Is it allowed to use images to paste math formula in mathoverflow.net ?

I think this is high efficiency, and few people search math questions by LaTeX.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Judging by your post on the main site, you might probably be more interested in Mathematics Stack Exchange. The claim that "few people search math questions by LaTeX" is certainly not true - just check the FAQ post: How to search on this site? So typing math properly definitely improves searchability. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 4 '20 at 10:07
  • $\begingroup$ High efficiency? Do you think it would be easier to search for text in an image than in MathJax code? $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Dec 4 '20 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ @JoelReyesNoche To be fair, I guess that the OP meant that as more efficient way to input formulas. (Which is a dubious claim, but some problems for people who are only starting with MathJax/LaTeX are understandable. For the record, I'll add that the question is now posted on Mathematics: Understand $\Rightarrow \frac{\triangle y}{\triangle x} - f'(x_0)=a, {\displaystyle \lim_{\triangle x \rightarrow0}{a} = 0}$. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 4 '20 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak, thanks, I hadn't thought of that. $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Dec 5 '20 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ From what I read on Mathematics Meta, it seems that images were used as a workaround in the beginnings, before MathJax was available on that site: TeX math markup is sorely needed. I see jsmath mentioned in Anton Geraschenko post here: Area51 / SE 2.0 site-specific script support (such as LaTeX) in beta-phase. Maybe some of the oldtimers know whether jsmath was used here right from the start of MO. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Dec 5 '20 at 9:06
  • $\begingroup$ In terms of efficiency, I think it's worth noting that, from the community point of view, your time as an asker should be weighted less than the time of everyone who might want to view your question; the point of MO is not to get you answers to your questions, but to accumulate answers to questions for the good of the whole community. $\endgroup$ – LSpice Dec 9 '20 at 17:46

I stumbled upon this post on Meta Stack Exchange, where various reasons why typing the math formula is preferred over including images: Why are images of text, code and mathematical expressions discouraged? (There are several rather detailed answers - I recommend to anybody interested in this topic at least having a look there.)

Let me summarize briefly at least some of the reasons given there:

  • People answering your questions can copy-paste part of your text and edit them further - this is more problematic if some parts of the question are posted as a picture.
  • There are also search engines which search specifically for mathematical symbols - so including math formulas improves searchability of the site. (Some of them are mentioned in the FAQ post on searching on Mathematics Meta.)
  • Using MathJax is useful for assistive technology and screen readers. It is nice to make Stack Exchange sites welcoming also for visually impaired people. (Admittedly, MathJax might still be far from perfect for such purposes, but there is no doubt that it is an improvement compared to an image.)
  • The text of your post might be further used either by readers of your question (e.g., they can reuse your could in their own TeX-file) or by various programs.

Having said that, sometimes adding a picture with some page from a relevant text might be useful. But some effort should be made to make the question understandable without the picture - and consider the picture just as a possible source of an additional information.


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