I thought it would be helpful to have some of the extreme power users explain some of the finer points of TeX in some more expository questions. Something like Andrew's nice question "When to use \edef, \noexpand, and \expandafter?". The top-voted accepted answer there is very helpful, despite the final statement of the answerer that it's often better to learn this kind of thing through examples.

Questions like "When should I use \futurelet?" could be met with, "You'll know when you need to," but that might make the questioner feel like they have to wait for a higher state of enlightenment before they deserve an answer. Would a question such as "What is a good real-word example of \futurelet?" be appropriate?


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I certainly think it would be good if answers that involve a certain amount of TeX hackery came with a little bit of explanation about how the hack works. I know it's more work, but it really is added value to the answer if it explains what it's doing.

I guess this is actually orthogonal to the issue of more expository questions...

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    I concur that explanations are helpful, but sometimes hesitate myself. I would say: Post comments to the answer and ask for more explanation! I'd always follow such a request. Nov 20, 2010 at 8:22

To make up for bumping the question with a fairly pointless edit, here's an answer.

I would not like to see a question whose only possible answer was expository. I promote the principle of:

Maximum benefit from minimum effort

So having a question that requires an exposition is forcing someone who wants to be helpful to take a long time to answer your question. Better to allow people to pick and choose.

On the other hand, it is nice seeing such posts so expository answers should be encouraged. And I wouldn't object to asking politely for more detail (even in the original question) just so long as it was possible to give a decent short answer too. I wouldn't mind someone making a list somewhere of answers-that-really-teach-you-something so that we can all go and look and read them. If that happens, then the fantastic answers will get lots of votes, the answerer will get a warm glow of happiness, and will feel encouraged to dispense more of their wisdom elsewhere.

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