I have several TeX vs. troff/groff questions and surely there are experts on here that would know both. Not wanting to have a question rejected/closed due to the *roff nature, are these acceptable questions?

7 Answers 7


There being people here who will be able to answer your question doesn't make it a good question. But that's not to say that it wouldn't be acceptable. I don't know the answer to that one. I would try an experiment. Pick one of your questions and ask it. In the question:

  1. Explain that it's an experiment and that people are encouraged to discuss whether or not it is acceptable here (link to this specific question). That shows, amongst other things, that you're trying to play by the rules but aren't sure what the rules are, rather than are trying to game the system.

  2. Try to make your question as TeXy as possible. Try to make it so that someone who doesn't know about troff/groff could still learn something from the answers to your question.


I'd like both troff/eqn and Postscript to be in a special category of questions that are narrowly speaking off-topic but welcome here because we are friendly.

We might have a section in the FAQ along the lines of:

Q: I know my question about digglefying grobnits is off-topic, but I can't think of anywhere better to ask it. Can I ask it here, please?

A: It sounds like it isn't really in scope, but since it seems to be to do with DIY-ethic document preparation, we will probably like answering your question anyway. To be more specific, we are happy to adopt troff/eqn and Postscript questions, and probably many other questions, but you will have to make allowances for our Tex-centric preferences.


My understanding (which may have been incorrect) was that "friends" in the site name was intended to refer to all the different variants and distributions of TeX and its derivatives (Context, Luatex, XeTex, tetex, etc. etc. etc.) as well as programs that are specifically designed to be used along with them, e.g. BibTeX, compilation managers like Latexmk, or editors like TexShop or Kile. From what I've heard about *roff, it does not fall under that category.

Of course, just because a question happens to involve some subject matter besides *TeX itself doesn't automatically make it inappropriate. I'd agree with Andrew Stacey's advice about trying one as an experiment.


TeX and *roff aim to accomplish similar goals: typeset output. They both use macro packages and a "plain text" mark up syntax to accomplish their goal. But you wouldn't be able to run a file marked up for *roff through TeX and come out with anything usable.


Let's put it this way: There isn't going to be anywhere desperately more appropriate, except perhaps the main site.


If your question is a TeX question, and you want an answer, then the question is on topic. Otherwise you will get downvotes. I cannot see what a "TeX vs. troff/groff" question is, perhaps you should explain.

If your *roff implementation is based on TeX, then the answer is "yes"


troff/groff is a small little format =) it is possible to take troff process it to get tex, and then typeset that. E.g. similar to docbook XML.

There were already a few publishing / workflow / XML questions. So I think any troff/groff questions will fly by just fine =)

  • There's nothing remotely "small" about Roff whatsoever. The language has depth and complexities rarely seen by users who aren't developing a macro package: diversions, environments, runtime substitution of control characters, and page traps are not for the faint of heart. Refer to CSTR #54 to see exactly what this language can do.
    – user141195
    Aug 18, 2017 at 3:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .