And would it also be ok to take a picture of neatly written formulaes?

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    $\begingroup$ Related older discussion: What should I do when I see a “pic-question”? You can probably find a few more related posts. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2017 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ If you make your comment an answer I can accept it. I couldn't find your link question with the search because pic instead of picture was used, so my question provides better search. I don't understand the downvote. $\endgroup$
    – Hakaishin
    May 29, 2017 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ Here I would interpret the downvote to mean that the voter thinks it is not ok to take a picture of formulas etc. What did you think it mean? $\endgroup$ May 29, 2017 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ It's a bad question... That is the intended meaning of a downvote. Downvotes are not a way to answers questions, how did you even think of this... $\endgroup$
    – Hakaishin
    May 29, 2017 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm. I seem to have spent six years more on meta than you. May be, just may be... Mind you, I did not downvote. But I do think posting pictures is a bad idea. The major problem is that texts in pics are not searchable at all. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2017 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ From here you can see that downvote should definitely not be used for a no answer. And your argument from authority makes no sense. As said in the link: 1. Rather, downvoting is a means of claiming that something is wrong with the question 2. This question is unclear or not useful [downvote] and 3. I personally recommend reserving downvotes for strong feelings only I see how my comment is nitpicky, but I do not understand why you don't just revert it. $\endgroup$
    – Hakaishin
    May 29, 2017 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen's comment (based on experience rather than authority) seems the most likely explanation for the downvotes. See also: What does it mean to downvote a question on meta? It is explicitly mentioned in What is meta? that "voting indicates agreement or disagreement". You can see that the help page only mentions (feature-request)s, but as you can see here and in many other questions, it does not always work that way in practice. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2017 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ Don't get me wrong. This is a fine question. Or, it would be if we had not discussed the matter a few times already. The desire to avoid unnecessary duplication applies in meta as well as in the main. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2017 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ A related question on Meta Stack Exchange: Why are images of text, code and mathematical expressions discouraged? And on MathOverflow Meta: Is it allowed to use images for pasting math formula? $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2020 at 23:23

1 Answer 1


For many reasons (searching, indexing by search engines, screenreaders used by visually impaired users, exporting posts, ...) it is much better to include text as text rather than text as picture. At least you should try to make your question to be comprehensible without the picture.

I think there are some exceptions. For example:

  • I would consider reasonable if you make a question self-contained but you add some some longer text as a picture, where readers can find more details (if they wish). But in many cases reference to a text (with a link - if available) would be sufficient in such situations.
  • The community is much more tolerant to new users who are learning their way around the site. It is quite likely that some other users might help you and edit the post. Or at least direct you to some tools and information which might help you edit it yourself. But it is expected that users eventually, as they gain experience with the site, improve quality of their questions. Correct formatting and typesetting is one part of that.
  • The questions where the OP has shown some effort to solve the problem by themselves are usually well received. If such attempt is shown even as a picture, the post is more likely to get a positive reaction than a post which contains MathJax, but is merely a copy of the homework assignment. If you browse a bit among the images posted on this site, you will certainly find a few with handwritten mathematics. And some of the were received quite well.

I have posted an answer partly because the OP asked me to. And partly because the older discussions I was able to find seem to be slightly different in the sense that this question asks about this issue from the viewpoint of the poster, while several older discussions are about what other users should do when they see questions containing text posted as pictures (or even consisting only of pictures).


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