# How to increase service/traffic, a set of suggestions

(1) Make it possible for a teacher to register and monitor a class. As a teacher if I could find out the activity of my students on this site then I could encourage them by giving extra credits etc. As it is, this is not easy to do. However by making some modifications on the database this should be easy to achieve.

(2) Make customizable LaTeX equation editors. As it stands now, knowing TeX is an entrance requirement. We can get more traffic if we have palettes of TeX buttons appropriate for a particular course.

• I like the current amount of traffic to the site. It's just right. – Unreasonable Sin Jun 6 '12 at 14:27
• Re 1. I definitely do not want M.SE to turn into a class project. – Michael Greinecker Jun 6 '12 at 14:55
• I assumed the reason for the unexplained downvotes of meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4386/… was the perception that it would take traffic away from this site. So I rephrased the question into the suggestion in this posting. The downvotes of both postings, taken together, appears as a contradiction to me. – Maesumi Jun 6 '12 at 18:34
• Maybe you should just drop the issue. – The Chaz 2.0 Jun 6 '12 at 18:52
• You should be aware that downvotes on meta usually mean disagreement with the proposal given in the post. – Asaf Karagila Jun 6 '12 at 21:54

1. Is not going to happen, at least not without a significant rewrite of the StackExchange Privacy Policy. Even when users are suspected of cheating on take-home exams by using this website, we as community moderators are not permitted to disclose their IP addresses. (On the other hand, it is quite possible for the Universities themselves to monitor internet usage.)

On the other hand, as a teacher there are things you can do: you can certainly ask students to voluntarily give you their StackExchange username/number in exchange for possible extra credits. As a registered user you can easily follow the activities of other users through their user page.

2. As described in this question in a comment by The Chaz, one can instead use external equation editors to generate the LaTeX code.

I am not entirely sure what you mean by "TeX buttons appropriate for a particular course".

3. It is possible to upload graphics (while there is a reputation barrier, that is for good reason). The creation of graphics, however, should be left to the user. For different tasks there are different tools. For example, the graphics I included in this answer took not even 5 minutes to make in kseg. I could also create it in asymptote or TikZ, which will likely force me to spend at least 15 minutes, or I could do it in InkScape in about 10. On the other hand, I won't even attempt to use anything other than a dedicated graphing software (Mathematica or GnuPlot) for producing some of the 3D graphs. It is very unlikely that a simple graphics editor can be provided that can be used for anything other than the most simple of circumstances.

• Regarding item 2. There are many equation editors but the palette is fixed. For a particular course, say calculus 1, I want to select a particular subset of buttons. Or, on a more extreme example, imagine trigonometry. You need only a very small set of symbols; no limits, no matrices, ... at least not in the main panel of buttons. As someone who has taught courses based on online grading systems I know many students resist technology-based instruction when they feel they have to wade through buttons to get an idea across. – Maesumi Jun 6 '12 at 14:51
• @Maesumi: "the palette is fixed"?? I'm not aware of anything that would prevent you from creating your own equation editor and using that to compose MSE posts. There is no such thing as a particular (fixed or not) palette of editors that are approved for producing posts. If you want one that behaves differently from what exists already, just write it (or pay/flatter someone to write it for you) and start using it. No site-wide actions are necessary. – hmakholm left over Monica Jun 8 '12 at 21:23

Why do you need to monitor your students outside the classroom? Why not let students learn on their own. Let your students know about this site. If they find it interesting they will participate. If they don't find it interesting they will do something else. Let your student escape, if only for a moment, the tyranny of grades.

• How would you draw a line between reputation points here and bonus grades in a class that makes one a holy grail and the other tyrannical? – Maesumi Jun 6 '12 at 18:03
• @Maesumi: If you could guarantee me a degree and a job based on my reputation, I would say that there is no definitive line. As long as grades have a real and direct influence on my future, while reputation points signal simply that I am a very active user (for better or worse) I see a very clear and definitive line between them. – Asaf Karagila Jun 6 '12 at 21:53
• @Maesumi I don't think reputation points are the holy grail. It is my experience that if I wish to ride the bus in addition to 900 reputation points I will also need \$1.75. If there is a holy grail in any of this it is letting students pursue their interests in whatever direction they wish. Of course there are exceptions like pursuing an interest in smashing windows. – Jay Jun 7 '12 at 23:17