It has happened before that MathJax stopped getting rendered on this site for a few hours.

QUESTION: If that happens on the machine I'm using and I want to know whether it's a problem with my machine or a recurrence of that sort of outage, what is the proper thing for me to do?

I thought that if I asked here whether others experienced the same problem, then either of two things could happen:

(1) Others would say the are experiencing the problem, and then it would be reported to whoever should fix it, and moreover it would be announced here on meta that the problem is happening, so users would be reassured that it's not a problem with their own computers, and that it's being worked on; or else

(2) Others would say that are not experiencing the problem, and then we would all know that those things should not be done.

As I said, I thought that's what should happen. But when I posted, I was told that my question is not useful because I didn't post a screenshot. Obviously a screenshot of MY machine could not possibly help ascertain whether others were experiencing the same problem. I was further told that the question is too broad because it admits too many possible answers. I guess TWO possible answers --- the two listed above --- is too many.

So what should I do in that situation instead?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you just want to check quickly if, say, MathJax is down for everybody or at least many or some others to ask this in chat (as opposed to meta) might be a good possibility. Based on the thus gained info, you could then decide how to proceed. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Aug 15 '13 at 11:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I thought your question was perfectly reasonable. The purpose was to see if you had to take some action on your own, rather than trying to get someone to fix it for you. $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Aug 15 '13 at 11:12

I posit that a public report of any problem about a website should

  • give a precise description of the problem you're having, ideally using both words and pictures
  • give information about the OS and browser under which you're having the problem
  • give information about what testing you've done (e.g., refreshed page, cleared cache, tried other OS's and other browsers, etc.)

so that

  • users who are having some problem can ascertain whether they are having your problem
  • users who have the same OS and browser can report whether they are having your problem
  • experts have information that will help them diagnose (and if necessary, fix) your problem
  • $\begingroup$ This stuff about OS and browser, etc., make sense if you're talking about a problem affecting one user. But the point is to find out whether it's an outage, which would affect ALL users. And I thought everyone knew from previous outages what the effects would be: you just see MathJax code and not rendered mathematical notation. $\endgroup$ Aug 15 '13 at 4:10
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Why do you care, specifically, about whether or not it is an outage - shouldn't your goal be the resolution of the problem regardless of what it is? Even if the problem only affects one person, the community has an interest in helping them. Report any problems you have in a detailed and precise manner so that you are as proactively helpful as you can be, regardless of whatever the ultimate resolution of the problem is. $\endgroup$ Aug 15 '13 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ If it's an outage then the solution is not to do something with my machine, but to report it. $\endgroup$ Aug 15 '13 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ How does that make it rational to provide less information than you have available to people who are trying to help you? Are the extra seconds worth it? $\endgroup$ Aug 15 '13 at 4:35
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ For example, consider my bug reports here and here. In both cases, I asked my question not knowing whether the problem was on my end, on the MathJax end, or some combination of the two; it turned out that the only possible solution was for the MathJax maintainers to fix something; and both the browser and the OS mattered. Everything went easily and quickly because I gave all the information I could about the problem at the outset. $\endgroup$ Aug 15 '13 at 4:41

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