image description after uploading an image with the "image" button. Own research here on meta suggests that more than 50% do it, but "enter image description here" does show up quite a bit, and I guess the meta folks are rather educated in how the site is supposed to work.

My suggestion: Either change the text to something that would make a little more sense in a submitted post, e.g. "this should be the image description" (please improve!), or get rid of the default text altogether.

For some history: Until 23 Jan 2011, the text just was "alt text"; then Jeff changed it (trying to encourage people to enter an alt text, but doubting that it helps).

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    Which in Firefox looks like this but in Chrome and Safari shows this.
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 17:05
  • @Arjan: You get the default when you use the "add image" functionality. This results in the markdown ![]() syntax, and then in the HTML file there no width and no height specified. Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 17:28
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    As an aside: Chrome and Safari would show it too, but only if it can fit the text. Both do actually increase the width of the image to match the length of the text, but still won't show the text unless that width is also explicitly specified... That requires one to increase the default dimensions a bit, like <img src="http://not" width="184" height="48" alt="enter image description here"> does show it. Not sure if that's specific to the Stack Exchange CSS? (Like maybe some other dimensions from the SE CSS are used, when image dimensions are missing.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 17:46
  • (Source of the above comment in the formatting sandbox, for whoever wonders about this too. But: it's only slightly related to the above feature request!)
    – Arjan
    Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 17:50
  • Hendrik, just FYI: the odd http://this-does-not-link-to-an-image.com/ might one day get you something like We detected an invalid domain linked in your post. This is likely caused due to sample code not being in a code block. (this message will be automatically removed when the link is fixed) – Community ♦ Or it might actually tell you something different, about the domain being non-accessible. Just curious, so please @mention me when you get such message ;-) (See: Does Stack Exchange crawl websites?)
    – Arjan
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 21:40
  • @Arjan: Thanks for letting me know! I read about that new feature, but didn't remember that it would apply to me. I'm looking forward to getting that Community comment :-) Commented May 15, 2012 at 9:45
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/271135/… to make the text serve some purpose Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 17:55

5 Answers 5


I'd like to know how many people actually follow the request to enter an image description after uploading an image with the "image" button

There's 3586 posts with the default text, 21365 posts with the old default text, and 2335 posts with no alt text, out of 38284 posts with images, so about 29% fill it in

(Thanks Arjan for the old default text query) GRATITUDE RETRACTED

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    There are many posts where the description is edited in later. That could skew your statistics.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Feb 12, 2022 at 8:44

My suggestion: let the user put the description in the image uploader itself:

After selecting or dragging (or pasting) an image, the field will be auto focused. The initial text there is a placeholder only, which won't be used as the actual description, same way for example as the "Search Q&A" placeholder text in the search box on top.

After confirming, the text (only if user typed something) will be automatically inserted into the markup, otherwise it will be left empty.


The queries that Michael Mrozek ran against SO content in April '11 take too long to run today. Instead, here are the current figures for UX.SE, which may be the community most likely to be aware of the need to put meaningful alt text:

  • 6356 posts with alt text of "enter image description here"
  • 189 posts with containing "alt text" (Some of these posts are talking about it, slightly inflating the count.)
  • 116 posts with empty alt text
  • 12271 total posts with images

which leaves about 46% of posts with images that have user-entered alt-texts.

Given the importance of including meaningful alt text, it seems that we should try to do better than having a non-compliant post for every compliant one. Therefore, I support this proposal to provide a field for entering alt text in the image-upload GUI. That GUI is the source of posts with the default alt text in them, and because it doesn't ask for alt text until the image has already been successfully added, it makes sense that people don't bother.


I've bountied this because it remains a problem (as running this query on any site indicates).

I think the fundamental issue is that "enter image description here" is non-functional as a "placeholder" alt text. It is not useful to site visitors who cannot access visual content for whatever reason; in fact, it is negatively useful because it wastes time displaying a message that is not meant for them.

So, this message should never have been assigned as an alt attribute. It's a message to the poster, not to the reader of the post. Please, if you want to do accessibility right, make it so that this message is communicated in another fashion that doesn't have such ugly side-effects when people don't comply (and it's inevitable that people won't always comply).

As Hendrik Vogt mentioned here, and kiamlaluno mentioned on ELU Meta, it would be better if we just had an empty alt attribute by default (which is at least sometimes the appropriate value, for example in cases where the image is "decorative" and doesn't communicate any specific information independent of the text).

Probably, we want to keep the ability to run queries to find posts where the authors did not select the correct alt text. I'm not a programmer, but I think it should be possible to include the "enter image description" text somewhere in the markdown code for the post, but not as the alt attribute of the image. Just make it a note in the code that isn't displayed anywhere on the main page of the post.

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    An empty alt is easily overlooked. At least some people replace the default text now; how many will fill it in when presented with alt=""? How many users (on less-technical sites) even know what that means if they just see the HTML? I support Isaac's suggestion to prompt for it in the uploader and, failing that, I don't mind a shorter default text like "image description", but taking it away entirely seems problematic. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 3:57

The big objection I can see to getting rid of it all together is that is would make SO less accessible; it's probably safe to assume that some SO users use screen readers / Braille readers / lynx, and this could play badly politically.

Of course, the reality is that it should be clear from the post what is in the picture, and a default ALT text helps no-one. It's tempting to say make it mandatory, but then some people would type in gibberish.

As most users won't see the alt-text, there's little value in changing it; typically it will only be see if the imgur is down, or when the page is opened by a user that won't see images.

One way to attract attention from editors is for the server/js to add a wiki-style note at the top of the page saying 'These images need descriptions', and this might persuade more rep-conscious posters to fix it themselves.

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    I can't quite follow your objection: I only meant to get rid of the default text. Of course it's good if people enter an alt text. EDIT: Tried to make this a bit clearer in my question. Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 17:31
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    @Hendrik I may have misunderstood 'get rid of'; I though you meant removing the attribute altogether (when blank) would reduce accessibility, and violate the HTML specs.
    – Phil Lello
    Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 19:12
  • I'm not exactly sure what you're saying here - did you mean "... altogether (when blank). This would reduce accessibility ..."? Then no, I certainly didn't mean that. Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 19:18
  • Ah, you mean don't offer a default, but require text?
    – Phil Lello
    Commented Apr 25, 2011 at 19:28
  • 1
    No, I mean than alt="" is better than alt="enter image description here". Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 17:53

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