In this question:

How a public dns server could return wrong results

A good Samaritan user @Michael lovingly transcribed out the screenshot of a terminal in a suggested edit.

Certainly text in a code block often makes the question easier to answer, and helps search engine optimization.

Question: as a community, how do we feel about this? Is it worth asking OPs to edit their questions and type out the content of the screenshot (where possible, like terminals or error messages)?

  • 6
    This answer on MSE might help: "Images also don't play well with screen readers, high-contrast text modes, etc. I know we have a number of people who are vision-impaired and would not be able to read or answer a question which relied solely on an image.". Also, image cannot be searched.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 3:07
  • 3
    Another reason not to post screenshots of text is that it avoids mistakes like posting a screenshot of a semi-transparent terminal with a list of all your online passwords in the background. And yes a user actually did that on Information Security.
    – kasperd
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 21:49

2 Answers 2


I swear there was a better duplicate on another meta somewhere, but the best I can find now is this. I think most SE sites prefer text over images if it is the text that is relevant and the image isn't really necessary.

Since the OP can easily copy/paste the original text rather than someone else having to transcribe it from the image I think it's best to inform OP that they should copy text instead of posting images, so that their future posts won't have the same issue. If the original text can't be copied for some reason then posting an image is more forgivable.

  • 8
    Yes, do ask the OP to make the appropriate changes.
    – schroeder Mod
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 19:39
  • 3
    And close the question until so. We are blind users on screen readers.
    – Braiam
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 14:39
  • 4
    Agree. Still, if someone other user wants to go through the trouble of writing out the text, I would happily accept the edit.
    – Anders
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 19:09

For reference, there are Meta.SO posts I typically refer to on discouraging screenshots in the first place and what to do when you see one. I certainly don't fix every post I come across, but I've had pretty terrible success with convincing an OP to transcribe their own screenshot or reproduce and copy/paste the IO. I only do it myself when it catches my interest.

I do not transcribe screenshots when there is additional formatting that is lost in the conversion to plaintext. If I decide to fix a post with one of those, I add the plaintext or a summary to the image alt.

I don't think I've ever been called a Good Samaritan before. Thanks Mike.

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