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August 12, 2008 2:00 PM   Subscribe

A tale of two questions....

Check out these two AskMe questions, one with images (7/26/2006) and one without (8/12/2008). Exactly the same question, asked two years apart. In both cases, the question was answered quickly and efficiently. However, in the older question, the use of images greatly enhances the thread.

Considering how heavily moderated AskMe is - arguably to great effect - is it possible to restore the use of the image thread in some limited way? I understand that images are stripped out due to security issues, but I have to think that there are ways to allow in-thread images without compromising security.
posted by grateful to MetaFilter-Related at 2:00 PM (73 comments total)

Tossing a link to an image hosted elsewhere actually works pretty darned well; people do it on a regular basis.

Allowing the display of an image inline on mefi itself doesn't confer any advantages other than the raw (and very quantitatively limited) immediacy of not having to click. So, I hear you, but eh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:03 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Linking to an image hosted elsewhere is pretty much as simple as inlining one. I see your point, grateful, but I see more downsides (hello image abuse!) and few upsides.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:06 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those of us behind corporate firewalls might disagree about the "not having to click" argument. In many cases, it's a matter of being blocked. This isn't Metafilter's problem to solve, but its also not accurate to say that it's only a matter of saving clicks.
posted by grateful at 2:07 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter turned quite a bit drearier when image tags where disabled.
Yay for inline images!
posted by jouke at 2:12 PM on August 12, 2008


Metafilter turned quite a bit drearier when image tags were disabled.
Yay for quite a bit drearier!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:20 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think the inline images are absolutely necessary. Having to click through to see an image is not a major hardship.

However, this gives me a chance to plug my favorite answer to a question of mine, which featured an inline image.
posted by googly at 2:20 PM on August 12, 2008


grateful, it sounds like you'd want Mefi to host the images as well. If the site is blocked, the site is blocked, whether you click on the link or it's an inline image....
posted by nomisxid at 2:23 PM on August 12, 2008


I miss the img tag a lot. On the other hand, i can't possibly justify the headache it causes the mods.
posted by shmegegge at 2:26 PM on August 12, 2008


Metafilter was quite a bit more inane when images were allowed.
Yay for ... no, wait...
posted by Dave Faris at 2:27 PM on August 12, 2008


nomisxid- Good point. I'm not sure how this was handled in the past, but I don't recall there being any/many "missing" images. I do think the questions linked above still demonstrate the effective use of inline images.
posted by grateful at 2:27 PM on August 12, 2008


And to be clear, I'm only suggesting that they be allowed for AskMe. I can't really see a use for them in, say, MetaTalk.
posted by grateful at 2:29 PM on August 12, 2008


I'm not sure how this was handled in the past, but I don't recall there being any/many "missing" images.

It could well be that corporate filters just plain didn't suck as much back in the day. Certainly mefi never hosted the images itself, so chalk it up to changing times (or changing employers or IT policy), I guess. I certainly deal with more blocked images than I did before I came to my current nanny-filtered dayjob, and it's a daily annoyance; but as you say, not Mefi's problem to solve.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:33 PM on August 12, 2008


What I am wondering is, did the photo trigger my memory, or did the deep hidden memory express itself in the creation of the photograph? It's not just me is it? I mean, like, you see it too?
posted by Meatbomb at 2:51 PM on August 12, 2008


Look, if we have images, den Beste's gonna post catgirls, and Jessamyn's gonna post guys fucking chickens. We really don't want to see what other users are fapping to.
posted by orthogonality at 2:54 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


And did this come from this? Why does my life seem to be moving towards actualization of my parents' record collection? If James Brown had an account here I bet he could explain this.

I sincerely hope that once we get the singularity up and running these issues will be sorted out.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:00 PM on August 12, 2008


FREE THE IMAGE TAG!!!!


and Tibet!
posted by blue_beetle at 3:09 PM on August 12, 2008


FREE THE IMAGE TAG!!!!

