disappointed that I'm seeing more and more non-captioned images cross my TL. I understand and respect that there are a lot of new people around and that means the culture will shift and change with them, but this is one aspect of fedi culture that I would really like to preserve.

so, if you are able, please please please caption your images!

From some of the responses it seems like some people think this is referencing Content Warnings and so I just need to say, CWs are good but I was specifically talking about alt-text for images, not CWs. Here's a reply I made that shows exactly what I'm talking about:

@balrogboogie I was just thinking this... there are a lot of nice pictures and I can't boost any of them :/

@balrogboogie I hate it when Non captioned images or non CW'ed content is boost worthy. But I can't boost em if they don't have proper CW or are non-captioned.

@balrogboogie One thing I'm hoping to do in my Friendica mobile client is making that process extremely easy. Right now picture embedding on Friendica is essentially BBcode markup that is pretty verbose at that so very easy to bork everything up trying to manually add the alt-text to it.

@hankg I love it, anything to make accessibility more, well, accessible is a good thing in my book

@balrogboogie If you aren't sure what to do to make good #AltText, this is a thread I wrote that should help.
If you like what's written there, please boost it. Thank you.

@themrallen @balrogboogie on the tools I use it's a little icon on the bottom right of the image after you upload it. It should be way more obvious, it should probably warn if you forget, but at least it has built in text recognition.

The built in text recognition really makes the lack of captions on screenshots of text from Twitter embarrassing. It's a bit sad to me that people upload a photo of text in 2022 and don't think to turn it into actual text.

@themrallen @balrogboogie It depends a little on the interface you're using.

In the web interface, after it has finished uploading an image, it will show the image below the content box, and overlayed on the bottom of the image it will say "(i) No description added". If you click that, you can add your descriptive text (and choose where the thumbnail is cropped).

It should be similar in other apps, but the wording and placement may vary.

@marshamaung true, I just did have to show someone how, so I boosted that post so hopefully others can see it

Where to click 

@carlharnryd I don't know what that icon is, also the irony is not lost on me that you sent me an uncaptioned image lol

@carlharnryd ah, no, you added a CW (Content Warning). I'm talking about adding alt-text to any images posted.

When you upload an image, most clients will give you the option to add a "caption" to it so that screen readers & other accesibility tools can use that for visually impaired people.

On the mastodon web UI, it looks something like this (screenshots attached). You would upload the picture and then click "Edit", which will bring up the window in the second screenshot. After you publish the post, if you hover over the image with your mouse, you will see a tooltip come up with your alt-text.


Thanks for the explanation.

That made it clearer to me, thought I understood what you meant.

Now I do 😉

@balrogboogie like "this is boring shite do not open", whats wrong with people choosing what to stop and look at themselves, why are content warnings necessary.....obviously Im missing the point and the mastadon pc police will kill me or maybe I'm just a bit stupid.

@Yvonne for one thing, the post you are responding to is nothing to do with content warnings but rather alt-text for images.

for another thing, CWs are incredibly useful, much digital ink has been spilled on here about them and I'd rather not get into a big argument about them. If you don't want to use them, that is your choice, but just be aware that posting specific things without a CW could have ramifications.

If you don't want to have to open CWs constantly, there is a setting in your preferences that looks like this, that will change the posts you see to be always opened

@Yvonne of course, no worries. I understand CWs take a bit getting used to but I hope you'll come around on them eventually

@balrogboogie and don’t just do it begrudgingly. You can put similar effort into your alt-text as you did into your image. If you’re sharing a photo you think is beautiful, make the description just as beautiful. If you thought it was worth sharing, make it as worthy for those who can only read about.

@Seamonk I agree with you, one should make an effort to be as descriptive as possible, but at the end of the day I'm of the opinion that any caption is better than no caption. Sometimes people don't have the spoons to craft a beautiful description and just want to post an image, and raising the bar to "oh and you also have to write a completely separate post describing the image" could cause that image to not be posted at all. I know the line here is murky and there's no hard-and-fast rule but balancing access needs is just something we need to keep in mind

@balrogboogie yah. If it’s just a pic of the doggo you don’t need to go all Yeats. Just keep the perspective.

@corbin For my own edification (and others that'll probably see this) - the advice I saw recently is that Mastodon is being crushed at the moment, and it's better to *link* images than *post* them. Is there a way to caption a linked image that I missed in all my newness?

