The Math Community Blog is no longer active. This post now serves as historical record.

After a long string of posts on developing a community blog, I am happy to announce that MSE now has a community blog!

This post serves two purposes:

  1. It explains how the blog operates and how to contribute, and
  2. It answers some of the faqs about the blog.

The organization of this post is similar to the organization of the FAQ for math.stackexchange, so each faq gets a separate community wiki answer, and each answer should be included in the index.

A good place to ask questions and give suggestions for blog ideas is the dedicated blog chat room, which is monitored by the editors of the blog.


Main Overview

Contributing to the Blog faqs

Technical help on writing articles

Other topics

  • 2
    Yay!${}{}{}{}{}{}{}$ – user122283 Jun 4 '14 at 1:55
  • (And it now even has an article) – davidlowryduda Jun 4 '14 at 2:56
  • Whoo! Historic moment in MSE! Congrats, @anorton, for being to first (or second one) to post an article on the blog of MSE! – user122283 Jun 4 '14 at 2:58

14 Answers 14

Q: How do I format/type math in a blog article?

A: The blog uses Wordpress, and does not use all the same shortcuts as main and meta. This means that basic formatting and typing $\TeX$ is a bit different on the blog than it is on main and meta. (The blog uses the Mathjax-Latex plugin by Kblog to display $\TeX$, and uses a MathJax configuration containing amsmath and amssymb, for those that care).

Wordpress does use Markdown, but you might need to click Preview Article to see it processed, instead of relying on their visual view.

When writing math in posts, it is often easier to be in the text view instead of the visual view.

There are three ways to trigger inline $\TeX$ equations:

  1. Surround code with $latex [code] $, similar to normal latex
  2. Surround code with \\( [code] \\), also similar to normal latex (the first \ escapes the second, which would otherwise be ignored in the html)
  3. Surround code with [latex] [code] [/latex] tags

For example,

When asked to compute $latex \int_0^1 2x dx$, I remember that \\( \dfrac{d}{dx} x^2 = 2x \\), so that the answer is [latex] [x^2]_0^1 = 1[/latex].

will look like

When asked to compute $\int_0^1 2x dx$, I remember that $\dfrac{d}{dx} x^2 = 2x$, so that the answer is $[x^2]_0^1 = 1$.

on the blog. There are two ways to trigger displaymath $\TeX$ equations:

  1. Surround the code with $$ [code] $$, just like in normal latex
  2. Surround the code with \\[ [code] \\], similar to normal latex

Notice that it is not $$latex [code] $$, inconsistent with their inline math.

For example,

The result of $$2 + 2$$ is \\[ 4 \\].

will look like

The result of $$2 + 2$$ is $$4$$.

on the blog. Other than that, some typical mathjax limitations are in place. Some highlights are: Equation numberings aren't remembered, but you can use \tag{} along with manual spacing to some success.; things like align work, but sometimes their *ed versions don't (so use \begin{align} instead of \begin{align*}), as equation numbering is off by default.

Browsing the source of articles on the blog or asking around the blog chat room will likely solve most TeX implementation problems.

If you have detailed questions about TeX or LaTeX, this is not the appropriate place to ask them. Use a dedicated TeX help site such as tex.se.