...
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:10 PM on August 12, 2008


Jessamyn's gonna post guys fucking chickens.

Actually, I've always been able to post images, I just don't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:13 PM on August 12, 2008


I also miss the IMG tag and the fun we used to have with it. I agree it was prone to abuse but as much as I love Metafilter in the here and now, I have to admit I loved it just a little bit more back then.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:23 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, chicken fucking is pretty much enough of an argument for IMG banning by itself.

Also, while MeFi may not be as cool now as it was back in the day, where else are you going to go? That's right: nowhere.
posted by GuyZero at 3:31 PM on August 12, 2008


all true members of the cabal can still post images.
posted by nomisxid at 3:41 PM on August 12, 2008


Also, while MeFi may not be as cool now as it was back in the day, where else are you going to go?

In a lot of ways Metafilter is way more cooler now than it was "back in the day." Dumping the image tag was one of the improvements. The moderation also gets better with age and experience - and without image tags to police.
posted by three blind mice at 3:45 PM on August 12, 2008


jessamyn: "Jessamyn's gonna post guys fucking chickens.

Actually, I've always been able to post images, I just don't.
"

And, actually actually, she never posted the images inline in the first place. She linked 'em.
posted by team lowkey at 3:45 PM on August 12, 2008


The moderation also gets better with age and experience...

Until eventually even the mods reach "get off my lawn" status and begin to delete everything in an episode of natural-and-inevitable-yet-unfortunate-and-painful-for-their-loved-ones mental decline. I fear for what's going to happen when BoingBoing hits that point as it can't be far off.
posted by GuyZero at 3:51 PM on August 12, 2008


I bet jessamyn's parents had an record album in their collection that had a picture of a chicken getting fucked on it.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2008


Linking to an image hosted elsewhere is pretty much as simple as inlining one. I see your point, grateful, but I see more downsides (hello image abuse!) and few upsides.
posted by jessamyn


Yeah, anyone who has been online during a late-night image-war in a thread knows that no matter how closely moderated the threads are, the mods have to sleep (go potty, eat, have a life, whatever) sometime. And there's a nearly psychic connection among folks who want to bomb a thread. In a matter of minutes a thread can become an incredible mess. (I think mathowie once referred to it as smearing poop on the walls when mom and dad are away.)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2008


Guys fucking chickens? That heterocentrist! Ban all images until we have equal time for all minorities with chickens! Bring on the bondage birds!
posted by QIbHom at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2008


Actually, I've always been able to post images, I just don't.

O RLY?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:57 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


well, maybe you should post images! I for one would be amused by random images posted as comments by mods.
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:21 PM on August 12, 2008


(I think mathowie once referred to it as smearing poop on the walls when mom and dad are away.)

I tried a number of variations, but I was unable to locate this.

Familiar sentiment, it might be a matter of word choice (perhaps someone paraphrased him in more or less those words, too).

O RLY?

Don't often, let's say.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:27 PM on August 12, 2008


"And to be clear, I'm only suggesting that they be allowed for AskMe. I can't really see a use for them in, say, MetaTalk. posted by grateful at 2:29 PM"
The use in MetaTalk was entertainment. See gramschmidt who left about the time the big tag was disabled also. Two frustrations were apparently too much for him.
posted by Cranberry at 4:41 PM on August 12, 2008


Yeesh. Talk about rose-colored glasses. Serial thread-crappers were pretty much able to destroy a thread before it happened, and did so regularly if they didn't like either the content of the FPP or simply the poster herself. Nasty stuff.

But I agree that the image tag was cool for threads that were destined for intarweb mediocrity. It's just such a subjective thing though, and at the end of the day this place is a lot better off without it.

And btw, it's chicken lover.
posted by bardic at 4:41 PM on August 12, 2008


I think people who totally awesome should be rewarded for their total awesomeness by being allowed to use inline images. I would like that much more than a stupid gold star. Although I'll take a stupid gold star if that's all I can get.
posted by iconomy at 4:45 PM on August 12, 2008


who *are* totally awesome.

