Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Images

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Hi, can we try to revise the wording of MOS:IMGLOC? Obviously staggering images left and right is usually preferable, and used on most FAs. The language on IMGLOC seems to vaguely say staggering is okay, but also contradicts it that "in most cases, images should be right justified on pages", which seems to contradict the FAs and most other large articles. It also seems to contradict another part of the MOS, the Music page, which says "they should be staggered right-and-left". Can we reword all three to match each other and provide clarity and detail into the best practice? ɱ (talk) · vbm · coi) 16:40, 7 June 2017 (UTC)

If there's no input on this I'll assume it's acceptable and will be bold and make the change. This is the de facto standard on articles as it stands. ɱ (talk) · vbm · coi) 21:52, 14 July 2017 (UTC)
, I don't think that this is really a contradiction. You are permitted stagger; you aren't required to.
The point behind staggering images is to make the images "fit" within a relevant section. Most articles don't contain enough images for staggering to be relevant. If you have a lot of text and few images, then all of them can be, and usually are, placed on the right, even in Featured Articles. Even when staggering is used, we typically only place a few images on the left. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:48, 16 July 2017 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: Yes I know all this, but the point is - do you honestly think it's perfectly clear wording? Can't it be way clearer? This came up as an issue because someone pointed to the MOS's "in most cases, images should be right justified on pages" as their argument that an FA I was working on shouldn't have any left-aligned images. And he's totally right to assume that, I think that MOS bit I quote can totally justify his argument. But it's not seen that way by almost all other users, and thus not really followed like that user and I can see it. The wording absolutely needs to be more clear. ɱ (talk) · vbm · coi) 21:11, 16 July 2017 (UTC)
I'm sorry that you are dealing with that. The problem is generally someone crying, "But the MOS says that you must stagger all images!" So I'm concerned about giving more ammunition to the one that clearly has it wrong, because nobody actually wants a strict left-right staggering all the way down the page, especially when there are few images.
Do you think that it would be helpful to specify occasions when left-justification might be warranted? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:54, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
In the context of Talk:Briarcliff Manor, New York#Image placement, you might be interested in knowing that this guideline previously discouraged left alignment immediately underneath a ===Level 3=== section heading, on the grounds that it made it slightly harder for the reader's eye to find the first word of the first paragraph in this section. (It's less of an issue with ==Level 2== section headings, because they have a horizontal line drawn underneath them.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:25, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

One issue not so far mentioned is that staggering images left and right often leads to violations of MOS:SANDWICH. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:07, 1 August 2017 (UTC)

RfC: Should png files be discouraged for photographs?[edit]

Without wishing to focus this RfC on the conduct of User:Kintetsubuffalo, he has for a long time now been making requests at the Photography Workshop to have jpg files (photographs) converted to png files. Since png files do not render well at thumbnail size I have attempted to explain why using them is usually a bad idea. Unfortunately my attempts at engaging in discussion have been largely ignored, or met with outright rudeness. Please see 1, 2, 3 and 4, in particular the message I left on his user page outlining the problem and his response.

What I'd like, if others find it agreeable, is to create an official guideline on the use of png files. Basically, I think they ought not to be used for photographs on account of the fact that they look terrible. What say you? nagualdesign 23:44, 30 July 2017 (UTC)

