Just a thought that came across my mind and I’d like to know what others think about it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if one could place the dangerous bend sign as found in the font manfnt in an answer, to warn the reader of some darker corners of TeX as Don Knuth wrote in the preface of the TeXBook?

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I think implementing this as a standard feature wouldn't go along with the stackexchange answer design, which is text-oriented. If you start adding such pictograms, you'll have to allow for others, which might well trigger an avalanche of such graphic elements.

However, what bars you from just inserting the picture in your posts manually? In order to avoid uploading it every single time, you could save the snippet somewhere on your computer (some even like to use their info box for that purpose), and then you copy and paste it.

As long as you don't overdo it on the signs, I say go ahead. I've seen Paulo Cereda and Frank Mittelbach using such elements in the past and it looked nice to me. I'd probably be careful about editing them into other users' answers, though.


I think this would be far less useful than explaining why something is dangerous. I worry that if you add that sign people might get a bit lazy and throw it up as a alternative to properly explaining what they are doing and why.

I think a far better method would be to explain WHY this bit of code or area of TeX is a bit scary, rather then just throwing up a 'here be dragons' logo and forging on. The person will have a much better respect for the issue and hopefully learn something much more useful.

  • Of course it is not meant as a replacement for the explanation itself. Just a mere indication that one might get derailed easily, as in the TeXBook.
    – uli
    Jan 28 '12 at 16:43
  • @uli I'm not sure I made this clear, but I'm worried about it becoming a cruch, like MSDS sheets in chemistry that have copy-pasted danger warnings instead of useful information.
    – Canageek
    Jan 28 '12 at 16:45

Doncherry makes some good points. Another thought I have is that as we are Q&A oriented, answers should match the technical level of the questions, and readers pick out questions they want to know about. So most end users will probably skip very technical questions/answer entirely. On the other hand, experienced developers reading a question on the inner workings should know that this is potentially 'dangerous bend' territory.

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