As Ulysses suggested in the comments of their question: TeX Art Fun - Mandalas, I think the Community should decide if fun questions of that kind (i.e. contests, social events, etc.), which require some coding, are to be asked on the Main site or on Meta. Both have occurred in the past, as shown in the examples given below.

Also, what are some good guidelines for how to set up such questions? For example, does it matter if they can potentially give reputation (to either the question or the answer)? Should they be Community Wikis? Are bounties appropriate prizes? What contest rules, prizes, etc are or aren't ok? What tags should be used? Anything else that should be considered? These don't necessarily need to be rules as such, but can be simply etiquette and the like.

A few pre-prepared answers have been provided below as a rough poll. You can upvote any you support, and/or add a new answer to discuss things in greater detail. If there is a clear consensus we can perhaps adopt this as the official rule.

Since there was a misunderstanding, the types of questions being discussed are contests and/or social events. The fun tag is used for a lot of different things, not just what's being discussed here, and we don't want to remove it or restrict its usage.

Example of such questions on Main:
How can we display fireworks?
Seasonal Challenge (Contributions from TeXing Dead Welcome)
\pi day riddles for LaTeX users
Welcoming 2019 Pi day: How to draw the letter π?
Welcoming 2019 Lunar New Year: How to draw a (lovely) pig?
I need a TeX-donkey

Example of such questions on Meta:
Let us have some TeX-mas fun [completed]
Preparing for Groundhog Day

Note: we are not talking about questions like these (which are tagged fun, but are not specifically contests or social events):
Create xkcd style diagram in TeX
How to properly typeset a rolling r
How do I make my document look like it was written by a Cthulhu-worshipping madman?

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    If I may, there are a hanful more examples that I know of: tex.stackexchange.com/q/424263, tex.stackexchange.com/q/420083, tex.stackexchange.com/q/479395, tex.stackexchange.com/q/473287, tex.stackexchange.com/q/39149, tex.stackexchange.com/q/29402, and my absolute favourite, which will be used in my dissertation (somehow): tex.stackexchange.com/q/74878/134574. And see that, as a rule of thumb, all of these in main have a lot more contributions than the ones in Meta, which I think adds to the grandeur of the whole thing... – Phelype Oleinik Jun 14 '19 at 19:59
  • Can the TeX donkey on Main be included in the list? tex.stackexchange.com/q/312199/53956 – Raoul Kessels Jun 14 '19 at 23:04
  • It's worth clarifying that the types of questions being discussed are contests and/or social events. This is a bit more specific than just "fun questions which require some coding". The fun tag is used for a lot of different things, not just what's being discussed here. For example, I don't think the linked questions regarding rolling Rs or xkcd graphs fit the theme. – Ulysses Jun 15 '19 at 3:55
  • One thing I'm hoping to see come out of this discussion is some clear guidelines about not just where such questions should be asked, but how best to go about this. Not necessarily rules as such, perhaps more etiquette, etc. Things like whether it should be a community wiki (how do you do this for questions?), whether bounties are ok, what contest rules, prizes, etc are or aren't ok, what tags to use (is there a contest tag?), etc. I'd appreciate it if people could also try to address some of these points in their comments or answers. – Ulysses Jun 15 '19 at 5:06
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    @Ulysses Yes, you can tag them as Community Wiki, you just have to ask the mods to do it, see this one: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/387047/…, for example. – CarLaTeX Jun 15 '19 at 5:10
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    @CarLaTeX Thanks! I'll give it a little edit to expand the scope a bit, and prompt some more discussion. :) – Ulysses Jun 15 '19 at 5:14
  • @CarLaTeX Apparently I do not have the required permissions to edit this question. The error message says "Suggested edits are not allowed on non-tag-wiki posts on meta sites." – Ulysses Jun 15 '19 at 5:21
  • @CarLaTeX Here are my suggested edits: pastebin.com/FXfLF51A Note that I haven't formatted links properly, so some slight modification is needed. I have expanded on the question, clarified a few things, removed one ambiguous example, and also done a small handful of minor edits, e.g. typos. Also, the mandala link currently goes to one of the answers, rather than the question itself (where the discussion is), so you may want to change that as well. Hope this helps. :) – Ulysses Jun 15 '19 at 6:25
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    @Ulysses Done, check if I did all well! I like your style very much, you're more diplomatic than me :) – CarLaTeX Jun 15 '19 at 6:44
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    @CarLaTeX Looks good. :) – Ulysses Jun 15 '19 at 10:02

They should be asked on the Main site, that's why the fun tag is for.

