Is use of high knowledge of maths in physics and heavy use of MathJax necessary to ask any questions, what if my question do not use heavy maths and do not sound complicatedly interesting like "Quantum Bayesianism", "Finding angular momentum of an electron", "Using 'this' Lagrangian to evaluate 'that' " etc.

I have seen many questions that do not post exactly homework type questions but ask simple conceptual doubts regarding one or more topics which gets downvoted just because the the question word limit does not exceed 300-400 words and does not use heavy MathJax.

is this necessarily for those who are studying advanced courses in physics like at the level of postgraduates, where questions only like " quantum this and that", "tensor this and that", "Lagrangian of this evaluate to that" appear?

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe provide some examples? $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic Mod
    Mar 2, 2019 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ which gets downvoted just because the the question word limit does not exceed 300-400 words and does not use heavy MathJax. since votes are private, then either you have privileged prescience or you're just making things up. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Mar 2, 2019 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic physics.stackexchange.com/q/109518/206281 when the words in a question include Lagrangian the upvotes automatically increases $\endgroup$
    – Aditya
    Mar 2, 2019 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos thanks i did not know that votes are private $\endgroup$
    – Aditya
    Mar 2, 2019 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ Related to the issue of expecting mathajx for math: physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/10284/520 physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/10563/520 $\endgroup$ Mar 2, 2019 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ There are also many, many threads here on meta which discuss the kind of questions that that subset of users who frequent meta think are and are not good for the site. I don't believe you'll find much about short questions, and while there has been discussion on simply questions the users have decidedly not been uniformly against them. Basically I think your premiss is bunk. $\endgroup$ Mar 2, 2019 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ If a given asker has spent no effort on their post and produced a poor question which should be downvoted, the odds are much higher that the post in question will be shorter rather than longer. You therefore expect a natural correlation between shorter word counts and bad questions. Have you considered the possibility that the questions you're referring to just aren't good? $\endgroup$ Mar 2, 2019 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ Is this an accusation that people upvote when they see name-dropped terminology? This comment certainly seems to imply that. $\endgroup$
    – user191954
    Mar 3, 2019 at 7:40
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    $\begingroup$ Furthermore, there seem to several unrelated arguments rolled together: the usage of terminology, math, and mathjax all can be discussed separately, and the wording here makes the issue unclear. $\endgroup$
    – user191954
    Mar 3, 2019 at 7:42

1 Answer 1


No, I don't think it's necessary to use MathJax. In fact, one of our top answerers here doesn't use MathJax at all. This is mostly because answers, and questions, are based in physics and not in maths (though often the maths & physics are intertwined so it's kinda difficult to distinguish them). So if you can explain your question, no matter the subject, without maths, that's perfectly fine.

That said, it's useful to write your equations in MathJax because it helps readability for more complex statements. Obviously writing $\psi$ versus ψ will result in anyone picking up, but if you've got an equation or an integral, it's going to be harder to follow what's being asked without it written up in MathJax.
I've actually seen a case where someone wrote something along the lines of "integral of f(x) from 0 to infinity" in the question because they didn't know how to write it as, $$\int_0^\infty f(x)\,\mathrm dx.$$ The point taken is the same in both, but it helps readers read more quickly.1
Hence, you ought to write your mathy things with MathJax.

Note that, in many cases, the users here are friendly enough and help fix MathJax issues, so even if you don't get it quite right, someone will help you. And if don't know the notation fully, there's the ever useful Detexify which analyzes your input to find the matching LaTeX/MathJax command for it (I've not tried it on iOS, so I can't speak to how good it is there, but on Android & desktops & tablets, it's just fine).

1. Not the case I was thinking of when writing this, but it just happened today again: https://physics.stackexchange.com/posts/464590/revisions

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    $\begingroup$ One thing I would note about this: while it's not always necessary to use math in a question (or answer), I do think that if you are going to include math, you should use MathJax to typeset it. That is kind of getting into a different discussion, but I can see how people might read this answer as saying that it's fine to never use MathJax even if your posts do include math. I'd suggest editing to make it explicitly clear whether or not you meant to say that. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Mar 3, 2019 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @davidz good point, added that sentence clarifying one ought to use MathJax when writing math things. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Mar 3, 2019 at 16:32

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