The question How do I make the arrow -->-- using xymatrix? got an answer from one Ross Moore. I'm pretty sure that he's one of the maintainers of xy-pic. As part of his answer, he wrote:

BTW, the list [email protected] is the best point of contact for Xy-pic related questions.

to which I replied:

I hope you don't mind if we try to prove [that] wrong ...

As a LaTeX-package user, I feel that I'd much rather ask my questions here than on individual mailing lists. So I'd like to collect a list of why package maintainers might like to encourage people to ask their questions here rather than on specific mailing lists. Feel free to chip in, or to argue the other side. Ideally, I'd like this to be a post that when a package maintainer does turn up, we can point them here to encourage them to stick around.

So, why should package maintainers use tex.SX instead of a mailing list:

  1. People like me are more likely to use tex.SX than a mailing list:

    1. I don't have to wade through long lists of everyone else's questions in my email each day - I can filter questions by taste.
    2. I don't have to join a separate mailing list for every package that I use.
    3. The probability of me actually being able to contribute is significantly higher than on a package-specific mailing list.
  2. Wider exposure of the package: since people come here looking for solutions to specific problems without necessarily having a package in mind, it is a chance to advertise your package and say, "Have you thought of using my package X for that?". On a mailing list, people have to know about the package before they join.

  3. Other people answer questions: as a package maintainer, most of the time all you'd have to do is say which answer you regard as the "best". Sometimes you might even learn something about your own package that you didn't know ...

  4. You can get a wider sense of who uses your package and what for. By looking at what questions turn up relating to your package, you can get a sense of what type of problem people are trying to solve when using it.

(I'm going to make this CW as I'd like it to be "from the community" rather than just from me.)

  • 3
    #2 is a very strong argument. I don't really see #4. Nov 29, 2010 at 21:28
  • @CharlesStewart Only if you're an evangelical ;).
    – cfr
    Aug 4, 2016 at 1:54

2 Answers 2


I think the use of mailing lists for support is only viable for large packages such as xy-pic (and pgf, etc.). For certain types of discussion a mailing list is indeed a better forum, but for general user support I agree that a site like this is better than a mailing list.


Don't forget badges. Who doesn't love badges? :-D

  • 1
    Badges are silly (as is rep, for that matter).
    – TH.
    Dec 4, 2010 at 7:42

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