My job entails editing documents I receive in .tex format from scientists (mostly physicists) to ensure that these papers adhere to the stylistic uniformity of the journal in which they will be published.

I've realized the difficulty in conveying the true nature of my job to a significant portion of the users on this forum.

For instance, when seeking help because an author uses the (obsolete) axodraw package (Handling axodraw in LaTeX: challenges with compatibility and workflow), I receive responses advising against using the package, when such a decision is not within my authority.

I want to clarify that English is not my native language, so I may struggle to express myself appropriately in this language. However, I am also somewhat frustrated by my inability to effectively convey this information.

Do you have any advice to help me avoid these problems? I was considering adding a disclaimer to each of my posts, but I don't want to come across as unfriendly. In reality, I am a very calm and moderate person, but lately, I feel like I'm giving a different impression on this forum, and I'm worried this might jeopardize my chances of receiving the valuable help I've received so far.

Do you have any advice for me? I hope this question is not out of place.

1 Answer 1


I think a disclaimer would be a good idea. Many people here try to propagate best practises, because these practises are, well, better, so they will tell you that you are doing things wrong if you use obsolete packages, and they might get annoyed when you dismiss their advice.

However, most people also understand that some things are outside of your control. This happens also as a paper author, where you could be forced to use a documentclass or journal style package that has problems, or when a publishing workflow requires pdfLaTeX or BibTeX while you want to use more modern alternatives. Other issues can be that your company policy does not allow to upgrade or install packages, or maybe you have hundreds of figures made with an obsolete package that you don't want to redraw.

If you explain the situation clearly in your questions then people will generally understand and try to help you within the constraints. They might still mention that the real solution would be to change the constraints one way or another - which can be useful advice for you and definitely for other people that might find your question later and may think "let's give this axodraw thing a try" - but if there is a solution people will try to find it.

The wording that you chose, i.e.,

I would like to clarify further that I am not the author of the document. I received it from the author, the scientist who wants to publish their study, and my role is solely to modify it to conform to the style of the journal in which it will be published (we publish online in PDF format). Therefore, I am not the one who can choose whether and how to use packages that generate this type of figure.

seems perfectly appropriate and would prevent most if not all of the 'blame' you got in this case.

As a final remark: don't blame the people for blaming you, in comments or in the post itself - they have a good reason for their criticism, just as you have a good reason to not want to change the documents. Online it may be difficult to reach mutual understanding, but most users on TeX.SE are quite reasonable people, so it usually works best to assume good intentions.

  • 1
    Thank you! I'll go for the disclaimer.
    – Gabriele
    Apr 16 at 13:30
  • 2
    @Gabriele If your post is longish, don't put this as the last thing. Some people will look at the code, realise obsolete software is the issue and just comment to that effect. This might happen anyway (eyes are drawn to the code), but you can only do so much. ['Some people' likely includes me if I'm busy/distracted/interested ....]
    – cfr
    Apr 24 at 5:19

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