At https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/383023/73371, I wrote a short answer

Thanks a lot for reporting this and all your research into that matter. Thanks @egreg! This seems indeed to be a leftover of an experiment I did once and did not completely reverse. And my (wrong) code stopped working with an expl3 update. I will publish an update of mhchem during the next couple of days.

I got a delete vote and a comment I should neither say thanks nor announce a future update.

  • What's your policy on a package author saying "I am working on this"?
    As a package user, I would find it helpful. (The participants were talking about contacting the author, anyway.)

  • What's your policy on announcing upcoming updates?
    As a package user, I would find it helpful.

  • What's your policy on a package author explaining a bug.
    I would find this interesting.

  • What's your policy on saying thanks along the way (not as the only part of a message)?

The question will be closed anyway after the update, I suppose.

  • 9
    Just ignore it. There is no policy on being nice.
    – percusse
    Jul 24, 2017 at 21:03
  • 2
    The community seems to be divided. 2 upvotes for my answer and 3 upvotes for the "don't do this" comment.
    – mhchem
    Jul 25, 2017 at 5:56
  • 3
    @mhchem: The community is divided for some time now. In general I would say that such answers are no answers, but since you are the package developer, I find it more important to provide the answer as more outstanding than an tiny comment
    – user31729
    Jul 25, 2017 at 8:29

3 Answers 3


To the extent that the answer "I'm working on it" has relatively little long term value, it's probably best as a comment. Once the bug is fixed it would be fine to add an answer saying that it has been fixed, although an bit of an explanation might also be nice. Such an answer does have some longer term value since people don't always update all the time. Thanking people in that answer shouldn't be a problem.

It's possible that the "no saying thanks" comment you got was somebody not reading the answer so carefully, so I wouldn't read much of anything into that.

  • 3
    Regarding "long term": Of course I will replace the "I'm working on it" with "An update has been published". The question will be closed after the update anyway, according to your policies.
    – mhchem
    Jul 25, 2017 at 5:59
  • 7
    @mhchem The question won't be closed, since we don't retroactively close questions about bugs even when the bugs are fixed. We will close new questions that can be solved simply by updating.
    – Alan Munn
    Jul 25, 2017 at 12:32

Broadly, questions about bugs are fine provided they are not of the form 'I wish to report a bug in ...' (i.e. they are questions). Typically, an answer would be

  • A description of what is causing the issue with perhaps a work-around, where the bug has not yet been fixed
  • A statement that the bug is fixed in release X, where the bug is fixed

The above might be combined in a single answer when a bug is fixed: 'It's is now fixed but this what caused it and how you can work around if you can't update'.

The above doesn't require that a package author is posting. Where one is, the same guidelines would apply. Things such as 'I am working on a fix' would constitute a comment on such an answer, whether or not the answer is your own.

On 'thanks', that would normally be a comment, though one can put a link between answers where they are complementary. ('As described in the answer by X, one can do ... but I would instead do ...'.)

  • 1
    What should a package author do if they have insufficient reputation to post a comment? It seems clearly better that there be some indication that a fix is in the pipeline - or just that the author is aware of the problem - so saying 'stay silent' seems unhelpful. But 'try to answer a few questions so you can comment' seems weird, at best, and really quite rude. 'We know you made the package available for nothing and you may be trying to fix it for nothing, but that's not enough around here. You have to earn the right to help us with your own package.' Reasonable response: ***!!
    – cfr
    Jul 26, 2017 at 23:14
  • @cfr I guess post an answer making it clear that they know it should be a comment and asking for 'conversion': one of the modes can then do that.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jul 27, 2017 at 6:10

Personally I would have used a comment (actually 2: 1 for the thanks, 1 for the announcement), but I wouldn't flag/downvote the answer either. It's clearly well-intentioned and something of a placeholder. An answer would be more appropriate when the update is ready for testing (or released). In some cases we've seen a workaround (or even a suggestion of one) from the package author -- again that's good in an answer, and probably requires the formatting available to answers.

  • 1
    I agree and, more generally, would also suggest keeping in mind: 1. That newcomers are easily turned off/discouraged. 2. That there definitely is such a thing as a "vigilante" mindset.
    – schremmer
    Jul 31, 2017 at 4:59

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