# TeX, TeX, and nothing else? [duplicate]

## Background

I had a long-term personal questioning about the fact if Markdown + Mathjax (which is great on math.SE for example) could be one day derived into a typesetting tool for printed documents.
Before asking the question anywhere on SE, I decided to investigate what website is more appropriate about tag [markdown], to avoid off-topicness: the answers are in my first and second questions in meta.SE. Here is also a useful screenshot.

Then I did read this meta.tex.SE highest upvoted answer which seemed quite open to TeX's cousins. After all MathJax is not so far to TeX: at least the general idea of having a language/syntax for maths (same syntax in fact!). For those who disagree, you don't need to explain -- I use and know TeX since decades, I know the differences: rendered-HTML vs. typesetting software, etc.

The aforementioned highest upvoted answer is:

I think (2) [Tolerate them, but leave notes to the effect of "Probably not the best site for this question"] is the best balance. They are within the 'TeX, LaTeX and Friends' area, I guess, but probably outside of the experience of many people here.

I also see a will of promoting TeX, LaTeX and friends.

## The question

Based on the fact SO wouldn't be appropriate for my question (not directly a code question), and that the question was about a TeX's cousin, I posted the question here:

Can Markdown + MathJax be turned into a typesetting solution for printed documents?

which is now closed, with lots of comments.

## Discussion

1. What is the real harm done in authorizing 0.1% of [mathjax] questions in tex.SE? I think the highest probably to find MathJax specialists on SE is probably here.

2. Wouldn't tex.SE be the place to speak about MathJax (except if it's a code question, then SO, of course)? I was told that some top contributors here in tex.SE are in the technical commitee of MathJax. So wouldn't it make sense to host the small number of questions about [mathjax] here (once again, not the implementation/programming ones, which belong to SO)?

3. More generally, is it a good idea to be so restrictive to TeX? I mean: we must accept the truth: in 2017 many new TeX users will probably come after having discovered MathJax in math.SE. Why trying to erase this truth and to deny the obvious connection between both?

4. TeX was built in the 70s, LaTeX in the 80s, isn't it a good idea to accept questions here about the evolution / future of TeX? I don't say MathJax is the only future of TeX, of course not, I still use LaTeX for papers, etc., but MathJax is certainly a (small?) part of the future of TeX.

5. Another evidence: we all know that lots of software now have an equivalent in the browser (maybe just a trend or a long-term move in software development, I don't know). Isn't MathJax and editors providing MathJax typesetting in the browser (such as StackEdit) just one more example of the "standalone software" => "app in the browser" move? Why refusing to face this reality?

Note: this question isn't really a duplicate because it doesn't specifically the points 2., 3., 4., 5.

• Speaking of mathjax and tex as cousins may not be the best term, maybe doppelganger is more appropriate. They don't share any genetic relationship - they just look similar from the outside. – user36296 Sep 27 '17 at 13:02
• The probability on which site to find experts should not be a criterion on which site to ask a question. TeX.SE probably has one of the highest probabilities to find typography and document design experts, but typography and design questions (which are unrelated to tex) are nevertheless off-topic. – user36296 Sep 27 '17 at 13:06
• @samcarter It surely is a grandson. According to all the discussions here, it seems like it's an unwanted grandson, that happened when TeX cheated one day with a browser, but it is one. – Basj Sep 27 '17 at 13:06
• As one of those voting to close the referenced question, I want to comment that I didn't really mind the MathJax aspect that you focus on in this meta post: while I think this site is not the best place for MathJax questions, many of those can be answered easily because of the similarities between TeX and MathJax. I voted for different reasons: first of all, the question is about a prospective new typesetting system that seems to have no connection to TeX whatsoever (it is based on Markdown) other than the fact that it happens to include MathJax (which itself is not 100% within scope already). – diabonas Sep 27 '17 at 13:21
• More importantly though, the question as it stands is very broad, so that I can't imagine what a good answer would look like at all, let alone one that involves TeX (or even MathJax). What exactly are you after? It looks like you are looking for some kind of proposed specification for a typesetting system based on Markdown (which also includes the possibility to typeset formulas, but from the questions you raise that doesn't seem to be the main focus of the post). – diabonas Sep 27 '17 at 13:21
• You seem to be missing the fact that luatex which has (these days) no shared code with tex or pdftex is considered on topic because the vast majority of answers to tex questions apply equally to luatex. Mathjax is off topic as it simply isn't tex, any but the most trivial question related to coding and markup would require different answers for mathjax and tex. – David Carlisle Sep 27 '17 at 13:23
• But this question is a duplicate of the earlier one, and you haven't said what you have against asking on SO. If you ask a mathjax tagged question on SO then it is usually answered pretty quickly by one of the core mathjax development team, who are not active on this site at all. So it is better for everyone if an appropriate site is used for the question. (for markdown the situation is simpler: it's just unquestionably off topic – David Carlisle Sep 27 '17 at 13:33
• @DavidCarlisle I don't see the points 3. 4. 5. addressed at all in the not-duplicate you mention. – Basj Sep 27 '17 at 13:38
• they are not questions they could have been part of an answer to that question about whether other systems should be considered on topic, but as I say both mathjax and markdown are on topic on stack overflow and markdown isn't close to being on topic here so it really is clear that this isn't the best site for your question about a markdown based system. – David Carlisle Sep 27 '17 at 14:00
• it seems to me that here, mathjax stands in the same situation as mathml. both mathml and (la)tex have a similar limited goal -- to be able to define the basis for a visual output of mathematical notation, within the more broad context of publication. but i can't imagine anyone thinking that mathml (by itself) is on topic for tex.sx. – barbara beeton Sep 27 '17 at 19:01
• @barbarabeeton Ok. Let's not look outside of TeX or LaTeX, as defined in the 20th century. That's fine and a very good choice. (btw I have nothing against TeX/LaTeX, I use it often for papers). – Basj Sep 27 '17 at 19:10

if Markdown + Mathjax (which is great on math.SE for example) could be one day derived into a typesetting tool for printed documents.

This kind of question is not appropriate anywhere on Stack Exchange, regardless of what other words appear in place of "Markdown" and "Mathjax". It's inviting speculations about the future. Such a question could be well-received on Quora, however.

in 2017 many new TeX users will probably come after having discovered MathJax in math.SE.

Possibly yes, although you may be extrapolating from own experience too far. It doesn't affect the topicality in any way. Most students of Computer Science came to the subject after some experience with programming; this doesn't make programming questions on-topic at Computer Science site.

MathJax is certainly a (small?) part of the future of TeX.

I don't know what this means. They will both exist in the future, sure. Neither is going to replace the other.

Isn't MathJax and editors providing MathJax typesetting in the browser (such as StackEdit) just one more example of the "standalone software" => "app in the browser" move?

No, it is not. Websites like Overleaf are "TeX app in the browser". You will notice they don't use MathJax, or have any connection with MathJax.

In general, it appears that you think of TeX as a tool for typing formulas, and paint a picture distorted by this misunderstanding.

• Thanks for your answer. Possibly yes, although you may be extrapolating from own experience too far. : not at all: I've started with LaTeX nearly two decades ago. I still use LaTeX for my articles. it appears that you think of TeX as a tool for typing formulas: not at all – Basj Sep 27 '17 at 16:10
• Thanks for this wonderfully excellent answer. You're right on everything. That's perfect. I am happy to accept it. – Basj Sep 27 '17 at 19:12