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In tonight's review queue,

all came up with several off-topic votes. The votes were for the generic reason:

This question does not fall within the scope of TeX, LaTeX or related typesetting systems as defined in the help center.

That is, no custom reason was entered.

I know next to nothing about TeXmacs, but, at first glance, it seems quite similar to LyX. Questions about LyX are on-topic, per:

We have a tag, with some 11 questions. Some of these have been closed as off-topic, and others have stayed open and been answered.

So, are questions about TeXmacs on-topic for TeX.sx?

  • See also Joseph's comment here. – Paul Gessler Jun 4 '15 at 2:58
  • From a personal point of view I hold every question about those editors as off-topic, regardless whether it's LyX, TeXmaker, TeXShop etc., but there are other opinions ... As far as I can remember, I did not vote for close (or anything else) on the linked questions – user31729 Jun 4 '15 at 10:20
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    The difference from LyX is clear: LyX directly uses TeX (LaTeX) to actually produce output. TeXmacs uses its own code to make output and only offers export to (La)TeX. That's much more like say Pandoc (also off-topic). – Joseph Wright Jun 5 '15 at 15:30
  • BTW, I think the comment of mine you link to is before I really looked into this :-) – Joseph Wright Jun 5 '15 at 15:31
  • @JosephWright if that's the current position, you should make an answer. I was confused by your early comment and creation of the tag. Thanks! :-) – Paul Gessler Jun 5 '15 at 23:26
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    See question 8 of the faq. I don't see how this could be on-topic for this site. (If it should be on-topic, that's an argument against the existence of TeX.SE in its current form. It's an argument for a different site with a different scope.) – cfr Jun 8 '15 at 1:02
  • @cfr I'm not saying it should be on-topic; I just asked the question because it hasn't been defined one way or another yet. There's conflicting information at the moment. – Paul Gessler Jun 8 '15 at 1:33
  • @PaulGessler Sorry. Probably should have been a comment on Gaussler's answer. I think that's where I meant to post it. – cfr Jun 8 '15 at 1:36
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I'd put forth that TeXmacs should not be considered on-topic unless perhaps it's about its TeX export options (and even then, the idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth).

Repeating what's been said in the comments, TeXmacs ultimately uses a completely distinct typesetting engine that isn't TeX to produce its output. While I don't personally like LyX questions here, at least they have the virtue of relying on TeX to get the job done.

I come to the conclusion that is ultimately the same as : both of these technologies draw from the long history of TeX (whether to use familiar syntax or a familiar name), but neither actually involve TeX in any step of the process. As such, should join as a tag-flag for off-topic questions.


So, where do these questions belong? TeXmacs is just another application after all, so questions about using it are on-topic for SuperUser. Since it uses a Lisp for customization, I wouldn't be surprised to find some questions about customization on StackOverflow. As for the more nebulous topics of what you should be doing with the software typography-wise, I'm sure such questions would be welcome on GraphicDesign.

As always, read each site's help section to determine if your question is or is not on-topic before asking it there.

  • To flesh out your answer, I think it would be good to say where such questions would be on topic. For example, would they really fit better at StackOverflow? I'm not sure a blanket statement applies, but it would be good to try to deal somehow with this question. – Joe Corneli Jun 13 '15 at 13:13
  • @JoeCorneli See edit – Sean Allred Jun 13 '15 at 13:52
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There's now a proposal for a TeXmacs StackExchange site on Area51. Any support you may provide is very much appreciated to get a proper home for this community!

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In my personal, controversial opinion, TeXmacs is a child of the TeX community, not only because of its name. It seems to be intended to be a sort of spiritual successor to TeX, and my impression is that a lot of what happens under the hood is a reworking of TeX. It uses the TeX fonts, it uses BibTeX for bibliography management, it appears (to me, an outsider) to use a typesetting model based on TeX, and it can be used to generate TeX output.

