The Merits of Visible Alt-Text

Thursday, 24 November 2022

Our tabby cat Tama rolling on the bed

Instead of an alt attribute, many images on this site have a <figcaption> visible to all. It's an experiment inspired by gemtext, a markup language with no image syntax.

To include an image in gemtext, you just link to it.

=> /cats/tama.jpg Our tabby cat Tama rolling on the bed

Most gemini clients display only the link, but some can fetch and display images inline.

The Lagrange client displaying an inline image with its blue link text above

The image description (i.e. the link text) is always displayed by clients, so to omit it would be immediately obvious. It's not a separate part of the document. It's experienced by everyone.

To write a good description in gemtext, I have to:

Of course, I don't always write good descriptions in gemtext, but being visible they demand attention and I think that's helped me improve. I hope visible alt-text in HTML has the same effect.

This page is written in Croftmark, which uses <figcaption> by default.