  • How is $latex [code]$ normal? – Asaf Karagila Jun 3 '14 at 15:48
  • @Asaf: I didn't say it's normal, but I do think it's inconsistent to have $latex ... $ for inline and $$ ... $$ for displaymath. Are we suffixing latex or not, you know? – davidlowryduda Jun 3 '14 at 15:51
  • You did say it is normal, check again... :-) – Asaf Karagila Jun 3 '14 at 15:52
  • @Asaf: I don't think that "similar to normal" is the same as normal. But you're right - it's not normal. In fact, I went through hoops to make it so that on my personal blog, I don't use $latex ...$ notation at all. It's weird when I'm typing up a paper, and I look back and I have all these italicized $latex$ floating around because I wasn't paying attention. – davidlowryduda Jun 3 '14 at 15:53
  • I don't have to do that on my blog... – Asaf Karagila Jun 3 '14 at 15:57
  • Perhaps you're right. I actually went through hoops so that I could just go straight from .tex code. Anyhow, the important thing here is that the SE team was nice enough to set up the blog, and I don't plan on complaining about the mathjax implementation – davidlowryduda Jun 3 '14 at 16:08
  • 1
    This trivial Perl script may be useful for converting from Math.SE-style markup to WordPress-style markup. I used it when preparing my own article. – MJD Jun 3 '14 at 21:12
  • @MJD: This comes to mind... :-) – Asaf Karagila Jun 3 '14 at 21:57

Q: Can I convert a .tex document or MSE markdown into a wordpress article?

A: A variety of tools have been created for this purpose.

The utility latex2wp works very well (but not perfectly), and goes a very long way towards allowing all posts to be written in $\TeX$ and converted to Wordpress appropriate html.

The user mixedmath modified latex2wp into mse2wp which works a bit better on tex files and which is customized for this forum. Further, it works on MSE markdown as well, so it is (or at least is nearly) possible to convert something which renders nicely on MSE to something which renders nicely on the blog.

MJD wrote a minimalist script that converts MSE math markup to WP.

  • 1
    Is there an executable version that would run on a system without perl/python installed? Not a high priority obviously, as the editing is pretty straightforward anyway. Just asking on behalf of all those constrained by a Microsoft OS. – Jyrki Lahtonen Jun 4 '14 at 10:25

Q: What is the publication process?

A: First, a potential author gets an idea for an article, maybe from main, meta, the chat room, or the blog chat room, or elsewhere. It's probably a good idea to talk about the idea in the main chat room or the blog chat room, to make sure it's a good idea.

Then the author writes an article. Usually, the author then goes to the blog page, signs in to the admin panel, and submits the draft. When a user signs in for the first time, that user can't actually post a draft to the blog, and needs to ask for additional privileges in the blog chat room.

Once the author has submitted a draft, he or she goes to the blog chat room and indicates that the draft is ready for review. An editor will review and perhaps copyedit the article. If additional input is needed from the author, then the editor will ping the author in the blog chat room. Otherwise, the editor will notify an admin that the post is ready for publication.

The final step is double-administrative review. Two admins will review the final draft, simply to make sure that nothing remotely questionable or distasteful gets through.

Once an article passes through these steps, it gets placed in a publication queue, to be published when its turn comes. Notice that although there are different stages, the flow should feel very familiar: you write an article, someone else edits it, and it gets published.

Q: Why isn't the blog linked from main yet? How old is the blog?

A: The blog is extremely new, and still in beta! All in due time!

The blog now is linked to from main, similar to how to get to meta. In the top left, under the StackExchange menu, blog leads to the blog!

The blog started up in full on 3 June 2014, which happens to be exactly four years after Math.SE was first proposed!

Q: Help! I logged into the blog but I can't write anything!

A: When you first sign into the blog, you don't have authorship privileges. To get these, go to the blog chat room and explain your article idea, and an administrator will give you authorship privileges.

Q: I wrote an article draft. How do I get it reviewed and published?

A: If you haven't already, post it as a draft to the blog. Then, indicate that you are ready for review in the blog chat room. It will then be reviewed and/or copyedited by editors and marked for publication.

Q: What tags and categories should I use for my article?

A: You should roughly use the same tags as though it were a question on main.

For categories, indicate the intended level (e.g. , , etc) and subject area, if applicable. This will solidify as the blog gets more content.

  • Suppose more than one category applies to my article. Should I select multiple categories, or just the lowest one? – MJD Jun 3 '14 at 17:18
  • @MJD: select multiple. Wordpress supports multiple categories + multiple tags on the same post. – Willie Wong Jun 4 '14 at 8:08
  • The question isn't about what WordPress supports, but about the meaning we want to ascribe to the categories. Does "undergraduate" mean "suitable for current undergraduates, or does it mean suitable for anyone with an undergraduate degree? – MJD Jun 4 '14 at 11:37

Q: Who "is in charge" of the blog?

A: The short answer is that everyone in the community can contribute, and so everyone is in charge! But unlike on main and meta, content is reviewed before officially published on the blog.

Registered users fall into four different roles on the blog:

  1. Subscribers: This is the default role that you get immediately after registration. This role has zero privileges. It just means you have visited and signed into the blog.
  2. Contributors: After you've visited and signed into the blog, you can ask in the blog chat room to be given additional privileges. You'll become a Contributor, which means that you can author drafts of articles. Most contributors will fall into this category.
  3. Editors: A few users are declared Editors. Editors read and copyedit completed drafts of articles (as well as being able to author drafts of their own). Currently the following users have been named Editors: anorton.
  4. Admins: The moderator team of MSE serve as the Administrators of the blog, and handle the final publication of articles, and tasks that fall in the other category.

Remember, this blog is what you make it.

  • imho editing/publication decisions should largely rest with the editor(s) who have a degree of independence which is not how it worked out in my case – vzn Jun 8 '14 at 1:52

Q: How is the blog different than main or meta?

A: In terms of content, both main and meta serve primarily as Q&A sites, while the blog consists of primarily expository pieces. Questions on main usually lead to objective, clear, closed-ended answers. But posts on the blog are not necessarily objective and not necessarily closed-ended. So questions about math should be asked on main, and posts about the running of Math.SE itself should be asked on meta. Expository articles, perhaps detailing how to approach a style of problems, or about some other interest to the community, belong on the blog.

If you have any doubt about where something belongs, ask on meta or in either the main chat room or the blog chat room.

Philosophically, on main and meta, each user can edit, upvote, downvote, answer, or comment on each post. In this way, the community largely self-moderates and good content rises to the top. On the blog, posts go through an independent editorial process before being unleashed in the wild, and there is no voting or reputation. (Users can still comment on the blog, though!)

Q: What sort of content is on topic on the blog?

A: Whatever you want to write about, or perhaps are interested in, and which would interest the mathematical community. (within reason)

Offensive or distasteful content is not on topic, but the rest is still in flux.

Q: Do I have to log in to use the blog?

A: Anyone can view the blog, but in order to write an article you must be logged in (click http://math.blogoverflow.com/wp-admin/) and given writing privileges.

Q: How long does it take for an article to be published after it's written?

A: For most articles, it shouldn't take very long at all for an editor to finish reviewing and/or copyediting. Afterwards, posts are placed in a publication queue. If the current trends continue, the queue is about one month.

The main resource for updates on articles is the blog chat room.

Q: Why aren't all posts published immediately?

A: It takes many things to be a successful and useful blog. One very important aspect is consistency. For us, we want two forms of consistency:

  1. High quality content, and
  2. Regularly appearing content.

To get high quality content, articles go through an editing process, and this may take some time. There will be times when many users contribute, and times when few users contribute. To account for this, a (relatively small) publication queue exists to evenly space content.

  • "quality" is inherently subjective. should be up to se mgt to determine poor quality wrt vetoing blogs. it is unreasonable/unrealistic to require/demand a higher quality in se blogs than blogs-at-large (which is quite uneven). since its strictly volunteer and there are no significant incentives so far, think diversity should be supported & submissions only rejected in completely out-of-line cases. eg posts that contain errors (which authors wont fix), offensive material, advertising, etc. – vzn Jun 8 '14 at 1:55

Q: Where can I ask a question about the blog?

A: First, look here to see if your question is answered. Otherwise, the answer might be elsewhere on meta. If you can't find the answer, either ask in the blog chat room or ask a meta question.

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