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Why using images for code, errors, logs or similar should be avoided?

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I have noticed that virtually any question containing an image of some code or error got a comment asking to replace it with the actual code, error text.

Why is it so bad to include an image instead of the actual text?

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1 answer

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There are multiple reasons why using images of code, error, logs and other text resources used in programming instead of the actual text is strongly not recommended.

Shortly put, the question should be written in a form that helps both the fellow community members to answer it (e.g. easy to copy-paste the code to provide an answer) and the future readers (e.g. read and copy-paste the code).

Reasons to paste text instead of images:

  • hard to get the text - it is harder to get the text from an image than a direct copy-paste. This means wasted time for a person who want to answer it due to extra effort involved in retyping the provided code
  • harder to read - most of the images will be shrunk to fit the post maximum width, will be unreadable and thus force the reader to open it separately to view it full width
  • non-searchability - site search or search engine will not get to the text inside the image
  • non-accessibility - screen readers need to be way smarter to get the text from an image, so it will make life harder for those with visual impairments
  • hides formatting, whitespace, or incorrect characters - prevents the readers from fully understanding some possible errors caused by incorrect indentation, non-visible characters or Unicode characters that look identical to the ANSI ones

Note: This post was inspired by a very similar SO one.

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Consider editing the "asking" help too. (3 comments)

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