Should the use of images in questions and answers be encouraged?

I think there are definitely times when it's hard to explain the problem without an image, but at other times it's reasonable to ask a question without having to include an image.

What do you think? Should images be encouraged even if they aren't necessary?

  • Should the use of screencasts be encouraged? ... Duplicate? That question focuses a bit more on the animation, though... Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 23:29
  • 1
    Yeah, I wanted to specifically talk about static images. I feel like it's different because animated gifs can be distracting and hard to follow.
    – aharris88
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 23:32

2 Answers 2


A post should, ideally, be completely comprehensible from only the text. Text can be searched, indexed, copied, zoomed, easily edited, and is accessible to all users.
You can't really do any of that with screenshots.

There are certainly situations where a screenshot could help to further clarify the problem. Some examples might be this answer, this question, or this question.
In all of these cases, the text is enough, but the screenshot might clarify the problem.

So should their use be encouraged? We should encourage clear questions that are easy to understand. When will this require a screenshot? It's hard to give a list of requirements. Use your own judgement ;-)

  • 1
    agreed; terminal screencasts, limited to answers and accompanying an explanation, are very useful tough.
    – guido
    Commented Feb 5, 2015 at 23:45

In most cases, a code block can adequately represent the contents of a screen, and would be preferred.

However, there are limitations to text which may justify the use of a screenshot, such as when discussing colors or pointing out UI elements in MacVim or gVim. In that case, use a screenshot, and try your best to put some description of it in the alt text.

  • How do you put alt text on the image?
    – aharris88
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 0:04
  • Nevermind, I just noticed that it inserts an image like this: ![enter image description here][1]
    – aharris88
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 0:05

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