  • Comment. Could you clarify if the rendering problem is inherent to the png format in general or if the problem is strictly with how Wikipedia software is handling png files? If it's the latter, then shouldn't we attempt to fix the software instead of amending the usage guidelines? And if it's the former, then yes, of course the usage should be discouraged then.—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); July 31, 2017; 13:32 (UTC)
I can answer this: it's the Wiki software. And yes, it should be fixed if at all possible (there are a lot of reason why WMF may not be able to fix it in the forseeable future), but petitioning WMF to implement even very simple changes seems to be extraordinarily difficult, from what others who've done so tell me. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 13:53, 31 July 2017 (UTC)
Spot on. It's been like this for many years and I doubt that anything will change any time soon. Bear in mind also that even if the software were updated there would still be absolutely no benefit from converting a jpg to png in cases where the image is rectangular with no transparency. nagualdesign 15:29, 31 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Support. I agree with the OP on this; we should deprecate use of PNG files where they are not necessary. That being said, this seems to be a bit of a heated point, and I'm hoping this can be a calm discussion. I can think of a few reasons why editors might want a PNG file instead of a JPG, including some that are based on misconceptions (such as that JPG files will degrade in quality over time). ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 13:53, 31 July 2017 (UTC)
    Wow, never heard that one. People believe weird stuff.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:59, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
What, you never heard of bit rot? EEng 23:12, 21 September 2017 (UTC)
Collapsed off topic discussion.
Yes, the last thing I want is to get into an argument. This is more of a technical request and despite Kintetsubuffalo's unwillingness to engage in discussion I have no wish to call his conduct into question. I've been through far worse than being called a "doofus" in my time. All I really wanted from him was some sort of explanation, but since he has been less than forthcoming I think the only recourse is to set out some official guidelines. Whether he elects to ignore all rules after that (as per the banner on his talk page) is another matter entirely, but we can cross that bridge at a later date. nagualdesign 15:29, 31 July 2017 (UTC)
I could understand the desire in cases where the image is likely to go through numerous revisions; for instance a greyscale image that is being colorized by two or more volunteers (a situation I've been in). Repeatedly saving the file as a jpg can seriously distort the image. But even then, any decent artist will know to immediately save the working image to a better filetype, like .psd or .xcf. It's a thing where there seems to be a lot of reasons to prefer png over jpeg, but once you start looking at each reason individually, there's always a better way.
In regards to @Kintetsubuffalo:, I've always found them to be a very polite and helpful editor, and never had any trouble with them. I believe you may have rubbed them the wrong way at some point, making them less willing to engage with you (no judgement here, I'm presuming it was unintentional). But I am disappointed at their lack of a voice here, because I would like to hear what they have to say about why they request PNGs. Its still possible that they have a very good reason (perhaps international versions of some browsers have trouble displaying JPGs or something), and it would really be best to hear them out. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 16:17, 31 July 2017 (UTC)
I've never had any trouble with him either that I can remember, and I'm certainly not aware of rubbing him up the wrong way. I assume he thinks I've been "preachy" or pedantic, judging by the "House Rules" on his talk page. When I opened this RfC I notified him of course. His response was to revert my edit. Let's just try and focus on the guidelines. nagualdesign 16:38, 31 July 2017 (UTC)
MjolnirPants Thanks for your kind words on my behalf. I'm not about to engage an editor who tagbombed the Graphics Lab about me within a _minute_ of posting on my talkpage, no matter how valid they think their point is (and apparently critically important to them, vide them forcing their "why aren't you listening to me?!?" whine back onto my talkpage). This will be my only comment.--Kintetsubuffalo (talk) 02:09, 1 August 2017 (UTC)
For what it's worth this is me "tagbombing" (within a minute, no less!) and we're still none the wiser as to why he insists on png files. If it makes you feel any better, Kintetsubuffalo, I apologise for being such a doofus. I'm currently nursing my cat who has a broken pelvis, and this kind of petty grievance is beneath me. Can we please just stick to formulating guidelines? Thanks. nagualdesign 16:49, 1 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Support. I would support deprecating changing files from jpg to png. Johnbod (talk) 16:04, 31 July 2017 (UTC)
  • Question. I'd like to ask PawelMM, I see that you are continuing to fulfil these requests and I've noticed you placing {{SupersededPNG}} templates on image file pages, could you please explain your reasoning? nagualdesign 15:42, 4 August 2017 (UTC)
@Nagualdesign: In my editions I have fulfilled requests in photography workshop only. IMHO advantage of png format is lossless compression and transparency of images. I agree with some of your arguments and I will insert {{Other versions}} or {{Extracted}} instead of {{SupersededPNG}} in my future editions of nonlinear (photo-like) graphics. I think the good description of this problem is en: Portable_Network_Graphics#JPEG. PawełMM (talk) 06:05, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
Thank you for the reply. To be clear, while png files can be compressed without the artifacts you get with jpg files, by converting directly from jpg to png those artifacts will simply be 'baked in' unless great care was taken to manually remove them all first. And although the two files will be nearly identical (at 100% zoom) the jpg will always look better at thumbnail size. The only advantage, as you say, is transparency, which looks good in certain infobox images. nagualdesign 16:44, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