@jonathonbarton I've seen this advice for video (which can also be described here in the same way!), not for still images.

But yes images on the internet can have a description in the "alt" field of the HTML. (You sometimes see image descriptions referred to as alt text for this reason.)

@balrogboogie I wish images came with descriptions. I've found myself posting the same image several times (the one explaining which posts show up in which timeline) and every time I had to write a description all over again.

@cobordism i've heard it's possible to embed descriptions in EXIF data? I don't know how true or widely supported that is, but it would be nice if you could add the description there and have mastodon extract the description from there

@balrogboogie Or, maybe, digital image formats should come with embedded description formats to begin with!

@cobordism but that would require tech bros to think about and prioritize accessibility, and we can't have that now /s

@cobordism @balrogboogie they do. Photographers can/should populate the EXIF fields when editing their images. Current fedi apps just strip it on uploading, though.
I understand the privacy concerns but hopefully future versions will allow us to keep copyright and other useful info like lens info, exposure details and yes, captions to use in the image description.

@balrogboogie There's also a bot someone made that will message you if you forget to add alt text: @PleaseCaption

@balrogboogie I've been trying to figure out how that works on here.

@Danl here's a small example I posted for someone else earlier, note that my screenshots are for the mastodon web UI and might be different for different clients

@balrogboogie I should have easily found that. But I think I can do better going forward. Thanks

@balrogboogie it took me a couple of posts to figure out how to add the text. Keep reminding folk, us new users will get there!

@balrogboogie Duncan when I see an image I would like to boost which has no alt text, I reply and ask the author, very politely, if they’d please conside adding alt text in the future. Sometimes I start my reply with “alt text for our visually-disabled friends: [description of image]” so the author sees an example of how easy it is.

I figure the worst that can happen is they’ll mute me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

@balrogboogie now imagine if the new fancy edit feature actually allowed people to edit or add image descriptions.. It would've made this do much easier right now

@maloki oh can you not add image descriptions when editing posts? that's disappointing, given that you can do that when you delete+redraft

@maloki @balrogboogie seriously?? what good is an edit feature if you can't do that u_u

@maloki @balrogboogie it doesn't even allow to add description on your own posts when you forgot it so... but it's a fairly new feature I think

@fenarinarsa Yeah, that's what we were saying but in a very snarky voice.

Thing is, why ship an incomplete featuer, when Image Descriptions are so important on here?

@balrogboogie I only started doing it because I found out why it was important. With such a large influx of people, my guess is they're not aware of why it's done.

@balrogboogie I have a captioned image on my TL if you’d like to read about shiny banana bread.

We do captioned images on @EqualRightsAdvocates and @EqualPayToday if you’re interested in issues pertaining to #genderjustice and want to give us a follow!

@balrogboogie Especially now that the OCR feature is fixed (in version 4).

@balrogboogie There’s good news here: I don’t think this is a cultural failing or an indication that new users don’t care. This is a UX failure, and failures like this happen when software design teams do not hire diversely enough. The inclusion of deaf, blind, and movement impaired staff is crucial in modern UX. Designers and implementers (like myself) cannot expect every user in every emotional context and of every neurotype to remember to take a non-obvious action under high cognitive load.

@balrogboogie Metatext, for example, does not remind the user to caption photos. If it did, most users would caption every time (users tend to be more empathetic than not). A UX design team could reasonably assume that someone posting from home in peace and silence would likely remember to caption, but someone posting from their raft trip down the Kaituna river May be under significant cognitive load and could use a UI assist.

@balrogboogie It is unfair for a UX designer to expect users under high cognitive load to remember something non-obvious in their context. This is a wonderful example why UX teams need to hire as diversely as possible. For now, apologies for the photos I have shared that I failed to caption. I will try to do better, and I implore Mastodon UX builders to do right by their blind and deaf users. A caption reminder would be a welcome addition to the Metatext experience.

@pal_joey I agree in principle, however there aren't really teams of hired people developing fediverse software. Open-source software has had a problem with accessibility for pretty much it's entire existence, that's a well-known though unfortunate problem. UX can certainly help, but until FOSS in general is better at including accessibility as a priority, setting and doing our best to enforce cultural norms is what we have

@balrogboogie I will consider reaching out to the Metatext team and contributing. After this exchange I'm guessing my brain will have much better recall captioning when posting from the app. Will do my best!

Kia ora and thanks for this exchange.

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