There are some illustrations, which do not contribute to the content, while others are an essential part of the content of questions and answers.

Which illustrations do we need, which are harmful for an expert community?

  • $\begingroup$ The author of an answer or question has the right to choose which illustrations to include or not include. $\endgroup$ – Kenshin Apr 19 '14 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Mew Yes, but the community can get together and discuss the need for illustrations, as well as, try to form policies if needed. That's what meta is for, after all. $\endgroup$ – asheeshr Apr 19 '14 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ @AsheeshR, you are right. My opinion is that the author should be able to choose relevant pictures for his/her post. However if the pictures are copyright or totally unrelated then the pictures shouldn't be included. But in some of the examples BHF has listed I think they are fine. $\endgroup$ – Kenshin Apr 19 '14 at 11:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Mew I just felt that your comment above alluded criticism of the question, when in fact the question is on its own appropriate. $\endgroup$ – asheeshr Apr 19 '14 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AsheeshR, no definitely not, the question had to be asked, but as a member of the community I was sharing my opinion on whether we should regulate pictures. $\endgroup$ – Kenshin Apr 19 '14 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ An illustration might be neither useful nor harmful. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Apr 21 '14 at 19:07

Examples for useful illustrations

How can the following equations for meandering rivers be theoretically obtained?

Why does the Hadley cell descend at 30 degrees?

This kind of illustrations are important to show details of the content.


Examples for useless / harmful illustrations

How is the mass of the Earth determined?

Is Mount Everest currently becoming taller or shorter every year?


This kind of illustrations should not be used as they do not contribute to the content but create distraction. They are not helpful in creating an expert community.

  • $\begingroup$ I think useless is not the same as harmful. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Apr 21 '14 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ No it is not the same, but making things looking less serious is harmful for ES altogether. $\endgroup$ – BHF Apr 21 '14 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ Useless is usually the same as distracting, and that hinders concision, which is vital when trying to write a clear question. There is just no need for most of those images - they seem to me to be an attempt to make a question more meaty without actually having to do any work (like, prior research). $\endgroup$ – naught101 Apr 22 '14 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I would add this image to the list, for the reasons I stated there - the image at first glance appears to be relevant to the question, but in fact it isn't, and it's distracting to figure our why. $\endgroup$ – naught101 Apr 22 '14 at 5:04
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that content-free images are a waste of everyone's bandwidth (literal and figurative). In some cases they could be confusing. Also, several of them are of dubious/unknown source, are not attributed, and probably infringe the creator's rights. (Scientists should care about this!) $\endgroup$ – kwinkunks Apr 24 '14 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ I think image make post more attractive, For common sense of humor I learned in science class. What if there are just paragraphs of words. Is that post interesting at all? $\endgroup$ – Poomrokc The 3years May 1 '14 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ The original topic of the post is great and the language edits from Chris Mueller helped to turn it into a really useful question. Regarding the picture: User here are divided in pro / contra picture groups. Personally I would just prefer to read the answer without the need to scroll or the distraction of a beautiful picture. Also keep in mind that people may want to use the site from places with slow or expensive Internet connection as well. But I understand your intention and the Everst picture is not that bad. Please decide yourself, I removed my comment from your post. $\endgroup$ – BHF May 1 '14 at 15:57

Examples with potential copyright issues

How do tropopause folds form and do they have any impact on synoptic scale weather?

It should be checked if copyright allows posting this illustrations.

  • $\begingroup$ i dont think that is a copy right issue: journals are meant to be cited, as long as they are cited. I do not need any permission to use a diagram from a journal article in any form, if properly cited. $\endgroup$ – Neo Apr 19 '14 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately I am not convinced: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1944-9208/… $\endgroup$ – BHF Apr 19 '14 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ that is equivalent to photocopying; so if he is a part of an institution that gives him access to that journal, or he has a subscription himself he is allowed to post it. I think. $\endgroup$ – Neo Apr 19 '14 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ Copyright law is horribly complicated, but I think this would probably be covered by fair use. That permission document you link to, I think, is mainly discussion copying whole articles, rather than parts of articles. Also, I don't know what voting on this answer means :P $\endgroup$ – naught101 Apr 22 '14 at 4:59

I note that for accessibility reasons, a (brief) figure caption should be included - "graph of Y against X for system Z", e.g, as opposed to assuming that users will be able to read any captions/titles/etc included in the figure.


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