On the main TeX.SX site, I asked a question about a missing \endgroup error for a Beamer standalone frame using Martin Scharrer's standalone package with the subpreambles=true option. The question hasn't received much attention, perhaps because viewers consider it to be too basic or localized. (I can sympathize with that view; it feels like I must be making some very simple, very stupid mistake. So, please don't take this meta-question as a complaint or whine.)

In general, what is the most polite way to ask for more help on a question that is possibly too basic or localized? I see a few options:

  • Email the package maintainer directly. I hesitate to bother package maintainers with a basic usage question because I know that they write these packages during their personal spare time.
  • Ask for help in chat.
  • Post a bounty. I am more than willing to post a bounty, but I get the sense that bounties are intended for difficult, broadly applicable questions -- questions that are interesting enough to deserve to be featured.
  • Edit the question to show further efforts to solve the problem. Unfortunately, for this particular question, I am at a loss to know what other fixes I could even try. It wouldn't be right to make non-constructive edits just to "bump" up the question.

Are there any other options that I'm missing? Which option is the most polite and best fit with the goals and culture of TeX.SX?

I guess there is one more option:

  • Be more patient!

Feel free to tell me that I should follow this last option. :)

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    I would say awarding a bounty is exactly the right thing to do here. It will make it more likely that people will take a closer look at the question even if it isn't (or doesn't seem to be) applicable to a very wide audience.
    – Jake
    Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 16:31
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    To back up Jake's comment, for me a bounty says "Someone is really interested in the answer to this.". That (more than the actual bounty) is a useful pointer to me as to which questions are worth looking at. Asking for ideas in chat is also a good plan. Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 17:47
  • Mentioning it in meta also seems a good strategy, given the comment that has now appeared! Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 17:48
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    @AndrewStacey and Jake: The comment that appeared was indeed a nice byproduct, which I was not expecting! If this happens again in the future, I'll start a bounty since the consensus seems to be that a bounty means "really interesting/important to me" rather than "really interesting/important to everyone". Thanks for your input! Commented Sep 13, 2012 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


I say go for a bounty! As you can see, there are a lot of questions on this site, and if a stream get asked in relatively quick succession then your (or, indeed, anyone's) question can get lost in the flood.

Bounties can be awarded for a number of different reasons:

  • you need a solution to the problem and your question has been buried by the most recent ones
  • you want to reward someone for an exemplary solution

If you're prepared to put your hard-earned reputation points on the line, then your question is worth being featured :) It might seem like your question is basic or too localized, but it may reveal a trick that is applicable to other questions in the future.

  • When this happens in the future, I'll start a bounty since the consensus seems to be that a bounty means "really interesting/important to me" rather than "really interesting/important to everyone". Thanks for your advice! Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 15:26

I would like to say that (as been said by Andrew before), you can get helped in the chat too. Trust me, it works! And especially if the package maintainer is a member here (like in the case of Martin), this might be in the end the best way to contact him.

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