Note that being able to type has nothing whatsoever to do with total awesomeness.
posted by iconomy at 4:46 PM on August 12, 2008


Those of us behind corporate firewalls might disagree about the "not having to click" argument.

Then check when you get home. You're at work, right?
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


With Yorvit at the vet's, it turns out that Roswell likes a good cuddle/skritch/wrastle after he's had a snack. Very very cute.
posted by rtha at 4:54 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wrong thread. So wrong.
posted by rtha at 4:55 PM on August 12, 2008 [8 favorites]


Meatbomb, do you do requests?


I like mefi a lot more now that the images are gone.
posted by popechunk at 5:02 PM on August 12, 2008


I have to completely disagree with the idea that clicking an image link is somehow related to an inline image. Have you ever tried to read an old research paper with all the figures at the back? It is completely disorienting. Clearly, not having to flip back and fourth between figure and explanation would make my answer here 100x more effective, for example.
Minor correction: the foam in bicycle helmets crushes, rather than shattering.

On the other hand, linking to images instead of inlining them gives me page rank, so..
posted by Chuckles at 5:03 PM on August 12, 2008


Have you ever tried to read an old research paper with all the figures at the back? It is completely disorienting.

I believe that books which will call up related content at the tap of a finger and display it on electronic paper for you is a pretty common element of The Future.

Also, your link in that thread not being a 404 would also make your answer more effective. End Linkrot In Our Time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:10 PM on August 12, 2008


Here's hoping someone asks the exact same question about the exact same King Crimson album cover art once a year every year for all eternity...
posted by ornate insect at 5:11 PM on August 12, 2008


Well, that reminds me, I've been thinking about asking you admins to update some of my old answers, because I no longer have access to the utoronto account, and I'd like to not have my full name right in the middle of the thread (obscured by a link or not), but I figured that would be stirring up a hornets nest. The information is still available here, about half or a third of the list needs fixing..
posted by Chuckles at 5:16 PM on August 12, 2008


How about 1 image per user per year?

Incentive to post a quality image? Check.
Images few and far between? Check.
Possibility of epic image threads? Check.
posted by clearly at 5:18 PM on August 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I believe that books which will call up related content at the tap of a finger and display it on electronic paper for you is a pretty common element of The Future.

Also, I find this to be kind of glib and dismissive, without addressing the issue I'm raising at all. Reading something with figures somewhere else never requires more than a casual flip, whether on paper, or electronically - "futureness" is not related to the issue at all.. The problem is that flipping to out-of-line content and back requires a shift in concentration.
posted by Chuckles at 5:28 PM on August 12, 2008


jessamyn writes "Actually, I've always been able to post images, I just don't."

Sorry, for some reason I'd remembered a guy-fucking-a-chicken picture, and thought you'd posted it. My bad.
posted by orthogonality at 6:01 PM on August 12, 2008


Meatbomb, do you do requests?

Or this?
posted by puke & cry at 6:03 PM on August 12, 2008


The inline chicken fucker was me actually. Jessamyn just linked to it. Sorry about that, btw.
posted by puke & cry at 6:04 PM on August 12, 2008


I AM THE INLINE CHICKEN FUCKER
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:30 PM on August 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


That's completely out of line.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:31 PM on August 12, 2008


Caps lock day has never been the same.
posted by knave at 6:46 PM on August 12, 2008


I sincerely hope that once we get the singularity up and running these issues will be sorted out.

I just hope that once we have the Singularity up and running it has IMG tags.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:50 PM on August 12, 2008


Here is how the chicken-fucking thing went down.

1. sjvilla79 posted this question.
2. I posted this answer because I am helpful like that.
3. about three weeks later, puke&cry inlined an animated (?) version of image 2 [nsfw] in a Meta thread about the MeFi MySpace page, but that was back before deleted Meta comments remained in the database so I can't check it.