  • This proposal appears to be redundant with WP:IUP#FORMAT. It sounds like some of the regulars at the Graphics Lab might not be familiar with that policy, though. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:40, 4 August 2017 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: That guideline states "Photos and scanned images should be in JPEG format, though a PNG may be useful as well, especially for software screenshots when only a raster image is available. (JPEGs are a lossy image format, and PNGs allow further editing without degrading the image.)" (emphasis added) ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 18:52, 4 August 2017 (UTC)
It also has an entire paragraph about when to convert JPEGs to PNGs (i.e., never, except for one circumstance). WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:14, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
Do you mean the part that says, "In general, if you have a good image that is in the wrong format, convert it to the correct format before uploading. However, if you find a map, flag, etc. in JPEG format, only convert it to PNG if this reduces the file size. For further advice on converting JPEG to PNG, see Wikipedia:How to reduce colors for saving a JPEG as PNG." (emphasis added)? If so, that doesn't really cover the png blurring problem. I think we need to be more explicit and say that png files are not suitable for rectangular photographs at all. I'm fairly sure that there are other guidelines on WP that say not to worry about storage space, so I'm not sure why file size is mentioned as a determining factor. Even if the new png was a smaller file the original jpg would have to be deleted in order to save space (and AFAIK files are rarely if ever truly wiped from the system). nagualdesign 16:44, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
Smaller file size is not about saving disk space, which is cheap. It's about saving bandwidth for readers, which can be very expensive. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:52, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
That paragraph is not very clear: It could be read as a guideline that only applies to maps or flags, thus implying that converting JPG photographs to PNG is fine even if it increases their size. I've no doubt that your reading (that maps and flats are the only cases where converting to PNG is okay) is not unusual, but you could always see this RfC as a discussion of clarifying your reading of it. We certainly all seem to be on the same page with the "don't convert to PNG unless there's a damn good reason to" thing. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 22:47, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
My reading is that if it's not going to result in a smaller file size, then it's disallowed, no matter what the content is. My reading is additionally that you should not convert a file unless it is "the wrong format" and being converted to "the correct format", and I see no reason to believe either that JPEG photos are "the wrong format" or that PNGs are "the correct format" – and that's even assuming that we're willing to overlook the statement that the conversion ought to be done in advance of uploading, and not by posting finding someone else's uploads and asking someone to convert them from a perfectly good format into a not-obviously-desirable format. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:52, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
  • comment it seems, from the above comment, that no change in policy is needed, rather education of those making inappropriate requests would be handy, to prevent further disruption (unintentional or otherwise WP:AGF) Polyamorph (talk) 19:42, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
    I think the guidelines might need a little tightening up first. I doubt very much that anyone will listen unless the guidelines are spelled out much more clearly. nagualdesign 21:43, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Support - All cameras use the JPG format so I see no valid reason why anyone with half a braincell would want this changed, I would suggest Kinect or whatever his name is educates himself on JPG V PNG as well as various policies here before continuing their stupid meaningless edit wars. –Davey2010Talk 23:30, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
    @Davey2010:You are aware that your !vote and your reasoning contradict each other? If you support using JPGs for photographs, then you should !vote support. ᛗᛁᛟᛚᚾᛁᚱPants Tell me all about it. 23:58, 5 August 2017 (UTC)
    Whoops I thought it said encouraged, Amended, Thanks. –Davey2010Talk 00:03, 6 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Support per the reply to my comment above Polyamorph (talk) 07:17, 6 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Support. I don't see the point of ever converting a photograph to PNG. Diagrammatic graphics, sure, if there's some good reason not to keep it in a vector format, but not photographs. —David Eppstein (talk) 04:53, 8 August 2017 (UTC)
    • David and Davey, if we add more information about this subject, do you think it makes more sense to have half the JPEG-vs-PNG information in WP:IUP and half here, or all of it over at IUP? WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:52, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
      • This sort of thing should be guideline not policy. So that argues for keeping it here. —David Eppstein (talk) 03:11, 12 August 2017 (UTC)
  • Comment: What about scenarios where the image is edited to remove a background and place a focus on a specific item in the image, like, say, a video game console? We've had a dispute over whether the pages should use images that had been edited to remove their (white) background to focus on just the subject, and saved as transparent PNGs, which generally look better on infoboxes in this context. I feel that this is an arbitrary restriction motivated by the official recommendation to not use PNG for "photographs", but when does a photograph cease to be a photograph? ViperSnake151  Talk  15:04, 13 August 2017 (UTC)
As noted several times already, if a photograph is 'cut out' so that its background is transparent and it's no longer rectangular, specifically for use in an infobox, that's fine (well, the blurring problem is still a problem). nagualdesign 15:29, 13 August 2017 (UTC)

