Yes, we don't like people pasting something and asking how can I do this? or if it is TikZ, PSTricks, Asymptote case how can I-draw this? without even making a template of a TeX document, let alone creating something that almost looks like an attempt (whether working or not).

And our bot comments attack (I'm not criticizing but it takes two clicks to insert our blocks, it's just what it is :) Anyways, just under those comments a bored user, including myself, might post an answer because s/he is sitting on the train or using Matlab so has ridiculous free time while it computes, or any other reason to do what the question asks for. This is a perfect example of our inconsistency and the comments could probably reflect this.

This is our current stock comment for "Just do it for me" graphics questions at Text building blocks

Welcome to TeX.SX. Questions about how to draw specific graphics that just post an image of the desired result are really not reasonable questions to ask on the site. Please post a minimal compilable document showing that you've tried to produce the image and then people will be happy to help you with any specific problems you may have. See minimal working example (MWE) for what needs to go into such a document.

I would propose something along the lines of;

Your question leaves all the effort to our community, even typing the essentials of a TeX document such as `\documentclass{}...\begin{document}` etc. As it is, most of our users will be very reluctant to touch your question, and you are left to the mercy of our procrastination team who are very few in number and very picky about selecting questions. You can improve your question by adding a [minimal working example (MWE)](https://tex.meta.stackexchange.com/q/228) that more users can copy/paste onto their systems to work on. If no hero takes the challenge we might have to close your question.

I think this is less formal and more to the point with less self-conflict.

What do you say? Please post your alternatives and also can you fix my english in the meantime?



  • 4
    similar/possible duplicate: meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/4119/…
    – Adam Liter
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 16:36
  • 2
    @Adam Ooops. maybe I should answer your question instead.
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 17:13
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    IMO current stock comment and @Adam comment are OK as long as message is passed on to OP that posting MWE helps him in learning/debugging and getting fast/good answers. BTW your comment is too informal, may be a certain polishing would be required to reach general audience. Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 17:17
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    @texenthusiast -- i'm not sure that informality is necessarily a bad thing. anyhow, i did do a little polishing, and hope i didn't exceed the permitted comment length in the process. Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 17:24
  • @texenthusiast Also read the current block comment with an answer sitting just under it in mind.
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 17:32
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    I really like the proposed text block. :) Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 17:33
  • @PauloCereda Aaaargh, that link......
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 17:38
  • @percusse: ♥♥♥♥ Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 17:39
  • @barbarabeeton: “3 characters left.” So, it’s fine.
    – Speravir
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 22:09
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    The only thing about your block I disagree with is "who are very few in number" :-) By the way, I also plan to use it (and then, if the question has got something to do with fancy chapter design, answer the question) ;-) Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 22:14
  • @GonzaloMedina Very few in the sense of active simultaneously. Otherwise we are all a little naughty about that :)
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 23:34
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    @barbarabeeton Thanks for the english fix. Hypocracy was a failed joke as to democracy though, sorry about that :P
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 1:11
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    @GeoffPointer Well we are according to our own rules mostly hypocrites since we both ask for MWE and mention that otherwise the question won't be answered and answer the question 5 mins afterwards.
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 9:03
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    @percusse My comment about your question is related to me being a mathematician who frequents Maths.SE. The kind of levity that is accepted here, that for me makes it a friendly place, that none the less does a great job, is not accepted there. They're a very a serious bunch. I find it hard sometimes moving from here to there and having to adjust my approach. I can't see that it would hurt them or their site to lighten up a bit. Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 0:38
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    "Welcome to TeX.SX! Usually, we don't put a greeting or a “thank you” in our posts. While this might seem strange at first, it is not a sign of lack of politeness, but rather part of our trying to keep everything very concise. Accepting and upvoting answers is the preferred way here to say “thank you” to users who helped you." :P :P :P
    – Ingo
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 9:44

4 Answers 4


I like your proposed text block and intend to use it in the future.

("Answering" questions on Meta feels weird)

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    +1 same here! :) Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 18:55

I think an important pedagogical angle also needs to be emphasised. A significant point of the OP providing an attempt at coding is that it is an indication of their level of expertise. It's not just about helping with problems but knowing at what level you need to start your discussion from. Neither of the code blocks as presented emphasise this enough I feel. "Produce a minimal compilable example and then we'll help you.", or "Don't expect us to do all the work.", have reasonable sentiments behind them. The suggested block is too long and too chatty I think and doesn't really add to the key message.

Perhaps the following minimum comment might do:

Recommended practice at TeX.SE is to include a a minimal working example with your question. The importance of this, or at least providing some code that you have tried unsuccessfully to run, is that it will give any answerer a good indication of where to start with their help.

The following sentences could optionally be added to the above to clarify:

For example, if you're a beginner, you don't want someone to suggest the most complicated package available.

Otherwise, it's no different than expecting a doctor to know what's wrong with you without providing any symptoms.

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    this is also an important point indeed. to be honest I'm not in favor of assuming any knowledge anyways since I tend to think that answering a question is like blogging; you don’t know who will read it. So in case a much more prominent individual reads it, I tend to make the code simple enough. The OP can easily be a C++ wizard too.
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 22:05
  • hence I don’t discriminate based on the level. Mine is more of an attitude issue and dinteraction based. I learned ridiculous amount of TeX from TikZ pictures alone. and if I was only pedantic that would have been impossible.
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 22:08
  • @percusse I'm not talking about being pedantic. If someone's code indicates they are already creating some pretty sophisticated solutions wouldn't you respond in kind? Surely some kind of discrimination is pedagogically necessary? Of course, if they were an example of this, they would probably be providing a useful MWE and this wouldn't be an issue. Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 5:49
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    +1. I sometimes try to make the point that a MWE will help the OP get better answers more quickly (i.e., ones that work with the class and/or packages in question). An MWE is a courtesy, in some ways, to the people you are hoping will help you, but it also directly benefits you, the question asker. I think people newer to the *TeX world may not realize the degree to which an MWE will help them get an answer that (definitely) works for their particular document...
    – jon
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 19:28

To be honest, I think we'd be better without boiler plate text blocks for this kind of thing, If a situation isn't worth writing a custom comment, it's probably not worth making a comment at all.

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    I agree but that script is making everything more complicated :)
    – percusse
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 20:47
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    Addendum: all draw-it-for-me questions should be tackled with picture mode. :) Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 0:25
  • I generally write my own comments from scratch on a case by case basis anyway and accumulate them in a text file in case they can be reused. Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 2:25
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    The point of the text blocks is not "You must use these" but "If you can't be bothered to write your own, here's some we've prepared earlier.". One quickly gets bored of writing a fresh comment every time and then the temptation is to get snarky. These ensure that our baseline comments are polite and helpful. Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 9:41
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    @AndrewStacey yes I realise that's the intention, but when you see the same comments (especially to new users) again and again I wonder if the comments actually help (as opposed to no comment at all) It makes it very easy to make a quick comment that's only partially relevant and takes longer for the receiver to read than it took the commenter to create. Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 9:55

Since other text blocks that we paste in sometimes have alternatives, perhaps both this one and the original one can be preserved, and people can use whichever one suits their degree of formality/hypocrisy.

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