That is all I know about chicken fucking and MetaFilter.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:50 PM on August 12, 2008 [7 favorites]


That is all I know about chicken fucking and MetaFilter.

Uhhhh, why did you feel the need to qualify that?
posted by popechunk at 6:54 PM on August 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


How about 1 image per user per year?
It could provide an incentive for filling in the birthday information field in profiles.
posted by tellurian at 7:25 PM on August 12, 2008


I miss the images.
posted by theora55 at 8:27 PM on August 12, 2008


As a new(ish) user, I really like the lack of images. When I do a site:metafilter search in Google, I find the old image-enabled threads jarring and noisy (and much less work-browsable).

I find text-only makes the conversation much more adult in an undefinable way -- one side effect of spending a lot of time on MeFi is that it has really driven home how much I hate message boards where everyone has a little dancing avatar and a blinking .sig image. After the spare content-first philosophy of this site, most other conversation spots are like applying a cheese grater to my eyes.

When a joke or comment falls flat in text, it's easy just to skim over it. A terrible image-comment forces you to acknowledge how horrible it is, cringe in sympathetic embarrassment for the poster, maybe mutter something under your breath and move on.

But until you've read enough to scroll the image off the top, it just lies there on your screen like a dead fish stinkin' up the thread.

Stinkin' up your eyes.
posted by Shepherd at 6:10 AM on August 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, I find this to be kind of glib and dismissive, without addressing the issue I'm raising at all. Reading something with figures somewhere else never requires more than a casual flip, whether on paper, or electronically - "futureness" is not related to the issue at all.. The problem is that flipping to out-of-line content and back requires a shift in concentration.

Well, I wasn't trying to be a dick or anything, but I was definitely being cute. Let me elaborate instead:

My point is that there's a significant difference in degree-of-shift required in the case of a hyperlink compared with flipping to an appendix in the back of the book—the sum total of the interruption in the case of the web is clicking on a clearly labeled link, and doing so will take you immediately to the content you're looking for, without memorizing a page number, fiddling with your second bookmark, shuffling a few pages left or right of that. The effect is fundamentally more like having the diagram on the facing page than buried in a separate Figures section.

All that aside: I don't see the difference between inline display and links to be compelling compared with the added pains in our respective asses that opening that porthole back up suggests. For those who really want the immediacy of inline image display, I believe there is at least one greasemonkey-type script that will provide that functionality, so that's a half-compromise, but I'm actually not seeing a difference in utility between the older with-image and newer without-image questions grateful cited here; both got answered correctly within minutes before images came into the discussion either way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:27 AM on August 13, 2008


... I believe there is at least one greasemonkey-type script that will provide that functionality...

Yes - Mondo Image.

Images would make it less worksafe, & soak up bandwidth, memory, & attention.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:44 AM on August 13, 2008


Thanks cortex, but I still don't agree.. The only way you could think of it like facing pages is if the reader was careful to arrange content on their desktop, and the reader simply can't be expected to understand that a priori. Heh, maybe I should put a note before my image links? "Please, open this link in another window, and position it so that you can still see it as you read the following paragraph."


Shepherd: When a joke or comment falls flat in text, it's easy just to skim over it. A terrible image-comment forces you to acknowledge how horrible it is, cringe in sympathetic embarrassment for the poster, maybe mutter something under your breath and move on.

For the most part, this isn't about images in MetaTalk or MetaFilter, just AskMe. I admit to sometimes enjoying the images in MetaTalk, but the downside was huge.. That simply can't be said about AskMe.
posted by Chuckles at 10:33 AM on August 13, 2008


The only way you could think of it like facing pages is if the reader was careful to arrange content on their desktop, and the reader simply can't be expected to understand that a priori.

How so? I think it's a very unusual reader who can actually actively read text on one page and view an image on the other in one fixed gaze; normal folks will be flicking their eyes from one to the other, reading a bit and then examining the diagram, repeat as necessary.

