There have been a few questions on animal sexuality and one of the answers included some rough images that illustrated what the answerer was trying to explain. How should we handle potentially NSFW Content like this in our questions and answers?

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Neutering pets is often discussed when keeping pets. There are also issues regarding breeding. Artificial insemination is also not uncommon when breeding pets. There are many issues regarding the anatomy of pet's reproductive systems that could warrant decent questions here.

It is important not to impose the subjective human morality of animal reproduction as being vulgar, distasteful, disgusting, obscene or pornographic.

The definition of Pornography is:

printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.

When asking and answering factual questions about pets, it is perfectly valid and scientifically correct to refer to the animal's reproductive organs, by name and to discuss processes of copulation without people being offended.

If something is perceived as gratuitous, or offensive, that is what we have flags for.

As a community we need to be able to process this topic without the subject degenerating into a school yard discussion about taboo subjects.

In my answer to Why do my dogs stand back to back when they mate?, which is the only post so far depicting images of animals copulating, I considered whether or not to post images and, obviously, went to the length of creating my own.

The reasons I included images:

The tie I mentioned in the post is not always readily understood by people, and I wanted to clarify the positions, although the mount position can be inferred or assumed, I thought it was a good idea to give a graphic of the two positions, to demonstrate the contrast and highlight what I was describing.

It is not safe to assume people have seen or understand what I am referring to.

I created paint pictures, so people wouldn't regard it as offensive or too graphic, but merely diagrams of the process.
The animal kingdom has an extremely diverse and, at times, unique reproductive systems and processes. The images were not done for gratuitous [anything].

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    Note, I removed the other meta discussion as it's just a reincarnation of this one. It was questioning if the community felt that any question about breeding / husbandry were off topic, and that's not the issue that arose - it was strictly about the images used. What I recommend is moving the gist of that answer here so that everything is in one place. Thanks :) – Tim Post Oct 29 '13 at 14:35
  • @TimPost - I really would rather have the discussion of that specific question somewhere else. I was intentional in not pointing out that question trying to avoid beating it into the ground. This question is simply about how we should handle the images in general. I can foresee questions about identifying diseases that present with visible symptoms in the external genitalia. Vent is a common one in rabbits. We can address these in a way that allows for some discretion I think. – user9 Oct 29 '13 at 15:36
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    @Chad If I'm not mistaken, that particular question is the impetus for this discussion - it's relevant, and I think only fair for all that have a stake in the discussion to have their say. I appreciate you not wanting to draw undue attention to the post, but I don't think it's actively harmful here, and the context is important. – Tim Post Oct 29 '13 at 15:51
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    @TimPost - This entire answer is a defense of that post. I have not and am not claiming that Skippy broke any rules in what she posted, and I have never tried to get the mods to take moderator action against it. And I think that an answer that objectively discusses the general policy would be wonderful. This is not an objective discussion of the policy though – user9 Oct 29 '13 at 16:25

When an Image is explict or potentially NSFW(Not safe for work), unless the image is critical to understanding the problem it should not be included in the answer. In other words if the answer can exist with out the image leave the image off. Including it in this case is inappropriate.

If the image is critical to understanding the issue then when potentially NSFW please note that the image may be offensive, and use the Spoiler markup. This will hide the image from those who do not want to see it, but allow those with interest to view the image and get the important information.

This is not a matter of being prudish but of being appropriate for all ages and sensibilities.

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    This sounds reasonable, and reflects the guidelines we set out when dealing with sexuality in other subjects. Sites are supposed to be "work appropriate." So generally speaking, avoid posting or linking to photographs that you may not want popping up on your monitor in the workplace. In cases where visuals are essential to the discussion, a simple illustration or artwork can be informative, too, without becoming gratuitous. And remember, copyright laws apply. – Robert Cartaino Oct 28 '13 at 16:35
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    Alternatively, include a link rather than the image itself, and make sure the link text says NSFW. (You can upload it to imgur as if you were including it and then change the markdown to linkify it.) – Monica Cellio Oct 28 '13 at 18:23

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