Especially in terms of gardening Q&A, a picture is worth a thousand words. Naturally, questions tagged will provide at least one image. But others don’t.

How can we encourage askers and responders to include pictures in their posts?

Most questions—and the likelihood of them being answered—would definitely benefit from photographic information provided through pictures.

Be it the view of the garden, as clarification of a description or to show how a plant is situated: a photo is easily provided and included in the post.

In a question of mine, I even used some public domain photograph of the plant in question (for people who know the plant but not its name).

It’s also pleasing the eye and improves quality for future readers.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s quite a number of illustrated questions. But sometimes people probably don’t think of this option and its benefits. For starters (i.e. without much effect), we could add a hint in the “How to Ask/Format” boxes on the “Ask Question” page.

Lest I forget, here’s an image of a mockup, linking to markdown help on images:

added hint in the “How to Ask/Format” boxes on the “Ask Question” page

There’s plenty of other means, like actively hinting the user when a post doesn’t include an image-link or introducing badges for illustrating posts.


4 Answers 4


There should be an option to customize the gardening se so that you need to have xx number of points before you can post without an image.

I think that should solve most of the problems with new users not knowing how to upload images.

  • 1
    That’s a good idea too, yet it shouldn’t scare off new users by having too strict such a constraint.
    – dakab
    Jun 12, 2016 at 9:09
  • For many things you need a certain reputation on the SE sites. eg. 20 to chat. Maybe you should need 20 to post without pictures. It just ensures we have good quality questions. Those without, we can do without as often they don't come back to add an image. And then the question gets closed. Waste of everyone's time. Jun 12, 2016 at 9:42
  • Another one gardening.stackexchange.com/q/26537/1894 Jun 12, 2016 at 20:34
  • 1
    I see what you mean, but I agree with dakab that adding new rules might scare off new users. They already have a lot to deal with. Also, although most questions can be improved by adding pictures, there are some that are fine without them, and I wouldn't want those users to be unable to post. Just some of my thoughts. Jun 15, 2016 at 2:24
  • +1 Sue, I can think of very many questions which don't require a picture. Dec 5, 2016 at 0:24

Dakab, I agree with everything you said. I wish we had power to add/change more things in the Help Center or someplace, so people would know that pictures should be an expected part of asking a question. It's made clear in the excerpt of the identification tag. The diagnosis and diseases tags have instructions in the body. These are positive things, but not everybody reads tag descriptions.

I also think the system should make posting pictures easier to do, as a lot of people want to, but don't know how. Unfortunately, that seems to be out of our hands. Certainly when we ask new users to post pictures, we should be prepared to help them do so. I think in general we, especially @Niall C., do a good job of that. Bringing a new user's photos down from an offsite service is good too, and a number of experienced users are doing that, but it can be a lot of work.

If I properly understand the privileges page in the Help Center, new users can't post more than two pictures, or links to anything, until they have 10 rep. If that's the case, perhaps we should think a bit about upvoting a questions that looks fine but is waiting for pictures, as is encouraged in this discussion here on our meta.

In many cases, pictures will help people decide whether or not to upvote the question, so it's a Catch-22, but if we need more than two pictures to diagnose or advise, supporting the question enough for people to be able to post them would be helpful. It has been suggested that we ask people to swap pictures in and out during that early phase, but I see that as confusing to the OP and the viewers who may have seen the question before some of the pictures started disappearing.

Leading by example is another way to encourage people to post pictures. Some users, like you, are doing that already. As you said, even a public domain picture is great, and often easy to find. I also post pictures where they may not be necessary to receive a good answer. For example, I added the pictures of my daylilies to this question after it already had two great answers. There are a lot of references to plants on the site that I haven't seen before. Perhaps some people don't know what a daylily is, and don't want to follow the informational link in the text, so hopefully the pictures were helpful. Mostly I did it so people might follow suit.


In my experience of the site - and I've been here since the beginning - questions posted without images will quickly attract comments e.g. "please post an image". And that's fine. It's usually said reasonably politely.

And mostly the OP will oblige. In fact, everyone's happy in such cases, as answerers do like to see the OP return and answer questions and add any missing information. Don't forget that images aren't the only vital detail which can be missed off an initial question. Sometimes location is missing even though it's essential.

In cases where the OP fails to return with a pic and the question remains catastrophically unanswerable without it, the question can be voted down and eventually removed.

  • Sure, it's great when missing information is added on inquiry. And of course are there other clues that might be missing from the start. However, the idea was to encourage questioners in the beginning not to forget adding an image, i.e. to spare people from having to ask for information that should've been added in the first place.
    – dakab
    Dec 5, 2016 at 6:11

Pose a question of if your question needs any images to aid in the advice provided, and if so require they upload images before posting it, but allow someone to put it in a holding pattern until they can get the photos.

  • 1
    I’m afraid I don’t quite understand. Could you try rephrasing your answer a bit? I’m sure it will be worth it.
    – dakab
    Jun 24, 2016 at 5:25
  • before posting post a list of questions, but that would require the developers to change this for specific SE sites. Jun 24, 2016 at 15:00
  • I'm confused too. Are you saying people should ask first, like here in meta, if their question would need pictures? If so, we tell the person they do need photos, but we'll hold on to their question until they get the pictures, then post the question? Or am I way off? Sadly, either way, the SE developers probably wouldn't change for just this site. I've tried that with other things and been turned down. Thanks for thinking up ideas though. It's an important subject. Jun 26, 2016 at 18:20
  • it would be a big software feature addition to the main SE software. Jun 26, 2016 at 18:25
  • I think I understand what you're trying to say. You're saying that the software should ask the user whether or not their question needs any images. May 16, 2020 at 3:38

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