I couldn't decide whether this belonged as an answer to Do we need guidelines? or as its own question, but I decided it might be nice to have as its own question.

In a comment made by (@The Almighty Bob) here he says that images as questions qualify for low quality questions. I actually think this is a valuable observation. It makes it so that the question is unsearchable and imho shows very little effort at communicating their difficulties with the community (or at the very least the two are correlated). What do people think about closing questions where the main question is a picture from a textbook (obviously including graphs can be useful) as unclear?

  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify: I voted to close because the question was very unclear. This had nothing to do with the picture in the first place. If it would have been clearer (i.e. who has access to the oil? What are the costs for what?) then I would have closed it as a low quality question (because of the picture). $\endgroup$ – The Almighty Bob Jun 19 '15 at 12:03

I agree that images of text with no obvious justification are just a sign of laziness and do not contribute good, searchable, standardized content of the form we want.

I would suggest that before closing questions (for whatever reason) we should first post a comment and give the user at least some time to make the necessary improvements to their question. In this case, that was amount to asking the user to retype the offending material.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree (surprise) with closing "picture questions". I disagree with the not closing part however. Someone usually answers anyway and as soon as the question is answered the person who asked has no incentive to improve his question any more. However, we should write a nicer comment (e.g. This would be a good question but ... . As soon as you have done ... we happily open the question again.) $\endgroup$ – The Almighty Bob Jun 19 '15 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ @TheAlmightyBob I agree. We should not consider closing a question as something bearing a flavor of permanence (and so creating hesitation as to whether to apply it). It is just a "negative" incentive to improve question-content, and it should be applied, say immediately, when a question is problematic. Of course it should also be accompanied by a comment to explain the situation (the standard texts that go with closing are a failure in my opinion), and to indicate more precisely what kind of improvements are needed. $\endgroup$ – Alecos Papadopoulos Jun 19 '15 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @TheAlmightyBob Yes, fair point and I agree with this. But we need to be diligent on encouraging the owners of closed questions to edit them (and on voting to reopen appropriately edited questions) to ensure we don't scare away potentially productive members of the community. $\endgroup$ – Ubiquitous Jun 19 '15 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ @TheAlmightyBob If you close quick enough, nobody can answer that question. And after the fact, if the OP does not care enough about the question, neither close nor "nice comment" will make him change his mind. $\endgroup$ – FooBar Nov 2 '15 at 7:35

I was directed here by a debate spawned by a question of mine: Independence of price and wealth in Walras' Law

I'm strongly against the closure of questions centered on pictures. Pictures are an easy way to show, word-by-word, an author's definitions, which are important when dealing with concepts whose formalization differs across textbooks. For instance, whereas the concept "game" is defined only by words in elementary Microeconomic texts such as that of Pindick and Rubinfeld, graduate-level books like Mas-Collel and Whinston's designate game to be a tuple, or ordered set.

An alternative to the use of pictures is the typing of all texts word-by-word which is, more often than not, a tiresome, laborious task, particularly when the use of Latex is required. This would go against what I believe to be one SE's purposes, which is practicity. If one must go great lenghts to solve simple doubts, he or she had better take private classes instead.

Also, I have trouble believing users would truly transcript the author's text word-by-word. In order to save effort, they would rephrase passages, which would confuse other users. After all, if he or she who's asking had a clear understanding of the text, there would be little need in searching for help.

I've used pictures in most of my questions in Math SE, as my history can tell in https://math.stackexchange.com/users/222095/bruno-schiavo, and I've never been flagged for that. In fact, people seem to be pleased by the use of book prints, as it can be seen in (http://mathhelpforum.com/differential-geometry/249557-concept-dx-manfredo.html#post870742).

At last, I don't think question searchability would be greatly compromised by the use of images. Alongside with posting the image, the user must clarify his doubt in the passage and, by doing this, most keywords present in the excerpt should be used. Also, pictures often contain expressions in formal mathemathic language, which has zero search value. There is broad space for inputting keywords for the means of searchability, and this space is the Tag bar, which has, unfortunately, a very poor selection of options. We should focus on improving it.

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    $\begingroup$ The point that a question with an image is likely to contain in text most of the relevant keywords does, indeed, deal a serious blow to the "but images are not searchable" line of argument. $\endgroup$ – Ubiquitous Oct 31 '15 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ It may help to know why we (or at least I) felt this way about the image policy. A few months ago (I'm guessing it corresponded to the start of the the undergraduate semester), there began to be large quantities of questions that only had a picture of a question and said something along the lines of, "I don't understand please help." As a community, I think many of us felt that these questions did not fit with the goals of our SE site and so, as a way to filter through these types of questions and encourage people to think about the material on their own and ... $\endgroup$ – cc7768 Oct 31 '15 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ to at least be able to identify what it was that they were struggling with, we decided to close these types of questions and give the reason as we don't allow images. Is this a one size fit all policy? Probably not, but I still think that the policy should remain intact because it discourages the site from being spammed by low quality questions (view it as a signalling game of sorts). Additionally, your specific question only had a few lines that were necessary to type from the image and is it really that much trouble to type it? $\endgroup$ – cc7768 Oct 31 '15 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ All of the above is obviously my opinion, and ultimately, I'm happy to support whichever policy the site decides on together. $\endgroup$ – cc7768 Oct 31 '15 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Ubiquitous I don't follow how that does happen. Instead, I see it as the opposite: Especially when the image contains all the relevant keywords (and the OP won't repeat them hence in searchable text), less of the question is searchable and will be useful to future visitors. $\endgroup$ – FooBar Nov 2 '15 at 7:31
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    $\begingroup$ The Tag bar is NOT meant for searchability either. It is meant for grouping questions, yes. But grouping keywords are a subset of the relevant keywords. It is not true that "The Tag bas has [...] a very poor selection of options". It is rather true that it has a pretty good selection of options, but not for the purposes you intend to abuse it for. $\endgroup$ – FooBar Nov 2 '15 at 7:33
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    $\begingroup$ I have never heard of "practicity" as a key feature of StackExchange, and I see it actually the opposite. Not that we want to purposefully make it hard to ask questions, but it is a way of increasing marginal costs, reducing the amount of "why bother to search and try on my own" type of questions. $\endgroup$ – FooBar Nov 2 '15 at 7:34
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    $\begingroup$ Also, because typing down the question and definitions often helps clarifying things. It has happened to me quite often to cancel asking the question here, while I was still phrasing my exact issue. $\endgroup$ – FooBar Nov 2 '15 at 7:40

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