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I am talking about this specific answer. I'm not talking about its quality here (I didn't even read it in full, just the beginning).

What I find "questionable" is the use of those two pictures (even if they are, indeed related to the question/answer).

I find those two pictures are taking way too much place and giving me a mini-heart-attack every time I see them. I know this might sound weird, but they have the same effect on me as if someone were unexpectedly jumping at me.

Since the first picture isn't really necessary, should we ask the OP to remove it entirely and put a text instead? Like:

Oh, you think people with mental illness can just snap out of it?

Why don't you go tell someone who is deaf to listen harder?


And/Or should we try to resize the picture so it isn't as aggressive? (note: I know it's possible to do it but I don't remember how to do that, so I'm asking here)

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  • well I always resize images that look bad on my little iPhone SE. Done – anki Oct 31 '19 at 7:39
  • From JAD: "if it's a stack.imgur image link, appending an m to the url works. i.stack.imgur.com/Lo8kf.jpg vs i.stack.imgur.com/Lo8kfm.jpg" – Ael Oct 31 '19 at 7:47
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    apple.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2738/… There are multiple, but them being memes, I used the easiest one, the one JAD mentioned – anki Oct 31 '19 at 7:47
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    "an image is often worth a thousand words". BUT if this can annoy or hurt, maybe can we edit it using a spoiler tag with an explanation? Keep the image, but hidden until you click to reveal it? – OldPadawan Oct 31 '19 at 12:52
  • @OldPadawan Almost any image can annoy or hurt (e.g. someone might enjoy a picture of a bee in a flower, bees freak me out so that would really bother me). So perhaps just as a general rule for all pics we should use the spoiler tag? – DaveG Oct 31 '19 at 13:04
  • @DaveG : that was my idea yes – OldPadawan Oct 31 '19 at 14:33
  • @OldPadawan When you said "if this can annoy or hurt, maybe can we edit it using a spoiler tag" it sounded like you meant there would be a judgement call. – DaveG Oct 31 '19 at 14:59
5

I see some good suggestions in the comments for ways we could go with this, but I want to emphasize a way I think we definitely should not:

We should not remove content from people's posts unless it is overtly offensive.

Every time we remove content (whether that's deleting comments or removing answers), we get major push back from users. Add to that that many users I've seen already feel we have arbitrary standards for the wording in questions and answers...and you'll be creating just another issue.

I don't think this is the hill we want to die on, so to speak. If you think an image degrades an answer, make a comment letting the OP know why you feel that way and then vote accordingly. If they edit, reevaluate your vote.

I don't think it's worth possibly antagonizing people over this.

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  • Oh yeah, totally agree on that. I don't think removing content is the good answer either. – Ael Oct 31 '19 at 17:31
4

Upper_Case raises some excellent points already, I have a few more I'd like to add for consideration:

  1. Accessibility. For people using screen readers a meme (or any image) without alt-text means they might miss a whole lot of information/context. In this case, I think having the text, optionally linking to the site where you found the image as the source of the joke is better.
  2. We've had several questions where answerers used images to elaborate their answers. I've seen these had a negative effect as well: Sometimes, answers/comments turned into 'who can post the funniest sign' or 'here's another image of a shoe storage solution'. Having an early answer with a big image hit HNQ especially gives people 'ideas', and then we're moderating a bunch of images/comments that have not much to do with Interpersonal Skills.
  3. In addition to what Upper_Case already said about professionalism: Having text (link to the image's source, if needed) will look more professional than a badly cropped, pixel-lacking meme. It won't be as distracting, and text often reads easier than images (think those memes where words don't align left-to-right, and the sentence reads borked!).
  4. It would be even more professional if we could keep our images 'on-topic'. I think the only images I'm really interested in seeing on a site about Interpersonal Skills should be about Interpersonal Skills: Schema's like the one in this answer that illustrate the relationship between the people communicating, and the interactions between them. Images that capture an Interpersonal Skill or part of communication theory in a simplified schema, graphs with data. But not memes (and perhaps also no funny signs or slippers, hyperlink those).

I propose we don't use spoiler tags, but link to these images instead of including them in the answer. I propose we edit this answer (and future ones like it), replacing the images with text, and link to images as the source of the idea expressed or with hyperlinked 'like this' constructions, to avoid too much distraction. And that we take our time explaining these choices to the people writing these answers in our edit summaries/comments, probably with a link to this meta discussion.

If the meme or picture is the only thing in answer, and linking to it would leave us with a 'link-only' answer, I think there's not much trouble having it deleted as NAA under our current answer quality guidelines. Humour is a behaviour that can be used when interacting, but we're probably better off describing to people how to humour right than just showing them a meme/sign we think is funny.

