Just want to preface this by saying I understand and agree with the importance of including a MWE, but I am curious about the best information to supplement a question with when a MWE would only contain the class document environment initialization.

I am getting ready to prepare a few investigative questions where I have a route in mind, but it's truly hacking my way through a package that I have gotten to know reasonably well, but it's probable there may be a more efficient alternative already. Unfortunately these preexisting alternatives can be difficult to find because they weren't developed for this particular context and keywords won't match up with accurate results. Given that the TeX community is one of the best you'll find anywhere, theres a good chance I could benefit from someone else's experience.

I see plenty of really short questions asking "is this possible", "how can I do this", and "what package do will do this?". But would like to know how I can (in general):

  1. improve (broaden) the question (if necessary) so that it's helpful to many.
  2. maximize my chances of a user recognizing my 'obscure' request because of an alternate or general procedure.
  3. avoid appearing like a parasite asking "please do this for me" - so far from my experience I don't think my long questions are helpful as I try and propose my considered approaches and/or providing a complete review of my possibilities but I am torn between proving I have put in an effort or keeping the question brief.
  4. Provide adequate information to satisfy the site's policies in the absence of a MWE.
  • 6
    for the fourth item, commented version of a MWE is always great. I mean a typical MWE including %<--- Here is a magical macro that defines this.... and then faking its function with hardcoded values etc. Then people can fill it in without ambiguity.
    – percusse
    May 22, 2015 at 2:54
  • 1
    not really an answer to any of your points, but another place to look is the list in the meta question Often referenced questions. i don't know about anyone else, but when i get irked that finding a reference that i know exists already takes ridiculously long, i try to add it to that list. May 22, 2015 at 12:46
  • 1
    Mate, just ask the question already :-) You're clearly making a lot of efforts to be comprehensible and relatable, I'm sure that with some trial and errors and successive edits the community will be able to understand what you're getting at - and hopefully help you :-) May 23, 2015 at 22:30
  • I actually think this is a good question. I'm also working on some complex hacking quite often (usually not package related, I rather code stuff myself) and sometimes squeezing out an MWE is almost impossible without either going into incredibly complex code (not minimal) or without containing only trivial stuff (too minimal).
    – 1010011010
    May 30, 2015 at 10:10


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