When somebody asks a question which needs a picture illustration, there is an easy mechanism for SE to copy the picture to imgur when embedding it. Not so with videos; when a question, like this one is effectively a request to describe the objects shown in a clip, and the video clip goes dead, as it did, then the question becomes absolutely meaningless, and the answers look arbitrary.

The link in the post is now better, pointing to Youtube, but still at the mercy of a third party account holder, so the question still stands: what should be done to questions that have no sense unless a link is followed to a site beyond SE control? To questions where such a link goes dead?

  • Could you elaborate what a 'question' differentiates from an 'answer' in this regard? After all, I thought every post needs external references to be: machine readable (link), human readable (name & description) and summarising information + excerpts (crucial quotes) to be considered "good" on SE? – LangLangC Jan 2 at 18:40
  • @LangLangC True; but for questions the issue is more pertinent: if an answer becomes cryptic without additional graphic or video or audio materials, the question remains meaningful and can be re-researched. When a question loses meaning without additional materials, all answers lose meaning as well. – Leo B. Jan 2 at 18:51

This is a tricky one.

I think the easiest solution is to go with our usual link policy, and require the question to be fully understandable without the link. This requires providing some sort of text-based description that can be used to easily find the content described by the link – for example, describing the basic attributes of the advert like length, date introduced and the first few frames.

For this particular question, several screenshots of the video at points in order to show the full range of computers and typewriters would also be useful; that's the equivalent of transcluding text from a relevant web page using > blockquote syntax.


In general each and every question should be self contained in text (*1). Every other media is usually neither searchable nor always displayable. Also, describing picture/video/recording content in a textual manner does allow to put emphasis on components relevant on the question.

If other media gets embedded, they will always be foreign to SE and relay on a the continued existence of its (third party) service. Using the offered service to embed pictures must be included here, as Imgur falls into the same category. In general I can see no difference between Imgur, Youtube or my mothers NAS (*2). In fact, even services with a clear long term mission, like Archive.org, can vanish on days notice.

As a result, the only guideline that can be given is the same for any question: Describe in you own words what the question is about - and do so as well for all related material, linked or not.

More important then requesting media to be stored on certain services would be to make sure it's accessible for the general public.

Naturally this doesn't work for questions which are about unidentified content of such media - like the example is a perfect specimen for. After all, a description could only read 'a typewriter, another one and two more .. and the same for computers that followed', as that where exactly the facts the poster didn't know at all. And lets be honest, describing a computer or a typewriter (or any other complex device) by someone who doesn't know what's special, is funny at best - usually but rather confusing.

Sure, selecting single frames from a video is a great way to handle it, but as well time consuming. I would not request such by default from anyone asking. Not even from later edit (*3).

*1 - And here, to be save, as far as possible in plain (7Bit/ASCII) encoding.

*2 - Having said so, there is of course a certain expectation that some services may last longer than others ... still, my Moms NAS has good chances to outlast Youtube, if allone for the fact, that oone touches it at all :))

*3 - This does not mean I doesn't appreciate the effort of later editors to enhance a questions readability.

  • Insisting on ASCII for the sake of retro is one thing, I can easily follow. Not insisting on time-wasting linear media like videos and podcasts being presented in a way that allows better judgement of the content before 'viewing it' seems strange. Why not adopt a similar stance on handling video as if all we have would be on an Apple II? That is: all text is good, pictures are allowed, video is very difficult and frowned upon; and vid-only is 'cannot be done here'… – LangLangC Jan 2 at 19:17
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    @LangLangC Now I'm a bit confused. First, me leaning toward ASCII isn't for any retro effect - I'm not into that. It's all about the ability to display it in as many forms and environments as possible. ASCII (and to some extend 8859-1) will be (usually) rendered readable no matter what local settings are done or what headers a server delivers, as it's a common subset of most encodings. I have worked for many decades in mixed codesets where data had to be transfered and interpreted across machine and OS boundries, no matter if it's ASCII, DIN or EBCDIC - including fun parts like cyrilic etc. – Raffzahn Jan 2 at 20:08
  • @LangLangC Now, the second part of your comment I do not understand. To my understanding saying "Describe in you own words what the question is about - and do so as well for all related material, linked or not." does exactly this: requestig that a question should present all material, including pics, videos and recordings as (well as) text. Please be so kind and point out where I need to clarify here any further? – Raffzahn Jan 2 at 20:11
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    1: rephrase of mine: "ASCII even if just for the sake of it" would be fine (as it adds what you write as well) 2 re: guideline. People do not realise that external material is volatile, and do not realise the multiple detriments of "anything video". Therefore I think that needs to be spelled out, especially since videos cannot be inlined or lifted to imgur-like places. Your para for rhe actual Q seems to be too lax in that regard. That Q could and should have included stills from the start. No 'time consumed' by OP means much time wasted by readers now (until fixed). – LangLangC Jan 3 at 10:29
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    @LangLangC I would consider Youtube to be quite Imgur like, not? Yes, it could be called lax, though I would call it wellcoming. I wholeheartly agree that a well formed and detailed question is a great plus. Just not everyone is here on the same level of competence as you are. Q's do need details, and my comments requesting more details are numerous. Nonetheless I very much prefer a question that needs some work over a question not asked. Thus I'm relucant to make hard demands and prefer 'should' clauses over 'must' ones. – Raffzahn Jan 3 at 11:26
  • YT the platform might be somewhat stable. Its videos are way too often of low quality, geo-blocked, censored, DMCA-taken-down, accounts deleted, wrongly or distractingly named (difficult to re-locate if moved). – LangLangC Jan 3 at 11:30

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