If you're worried because of some reputation gain which someone may deem undeserved, you could ask the mods to trasform the question in Community Wiki (but, for example, how could you say that this reputation: https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/338377/101651 is undeserved?).


Meta means "behind" or "after" in Greek. When Andronicus of Rhodes compiled the works of Aristotle, he placed the book on "First Philosophy", as Aristotle himself called it, after the works on Physics and it has been called Metaphysics since then. While the book on Physics describes the reality, the Metaphysics describe the causes and first principles of the reality. So while the first one works on the tangible world, experimenting and extracting the laws of Nature, the latter works in a very abstract way on what the reality is and, in last instance, what can be known about it.

From there on, the prefix meta has been used to describe things that say something about the things themselves, which is, of course, a bit confusing. An example might help: metadata is data that describes something about the data I have. For instance, I record an UV spectrum and I get a set of data of absorbance vs. wave length. But then there is some other information that does not belong to the compound that I am measuring, but to the way I have gathered the data. This includes which instrument and which settings I have used. That is data of the data and thus, metadata.

Here on TeX SE we have two sites, one is Main where TeX stuff is questioned and answered, and another Meta, where questions on how the main site should work are asked. Some questions like "How can I make this macro?" belongs to Main, while a question like "Can we ask questions in another language than English?" belongs to Meta.

As per why there is a fun tag in Meta, this is just to tag questions that are related to fun questions on Main. For instance, this question has the tag fun because it is related to what to do with fun questions. Another example: suppose there is a question on Main tagged fun which makes fun on small furry animals. Someone could post a question on Meta, tagged fun also, stating that there are fun questions which are not respectful and asking: "What are the limits of fun in fun questions?". Then a discussion would follow, with someone saying that it is, in fact, funny; others saying that it is not, etc., and some decision would, hopefully, come out of it.

As per the question starting a Mandala Contest, it is asking for code, so TeX stuff, so it belongs to Main, tagged fun. If the question were: "I want to start a Mandala Contest, but I do not know how to do it.", then it would belong to Meta, tagged fun.

A note on the fun tag itself:

I am personally for the fun tag. In fact, I asked to create the fun tag in Texample.net when I sent my contribution in 2011 (published in 2012), about three years before I found TeX SE. I also created the fun tag in Chemistry SE when I posted a challenge. This one was, however, deleted by the community. The community has the last decision in all aspects of the site, so nothing to say about that.

  • +1 because Raoul can't upvote his own answer – CarLaTeX Jun 17 '19 at 9:52
  • Your explanation is very clear, I like it! – CarLaTeX Jun 17 '19 at 9:59
  • Thank you very much @CarLaTeX, I did my best. Thx also for the upvote – Raoul Kessels Jun 17 '19 at 14:02
  • IMHO this answer is off-topic as it does not address the question. It is assumed that users understand what meta means. – user121799 Jun 17 '19 at 18:41
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    I like this answer the best. It gives a clear explanation of the correct usage of the fun tag on both sites (which I frankly haven't seen anywhere else, hence the ambiguity up until now), and solid justification for what does and doesn't go on Main vs Meta. I'm now convinced my Mandala question should be moved. I would support this answer being chosen as the official solution, especially since the answer with the most upvotes by far also says fun questions should go on Main, so that is clearly the majority opinion. – Ulysses Jun 18 '19 at 5:12
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    @Ulysses Thank you for your nice comment and support – Raoul Kessels Jun 18 '19 at 10:00

Questions asking how to code something in tex belong to the main site.

But beside this I don't see the need to discuss any rules or guidelines. Why should it be a problem if there are questions out of the ordinary?

I was bit surprised to get two gold badges out of the donkey question, but looking back I realize that I did show the answers to quite a number of people to demonstrate the diversity of TeX and I reused some of the ideas in other places. So it had a larger impact then more serious but now forgotten questions. And your question about how to draw a duck had even more impact.

  • +1 because Ulrike can't upvote her own question – CarLaTeX Jun 17 '19 at 9:47
  • @CarLaTeX you are also asking "Also, what are some good guidelines for how to set up such questions?". – Ulrike Fischer Jun 17 '19 at 9:53

They are off-topic on both sites.

