So, in my quest to identify ways in which to increase the fun and "value" of PerlMonks, I thought of image macros.

(Background: Here's the wikipedia article on image macros, though I don't think it describes it clearly.)

My proposal is simple:

  1. Image macros would be inserted in a post with shortcut-like markup, e.g. [macro://advicedog|use strict and warnings/RTFM] which would result in an image like this.
  2. The available images would be strictly controlled by TPTB (gods, maybe pmdev). The ability to upload an image for the purpose, or to link to an off-site image for the purpose, would be explicitly unpossible. Of course, users would be free to suggest new images via PMD, /msg [pmdev], etc.
  3. Image macros would only work in posts, not in the cb.
  4. There would be a checkbox in one's user settings by which the fuddy-duds could turn off the funk. For them, the above could be rendered as advicedog says: use strict and warnings/RTFM maybe. (I know this example is lame. This kind of cleverness is not my strong suit.)
  5. We could make it so that it would only work if the author of the post was at least a certain level. I'm thinking something relatively low, since the potential for abuse is so small. How about Level 6: Scribe, which currently has no other special powers/privileges?
  6. Update: Additional ideas courtesy of kcott, below.

  7. The images — which would be hosted here on-site, probably — would be limited in size to something reasonable. (200x200?)
  8. You would only be able to insert one per node.
  9. The macro would be rendered with appropriate markup for styling, e.g. <span class="imagemacro advicedog" ... This would enable you to, for example, hide macros altogether, if even the non-image rendering (see #4 above) is too much for you.

By the way — even if this feature does get approved for the pmdev to-do list, its priority is likely to be pretty low. There are too many other enhancements of much greater impact and benefit to be done yet.

I reckon we are the only monastery ever to have a dungeon stuffed with 16,000 zombies.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by Ratazong (Monsignor) on Jul 11, 2012 at 06:12 UTC

    One of the things I like on perlmonks is the plain structure of the site. No (flashing) images on top, left or right, only two colors (as defined in the theme I use) (except that very decent one pair-advertisement and the lone monk to the right). That way I find it very easy to concentrate on the important things (the content).

    The example picture you provided is too big and too colorful for my taste. I don't see any benefit of that picture vs. a written advice to use strict and warnings. And why should I believe what a dog tells me???

    But probably my taste is too old-fashioned.

    So go ahead with that change if you think it improves the place. But don't forget to implement the feature I like most in your proposal: the ability to turn the pictures off.



      (Though I still have one extra image enabled in my settings. Hmm, in fact, let's make a variant of that one which shows an image of a cute animal and gives you posting advice if you click on it.)

Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by moritz (Cardinal) on Jul 11, 2012 at 10:28 UTC

      Your objection is noted.

Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by kcott (Bishop) on Jul 11, 2012 at 04:11 UTC

    I quite like this idea in principle. Here's a few thoughts (in no particular order):

    • The sample image you provided is perhaps a little on the large side: maybe reduce the dimensions by 25-50%.
    • Would there be any limit to the number of these you could use in a single node? My concern here is that threads could become very cluttered if this facility was abused.
    • Setting up some formal HTML class attribute names (e.g. <img class="imagemacro advicedog" ...) would be useful for those using CSS.
    • Having a minimum level is probably a good idea; although, maybe pick something lower than Friar (level 9). Perhaps choose a level that currently doesn't have any special privileges, e.g. Monk (level 7).

    -- Ken

      Excellent ideas, all. Thank you!

Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by ww (Archbishop) on Jul 11, 2012 at 10:27 UTC
    My reaction is probably pure 'stick in the mud' -- but while, IMO, a rare appearance of an image-macro would undoubtedly be amusing (assuming an 'amusing combo of image and thought), overuse would quickly make tedious even the cleverest. Consider, for a very rough parallel, were we to label every submit button 'stumbit.'

    And the lower the level at which a junior member of this enterprise is empowered to insert an image-macro, the less PM experience (IOW, greater tolerance for the images) that individual would have.

    .o0 Perhaps use of an image-macro should be limited to janitors... as a device for them to reinforce -- when their services are required -- the Monastery's guidance on how and what to post.

    Update: spelling/typo, s/ever/every, fixed, thanks to moritz and s/reqired/required/, thanks to : caffeine ? heightened sensitivity; likewise thanks to moritz.

      overuse would quickly make tedious even the cleverest

      No kidding. The very short wikipedia article that jdporter links to even says:

      This allowed the frequent use of preset text [...] which resulted in the "Timeline of history" image being banned from use

      And my best guess is that inclusion of this feature and success at getting it used much at all would lead to most people wanting it banned. So the feature would either be almost never used or almost always hated.

