10

Background

Today in the chatroom, we were discussing the practice of adding meaningful alt text to images on the web. Alt text is displayed when the image cannot be displayed and is therefore especially important for visually impaired readers who use a screen-reading device to tell them what's on the page.

The convenient tool provided by Stack Exchange for adding an image to a post automatically adds a default alt text of “enter image description here," leaving the user to replace that default in the content of the post with a meaningful alt text1. As a result, about half of the posts with images in them on Mi Yodeya contain this default alt text (or the previous default, "alt text")2. Thanks to Mi Yodeya's relatively small size and relatively infrequent use of images, the number of such posts is only about 130, plus 25 here on Meta.

Call to action

Let's work together to add useful alt texts to every post that currently features a useless default value. Besides the various benefits in terms of accessibility, searchability, etc., we can be motivated by the requirement for sensitivity to the needs of visually impaired people implied by the plain meaning of Vayikra 19:143:

לֹא־תְקַלֵּ֣ל חֵרֵ֔שׁ וְלִפְנֵ֣י עִוֵּ֔ר לֹ֥א תִתֵּ֖ן מִכְשֹׁ֑ל וְיָרֵ֥אתָ מֵּאֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ אֲנִ֥י יְהוָֽה׃
Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but thou shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.

How to help

  1. Run this query (Mi Yodeya) or this query (Meta) to get a list of links to remaining posts with that contain default alt text values.

  2. Choose a post to work on, and check this list (Mi Yodeya) or this one (Meta) to see if it's already on the "Done" list. (The query results aren't good enough for this, since the underlying data is only updated weekly.) If not, click on the post link.

  3. Edit the post, and resolve all instances of "enter image description here" or "alt text" in one of the following ways:

    • If the entire post is without value to Mi Yodeya, flag it for deletion.

    • If the image adds no value at all to the post, edit it out.

    • If the image is a picture of text, serving solely in lieu of a quotation, either replace the image with a block quotation of the text, or, if there's particular value in the way the text is displayed in the image, use, as alt text, the text shown in the image.

    • If the image is purely a decorative way of representing text that's right next to it, e.g. a "Search" button next to the word "Search," use an empty alt text: "".

    • If the image is the only content of a link, use an alt text that describes the target of the link.

    • Otherwise, use an alt text that describes the information in the image that's relevant to the context. For example, for the Mi Yodeya logo, in most contexts, you would put "Mi Yodeya logo," not "tree with a question mark in the middle, in the vague shape of a Star of David."

    • Do not include the words "image of" in your description. As per @doppelgreener, screen readers will read out "Image: (whatever you use for its alt text)," so this is redundant.

  4. While you're in there, if you see other ways you can improve the post, make those edits, too. In particular, if the image would benefit from mouseover text, add that.

  5. In your edit summary, make reference to the fact that you're fixing the alt text.

  6. Go back to the relevant list, cut the link for the post you edited from the "To Do" list, and paste it to the "Done" list.

Ready? Go!


1. I endorse this proposal to augment the tool.
2. Very anecdotal evidence suggests that this ratio is not atypical on Stack Exchange.
3. Despite the fact that this verse's standard Halachic interpretation is more broad, we might as well be inspired by the plain meaning as well.

11
  • I think steps 1 and 2 are redundant for each user. Rather, one person should do step 1 weekly (or however often) and populate the answer below, and everyone should then work off the list, skipping step 1.
    – msh210 Mod
    Jan 29 '15 at 21:01
  • @msh210, the benefit of Step 1 is that the query results provide additional context information in a nice sortable table interface, which could be useful for choosing which post to work on.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Jan 29 '15 at 21:08
  • 1
    ... Feel free to just pick something randomly from one of the lists below and proceed to Step 3, if you want.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Jan 29 '15 at 21:14
  • 1
    Similar effort, a few months ago, on English Language SE.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Jan 29 '15 at 22:04
  • 1
    with score
    – msh210 Mod
    Jul 14 '16 at 5:45
  • @msh210 It's a shame we can't do tables or preformatted text (for fixed spacing) that includes links in markdown. Here's a version of the query that preformats the text, but using it here means no links.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Jul 14 '16 at 13:39
  • (re your last comment) I guess you could do the same but with initial asterisk-space and with bracket-parenthesis links, so the whole can be copied as markdown to create an HTML list.
    – msh210 Mod
    Jul 18 '16 at 7:23
  • @msh210 IINM, the solution you outline does not keep columns lined up. Am I wrong?
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Jul 18 '16 at 13:24
  • (re your last comment) You're right, but columns can be kept lined up by (a) using the same text for (at least the start of) each line (and varying only the link) or (b) using only numbers as varying text (as we currently do in the lists below) and judicious use of U+2007. Or (c) use | (or something) to delimit parts of a line and don't align the columns.
    – msh210 Mod
    Jul 18 '16 at 14:25
  • See also the information on SFF.meta, and Literature.meta.
    – MTL
    Jul 2 '17 at 16:17
  • 1
    I wish I 'd seen this post a week ago! Thank you. It's a good model for adding a little polish to 'archived' posts. Besides screen reader friendliness, editing poor spelling will make it easier for machine based translation easier. Jun 28 at 23:39
6

