I've been trying to avoid going "all out medical" on any of my answers, as I think that's more in line with the theme on the site. However, on this question, I didn't really think there was a good way to answer the question without graphic and possibly disturbing images.

While not disturbing to me, I know people (like my wife) who are greatly disturbed by such images. This may be the only SE where it is likely to content that could be both appropriate and also offensive. What sort of warnings should we put up. I noticed on my larger monitor in my office that by the time my warning loaded, the surgical images could be seen. Therefore it might have been useless.


Also, as someone from possibly the other side of the wave, I feel all of medicine can really fall under the umbrella of biology (but clearly asking for medical advice isn't). I feel like we still feel shaky on medical topics. That's probably because there are few here with medical expertise, and as I mentioned in chat, most professionals I float this by would consider it an additional step (lit reviews being our bread and butter).

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    $\begingroup$ For the part about medicine, I think any biological aspect is clearly on-topic. This specific question is rather on the edge, but as long as we don't have a medicine.SE I think it makes sense to allow this kind of question. $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Oct 26 '13 at 7:21
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist Fair, but I am not hopeful on the success of a MedSE. From my casual polling you are more like to get medical personal here by getting their "pop bio" questions answered and then they choose to stick around. I came first wanting species ID. $\endgroup$ – Atl LED Oct 26 '13 at 13:34

This seems like a good use of the spoiler markup for Biology (didn't see that one coming!).

>! ![A graphic image][1]
[1]: http://example.org/graphic_image.jpg

Mouse Over To View Image:


  • $\begingroup$ I actually really like this answer, but my main consumption of bioSE is through mobile devices. This would prevent me from getting to the image. Maybe this plus @madscientist idea would yield the best results. $\endgroup$ – Atl LED Oct 26 '13 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, I didn't propose that because I thought that images don't work inside spoilers. Seems that changed at some point $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Oct 26 '13 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @AtlLED On the mobile site spoilers are "tap to show", though I'm not sure if that works on all devices $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Oct 26 '13 at 13:39

I'd usually put such images behind a link instead of embedding them into the post. Then everyone can decide if they want to look at them.

In this specific case I think those are too many images and it would get rather annoying to click through to every single one. So I think the warning above is probably the best way to do it, even though it is not perfect.

  • $\begingroup$ This. It sadly isn't always possible - not everyone has access to the same images - but links are definitely the way to go if it's not absolutely necessary. Put some of the PG/PG13 ones in the answer but leave most of the R ones as links, with a disclaimer. $\endgroup$ – Amory Oct 26 '13 at 14:25

Another option - if the spoiler markup isn't sufficient - is to convert the images to monochrome. The majority of graphic images will still be informative without the red ichor that turns a lot of people off.

Compare and contrast:



Black and White


Re-saturated monochrome hue shifted to the colour of vegetation (Green)



I don't have a problem with these images personally, and think that they have their place on a biology site. I also do not see a problem with this particular question per se, even if it could (worst case) be a reformulared 'personal medical question'.

A disclaimer is a good idea though, since some people are disturbed by such images. My suggestion is to add a disclaimer directly to the quesiton title. Then readers can clearly see it before they open the question, and therefore avoid the images. This would solve the issue of large screens that you mention, but also cases were the images are useful directly in the question. Since this issue does not come up that often (at least not at the moment) this should be fairly unproblematic, and would not clutter the main page.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not a fan of changing the title for this, adding the warning to the top of the answer would be okay, but I wouldn't change the question for this $\endgroup$ – Mad Scientist Oct 26 '13 at 9:43
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist I'm fine with this as well - as I wrote, I dont have a problem with the pictures myself. However, I do not really see the problem of changing the title (if people really react negatively to these kinds of pics). It will only be relevant in very few cases, and the formatting of titles in not very strict either way (and that is putting it mildly). And as I said, adding the disclaimer into the title would also solve the problem with "disturbing" pics in questions. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Oct 26 '13 at 10:08

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