I am aware that stack exchange allows me to write beautifully typeset equations in LaTeX.

What if, however, I am really lazy. Instead I write my problem out on paper and then take a picture and upload it? Will this be annoying for everyone?

I often find that the amount of time that I would have to spend writing up my questions in LaTeX stops me from asking them on here, which is a shame really

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    $\begingroup$ 1. One problem is that images can't be searched for keywords. This e.g. renders the right margin list of related posts useless. 2. Another problem is that the post becomes unreadable if the image link rot. 3. If the poster uses e.g. a dropbox account he could make changes to the post without generating a new version. This means that SE effectively has no control over the content posted. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Apr 14 '16 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ You probably would get a boat load of users moaning about the lack of LaTeX, not mods. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 14 '16 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Well I was going to take a few smaller pictures of the equations and type in between them. $\endgroup$ – Joe Apr 14 '16 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Qmechanic I'm not sure I buy the text-search argument for equations. Who searches for LaTeX commands, and do they actually find useful stuff that way? That said, you should not post pictures of equations because of the reasons in John's post. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Apr 14 '16 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty: Yeah, that was meant to the cases where an OP would post the full question (equation & text) as one picture. That has happened in the past. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Apr 14 '16 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ "I often find that the amount of time that I would have to spend ... stops me from asking them on here, which is a shame really" - or, more likely, a blessing. $\endgroup$ – Alfred Centauri Apr 14 '16 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ There exist text extraction algorithms, so I guess it won't be long before someone develops an app to convert a picture of equations into LaTeX. $\endgroup$ – Count Iblis Apr 15 '16 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ vigyanprasar.gov.in/scientists/NBohr.htm "Bohr was not at all comfortable in writing. He dictated entire doctoral thesis to his mother. While Bohr’s father thought that a PhD student should write his own thesis but his mother firmly believed the task was hopeless. Most of Bohr’s later work and correspondence was dictated to his wife and his secretaries or co-workers. He took long time to write a paper. Seven or eight drafts were very common. Bohr shaped his ideas while orally communicating with other fellow physicists." $\endgroup$ – Count Iblis Apr 15 '16 at 19:43

No-one here is paid to answer your questions. In fact no-one here receives any reward for answering your questions other than the feeling of satisfaction that we've left the world of physics a slightly better place than we've found it.

So if you expect to attract good answers to your questions you're going to have to convince the site members that taking the time and trouble (often both considerable) to answer your question is a worthwhile undertaking. And one way to do that is to demonstrate that you take your question seriously enough to put a lot of effort into it.

That doesn't necessarily mean no-one will answer your question if you can't be bothered to format it properly, but it does mean your question will attract less attention than competing questions that have been written with more care.

Over to you.

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    $\begingroup$ Some of us also do it for the fake internet points, too. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Apr 14 '16 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ I've been especially keen since I heard about the plan to allow SE reputation points to be swapped for air miles! $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Apr 14 '16 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ Are those air miles in the sense of airline, or in the sense of air guitar? $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Apr 14 '16 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Depending on your airline's blackout dates there may not be much difference $\endgroup$ – rob Apr 14 '16 at 17:30

Will I get a whole load of moderators moaning at me?

Yes. Not just moderators, but the whole spectrum of site members (as Kyle Kanos mentioned in a comment). And it's not just moaning; questions which include pictures of something that could be typed out attract downvotes and close votes. They look unprofessional, and (as Qmechanic mentioned in a comment) they are not searchable and are susceptible to link rot or invisible edits.

Sometimes someone will help you out by transcribing the contents of the image. It's not guaranteed, though.

If a new poster does this because they don't know MathJax syntax (or because they don't know how much we hate pictures of text), that's more forgivable, but afterwards we expect you to learn. The basics of MathJax are not hard, and there's a guide built into the posting box. Someone who makes a habit of posting pictures of text or math is going to find their posts getting a poor reception, and could even wind up getting blocked from the site for excessively low-quality contributions.

  • $\begingroup$ Yeah ok maybe my question sounds like it's out on the offensive. I'll edit it. So I'm perfectly capable of using MathJax, but I have repetitive strain injury and the idea of spending an extra half an hour typing up a question when I could just take a picture is not particularly appealing to me. I guess my question is 'does posting on a forum have to look professional' and your answer is 'yes'. If I were writing a paper than I would want it to look professional, I suppose if I want to contribute on this forum then I have to put the same amount of effort in here too $\endgroup$ – Joe Apr 14 '16 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ (not a forum but) Yeah, that's basically the idea. Just because this is a website and not a journal doesn't mean that we don't care about presentation. Now, I will say that if it takes you an extra half hour to type as opposed to uploading a picture, unless you're literally the world's slowest typist, you probably don't need that much math. Something like this, for instance, could lose several of the equations and it would still be a perfectly decent question. $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 14 '16 at 19:13

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