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It's clear from the consensus to close a recent question of mine about how to use LaTeX in MathType that such a question is not a legitimate question about "(La)TeX related software and tools"; but it is unclear to me what aspect of that question disqualifies it. It might help to have some clarification here, and perhaps, add some clarification to the relevant FAQ.


The question, for reference:

I understand that in Word, there is a simple way to toggle MathType objects so that they can be displayed and edited as LaTeX. Is there a way to do this within MathType itself (e.g. for workflows that use other word processors, such as Pages)?

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My view is that since I must use both LaTeX and the tool in question (MathType) as part of my workflow, and since that tool has LaTeX capabilities, asking about how to use those capabilities is a fair question, both in general, given the mission of this site (after all, the people who know the answer are clearly here, and nowhere else) and the current wording of the FAQ.

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    But MathType doesn't use TeX and is not used by people with a TeX-based workflow. That was the issue here: it's simply exporting LaTeX code from something else. – Joseph Wright Jan 21 '12 at 21:19
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    If that's the issue, then it should be made clear in the FAQ: Though I'm using (in fact, in my case, have to use) tools that can display as LaTeX and support LaTeX entry (in my case, alongside what I'm sure are "legitimate" LaTeX tools), the fact that "people with a TeX-based workflow" don't use MathType disqualifies the question. To me it seems simpler than that though: I have a workflow and I'm using LaTeX, so I have a workflow that involves LaTeX, which ought to be enough. – orome Jan 21 '12 at 21:29
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A question that is off topic is one that has been voted off topic. The faq is really just a loose guideline. A question is determined to be off topic if a sufficient number of members with a minimum amount of reputation vote it to be off topic. According to the privaleges page on the matter:

Closing is a democratic voting process where the community defines

  • what questions are generally on-topic and generally off-topic for this site.
  • what questions are duplicates.

Thus, by definition, a question is off topic if it has been voted to be so.

On to the question in question! From what I wrote in the comments:

In my opinion this question falls outside the guidelines given in the faq. Involving Word is not the issue, as raxacoricofallapatorius pointed out such a question earlier (with not a single downvote). Rather, this question involves software emulating the output of LaTeX, and historically such questions have often been determined to be off topic. Mathjax is another common candidate for closures for this reason.

The issue of what is off topic is hazy around the boundary... Nonetheless, I think this question is off topic, since there is no TeX processor involved and the "LaTeX" code here is a subset.

I'd like to add that this is not a criticism of Word, MathType or MathJax, which I mentioned earlier (I make extensive use of MathJax in fact). We simply have to draw boundaries.

  • This conflates the process with the reasoning used in that process. FAQ exist to expose and share that reasoning, and are often (as in this case) cited to explain the reasoning. All I'm suggesting here is that if your view is in fact shared, the FAQ should reflect that, by for example, saying that this is a site for TeX experts, or for people creating pure TeX documents using pure TeX tools . (Unless the reasoning is in fact "because we say so", in which case the FAQ aren't needed.) – orome Jan 22 '12 at 19:46
  • @raxacoricofallapatorius I think you have a point but please consider the counter argument too. The LaTeX code is produced by something that cannot be modified via LaTeX tools. That's why the community has the tendency to mark it as Offtopic. Believe me if it was not the case, Werner or egreg would have answered it already :P. So the questions are meant to stay in the domain of TeX related problems that originate from TeX tools such that they can be fixed or answered. – percusse Jan 27 '12 at 4:03
  • @raxacoricofallapatorius: It's not that simple. The faq needs to be brief, without complicated clauses. In addition, sometimes questions involving other tools may be on topic as well, which is why I used the word "candidate". It's better to post a question and risk it being closed than to not post a question that may have been relevant. Thus the faq needs to be a little more permissive than the reality. This means that when a question is contrary to the faq, it will almost certainly be closed. It's easier to say "see the faq" than explain closure guidelines. – qubyte Jan 27 '12 at 4:22
  • FWIW, I've I keep finding questions that I'd love to know the answer to as part of using LaTeX in my workflow, but which have been closed as off topic. If this is a site exclusively for a narrow range of questions about the LaTeX system itself, then the FAQ should really say so. As it stands, the description of the site makes it seem like it should be helpful for people writing papers or books using LaTeX, which it is most certainly not. – orome Jan 31 '12 at 18:43
  • @raxacoricofallapatorius: I don't really know what else to say. This site meets the needs of the vast majority of users and boundaries must be drawn to avoid diluting it. As for the question linked to, it is about exporting a PDF or PNG from Mathematica, which has nothing to do with LaTeX. – qubyte Jan 31 '12 at 23:59
  • Clearly we're at an impasse about what "to do with" means. All I know for sure is that this site is a big obstacle to my adopting LaTeX. I have, of course, no objection to this being a very narrowly defined site. But as the FAQ now stand, it appears to be much broader: it masquerades as a site that is about getting things done using LaTeX. So I make my final plea: fix the FAQ. – orome Feb 1 '12 at 0:10
  • @raxacoricofallapatorius: Your definition of "to do with" seems to be "I sometimes use LaTeX". You also seem to have ignored my point on why the faq is as it is. I see no reason for it to be changed, and in any case that's out of my hands. – qubyte Feb 1 '12 at 1:32
  • I'm not sure what I'd have to do differently to qualify for your definition of "to do with". – orome Feb 1 '12 at 1:53
  • @raxacoricofallapatorius: The idea is not to qualify with only my definition. We seem to be going in circles now... – qubyte Feb 1 '12 at 5:23
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    One last thing; why should any one site be a barrier for your adopting LaTeX? The majority of the people here picked it up fine long before TeX.sx appeared. It's a wonderful resource, and certainly unique in terms of approach. However, there are many many resources out there for TeX newcomers and old hands alike. – qubyte Feb 2 '12 at 17:55
  • @MarkS.Everitt: It makes it seem like TeX folks are a cranky and unhelpful bunch (compared, for example with those on Math.SE)? – orome Feb 3 '12 at 18:05
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    @raxacoricofallapatorius: No, that's just me. Stick around for a while if you can. This has been a negative experience, but these are rare. Of the various SE I've participated in, TeX.sx has been the most welcoming, at least in my experience. – qubyte Feb 3 '12 at 19:01
  • @MarkS.Everitt: No problem. I expect as I get more LaTeX experience I'll see my early questions as pretty dumb, and will agree they don't fit. – orome Feb 3 '12 at 19:07

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