Every time I post a link to the following useful question I cringe a bit.

enter image description here

I don't think everyone is familiar with the idiomacity in English of this phrase "X for idiots" or "X for dummies", and for those people we stand to sound rather patronizing, by implicitly calling them an idiot.

I suggest we change this title to be:

  • Biblatex for absolute beginners

(I'm raising it in meta first rather than changing it directly, because not everyone might agree.)

  • I am rather amazed that this title biblatex for idiots wasn't flagged already ;-) (In German calling somebody an idiot is an insult) (And I am aware about the books ... X for dummies ;-))
    – user31729
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 19:48
  • 2
    I totally agree. Whenever I want to post a link to that question I hesitate for a bit because I don't want to call people (especially new users) idiots. I don't think the question would suffer from being renamed to "biblatex for beginners".
    – moewe
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 7:57
  • 2
    I think most people know the series X for dummies why not use this instead of idiots? Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 9:55
  • I first saw this (now) idiom in the title of John Muir's "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot" from 1980. (Spelling of 'compleat' in original.) So I think 'idiot' here is the original form, and 'for dummies' came later. I think the title has charm.
    – dedded
    Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 14:02

3 Answers 3


I'm in support: a lot of visitors to TeX.SX don't speak English very well, and this makes the post's intent clearer; I also don't see a downside.

One thing which influenced my decision was that if one searches for the phrase "for idiots", the only results are "BibLaTeX for Idiots" and several links to it. If there were several such posts, perhaps the idiomatic meaning would've been clearer.

By contrast, there are plenty of results for "for dummies", including several titled "[Something] for Dummies," and I think the "...for Dummies" series of books is better known than the "...for Idiots" series.

  • 3
    I've changed the title to 'biblatex in a nutshell (for beginners)': OK?
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 16:23
  • @JosephWright Yeah, that sounds great! Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 16:50

In the very least, include a reference to the "for Dummies" series to clarify its usage. Perhaps even including an image to highlight it visually... in the spirit of being original, I mocked this up from a German version:

enter image description here

Regardless, I support the change. I think

Biblatex for beginners

sounds more generic, as there's probably little difference between an "absolute beginner", a "complete beginner" and a "beginner". Other options may include

Biblatex for a beginner
Biblatex for a novice
A novice's guide to using biblatex


5 years of display and 200 votes are not good enough evidence that it is not offensive because people probably identify this as a self-deprecation of the OP?

And from the homepage of the user, I'm sure he is aware of what idiot means.

Finally, notice that all the edits were concerned about how to spell biblatex instead of the idiots parts which was (and is-ish) one of the reasons why I spent so much time here on TeX-SX.

  • 4
    I think you've misunderstood me. (And that amazes me! We're usually perfectly in sync) I'm sure the OP knew what he meant. My concern is that every time I point someone else to this question I'm worried they might misinterpret me as thinking they're an idiot.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 1:35
  • 2
    @AlanMunn No I see your point as such. But I don't think if that would occur the blame is on you. Why would someone think like that especially when the internet is an incredibly well intended and kind medium? :P I think you are too kind and compassionate for us mortals.
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 2:02
  • 1
    @AndrewCashner Which would be true nonetheless when it comes to biblatex. I think we are underestimating people here. There might be a few wackos that can get offended by it but as per my last point majority wouldn't care. I don't think we have to adjust ourselves for those extreme sensitivity level
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 9:10
  • 2
    I take the point of Alan and Andrew, but I left at least "for dummies". I like a website so politically correct as TeX.SX, but not to the point of having to lose all sense of humor. Moreover, one can always mask the title in the link as you want , e.g. Biblatex for clueless but clever people like you. XD
    – Fran
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 6:54
  • 9
    I would like the less obvious, but more inclusive, title of BibLaTeX for the dull, dumb, foolish, futile, ill-advised, irrelevant, laughable, ludicrous, naive, senseless, shortsighted, simple, trivial, dummy, loser, rash, thick, unintelligent, brainless, dazed, deficient, dense, dim, doltish, dopey, gullible, half-baked, half-witted, idiotic, imbecilic, inane, indiscreet, insensate, meaningless, mindless, moronic, nonsensical, obtuse, out to lunch, pointless, puerile, simpleminded, slow, sluggish, stolid, stupefied, thick-headed, unthinking and witless person. :) Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 15:18
  • and boob latex
    – percusse
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 16:28
  • There are enough politically correct places on the web. It is obvious that reference to "idiot" is an attempt at humor. So, I would not change the title.
    – A Feldman
    Commented Jan 24, 2016 at 2:02
  • @percusse I recently read the f-word on Meta.SE now this. Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 4:24

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