Today I came across these two questions, this one and this one, where the questioner has simply attached the photo, or may I say screenshot, of the whole page, which essentially appears to be on a phone.

There have been past instances of such behaviour, even after the intervention by the Moderators.

One of our main practice here is to add the references (and sources), but shouldn't users make a little bit more effort in typing such questions? It is just one pair of sentences in the middle of the entire image which concerns the question. So why distract users by providing the whole page?

I don't know why people are so lazy that they can't write/type their questions in the box along with the reference sentences. By reference sentences I mean the sentences where they encountered this usage, or a sentence they made by themselves which uses such words/phrases, etc. I understand it would be difficult when there is big paragraph which needs to be known to answer comprehension type questions. I would say that is fair enough in that case, since it would take insane time to write it down from a textbook in your hand. However it was a (pair of) stand-alone sentence/s in this case.

One might say that they should have included just the cropped part of the screenshot, yes I agree, that can be way around the chaos. But why can't they take the effort in typing it out?

Why the question rose in my mind, is because I had seen a question getting closed because of such a thing, wherein the questioner had simply just attached a related picture and asked something (which I do not recall properly).

Hence my question, should such practice be discouraged or encouraged? Or should we let it be? Because I am pretty sure my comment on one of the questions was paid no heed.

  • 7
    Text in images cannot be indexed by either the internal search or by external search engines, can't be copied into a search engine to do further research, does not resize proportionally, and is useless and quite unfriendly to the visually impaired and to others using screen readers.
    – Void
    Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 18:26
  • In your opinion, does this warrant a Very Low Quality flag? "This question has severe formatting or content problems. This question is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed."
    – Mast
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 21:43
  • @Mast I wouldn't choose that one. I used to select the "Moderator Attention" one and then wrote in my problem, because I believe there isn't, yet, a proper option defining such usages. "Very Low Quality" is not acceptable, neither is "Needs improvement". Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 18:44

2 Answers 2


Screenshots are unacceptable.

  1. It causes problems for people who cannot see images (e.g. because they are blind or have bandwidth constraints). We could fix this by setting appropriate alt text on the images, but then we might as well just get rid of the images altogether.
  2. It also causes problems for search.
  3. Depending on the quality of the image, it might be difficult to read for everyone else, too.

What to do about it?

In general, we have three options for dealing with problematic content:

  • Downvote. Nearly anyone can downvote any question, there is no rep cost, no justification is required, and it is anonymous. Downvoted questions are less likely to be answered, will eventually drop off the front page, may be deleted automatically, and users who post a lot of downvoted questions are automatically banned from asking any more.
  • Vote to close. This requires a reason, and has a minimum rep requirement. "Needs details" is often an appropriate fit for these questions, depending on how much information is present, but you could also use a custom reason.
  • Vote to delete. This has a higher minimum rep requirement. In most cases, this is probably unnecessary as the system automatically deletes downvoted questions without answers.

If you're feeling charitable:

  • If it's just a sentence or two, edit it into the question and remove the image.
  • If it's longer, leave a comment asking the questioner to type their question in words without using images of text. They may decide that they don't really need the entire image after all, which may make it easier to read.

If you see the same person post a lot of questions like this, or if you have other concerns not addressed here, flag it for a moderator's attention and explain the problem in detail. Moderators can reach out to problem users directly, and can also close or delete a large number of questions at once, should the need arise.

  • 1
    I'd as as a fourth point that text scales arbitrarily. I know someone who needs to read the screen at ~300% size. Many images degrade too much during scaling, text scales perfectly.
    – Polygnome
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 12:51

There are several free online OCR sites that will quickly convert most images of text, including screenshots, into proper text without any re-typing being needed. Posters (or indeed other users) can use those.

I would say that use of a screen shot or another image of text is usually not a good reason to close a post. Instead the post should be edited to remove or convert the image. This can be done using any of several free online OCR tools, or by manually retyping.

I, for one, don't care how much effort a poster puts into a question, or an answer. I do care if the post is helpful to others here. Posts containing images of test (such as screenshots) are much less helpful. They cannot be properly indexed or searched, they cannot be accessed at all by those using screen readers, and can be a problem for users with vision issues who need to be able to increase font size. They also prevent people from dealing with contrast issues by changing display colors. They also take up significantly more storage, but that is much less of a concern.

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