Right-justified images[edit]

, regarding this bit I reverted you on, how is it not the case that images should usually be right-justified? What examples do you have? And in the case of your examples, how is this not the minority of cases? As for staggering images right and left, I usually see editors do that as a matter of style, not because it's needed, and it often leads to WP:SANDWICHING issues. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 06:38, 19 August 2017 (UTC)

It's because most big articles should and do stagger the images left-right. That's been the norm forever but the wording at this MOS didn't reflect that, and even contradicted it. And yes it can lead to sandwiching, however that's why it said "Multiple images can and sometimes should be staggered right and left. However, avoid sandwiching text between two images that face each other...". That seems adequate, no? Surely an improvement over the "In most cases, images should be right justified on pages" which seems to convince and literally has convinced editors that staggering is less than preferable. ɱ (talk) · vbm · coi) 12:33, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Flyer22 Reborn. Staggering left and right only works in articles in which there is a large amount of text so that the images are sufficiently well separated to avoid sandwiching. In terms of the number of articles, it should be very much a minority style. What often happens at present is that staggered images get added to a short article, leading to terrible layout. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:42, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
Can't we describe it like that then? It seems the current wording is very unclear and unhelpful, and I so very prefer when the guidelines and policies provide rationale like that. I agree with you, however the current wording has led people to disfavor staggering altogether, and force that view upon others. ɱ (talk) · vbm · coi) 12:45, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
Yes, it would be good to provide more helpful guidance. The logic involved seems to me to be:
  • the priority is to avoid sandwiching, as per MOS:SANDWICH
  • if there's not enough text to separate images, this means placing all the images to the same side, usually the right (where there's often an infobox), or using the gallery format, while respecting WP:NOTGALLERY
  • if there's enough text to separate images, left and right staggering is usual although not required
Quite how this is written up is another matter. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:57, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
I could agree to use "many cases" instead of "most cases," and "multiple images can be staggered right and left," but I don't agree with "should." This is a guideline, not a policy, and "should" is an opinion in this case. I don't think that big articles automatically should stagger right and left. Furthermore, sandwiching happens in big articles as well because of small sections; this was the case at the Human brain article.
I was under the impression that having an image on the left causes some type of viewing issue other than sandwhiching. WhatamIdoing, is there any issue other than sandwiching? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 14:52, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
Isn't the reason that our lead mages are always on the right attributed to some viewing issue, and is not simply a matter of "this is how it's always been done"? Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 14:55, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
To make it easier to figure out where the first word is. It's the same problem with a left-justified image immediately under a ===Level 3=== heading (only worse at the start of an article). WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:54, 22 August 2017 (UTC)

On the question of "sandwiching", the main problem isn't having text between two images. The main problem is when you have two images both starting at the same height at the top of a paragraph. So this is bad:

Paragraph #1
Paragraph #2

but this is okay/not actually sandwiching:

Paragraph #1
Paragraph #2

(And if anyone is thinking "but it'll still squish the text between two images" – well, yes, it will, unless Paragraph #2 is really, really long. But that will happen sometimes/on some screens unless we always put all images on the same side, even if it doesn't look that way on your particular screen/font size/zoom/etc. We can't prevent it entirely, and the goal is just to avoid the worst-case scenario of having the two of two images plus the top of the paragraph all in a single row.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:54, 22 August 2017 (UTC)

  • Nothing should be said to discourage staggering. Editors usually add images according to whatever looks good on their own screens, forgetting that other people are reading on windows of different widths. Staggering images left and right avoids images, if always placed on the right, from bleeding into the next section when the window is wider. Even with just one image in each section, expanding the window can cause images to push lower ones away from the text they support, and into other images and quote boxes. Whether staggering is appropriate depends on the text–image ratio, section size and article size. Editors may also decide that it simply looks better. SarahSV (talk) 03:11, 22 August 2017 (UTC)
    But it doesn't look better if it causes sandwiching on a narrow screen, and new editors need to be informed about this issue. Editors aren't free to decide unilaterally what they think looks better. Peter coxhead (talk) 11:39, 22 August 2017 (UTC)
Agreed with the general gist of this, i.e. that we really don't want people staggering images all the time, because it causes problems, but be should be clearer and more advisory about when it works and how to do it well.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:03, 21 September 2017 (UTC)