  • Just for the sake of the argument, let us assume that this answer "wins". What would you then do when someone asks a fun question in the future? Would you forbid it? If so, should we have similar polls for all tags? And then just forbid certain types of questions? I feel that if you do this poll for the fun tag, you should do it for all others, too. – user121799 Jun 14 '19 at 23:01
  • @RaoulKessels To me that is the same as forbidden, at least this is what is meant in the above comment. So you are saying the fun questions, with concrete examples like the ones listed by CarLaTeX, can be compared to the homework questions? To reiterate my point: there is a tag, fun in this case, and we are now having a debate on whether or not the posts tagged fun can be classed "off-topic" in retrospect. – user121799 Jun 14 '19 at 23:19
  • @marmot There are many users who don't like fun questions, let them express their opinion. This post would like to be democratic. – CarLaTeX Jun 15 '19 at 3:57
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    @CarLaTeX I am absolutely pro opinion but it would be sad if some fraction of users would have the power to decide which tags are off-topic, the more so since we do have very nice posts under this tag IMHO. I am also pro choice. As long as you really do not compromise someone else, why can't you post such a question or an answer to it? (My personal rationale for posting my last one on meta was that I did not provoke others because of some reputation gain which they may deem undeserved.) – user121799 Jun 15 '19 at 4:03
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    @CarLaTeX IMHO Ulysses is a very kind and reasonable user. I believe that if you ask them very politely, they will be happy to move the question, so nobody has to rule over the other. Then we could all relax, eat pizza (without pineapple!) and have a glass of vino rosso. What do you think? – user121799 Jun 15 '19 at 4:09
  • @CarLaTeX Sorry! I did not mean to imply this. I just feel that someone could just ask them if they are willing to move the post. – user121799 Jun 15 '19 at 4:17
  • @CarLaTeX As far as I can see no one has asked the OP if they are OK with moving the post, or am I missing something? – user121799 Jun 15 '19 at 4:28
  • @marmot when you close a question, you don't usually ask if the OP agrees. – CarLaTeX Jun 15 '19 at 4:30
  • @CarLaTeX I actually do most of the time. – user121799 Jun 15 '19 at 4:31
  • @marmot That's why I wrote usually (you is not marmot but a generic user) – CarLaTeX Jun 15 '19 at 4:33
  • I have decided to wait and see the outcome of these discussions before deciding whether I would like my topic moved or not. I can see merit to both options. :) – Ulysses Jun 15 '19 at 5:18
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    @Ulysses Thanks! I think this kind of questions should be on the Main site because they can lead to masterpieces like this one: tex.stackexchange.com/a/338377/101651 – CarLaTeX Jun 15 '19 at 5:22
  • The amount of attention such questions can receive on Main vs Meta is definitely a major point in the favour of posting it on Main. – Ulysses Jun 15 '19 at 5:25
  • @Ulysses Yes, also that one is a reason to ask them on the main site! – CarLaTeX Jun 15 '19 at 5:26
  • @RaoulKessels Did you read my comment? – user121799 Jun 16 '19 at 17:19

Let the OP decide where to ask.

  • -1, because I voted for this earlier but have since changed my mind, but it won't let me remove my vote. – Ulysses Jun 18 '19 at 5:14
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    @Ulysses I like Raul's answer, too. You can ask moderators to move your mandata question (ping @JosephWright or @StefanKottwitz in chat). A trick to retract your vote: just do a little edit to the post, rectrat the vote, and, if necessary, roll back the edit. – CarLaTeX Jun 18 '19 at 5:42
  • Thanks @CarLaTex. I've flagged the question for moderator attention, and asked for it to be moved. Unfortunately I don't have the needed permissions to edit your answer, so I'll leave it as is. – Ulysses Jun 18 '19 at 6:25
  • I think it's the same issue as when I tried to edit the question. Something to do with this being a meta site. – Ulysses Jun 18 '19 at 7:21
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    @Ulysses I still feel that first asking the OP before voting to close is the more polite way to go. IMHO one should not overrule the OP without asking them, and giving them a chance to explain the reasons that made them do what they did. – user121799 Jun 20 '19 at 16:37
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    @marmot I agree. I think the best way of doing things is to ask first. A polite and friendly discussion with the OP of the reasoning behind each person's views should usually be enough to establish agreement about where it should go, without stepping on any toes. Anything less just comes across as ham-fisted, sometimes even rude, and risks making the OP feel unwelcome or discouraging them from asking any future questions, which is especially a concern when dealing with new users. – Ulysses Jun 25 '19 at 15:16

They should be asked on Meta, there's a fun tag also here.

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