Forgive me if this is a dupe.

It happens frequently that new users post questions without using MathJax (either using Unicode, ASCII, an image, etc.).

Sometimes, I see experienced users comment with a link to the MathJax tutorial, but other times they directly edit the post and add MathJax themselves.

Is one of these methods preferred? Is it better to try to guide new users towards learning MathJax (or TeX more generally) themselves, or simply to make their posts more legible for them?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I think that the best approach is to encourage new users to learn a little MathJax, and only edit their TeX once they have made the attempt. That is, provide the link, and only edit after they have made some effort. A willingness to make an effort on formatting (hopefully) portends a willingness to engage with requests for clarification or further edits. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Jul 10 '18 at 16:30
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I will edit the post myself if I think it might be interesting but can't tell for certain because the formatting is so bad. In such cases, I don't want to wait around while OP learns MathJax (or doesn't). $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jul 11 '18 at 1:05
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ The two actions are not mutually exclusive. I think it often motivates new users to look into MathJax markup when they see how much better $\LaTeX$ looks. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Jul 11 '18 at 2:35
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Most of the time, I edit the question because I want to understand what is the actual question. If the question is interesting or have some merit to keep, I push the edit through. Depends on the situation, I may or may not leave a link to the MathJAX. If the question is garbage, I abandon the edit, may or may not leave a downvote and then walk away. $\endgroup$ – achille hui Jul 11 '18 at 5:11
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I suspect that editing the post to use MathJax is a very efficient way to teach people to use MathJax, as they can just look at the edited question and see immediately how MathJax works. $\endgroup$ – littleO Jul 17 '18 at 3:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Often I edit badly done MathJax that's already there and add a comment saying what I did and why. For example, often one sees $<f,g> = \cdots$ and I change it to $\langle f,g\rangle=\cdots,$ or one sees $\displaystyle \cap_{n=1}^N A_n$ and I change it to $\displaystyle \bigcap_{n=1}^N A_n$ or I change $\displaystyle \int f(x) dx$ to $\displaystyle \int f(x)\, dx,$ etc. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hardy Jul 22 '18 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ @littleO I very much agree. I will frequently edit the question for them (provided they are relatively new to the site), then post a comment encouraging them to look at the tutorial, and play around with my edits for themselves. $\endgroup$ – Theo Bendit Jul 24 '18 at 2:59
  • $\begingroup$ In general, it seems to me that there's not really consensus on this topic $\endgroup$ – David M. Sep 2 '18 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidM. Thanks for asking this! I was just about to ask a question on this exact topic. I was worried that helping new users add MathJax might make them lazy, and depend on other users to edit for them. littleO's comment has finally persuaded me as to why we are not seeing a flood of poorly edited questions. $\endgroup$ – Toby Mak Sep 16 '18 at 12:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .