On November 11th, the first birthday of TeX Stack Exchange is coming up. That's the date when the site has been publicly launched, ending its beta phase.

Let's celebrate it!

Do you have ideas for contests, rewards, or any other great activity?

I know there already were contributions on Birthday Celebrations, for July 26th when the private beta started. Let's get bigger, let's have some fun, we even could get Stack Exchange support! Think of prizes such as TeX and Stack Exchange swag, TeX books, sponsored TUG memberships, or something you suggest.

For inspiration, have a look at

I'm looking forward to reading your suggestions!

  • 16
    1. birthday on the 11.11.11! Nice date! Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 19:50
  • 2
    1) I suggest making this question {featured}. 2) How do we proceed? Do these activities start or end at Nov 11?
    – doncherry
    Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 22:50
  • 1
    @doncherry 1) Done. 2) I suggest we prepare now and start activities on Nov 11 (no public event before the event), so public announcement on the blog on Nov 11 followed by contest and reward activities.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 21:31
  • 5
    Great! Continue working up the details and rallying support. If you need anything from us, please let us know directly ([email protected]). We're really interested in community-lead initiatives, so let’s just say, if you can work out the details and you need financial support from us, we’re very motivated to say “go for it!” Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 17:36

5 Answers 5


Update: Question posted at Contest: Show Off Your Skillz in TeX & Friends [TeX.sx birthday].

Contest suggestion

Show off your LaTeX skillz

Show off the LaTeX knowledge you've gathered over the years, include things that a more-or-less everyday document can benefit from.

  • two-page (A4 oder letter) document
  • Should mainly be text, but content doesn't matter -- feel free to show the most beautiful lorem ipsum ever. Reuse of something you have already written earlier is fine as well.
  • Include whatever visual stimuli you can think of, e.g. figures, tables, margin notes, background pictures, drop caps / initials ... but in the end, it has to look good, not cluttered.
  • Make it typographically, aesthetically and perhaps even funwise maximally appealing. the vote is likely to be pretty subjective at any rate
  • TeX, XeTeX, LuaTeX etc. are allowed, too, but I'd like to limit the "ingredients" to things provided on CTAN or otherwise easily publicly and freely available, so that everybody can reproduce and compile the document.
  • The source must be included, optimally extensively annotated so that non-expert users can understand which package and which hack does what. This should be taken into consideration for the voting as well.
  • The source (i.e. the the LaTeX code, not necessarily the text itself) must be published under some license that allows for easy reuse -- suggestions welcome, I'm not an expert in this field.

Please make suggestions to these conditions! We might want to allow for more pages if a title page, ToC, LoF, LoT, an index / glossary, bibliography etc. are included.

In order to avoid "cheating", i.e. stealing other people's ideas, we have to find some way to get around this. As I think the contest will take place in a separate question on meta (or on the main site?), I suggest everybody posts their document + code, and deletes it immediately. When the deadline is over, the question gets locked and all the answers are undeleted, thus made visible again and the voting can start and users can vote for like a week.

My idea is to see some of the experts on here actually applying their enormous knowledge to a sort of "everyday" project. I'm expecting many useful packages, a number of nice hacks, perhaps some things you wouldn't necessarily include in a bone-dry scientific paper but that look nice after all. Hopefully, users will be able to draw some inspiration from these documents and improve their everyday LaTeX use a bit. In a way, this should be a very personal and subjective best of our questions, but once again, I'd also like to encourage things that are a bit wild. We might even get new questions out of this project, e.g. "How does x work?" or "Is it advisable to do y?".


Alright, this idea seems to be decently popular. A few questions:

  1. Will my idea about avoiding "cheating" work the way I described it? 20k+ users might see deleted posts, but I'm confident they wouldn't cheat.

  2. Should the contest be a question on meta or on the main site? I tend to put it on the main site, just to get more attention. I could explicitly say that that question would generally be of an inappropriate format for tex.sx, but this is an "officially approved exception".

    • Putting it on the main site will probably give the participants a lot of reputation, but I don't think this is a problem. If it were, it could be avoided by putting the question on meta, since meta rep doesn't really matter.
  • I'll post the contest question later tomorrow (European time), probably on the main site. I'm not really involved with the prize selection and distribution, so I'll just point to the question on meta. Hopefully, the delete + undelete part will work out.
    – doncherry
    Commented Nov 10, 2011 at 23:45

TeX.sx article/issue

A special article/issue specially released for this great celebration. We could have short interviews with some of our members, an overview of our community, moderators analysis, chatroom pearls, LaTeX jokes1, comments on questions, statistics, and so forth. We could also give this issue a name and publish it three or four times per year. :)

Update: We got so far:

  • I can provide some illustrations.
  • We will have a series of posts in our blog covering our birthday celebrations.
  • We can get statistics from these two resources: TeX Community Polls and How can we explore the content of TeX.SX?
  • We already have lots of chatroom pearls, we just need to select them.
  • We have some (La)TeX jokes, from kittens and chickens to halloween costume suggestions.
  • We have two great interviewees: egreg and lockstep. :)

1 Something like Why did the TeX chicken cross the road and others. :)

  • I like #2, while I can't really imagine anything good for #1, but that's probably because of my limited knowledge of LaTeX. Anyways, I'd suggest splitting your post into two posts so they can be voted on separately, just as they are totally different and independent from each other.
    – doncherry
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 0:21
  • Good idea @doncherry! I'll remove #1 and leave only the article suggestion, as it is more interesting. :) Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 8:44

Contest suggestion

TeX.SX Screencast

Who creates a nice screen-cast introducing the features of TeX.SX? This could be a nice demonstration, with a carefully selected demo question, wiki, meta discussion and chat transcript.

Teamwork is possible regarding conceptualizing, screen recording, if desired separate audio recording by another good speaker and finalizing. If you would like to contribute in a team, perhaps comment to this answer, or create a TeX.SX screencast chatroom.

There's a lot of recording software, such as on Ubuntu.

This could be worth a big prize and would be published on the TeX.SX blog and I'm sure on further places such as blogs and Youtube.

  • For 15-minute maximum screen casts, Screencast-O-Matic provides a free online recording tool. The free version does include a watermark though.
    – Werner Mod
    Commented Oct 28, 2011 at 15:49

Contest suggestion

Great Blog Posts

Who creates a great blog post during a contest time? It could be during possibly 2 weeks (or 11 days?) starting from 11.11.11 on. There are great answers on this site which could lead to great blog posts! Or write about new topics. Several authors could get a prize.

We can honor earlier contributions of our already active blog writers if we consider those additionally when looking at their contest contributions.

Related information:

This would be a nice opportunity to honor authors who write blog posts, since it doesn't result in reputation score or badges on the main site.


Contest suggestion

The best tag wiki page

Very similar to my previous question

I suggest designing tag wikis as part of the contests, since tag wiki pages can be excellent summaries and link collections of links to resources on this site and elsewhere.

See also:

This is another possibility for honoring activities which are great without resulting in reputation score.

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