Mi Yodeya edit

To Do

Mezuza on an elevator?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/7994
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10550
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/11971
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15576
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/15709
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16086
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16539
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17224
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18008
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/18762
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/28592
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30759
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30779
Can someone identify this font?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34447
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34571
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/34680
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/36091
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/37781
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/37785
Did the late Lubavicher Rebbe consider himself a to be a prophet and/or the mashiach?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/38888
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/40179
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/40222
Must Shevet Levi Follow Dina Demalchusa Dina In The Land Of Israel?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/44811
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/44816
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/45917
Rashis opinion in the Megilla?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/55479
Israel-centric map projection
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/55743
Winged sun symbol on Hezekiah coins/seals
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56235
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56476
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56542
Searching for a halachic diagram of female anatomy
The set up of the seder plate acc to the Arizal
The Seder Plate according to the Rama
Dimensions of the Copper/Outer/Olah Mizbeach in the Mishkan
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56921
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/57111
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/57157
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/57193
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/57302
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/57334
profit vs loss - preventing one from making profit equals gezel?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/58957
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/59383
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/59499
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/59546
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/59665
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/60140
Tefillin without external separations
Are these cookies kosher?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/61221
Do you say shehechiyanu on a new flavor of tea?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/61360
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/61424
what siddur/prayer book is this?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/61604
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/61903
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/62031
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/62205
Was there a scriptural, halachic, rabbinical, or legal reason for Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/62426
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/62563
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/63711
Can someone translate this "hidden" message from Hebrew to English?
Can flowing water be used as walls for a sukkah?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/64134
Sukkos Gedolim Poster
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/64529
Correct voweling of Birkat Hamazon
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/64738
Is there a public domain floorplan of the Beis Hamikdash
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/64767
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/64838
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65014
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65262
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65264
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65477
Adding pellets to the hopper of a pellet stove on Shabbat
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65596
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65766
What are these objects?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/65958
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66041
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66045
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66244
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66252
Details of Matzah Oven
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66393
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66409
What's the bracha on mozzarella sticks?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66794
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66954
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/66987
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67001
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67023
Difference between men and women regarding drinking water before the day kidush
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67097
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67209
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67216
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67230
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67236
The Mekor Baruch's intructions of making gold from copper
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67320
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67417
Where does the notion that the *entire* matza process must be done in under 18 minutes come from?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67479
What does the word נחירה mean
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67830
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/67836
Could somebody identify this, and for what occasion it's used?
Are there Jewish sources regarding this degradation of the Jews of Prague
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/68446
Identify/translate this text
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/68772
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/68833
Why is Korech said during the seder if it means to wrap and hard matzah can't be wrapped?
https://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/70380
What is the Pesach candelabra?

124 out of 692 posts (Jul 11 2021)

Done (If list is empty, no posts are waiting for the database to refresh)

1
  • 1
    @ShmuelBrin There's an open bug about this. Maybe we should do a find/replace on this post in the mean time, to make the links all work.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Feb 15 '17 at 20:25
5

A picture which is of text (e.g. a scan of a book) and which is included in a post for its textual content, as some of the pictures on MY are, should have as its alt text something that can be read by a screen reader (and search engine) in lieu of the picture — e.g. the entire text. (And if someone's using the entire text as the alt text, then he may just as well replace the picture with a block quotation, except in the rare instance that the original formatting is important and is not capturable in Markdown.) When the picture is serving that purpose (standing in lieu of text), if someone makes "screenshot of Jastrow entry" (or some such) the alt text (which IMO he shouldn't — but if he does) then he should include the HTML comment <!-- needs better alt text --> so that people can find the post and fix it further by editing in the full text captured in the picture.

0
4

While we're at it, a mouseover text can also be added. Consider an image from my answer here:

[![munich with rashi][10]](http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/bsb00039616/image_1)

  [10]: http://i.stack.imgur.com/lXXRR.png "Bavarian State Library in Munich #436(14"

This displays as:

munich with rashi

If you are already adding in an alt text, try adding a mouseover text as well. In many cases the same text is usable for both purposes. This improves the site at least somewhat, and we're already at it anyway.

3
  • It's the quotations after the link at the bottom that do it? Feb 2 '15 at 3:43
  • @YeZ Yes. [15c]
    – Double AA Mod
    Feb 2 '15 at 3:44
  • Note that you can put the quotations in the parens also: [![munich with rashi](http://i.stack.imgur.com/lXXRR.png "Bavarian State Library in Munich #436(14")](http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/bsb00039616/image_1) should work fine.
    – msh210 Mod
    Jun 27 '16 at 17:05
4

If you're writing an alt-text for an answer, please stick to one language.

English and Hebrew braille use the same characters, and run in the same direction. This means that a Hebrew word in the middle of an English sentence can be very confusing to someone using Mi Yodeya through a refreshable braille display. I don't know if most visually-impaired users will browse by screen-reader or by a braille display, but I think it's something to be aware of.

I don't think that this is so much of an issue in regular MY posts, but the since the alt-text is written for the benefit of visually-impaired users, I think we should make it as easy to use as possible.

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