Wondering what to put in the description field on an image? A quick guide:
1. Just say what's in the image--you don't need to say it's an image.
2. Describe only what's relevant to the conversation. "Annalee writing in a notebook" or "An example of candid portraiture" or "A person using a fountain pen" are all good captions of the same image, in different contexts.
3. All text that's meant to be read should be transcribed. Screencap? Transcribe. Sign in background of selfie? Don't transcribe.

A common failure mode for image descriptions is giving way too much irrelevant detail. For example, if I'm talking about fountain pen storage, all I need to say is "my fountain pen storage case." Listing out the make and color of each pen is just going to bog down screenreaders with irrelevant information that folks will have to skip through.

If I'm talking about taking pens on airplanes, I might describe it as "my pens, lined up nib-up for travel." Or if I'm describing cases, I might say "a hard-shelled pen case with a strap that keeps my pens in a neat row." I'm only going to describe the colors of the pens or case if that's relevant to the discussion.

@manu there are collectors who would die laughing at the notion that seven pens is "a lot." But I like my little collection.

@federicomena Thanks! I was keeping them in a plastic bag, but when I bought the Montegreppa Blue Blazer, my FLPS owner took pity on me and gave me the silver pen sleeve under the Blazer in that shot. So then I was like, maybe I should get a real case. Definitely made travel easier.

@Annalee OMG a pen with heat-colored steel sounds soooooo appealing.

I have a super skinny pencil case that I like because it forces me to only carry the writing tools I need, but now that I'm taking up watercolors I need a hard case, somewhat bigger, for a few brushes.

@federicomena I love the Blazer. It's super heavy but writes like a dream. But I am super undisciplined about only taking the tools I need--I was in SF for 5 days and brought seven pens and a bottle of ink.

@Annalee would you have recommendations for sites about debugging fountain pens? Or should I just dive into the youtube swamps?

@Annalee that's 5 pens, one for each day, plus two, one for traveling in and one for traveling out, correct? Sounds about adequate.

@federicomena haha! I only used the Blazer the whole time, so probably could have packed it solo.

@Annalee ... bring that case. One of my regrets in life was leaving a Lamy CP1 in a train, all comfy in the pocket for papers in the seat in front of me.

@federicomena yeah I definitely do not want to leave any of these pens on a train!

@Annalee That is a very interesting point.
Many of the pictures I post are flowers. I usually try to describe the flower.
Is it better to just say "a flower", or "a flower with white petals and a yellow heart"?
Similar for landscapes, what level of detail would be good?

@wim_v12e again, it depends on context. If it's just something you're posting as an art photo, those descriptions sound fine. If you're writing about botany, it might make sense to say what kind of flower or describe its parts.

@wim_v12e Same thing for landscapes. You can say "A city skyline," or "The NYC skyline as seen from Liberty State Park," or "The twin towers of the World Trade Center in the New York skyline." Same image; different meanings.

@Annalee I see, that makes sense. Thanks for clarifying!

@Annalee One thing which I make a specific effort to do, which I ASSUME is helpful/good but I guess I never asked anyone, is when transcribing memes or humourous images, trying to transcribe its contents in order that I noticed them, aiming put the punchline at the end so it keeps the intended experience.

@gaditb yeah, putting jokes in the intended reading order instead of the literal top-down left-right order is good. 👍

@Annalee is it helpful to clarify whether an image is a screencap or a photo? or should i leave it out if it can be inferred

@monorail if it's relevant, sure. The failure mode is where people say "image of" or "picture of," which has screenreaders saying "Image: image of..."

@Annalee this is a good thing to remember when the subject of auto-captioning with OCR gets brought up - you might take a selfie standing on the corner with a friend and the auto-caption might become something like "DUMP NO WASTE - DRAINS TO LAKE - FINE $100" which is just confusing. one of those examples of not every problem being solvable by more tech :p

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The Wandering Shop is a Mastodon instance initially geared for the science fiction and fantasy community but open to anyone. We want our 'local' timeline to have the feel of a coffee shop at a good convention: tables full of friendly conversation on a wide variety of topics. We welcome everyone who wants to participate, so long as you're willing to abide by our code of conduct.