: please make MathJax formatting more discoverable to new users, by adding it to the post formatting wizard.

The Stack Exchange dev team recently released a new version of the Ask page, and we've gone through some of what we can do to make the best of it (though there still remains a fair amount of work for this community to do on that front). Part of what came up on the initial go-through is that we want new users to have a smooth road (i) to finding out that maths can be formatted using LaTeX / MathJax syntax, and (ii) to a good tutorial that shows them how to use it.

Now, to some extent, this has already been raised on the initial thread on Meta Stack Exchange, so it's presumably already on the books for the dev team to consider.

However, on the other hand, the CM team just detailed the types of posts that they want per-site metas to raise to their attention, and they've specifically asked us to

give [them] a top 5 of outstanding site-specific customizations from your site.

I would argue that this feature is in that top 5. And, it seems, we need to make a substantial show of support (i.e. a strong consensus shown on meta scores) for this feature to get the investment of developer hours that it needs to be implemented before the dev team shifts their attention to other parts of the software. In the terms laid out by the CM team,

  • that particular warning that would help your new askers

    This is precisely that.

  • features that need dev time

    Yes, this needs dev time. But yes, this feature deserves that dev time, and no, it's not that much dev time. (CMs: or is it? honest question.)

  • features that are only applicable to your site are unlikely to be given a high priority.

    This is not Physics-specific $-$ there are plenty of other sites that use MathJax, and this would positively impact the friendliness of their new-user experience as well.

So, without further ado, let me pull from my previous answer on MSE regarding how that feature could look like:

  • There should be indications on the top and bottom of the formatting tips:

    enter image description here

  • The pullout should have a brief description of how to invoke math as well as a link to a suitable tutorial:

    enter image description here

    On Physics we use the Mathematics SE tutorial as the standard resource; presumably that link direction could be freed for other sites to choose as they see fit.

  • There should be a link to the tutorial at least somewhere on the page even if the formatting tips have been collapsed by the user. It used to look like this on Physics before the change; equivalent functionality should be retained.

  • $\begingroup$ There's already a post talking about the same thing. Wouldn't it be better if that post is updated and featured instead of creating a new post stating the same concern? Also, it has 13 upvotes at the time of writing this comment, so IMO, we should stick with that post and edit in the extra stuff, if needed. It is also tagged status-review which implies that it has been noticed and is currently under review. To me, your post just seems a duplicate of that post. $\endgroup$
    – user258881
    Commented May 30, 2020 at 10:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Having said that, your post is more elaborate than the other one, so, IMO, it isn't worthy of getting closed as a duplicate. It's an essential feature-request, so thanks for raising it (again) and thanks for your efforts to make this site better. $\endgroup$
    – user258881
    Commented May 30, 2020 at 10:14
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reminder, I had forgotten about that post (and should have digged better for other precedents). Yes, it's better for attention to be concentrated there. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2020 at 11:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've featured the other one. Feel free to move information from here to there. I don't know yet about quite what status-review means, but it's had that tag for a month. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Commented May 30, 2020 at 15:02


Browse other questions tagged .