      Boilerplate is annoying. Implementing a way to encourage boilerplate pasted onto a "meme" picture just makes the boilerplate stand out more so you notice it more. This leads to what I call either "The Barney Effect" or "The Britney Effect". I actually enjoy Britney Spears for the most part. Barney (the purple dinosaur) has a few annoying traits. Living in a house with a very young fan of Barney or nearly just being alive a few years ago often meant being exposed to Barney and/or Britney way, way too often. The result was that both of these characters were widely and vehemently hated by a huge swath of the population.

      Many people who lived through such now consider one or both of those characters to be some of the most astonishingly annoying things in existence. A single second of exposure to them leads to near-violent reactions. Neither of them is really that horribly annoying when you haven't been overexposed to them.

      Putting meme pictures onto a site with such an understated style would mean the pictures would stick out like a sore thumb. And having a fixed set of repetitious boilerplate to draw from for the pictures would mean that even minor frequency of use would trigger The Barney Effect in many, I believe.

      I mostly stay away from "meme pictures" compared to your average internet user, I suspect. And yet I already find them quite banal. I don't look forward to having the already-too-common boilerplate responses that I find annoying at PerlMonks being blasted into my face with meme pictures so that the boilerplate becomes Barney and the meme pictures become Britney and the relatively few but still frequent times I run into meme pictures elsewhere I start having violent reactions instead of just sighing.

      From now on, when you read a BrowserUk post, imagine it contains an "All your base" pun. After just imagining that becomes annoying, start imagining that the pun is in a font several times larger and bolder than the rest of his posting as part of a picture of Barney playing bass guitar.

      And if you don't think there will be monks who find one particular "meme" way too funny way too often and will start pasting it almost every time they post, then I suggest you remember our dear, departed blazar. His trying to make me remember the Miss Teen Wherever candidate inanity about "don't have maps and such as" happened way too often and went on way too long to the point that it colored my whole perception of blazar. blazar is Britney Spears to me. I usually can't remember a single thing about blazar now other then "I personally believe" (but in bold) and that he died. And that makes me sad.

      I shudder to think how much worse it would have been if "bold tags" had been replaced by a colorful picture of something goofy amid a rather drab two-color web site.

      Yes, most of my references above are very "dated". That was intentional. Just about any meme picture will similarly seem very stale very quickly.

      I find it unwise to make PerlMonks such that the thing that any casual visitor will remember, by far, about it is that some annoying puppy keeps saying "use strict".

      - tye        


        I'm not sure why your reply, making much the same ultimate point ("not a really good idea") as I did is directed to me rather than to OP. It appears we agree. And I see no particular reason for thinking that my rephrasing and restatement of the wikipedia critique somehow suggests otherwise.

        OTOH, thank you for "banal" -- the use of which should have occurred to me.

        a fixed set of repetitious boilerplate to draw from

        My proposal does not include the availability of boilerplate. Node authors would have to supply the text to be used, every time.

        I believe that addresses about 86% of your objection (by volume of prose).

        I have to disagree with you. Is that annoying puppy more annoying than Camelia?
Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by zentara (Archbishop) on Jul 11, 2012 at 10:41 UTC
Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by bitingduck (Chaplain) on Jul 11, 2012 at 05:26 UTC

    My first thought when I saw it was "Why not just paste a picture of a puppy into my code and have it parse as

    use strict; use warnings;

    There's a really twisted idea for a module in there... ACME::PerlCats or something...

Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by frozenwithjoy (Priest) on Jul 11, 2012 at 05:28 UTC
    "There's something very important I forgot to tell you... Don't cross the memes. It would be bad. Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light." - Egan Spengler

    In other words, I really like this idea, but in the how-to node, we would definitely need a tutorial on proper meme usage. Perhaps something KnowYourMeme-ish, but not so obnoxious. And, of course, there is the Periodic Table of Advice Animals!

    Uh oh, it just dawned on me.... Advice Dog generally gives bad advice. But really, who better to get bad advice from than a cute dog!

Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 11, 2012 at 07:03 UTC

    I don't like memes as pop-culture, so I wouldn't want to see memes like that on perlmonks -- life is too short

Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by rgiskard (Hermit) on Jul 11, 2012 at 05:21 UTC
    Image macros sounds like fun. When incorporated into PM, let's also include a way to turn them off.

      Naturally. That's what #4 is about.

Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by xyzzy (Pilgrim) on Jul 11, 2012 at 16:00 UTC

    I think you are missing the original point of advice dog, which was to give horrible, retarded, or even downright malicious advice (like so). Also, as someone who has spent the bestworst years of his life in the unspeakable horror that is the origin of advice dog, and 90% of all memes in general (yes, I'm talking about that place which lovingly refers to itself as "The Asshole of the Internets"), I don't particularly want PM to start trying to imitate it and failing horribly.

    Having said that, I suppose I would be a little more open to it if instead of trying to use established advice animals and doing it wrong, the available macros were limited to OC with a Perlish (or PM) flavor. Maybe something that pokes fun at the subtle, nuanced ways in which even our most esteemed users act like flaming asshats (Self-Righteous Saint? Douchebag Deacon?), or makes very generalizing stereotypes about the different types of users (Indians making posts with horrible markup/grammar, 16-year-olds trying to hide the fact that they are obviously asking for help on their homework). Naturally, we would use original images, perhaps even images of our own monks. But there's a big problem with this: image macros require a casual, easy-going attitude to avoid getting butthurt, and I'm not sure if everyone in our community is ready for this. Yesterday a certain Apostle (who shall remain nameless) chastised me for linking to LMGTFY (not only that, but I also obfuscated my link--the horror!). I think if image macros were to be implemented properly--that is, as a tool for users to be snarky and provocative--then they would anger a number of people in the PM aristocracy. And if they were used improperly--as a way to make lame jokes or condense any random thought into two lines--it would anger me. And probably the aristocracy as well.

    I was thinking maybe we could limit macros to something you could only post as a (new) poetry node, or even have a separate section for macros that can be discussed and voted on, but there are already so many sites like that. If we really wanted to degenerate ourselves to the level of 26-year-old virgin basement-dwellers, we could go and form a clench there. The Monastery is not the most sanitary place on the Internets, but at least it doesn't have AIDS or cancer, and we shouldn't take the risk of doing anything that can introduce it within our walls.

    TL;DR- do it right, do it with original memes, do it somewhere else.

    edit: I just couldn't resist

    $,=qq.\n.;print q.\/\/____\/.,q./\ \ / / \\.,q.    /_/__.,q..
    Happy, sober, smart: pick two.
      I suppose I would be a little more open to it if ... the available macros were limited to OC with a Perlish (or PM) flavor ...

      Exactly! I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed that people picked up my entirely arbitrarily selected example of advice dog and focused their objections on that, as if it were the intent of the proposed feature.

      Use your imaginations, people. Heck, we could have an image of Larry, or Damian. And text doesn't have to be advice. Most of the time, I'd expect it to be some humorous quip.

        It was your idea and your own example was lame. Blame everybody else.

        Imagine that in helvetica around a pop-culture reference if you prefer.

        If the instigator can't even come up with one really good use-case, then that's a pretty bad sign, in my experience.

        - tye        

        Well, the problem with memes is that is lets people pretend that they are "creative" even if they don't have an imagination

        $,=qq.\n.;print q.\/\/____\/.,q./\ \ / / \\.,q.    /_/__.,q..
        Happy, sober, smart: pick two.
        It seems you underestimated the push back you would receive and worse, actually contributed to it by invoking an example worthy of an H.P. Lovecraft story, resulting in Monks imagining the nightmare this could turn into instead of how great it could be. You fumbled your sales pitch. End of story. If you want to save your idea, put some time into creating the image macros you want to see. Give everyone some great examples.

        Elda Taluta; Sarks Sark; Ark Arks
        My deviantART gallery

        I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed that people picked up my entirely arbitrarily selected example of advice dog and focused their objections on that, as if it were the intent of the proposed feature.

        If I only image macros worked already  [macro://asshole troll|what?]

Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by Khen1950fx (Canon) on Jul 11, 2012 at 04:55 UTC
    Great idea! Let's do it.
Re: Proposal: Have Image Macros
by thargas (Deacon) on Jul 12, 2012 at 14:57 UTC

    I'm willing to imagine that the use of this proposed feature *could* be amusing and/or interesting, but constant repetition would make it less amusing. So I don't really like the idea of a fixed, small list of images: small list => boring. Unfortunately, allowing any image url will get into, um, other problems. I have no solution to this problem.

    On the other hand, allowing for a lot of use of this feature, will make it boring through acclimatization. If we allow only those of an exalted rank to use this, I expect that we will not see enough use of the feature to make it worth implementing. However, I do have a suggestion on how to control the use: make it cost all your daily votes.