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There is the StackExchange menu at the top left on every site in our network. It opens a popup box with Hot Questions, All Sites, Inbox and Notifications.

On Mathematics, Latex expressions are allowed in question titles. But they are not rendered correctly in the mentioned Hot Questions menu from within other StackExchange sites.

This may be because they are not enabled to render LaTeX expressions, but this site is. Since question titles from Mathematics are displayed on other sites of the network, they should be rendered correctly there, too. Can't we render those expressions correctly on all sites of the network?

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    $\begingroup$ Incidentally, does anyone know that the numbers to the left of the "hot topic" posts are? $\endgroup$ – user1729 Aug 9 '13 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ @user1729 Meaning of “hot questions” index? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 9 '13 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ An alternative solution would be to simply by and large avoid MathJax in titles, which is desirable for various reasons, anyway. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 9 '13 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ In the 'menu' under 'hot questions' it seems to me they are not rendered here either. $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 9 '13 at 20:21
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    $\begingroup$ @quid I greatly prefer "Evaluating (integral)" over e.g. "Evaluating integral involving fraction and exponentials". Please state your reasons. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 9 '13 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin one of the reasons was just given and there are more of this type. But also it makes the page slow, depending on infrastructure very much so. In addition while you gave an example where it might I stress might be an advantage just saw a title like 'on the partial fractions of $\gamma + 1$' and writing Euler-Mascheroni constant instead of $\gamma$ and paraphrasing or even spellin out the plus 1 would have made this a much better title. (Moreover, there is apparently a need for extr-instruction what MathJax and not only MathJax for titles, also would resolve this if it were gone) $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 9 '13 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin sorry for a seconf example but just noticed it randomly at the top of the page math.stackexchange.com/questions/463926/… The ability to use formulas even was so harmful that the question got difficult to understand and needed clarfication. Had it only not been possibly to use MathJax in title OP might have been forced to say de Rham cohomolgy groups, which anyway would have been a more reasonable title, like: "Are the de Rham Cohomolgy groups of diffeomorphic manifolds equal?" $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 9 '13 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Thank you; what I gather from your examples is that indeed MJ is no panacea for coming up with a good title, and that some users think otherwise ("look at these cool symbols"). Nonetheless, I still think that disabling a feature due to potential and actual (though mild, IMO) misuse is a bad idea -- like everything, it just needs to be used in moderation, and that we need policies for this is not but an unfortunate consequence. (Of course, if you dislike a title very much, you are more than invited to come up with another, more appropriate one, be it with MJ or without.) $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 10 '13 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Replacing Proving convergence of $\int^{\infty}_{0}\frac{\ln{x}}{1+x^{2}}\,dx$ by Proving convergence of an improper integral involving logarithm would make spotting duplicates in the lists of related questions (or other places, where only title is shown) a nightmare. Considering the amount of duplicates we have on this site, I prefer having limit/integral/sum/whatever in the title. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 10 '13 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ See also More informative titles and Guidelines for good use of $\LaTeX$ in question titles, where similar issues were discussed. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 10 '13 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak the linked thread actually also contains a good example of what I am talking about, namely in some title $1^2 + 3^2 + ...+ (2n-1)^2$ was added or it was discussed it should be added, and somebody very rightfully in my opinion points out that "sum of odd squares" seems the better (the orig. was still something else). and "Convergence of the integral of (ln x)/(1 +x^2) over the positive reals" seems just fine as a title. [But it might be true that in practice the coice is formuals or uninformative titles, but this is not intrinsic.] $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 10 '13 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I'd say we are veering off-topic; this is somewhat related to the original question, but has not much to do with the OP's feature request. If you want, we can discuss it further in chat. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 10 '13 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Perhaps let me stress what I meant to say regarding the feature request but this was a bit too indirect likely: I consider it as very unlikely that this feature-request will be taken up (for technical reasons) but also personally I would consider it as more desirable if the opposite feature request was made that is titles are redered here neither (at least not in the lists) by default; as this would have in my opinion various positive effects. (I might say more in chat later.) $\endgroup$ – quid Aug 10 '13 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ @quid I think we can't go back that step because there already are a lot of questions with MathJax titles. But I agree that it would've various benefits like better search results. $\endgroup$ – danijar Aug 10 '13 at 14:12
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Maybe the hot-question list could pre-render the title's LaTeX server-side instead. That way formulas in titles would show up correctly without requiring any MathJax client-side.

My current workaround is using the bookmarklet

javascript:(function(){function%20a(a){var%20b=a.createElement('script'),c;b.src='https://c328740.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/mathjax/latest/MathJax.js?config=TeX-AMS-MML_HTMLorMML.js',b.type='text/javascript',c='MathJax.Hub.Config({tex2jax:{inlineMath:[[\'$\',\'$\']],displayMath:[[\'\\\\[\',\'\\\\]\']],processEscapes:true}});MathJax.Hub.Startup.onload();',window.opera?b.innerHTML=c:b.text=c,a.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(b)}function%20b(b){b.MathJax===undefined?a(b.document):b.MathJax.Hub.Queue(new%20b.Array('Typeset',b.MathJax.Hub))}var%20c=document.getElementsByTagName('iframe'),d,e;b(window);for(d=0;d<c.length;d++)e=c[d].contentWindow||c[d].contentDocument,e.document||(e=e.parentNode),b(e)})()

after having opened the hotlist. That way, all LaTeX is automatically MathJax'ed. Some Greasemonkey'ing could automate this, but anyway the problem should be solved for everyone and not only those with specific browser addons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your first suggestion is a very sensible one, given how small the hot questions list is (i.e. they could easily be cached). But for personalised things like notifications etc. we would need MJ support or the load to the servers would be too high. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 19 '13 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin Good point. Maybe the system could benefit from a general overhaul - client-side rendering that is uploaded to the server for future usage, maybe taking 5 users' renderings to prevent spoofs. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Aug 19 '13 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ I can see huge problems with that if it were to be implemented on larger scale. One can configure a lot of things about the combination MathJax + browser, such as zoom level, TeX renderer, font, colour (e.g. maths in links takes on the colour of the link if in HTML/CSS rendering mode); even between two browsers, MJ rendering can vary a great deal. It would be a pain if every bit of math rendered just a bit differently because the samples were taken from different users. A script (called asynchronously upon opening the notification box) using MathJax to render the maths seems a good solution. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 19 '13 at 13:57
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Today, when I opened the hot question list from within Stackoverflow, the first one in the list was this one.

$\lim_{n \to \infty} 2^n\cos\left(\frac{\pi}{2^n}\right)\sin\left(\frac{\pi}{2^n}\right)$ (Without L'Hospital)

This is a really poor user experience. But I got an idea for a comprimise between enabline MathJax on those site and getting confronted with those unreadable titles.

As I already pointed out in another answer, I think we should simplify MathJax titles to plain text. That meas resolving expressions as much as possible. For example \frac{\pi}{n^2} would become π / (n²). This approach doesn't require any rendering library, and it could be implemented as a server site script.

I think we should really start tackling this user experience flaw soon. What do you think about the solution I suggested?

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  • $\begingroup$ What's the point of preferring a JS solution alternative to MathJax (as that's what's needed, for checking for MJ needs to be done client-side) to just having MathJax rendered? $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Aug 25 '13 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ It could be done on server side. $\endgroup$ – danijar Aug 25 '13 at 16:31

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