It belongs to one of the outer circles of the TeX community along with software like Asymptote, Biber, LyX, MetaPost, the TikZ output module in Geogebra etc. Therefore, I think questions about it are acceptable on this site. This is especially so if the questions are about typesetting and document setup, since the answers to such questions can be just as useful for users of TeX. However, other questions are welcome, too.

As Joseph Wright (who appears not to agree with me in this case, however) remarks, questions about TeX have a certain spirit to them, different from those at StackOverflow: They are usually focused on good typesetting and document setup combined with a bit of simple programming. This is entirely equivalent to how questions about TeXmacs are likely to look, or questions about any other (semi-)code-based self-contained typesetting system. In the long run, as these typesetting systems gain more success, it should perhaps be considered changing TeX.SE into an SE with a more broad focus on technical typesetting. After all, because of dominant position of TeX in this area, it is very hard to start talking about technical typesetting at all without somehow getting TeX involved.

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    Why a downvote now? – Gaussler Jun 8 '15 at 8:32
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    As i have been told, Word uses the TeX algorithms to typeset formulas. InDesign uses a pretty similar algorithm for paragraph setting including hyphenation. Do both systems fall within the scope of TeX? – Johannes_B Jun 8 '15 at 13:26
  • As long as we are talking about their use for technical and mathematical typesetting systems, yes, that is my opinion. – Gaussler Jun 8 '15 at 13:29
  • @Johannes_B I know that questions about TeX need not be about technical and mathematical typography, so there is a potential conflict there. It just so happens that because of the nature of TeX, everything you do in that program falls somehow within the context of technical typography.---In my opinion, that is. – Gaussler Jun 8 '15 at 14:02
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    But we have a site for typography: GD.SE. I don't think TeXmacs belongs on this site (at the very least, it would only fuel the confusion surrounding it), but I have to say you're argument about TeXmacs being a bit of typography + simple programming a good argument. The only problem is that TeXmacs neither is a TeX nor uses a TeX. – Sean Allred Jun 9 '15 at 5:06
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    @Gaussler On downvotes: for meta, voting is a 'cost free' action on both sides as this is more 'discussion'. Downvoting on meta can be used to show (strong) disagreement: this at least in part reflects the fact that the StackExchange model doesn't work (well) for discussion! – Joseph Wright Jun 9 '15 at 7:44
  • @SeanAllred, yes, there is an SE about typography, but not one about technical typesetting, which is an entirely different genre IMO. Questions about technical typesetting are not really typographic questions in the classical sense -- "How much interline space is good for a letter written with this and that font" etc. Hence the term "technical typesetting" is misleading; technical publication might be a better term.It is about how to align equations to make pretty results, how to correctly notate units, how to make good technical diagrams and drawings etc. – Gaussler Jun 9 '15 at 20:25
  • All of that deserves a Stack Exchange. And that is where we are right now. – Gaussler Jun 9 '15 at 20:25
  • Java has nothing to do with Javascript, but they're both well-supported on StackOverflow. – Sean Allred Jun 9 '15 at 20:27
  • Your point being? – Gaussler Jun 9 '15 at 20:28
  • My point being that almost completely unrelated topics can fit on one site without a downside. This is why we have the tagging system. In an ideal world, a new site should be created only when a community has a completely distinct set of subject matter experts. TeX.SX and GD.SE already exist, certainly, but GD already supports typography questions. For software use, there's SU. There's really no quality TeXmacs brings that is suitable for TeX.SX. – Sean Allred Jun 9 '15 at 20:31
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    It is about how to typeset documents using TeX and friends. It is about how to typeset 'tŷ' and 'gwdihŵ' and order lists 'a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff,...'. It is about how to render a page from the Torah properly. It is about how to use Arabic, French and English in the same document. It is about how to typeset Ancient Greek and an annotated English translation in parallel. It is about how to typeset a song book. It is about how to render the long s in contextually appropriate ways. It is about how to typeset recipe books, novels, poetry and plays. – cfr Jun 10 '15 at 0:56

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