I wonder if we have a rule requiring a questioner to provide a legible drawing when posing an elementary geometry question. If not, I propose that we have one, for the following reasons:

  1. It saves a lot of time for the potential responders.
  2. It shows effort on the side of the poster.
  3. It's philosophically consistent with requiring posters to produce legible algebraic expressions.

I recognize that, unlike equations and other expressions that can be typeset, drawings are harder to standardize. But perhaps we can even provide posters with (a list of) recommended drawing tools.

This is my first META post. Please guide me if I have done something improper.

Edit: It seems that this is something desirable but perhaps not so crucial that it should be made mandatory. Perhaps, we could have something like a recommendation, which is weaker than a requirement but which exists to recommend posters to conform to desirable practices.

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    $\begingroup$ You mentioned (a list of) recommended drawing tools.. Some list of this kind can be found both on meta and on main. However, I am not sure whether it is good idea to require pictures for all geometry questions. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Thanks for the link. There were times when the question was simple but drawing the diagram to complete an answer took more time than thinking about and typing up the answer. If the poster had supplied a drawing, much time would be saved. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ Agree with Martin, a picture is certainly helpful, but "it is not a good idea to require pictures for all geometry questions". $\endgroup$
    – Sawarnik
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the edited post, but I certainly don't think we should make it mandatory for all geometry questions. (In general, mandatory anything is kinda hard to enforce or defend for content. Of course, there are exceptions, but by-and-large...) $\endgroup$
    – apnorton
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ Requiring this would mean people simply wouldn't post their questions. Which isn't a good place to be... Perhaps encouragement would help, though - just post a comment asking for a picture to all such questions. If it is bugging you so much (and I do sympathise), you could always impose the rule on yourself - just don't answer questions without pictures. $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ @user1729: if we can come up with something practical and implementable, this can benefit the whole site. It's true I was frustrated because I had to spend time drawing diagrams thinking it should have been the responsibility of the posters, but in the big picture, my anecdotal story doesn't matter. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 13:33

2 Answers 2


In my opinion it is evident that for some questions an illustration can be helpful, however to require it seems too much. How should this be enforced anyway? Do you propose to close a question when there is no drawing? This seems way too strict.

Note that we do not really require that equations are typeset properly either.


I'd like to start off by saying that I understand your frustration. Sketches and illustrations would definitely help the potential responders help the OP. Having said that...

Suppose there is a somewhat vague/tricky to understand geometry question. If no one is commenting/answering the question, I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask the OP for a picture or sketch, and there is an incentive for the OP to provide one.

Requiring a picture for all geometry questions is too restrictive, and as highlighted by others, it would be difficult to establish an objective metric that would determine whether or not a picture is needed. Since such a policy could lead to down-votes, which in turn lead to a cost to the OP, the lack of such a metric could be seen as pretty unfair.

Going off on your idea, though, I think it would be neat if the Math.SE web developers would consider making a built-in widget/box that would allow for direct sketching into the response box.

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    $\begingroup$ Really like your last paragraph. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ About suggestion in your last paragraph: I was able to find this rather old feature request. I am not sure whether it is feasible, but I bumped the question, maybe more people will vote on it now it is on the front page. (And maybe someone will find another place where this was discussed before.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 6:38

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