I recently stumbled upon DmRo912's most recent question and found that there was no MathJax where there probably should've been, and so I edited appropriately.

But I then noticed that this was not a new user (member for over a year) and that many past questions of his/her failed to contain MathJax, and it was always edited in by someone else.

How do we deal with users such as these that just don't use MathJax? Especially when failure to do so makes the question harder to understand.


Is there something wrong with posts avoiding mathjax?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If it's hard to read, one could downvote I suppose. That would give the user some incentive to improve their formatting. $\endgroup$
    – Sera Gunn
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ @TrevorGunn The problem with that, though, is that editing is easy, and thus, the post will likely be edited quickly, removing that option to some extent. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 19:57
  • 18
    $\begingroup$ I downvote and move on. If it gets edited later so that the downvote is unjustified, that is the OP's problem. Such questions usually have more problems than just not using MathJax anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Qudit
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 20:46
  • 13
    $\begingroup$ I think we need to differentiate very very new users who likely don't have knowledge of mathjax, and are given suggested links to help them learn it, and those who have been around over time, or as evidenced in rep. For the latter users, yes, worth a downvote. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Oct 8, 2017 at 22:53
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Looking at the user in question, they seem to be learning Calculus for the first time. I do think they should make the questions clear (using pictures of handwritten work if absolutely necessary), but I don't have the same feeling of "it's been a year, they should really be typing up questions in LaTeX by now" that many seem to. $\endgroup$
    – Mark S.
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 10:38
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You have picked out a wrong example, even though he does not uses LaTeX, he does format his equations and expressions with brackets. As far as math goes you can easily read his posts. On such posts it is best to edit it, if possible, and leave a link to MathJax post rather than cowardly downvoting and saying it OP's fault. Neither of which is done to posts of user in question. $\endgroup$
    – user312097
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 17:02
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Actually I do not agree. In that specific example, even if the Latex is used, it is still a question with no effort and no context. It should be closed with the reason "missing context". IMO the edit makes no difference here (And the question is now closed and deleted) @A---B $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 3:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JohnMa In my comment I never said anything about not closing question, you are putting words in my mouth. Sure you can close for "unclear" or "missing context" but not for "LaTeX not used". $\endgroup$
    – user312097
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @A-B I am sorry that I wasn't clear. I am saying that I do not agree to the sentence "On such posts it is best to edit it, if possible, and leave a link to ...". In my opinion, if a question should be closed even after the edit, there is no need to edit. $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnMa So you believe that it is impossible for posts to be improved on after they've been posted? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ No of course, indeed I have edited more than 1500 posts in MSE. But if I think I will still vote to close after my own edit, then I will simply vote to close and do not edit at all. (Just like the question you linked, I may edit the Latex, but I cannot edit to add any context) @SimplyBeautifulArt $\endgroup$
    – user99914
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


I would enforce a soft policy towards newcomers, helping them to be comfortable with the use of $\LaTeX$/MathJax$^{(*)}$. But if an experienced user keeps on writing badly formatted questions/answers, is there really an option besides downvoting or casting a closing vote?

$(*)$ Is it feasible to bring a link to the manifesto How to write a good question and a link to the $\LaTeX$/MathJax short guide in the right part of the main page? I think they might do a lot of good.


Don't read their stuff. Downvote if need be.

  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. Presumably they post a question because they want people to read it. But if it is hard to read, fewer will read it. That is enough of a punishment. If you want, you can convert to MathJax. But only if you want. Similar situation: a question posted in a language other than English. Fewer people will read it, and that is all the punishment needed. If you want, you can provide a translation into English. $\endgroup$
    – GEdgar
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 12:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GEdgar: Thanks. My answer was to the posed question about users who persistently fail to use MathIax. Given any post not in MathJax, I tend to ignore anyway. But when I notice some user that just can’t be bothered, then I may leave a pointed comment and in some case downvote as not useful. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Gordon
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 12:41

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