Use case:

Joe TeXer comes to TL&Co and asks:

Why doesn't feature X work on my computer? I've been trying to do this for hours, and my thesis is due tomorrow! Help!!!1!1!1!!!1111one

And, of course, to give adequate suggestions, we need more information, namely:

It would save a lot of time both of the users and the submitter, if the submitter is asked to supply this information in advance (because for non-trivial problems people will ask for clarification anyway). Hence, the request:

Can we have some sort of template for questions of the type "Why doesn't X work?"

Alternatively, this could find place in the FAQ as well. Let's be realistic though, people will most likely first ask a question, and then, possibly, browse the FAQ.

I have absolutely no idea how this could be implemented in practice, or whether it's even a viable option, but perhaps somebody could shed some light on this.

  • 6
    I think that for most questions, providing a minimal complete example is probably more than enough. TeX distribution, package versions, and operating system are rarely the cause of the problem (and if they are they can be quickly detected by a minimal example too). But I don't know if people have other suggestions? Commented Aug 20, 2010 at 8:45
  • related on how/way to ask meta.tex.stackexchange.com/q/750/15717 Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 1:16
  • -1 (meta-vote) for the reasons @JuanA.Navarro mentioned, and also I’d be worried that we’d “scare off” new users. People don’t want too much formalized stuff like that, and SE is already asking more than your average forum with the tags and the built-in filters for quality and duplicates.
    – doncherry
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 0:22
  • @doncherry i agree this forum is high quality and excellently maintained, it was just a blank idea on papers. I am not forcing anyone.It was just for record here. I really respect all for enduring effort to keep high quality standards. I don't want to be knitpicking also. Hope you understand me. I don't think no vote is enough instead of a downvote. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 0:42
  • How can a MWE "reflect/solve" the OS/TeXdistro/Updated based problems unless the OP posts his OS/TeXdistro/Updated info or post his .log. May be we need to wait another 1day/1hr for a comment from OP after our request for info even before its closed or remain unanswered due to interest lost from current commentator. It's Channelising the simple info on OP's question . Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 20:53
  • Hi Mr/Mrs Downvoter, I feel its worthwhile to leave a comment if it deserves a downvote. Please post your feedback. This is meta Q&A , its on papers not a finalised one. Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 21:00

2 Answers 2


In the Community Ads question here on Meta we can see some prescribed format for the answer as the following

enter image description here

I think a similar structure, tailored for the question with a simple MWE structure, would fix most of our problems, asking for MWE, asking to complete the code snippet and a few more.

  • +1, Good template idea, may be mandatory OS tag and TeXdistro tag for some Q's or posting first line of .log Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 21:21

Idea to Customize "Ask question" in TeX.SX by OP.

1. Is it possible to include OP question template as asked by Martin Tapankov like

  • OS: ?, -- asking .log is another alternative* or mandatory tags

  • TeXdistro:? -- asking .log is another alternative* or mandatory tags

  • All updated: ? -- asking .log is another alternative* (already mentioned in FAQ section)

2. (if we can have a right place to paste/host it without increasing the question size, may be suggest dropbox, paste.ubuntu.com etc..)

For example: a first line of .log file give idea about OS,TeXdistro and when updated/pdftex engine update status

TeX Live on Linux

This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.4-1.40.13 (TeX Live 2012) (format=pdflatex 2013.3.21)

TeX Live on Windows

This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.4-1.40.13 (TeX Live 2012/W32TeX) (format=pdflatex 2013.3.22)

MiKTeX on Windows

This is pdfTeX, Version 3.1415926-2.4-1.40.13 (MiKTeX 2.9) (preloaded format=pdflatex 2012.6.26)

Implications: If its implemented, A single liner comment may be enough to resolve Q&A, which would speed-up and improve productivity. Thereby less unanswered Q&A.

Thanks to Karl's students and percusse for log file data. Anyone can update if their .log file info is missing here.

As discussed in chat)

Joseph Wright Reply: We don't control the editing box, that's set by the network and I think very unlikely to be customised.

Some meta references Can/should we get a “How to Ask” page? and Proposal to Improve FAQ: Update before Asking Questions

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