If it's the back/forward buttons (or the clicking of two tabs) that's doing the flicking instead of the eyes, we're talking about tiny marginal differences in effort and time. I don't care if the reader chooses to literally arrange two browser windows side-to-side, nor would I expect most folks to bother to do so most of the time; the argument is the mental effort required to attend to one and the other back and forth is much more similar to a facing-page diagram than to an appedix of diagrams in the back of a book. The big distraction—the initial trawling through an appendix in the back of our proverbial textbook—has been removed from the equation already, gutting the biggest share of attention overhead from the get-go.

That simply can't be said about AskMe.

Under the presumption, only, that no one will ever do anything bad with images in AskMe, a presumption that is not very well borne out by our daily experiences cleaning up non-image content over there. Askme is definitely cleaner in part because of the established cultural difference over there, but it's also cleaner because we do a lot more pruning there than on any other part of the site. Adding the possibility of instant-gratification foolishness with inline images does not sound compelling compared to the very limited gains of not-having-to-click-a-link, from this side of the fence.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:53 AM on August 13, 2008


I AM THE INLINE CHICKEN FUCKER
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:30 PM on August 12 [1 favorite +] [!]


Chicken fucking is always out-of-line.
posted by owtytrof at 11:12 AM on August 13, 2008


If it's the back/forward buttons (or the clicking of two tabs) that's doing the flicking instead of the eyes, we're talking about tiny marginal differences in effort and time.

Ya, this is exactly were I disagree with you on the issue. An eye shift, especially a small eye shift, is considerably less distracting than any other motion or thought process. That isn't a big deal when you have to do it once. In the case of my bike helmet answer, I ask the reader to make the round trip, from text to diagram and back, about six times.
posted by Chuckles at 12:54 PM on August 13, 2008


In the case of my bike helmet answer, I ask the reader to make the round trip, from text to diagram and back, about six times.

But that's not typical of askme questions and answers that might have some use for an image, let alone of askme questions in general. Do you see that this sort of thing is an edge case?
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on August 13, 2008


An edge case when you consider the full breadth of questions, I suppose, but not when you consider the questions I answer.. :P
posted by Chuckles at 1:10 PM on August 13, 2008


And now we're venturing into special snowflake territory....
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:24 PM on August 13, 2008


The answer, then, is clear and simple: Chuckles gets special personal access to the image tag.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:52 PM on August 13, 2008


How about we allow the tag as long as it's nudie pics of Alyson Hannigan?
posted by bardic at 3:32 PM on August 13, 2008


Oh man, and I've got a folder here that's just chock-full of funny pictures of cats.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:40 PM on August 13, 2008


And to be clear, I'm only suggesting that they be allowed for AskMe. I can't really see a use for them in, say, MetaTalk.

If you can't see the use of an image in MetaTalk, you're doing it wrong. MetaTalk, that is.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:53 PM on August 13, 2008


I tried a number of variations, but I was unable to locate this.

Yeah, I searched for all manner of forms of smearing poop/shit/crap on the wall/floors/halls, etc and couldn't find the post.

But I remember being in a MeTa thread that went downhill really quickly once people noticed that no mods seemed to be on duty. I remember mathowie finally coming into the thread and leaving such a comment before closing the thread. I even looked through my own history. Oh well.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:16 PM on August 13, 2008


Ta-daaaaaa!

Found it!

Jesus. The cleaning staff take one night off and the place has poo smeared on the walls within minutes.

Here.


What a difference a little p makes.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:25 PM on August 13, 2008


Poo, my old friend. How could I forget you?
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:36 PM on August 13, 2008


owtytrof: "I AM THE INLINE CHICKEN FUCKER
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:30 PM on August 12 [1 favorite +] [!]


Chicken fucking is always out-of-line.
"

Unless you, too are a chicken.
posted by dg at 12:58 AM on August 14, 2008


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