So far I think tex.se is a great resource for any LaTeX issue I have. Answers given here has been of great value to me, but I started to feel a bit guilty. So far I have only been taking from the platform. I have tried to answer some questions, but so far it seems I lack enough LaTeX knowledge to be of any help to others.

I still remain my position that one should always show effort that some previous investigations have been done, but where lies the edge where one should stop taking and start giving help to others ?

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    When trying to answer any Q, Start with Related/Duplicates in comments, package suggestions and command line tweaks etc.. over time/practice/observation of expert's answer comments get transformed into full pledged answers. Oct 14, 2013 at 20:17
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    Asking good question is, IMO, is a real good contribution to the site. Without (good) questions, the very existence of the site itself is meaning less. Hence don't feel guilty, but continue asking good questions. By good I mean those questions that explore the TeXworld more and provide enough MWE and description.
    – user11232
    Oct 15, 2013 at 6:25
  • If you find yourself more or less 'compelled' to visit this site, as I suspect many of us are, you will eventually start 'giving back' as a matter of course ... even if only as an excuse to spend more time on the site.
    – jon
    Oct 20, 2013 at 3:13

2 Answers 2


I don't think there's any particular time that one should start answering questions, and as the site become more mature, it may be harder to find questions to answer at your level that don't already have answers on the site. But there are various other ways in which you can contribute, without directly answering questions:


Find duplicates

  • If a new question looks quite simple or is something that resonates with you as a relative beginner, it's likely there's an answer already on the site. It's helpful to do some searching yourself and find an appropriate duplicate or related question and leave a link in the comments. There is also a really nice StackApp to make such commenting more user friendly. See Useful StackApps and other User Scripts for TeX.SX.

Help with tagging

Read the documentation

  • It's astonishing how many questions can be answered by carefully reading and understanding the existing documentation to a package. As percusse recently described himself: "Turning the TikZ manual into rep points since 2011". (Admittedly a self-deprecating and undeserved description, but most of us have benefited from exactly this kind of answer.)

Try to add answers anyway as your experience increases

  • There's a lot to be learned from trying to answer questions, and especially on this site most users will comment on answers to improve them rather than just downvoting them or posting new answers that are only slight improvements on yours. And there's also the Delete button, if you really post something that's not very helpful.
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    Nice points gathered perfectly, to add a few 1. Editing: When is (and isn't) it acceptable to edit? and Previous editing and etiquette discussions. 2.Related/Duplicates Q Exploiting Advanced Search Tips or even simple google search 3. package doc Online package search at ctan.org/search and its documentation at texdoc.net Oct 15, 2013 at 0:56
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    I'm not commenting on the TikZ manual in particular, but "turning the x manual into rep points" can often mean turning it into comprehensible language - or even pointing out its existence (i.e. RTFM only works if you can identify the correct manual, and make sense of it)
    – Chris H
    Oct 15, 2013 at 16:00
  • @ChrisH That's why answering such questions is helpful. :) You're right that there are many reasons behind RTFM type questions. Given that almost every package on CTAN has documentation, finding the manual shouldn't really be a problem. And documentation styles certainly vary, that's for sure.
    – Alan Munn
    Oct 15, 2013 at 16:28
  • @AlanMunn, sometimes it's finding the package that's the issue, if you're not familiar with the terminology.
    – Chris H
    Oct 16, 2013 at 8:44

I note you have answered a question previously but had 0 votes. I just checked and your answer seemed correct so I just voted, but it was harder to check than it could have been. As for questions, it often helps to put a complete document in the answer, and to put a picture in (I just took the liberty of adding the image to your answer). If people see the image provides what was requested, they are quite likely to vote, whereas checking the answer is correct is often too hard.

Of course votes are not really that important, but they are some kind of indication that someone noticed the answer, in particular the person asking the question can get a quick visual clue that your answer is going to help if there is a picture of the output.

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