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  • Agree 90%. One problem comes to mind: the link. What if the target image disappear? – OldPadawan Nov 1 '19 at 16:55
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    @OldPadawan yeah, link rot may be a problem. But not more than any other link, and we already ask for people to include the relevant parts of their links in an answer. For text based sources, this means either paraphrasing or quoting, for images (in this case memes), I can imagine that including the text on the image is the 'relevant' part that will remain even after the link rots. – Tinkeringbell Nov 1 '19 at 17:04
3

I think that a spoiler tag is the most practical suggestion to address this issue, specifically (given site features that currently exist), but we may want to discourage meme-like images in answers. We can also have standards for how memes are posted that support broader stack goals.

Posting memes on the internet is a pretty ingrained practice, though some people are more attached to it than others. I agree with scohe001 in that this is probably not a fight worth picking overall, in terms of disallowing or requiring forced resizing of meme images.

My bigger concerns lie around how we want to handle the information memes convey, because the text in the images will generally not be searchable. If the meme itself is meant to express information vital to the answer in a concise way (which they generally are), then the information most crucial to answers will become invisible to future searchers. This will make it harder for future users to find questions and answers when searching the internet, and will also make it more difficult for regular IPS users to find specific, previous answers.

I suggest three things for how we want to handle meme postings in answers:

1.The meme must contain information directly relevant to the answer. "Fun" memes, or images which are otherwise not necessary to the answer, should probably be discouraged (if not outright prohibited).

2.Meme text, or the meaning/implications/conclusions from the meme text, should be typed out in the answer (just as if it were meme-less). This is strictly an indexing-and-searchability concern for me.

3.Meme images should be hidden by some means or other, by default. I, personally, don't have a strong personal reaction to them but as this site is used by many professionals in professional settings during the workday a profusion of meme images being visible by default is not ideal. Spoiler tags are, I believe, the best current feature to hide memes by default while still allowing users to post them. But I have no particular attachment to that specific approach-- my advocacy extends only as far as my preference for spoiler blocks over meme images on IPS.

The first of these three suggestions could be made a site rule, and we already enforce some standards (if informally) on unnecessary information in posts. The second two might be covered well by entries in the FAQ, and are things that any IPS member with editing privileges could add to a post without causing much of a fuss (since all of the information originally added to the answer will still be there).

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    Definitely agree with points 1 and 2! Why spoiler tags though, vs. just converting to links? Spoilers seem more distracting because it's a mysterious block of empty space with mouseover animation.. but maybe that's just me :p – Em C Oct 31 '19 at 18:49
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    @EmC The spoiler tags are just a low-impact way to get the images off the page. I'm concerned that enforcing a change to links will upset (fairly or unfairly) people who chose to post the images in the first place, and will further separate information answerers feel should be in the answer from actually being in it. If answers need to stand alone, I think that meme links would immediately become superfluous. Instituting a policy of links-only for memes is similar to just banning memes, I think. – Upper_Case Oct 31 '19 at 18:53
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    How exactly would we classify what makes the information in a meme relevant to the answer? And can the format of the information invalidate its usefulness? I personally instantly move along when I see the condescending wonka meme because I find the tone to be needlessly sarcastic. – Rainbacon Oct 31 '19 at 19:21
  • @Rainbacon I think that that's largely how memes operate. In this specific example the Wonka meme made a pithy comparison: you wouldn't advise a deaf person to listen harder, so why would you make an analogous suggestion in a similar case? I do think that that information would be better expressed in prose written intentionally for the answer, and that memes are a poor method of conveying information in the ways we want here. Memes will probably alienate some and attract others, and I don't know where the right balance is. Enforcing tone standards on memes will probably also need attention. – Upper_Case Oct 31 '19 at 19:37
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    When suggesting the spoiler div, I thought of it with a feature-request (expandable div, sliding down (CSS or jQuery)) because I too think that this big empty yellow block is just too much of unneeded wasted space. – OldPadawan Oct 31 '19 at 21:35
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    @OldPadawan That new feature request sounds great! I personally don't have a preference on the method used to hide meme images posted in answers (if any). The big yellow blocks are not attractive, but neither are memes generically (to my eye). But if we don't get that new feature, I would still prefer the spoiler tags to the memes themselves. My aesthetic concerns are massively overwhelmed by my search-and-indexing concerns (among others less relevant to this meta question), so please don't think I'm especially attached to spoiler tags. I'll defer to anything other than direct meme posting. – Upper_Case Oct 31 '19 at 21:50
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    That's fine with me, either way, because I'm not bothered by seeing images or by hiding them, so... :) But the sliding div is really something I'd like to have, because it would be OK for both sides... – OldPadawan Oct 31 '19 at 22:10

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