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You might have all noticed that https://mathoverflow.net/help/formatting does not mention (La)TeX. I believe this is a very important topic and should not be hidden in "advanced"; actually, a link should already be here: https://mathoverflow.net/help

Notice that also https://mathoverflow.net/editing-help#latex is not very helpful for newcomers, who might not even know what LaTeX is. E.g. a bright undergraduate student might not know LaTeX, but still be a meaningful contributor to MO.

Yes, I know that on the question asking page it is better, but on the other hand it certainly is a problem if one wants to ask a question, but cannot find out how to typeset it in an acceptable way before actually starting to type the question up anyway.

Perhaps MO should indeed follow suit of math.se, as explained in the answer by arjafi.

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One could make the argument that someone unfamiliar with LaTeX probably won't have the requisite background to contribute meaningfully in this site. Granted, there are some peculiarities with MathJax.

But aside from that aside, here are a couple of points.

  • The /help/formatting is fairly standard across the network (I have only seen a different version on Stack Overflow and Server Fault, though I haven't checked all sites), and can only be edited by SE employees.

  • A few sites have an additional /help/notation page in their Help Center (examples are physics.se, math.se, and chemistry.se) which gives some barebones introduction to the MathJax syntax, as well as links to more information. These additional Help Center pages are editable by site moderators, though they have to be inserted into the Help Center page by an employee.

    Of some note is the fact that on math.se the "How can I format mathematics here?" link is pinned to the top of the "Our Model" section of the Help Center. This gives it somewhat more visibility than the /help/notation pages of other sites. This is something that had to be done by an SE employee, but was pretty painless.

Instead of requesting a customized /help/formatting page, it might be easier to request a /help/notation page to be added, which can then be customized by the moderators, with the input of the broader community.


Note, too, that the side bar of the ask question page has a link for "MathJax help", albeit the target of the link isn't the greatest, IMHO. Math.se has had the target of this link changed to their own MathJax basic tutorial and quick reference meta thread. Something similar could be done here.

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    $\begingroup$ In my experience, a bright undergraduate student might not know LaTeX, but still be a meaningful contributor to MO. Yes, I know that on the question asking page it is better, but on the other hand it certainly is a problem if one wants to ask a question, but cannot find out how to typeset it in an acceptable way... $\endgroup$ – Dima Pasechnik Jul 30 '16 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ By the last sentence "Something similar could be done here" you mean adding a link to math.SE tutorial, right? Duplicating the whole tutorial here on meta.MO seems to me as an effort which would be ... well ... duplicitous. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 3 '16 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak I am not a big fan of the meta.math "MathJax basic tutorial". Many of the answers there are not particularly helpful (IMHO), and seem to only serve to demonstrate the author's prowess with MathJax/LaTeX. I am certain that a cleaner basic tutorial and quick reference can be had. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Aug 4 '16 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the response. I think that it's good that you clarified that you mean creating a new tutorial here rather than just linking to already existing (at least in a comment). Would some of the links given here be approximately what you mean under basic tutorial. Or some of the links given in the answers here, for example WP:MATH? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 4 '16 at 5:00
  • $\begingroup$ I am somewhat skeptical about creating and maintaining tutorial at meta.MO for two reasons. One of them is that meta.MO is not very active. The other one is that MO crowd in general seems to be less interested in janitorial tasks regarding this site in general. But maybe this are just my misconceptions, it is more for MO regulars to judge whether this would be a feasible thing to do. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 4 '16 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ I made some attempt towards this here: How does one type mathematical formulas on this site? We will see how it is received and whether other users join in to improve the post. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 12 '18 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ BTW I no longer see link to math.harvard.edu/texman on the ask page. (Although it is still there if you display the source of the page. It's a bit weird - maybe somebody can confirm whether they see the same thing.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 12 '18 at 19:50

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