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On a very regular basis we see new users that are not accustomed with the use of MathJaX on MSE. Sometimes even some users that aren't that new to the site. Most of us, when this happens, kindly bring to this users attention that there is a MathJax basic tutorial and quick reference and give a proper link.

Now this is not a bad habit at all, because you can't expect new users to magically know this. My idea however was that we could promote this a bit more actively.

For instance: a new user is taken by the hand when he/she is taking the tour. Would it not be to this new user's benefit to point out in the tour, that we write our maths in MathJaX. For example place a link to -MathJax basic tutorial and quick reference- or even a link to a -MathJaX tour page- (which would probably have the same structure as the normal tour page). And perhaps even -but this is really going ahead of things- award a badge for reading this page too.

This was a thought of mine that I wanted to share. I would like to know how the community feels about this. Or perhaps someone could make clear why this would not be helpfull.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes. It had to be pointed out to me by a friendly critic. $\endgroup$
    – Thumbnail
    Oct 29, 2014 at 9:33

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The motivation behind your idea is good; after all, the lack of MathJax editing can stir up confusion for both the asker and the helper. We all know MathJax's benefits. However, I'm not quite sure that adding a "tutorial" of some sort would really help out- it's easy to skip through the tutorial steps, especially when someone posts their homework question at 2:30 a.m., the night before their assignment is due one is eager to present their question in a quick manner.

Furthermore, having the ability to edit others' posts provides an opportunity for newcomers to rack up some reputation points, so that they could take a stronger and more active role in Math.SE. Of course, you could counter that argument with the points awarded rate (2 per edit) isn't very high (though a few edits could have you commenting very quickly), and there will always be an abundance of non-MathJax editing issues to solve (i.e., poor grammar and spelling).

I think a neat idea would be to have a reference page. I personally learned most of MathJax by looking at others' posts with similar symbols that I would need in my post, copying and pasting that code when I click "edit," and then using that code in my answer to a different problem. For example: I needed to answer a factorial sum problem a couple weeks ago. I didn't know how to use the sigma notation on MathJax, so I simply browsed around until I found a thread with a sigma notation in a response. I clicked "edit" of the post that had it, and saw how to code it.

This isn't always sufficient; sometimes there are obscure math symbols that take a little browsing to find. Of course, upon searching for that symbol, one does end up learning a lot of math by casually browsing...

...but yeah, I think a reference page would be a neat idea.

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    $\begingroup$ I have found this short PDF very useful for symbols that I don’t use often enough to remember. $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2014 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ (+1) especially for "provides an opportunity for newcomers to rack up some reputation points, so that they could take a stronger and more active role in Math.SE" $\endgroup$
    – user142198
    Oct 24, 2014 at 3:14
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    $\begingroup$ Something I've found extremely helpful is this page. detexify.kirelabs.org/classify.html In which I can draw the symbol and get the code I need to use. $\endgroup$ Oct 30, 2014 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott By chance, I had this reference around when I was learning $\LaTeX$ (some years before I came here) and I still have it at hand in case I forget something. The important note is that there is a lot of material on $\LaTeX$ (TeX - LaTeX, for example) and most (not all) of it applies to MathJax as well. $\endgroup$
    – AlexR
    Nov 5, 2014 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ @BrianM.Scott This link is dead. This is a working URL to the file. $\endgroup$ Jan 20, 2018 at 13:00
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Yes, it should. It took me 5 mins. to locate a pointer to a tutorial (in fact, the one in the question) to add as a comment in response to a new user's MathJax-free question. And I am moderately familiar with the site.

Either the tour or the 'Ask Question' page should have a suitable pointer.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 For the "Ask Question". Also for posting answers, maybe - but not as urgent since most (not all) answerers aren't new to the site. $\endgroup$
    – AlexR
    Nov 5, 2014 at 20:06
  • $\begingroup$ @copper.hat ,How to type factorial notation in mathjax? $\endgroup$
    – Koro
    Sep 22, 2015 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ An exclamation point ! $\endgroup$
    – copper.hat
    Sep 22, 2015 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ So 6 years later and yet this idea is there. I and other users think this too. "Either the tour or the 'Ask Question' page should have a suitable pointer." $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2021 at 21:58
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I just joined today, and it took me a few minutes to locate a tutorial for syntax, but it wasn't too difficult.

I think it would be useful to have this tutorial available in a more obvious place or perhaps sent along with the registration email.

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  • $\begingroup$ lol sent to mail? :p It's a good idea tho. A big welcome to MSE! + MathJax link $\endgroup$ Feb 21, 2021 at 21:34
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That's a really good suggestion. I'm relatively new here and had no idea that MathJax even existed. Your suggestion made me aware of it so thank you. The link should be given with the email.

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