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I am currently working on a custom table for a friend of mine and that question came up to my mind: Should I post it on TeX.SE to hopefully help other people?

I didn't find a place to post Latex examples, the only one I could encounter was TeXample.net, but this one seems to be mostly dedicated to TikZ examples. However, I also don't know if TeX.SE is the right place for posting this sort of thing.

I recently read this thread, so I took some inspiration from there.


Why should I post?

My situation gives me a great motivation: my friend uses Latex, but as a beginner he was unable to produce the (somewhat complex) table. On the other hand, he could use it after I explain to him how to do this.

So here are some pros and cons of posting it.

Pros

  • The code could help someone else to solve their own problems by giving them inspiration or a template to start with.

  • As a beginner too, my code would be available for improvements made by more experienced users, then even me could learn more.

  • It can show the owners of the package some demands from users (in my case, I had to make some workarounds in order to overcome some limitations of the package which, if weren't there, would make my life much easier).

  • The post could attract people's attention and receive other solutions that could be even better than mine.

Cons

  • As a beginner, there is a risk that I am making mistakes or doing bad practices, hence I might teach someone wrong things.

  • The code may become obsolete and stop working, as I don't intend to give it actively maintenance.

Conclusion

I would say that my main point is: for me, it's an opportunity to got my solution improved by people and, for others, it's better to have this than to have nothing at all.

Note: Of course I will comment the code before posting it so that the users can understand how to use it. I will also warn people that I'm not an expert Latex programmer.

15

The Q&A format of the Stack network doesn't lend itself well to a standalone post (SO tried this with the documentation experiment; it didn't go well). In that sense, no, you should not post your example.

But there is an alternative. You can transform your post into a true Q&A. What is the trickiest part of the table? You can create the rest of the table and leave the tricky part as the question: "How do I do this?". Then you can answer your own question. Both will be voted in on their own.

Be forewarned that while self-answering is allowed on the Stack network, there are many people that look down on it. Partly this is (IMO) because self-answers don't quite end up with a separate answer and question. Your goal should be that if the author names were hidden, we wouldn't be able to tell that you answered your own question. The other part is because some answers show how much of a beginner they are, but that's harder to avoid.

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  • Good point, I was thinking of doing something close to what you suggested: since my code has some lack of robustness (for sure), I was going to highlight these possible problems asking for improvements. Regarding the final part of your answer "some answers show how much of a beginner they are", well… I might be wrong, but I think the reputation (and up/down voting) system should be able to deal with beginner answers, then they shouldn't be a too big problem, even with the self-answers
    – Leone
    Mar 14 at 22:52
  • 1
    If I was doing this, I'd note as a comment under the question (though I guess it could also go in the question itself) that I had an answer I was planning to post, but also that it may not be the best answer. Then I'd leave it a little while before posting my answer. You may then find you accept someone else's solution. It might also be possible to post your solution in the question, if it's clearly imperfect, and ask how to address the imperfections
    – Chris H
    Mar 15 at 8:52
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To add to the answer of Teepeemm (with which I agree): to help future visitors to the site the most, it is important that a Q&A-pair focuses on a single aspect or issue to be solved.

We get many questions along the lines of "how do I draw this complex table", some with a code attempt and some without, but even if the question already contains a starting point in code then generally the question and answer is only useful for the person that asked the question. Other people may struggle with one or more of the same issues, but they will not be able to find the existing question when they search, or if by coincidence they do find it then it will be difficult to understand and to isolate their issue among the various issues presented in the complex table.

Therefore it is better to have separate Q&A-pairs for each issue. Things like: how do I put a double line between rows, how do I set a background color for a cell, how do I create a nested table, how do I make a table span pages, how do I align the contents of a row vertically, etc. Each of those should be a separate question, with a simple example that shows only this aspect and nothing else. This allows to make the title descriptive, the text focused, the tags relevant, and the example easy to understand. The first three help with searching and finding the question, while the last helps with actually solving the issue.

If you approach the table you made for your friend in this way, then you might find that some of the issues are already covered in existing questions. However, for other issues you can write a new, self-answered question, which will probably (hopefully?) be well-received if it is focused, not a duplicate, and the solution is indeed ok. A new Q&A-pair on how to solve a known issue but with a different package where existing solutions don't work is also fine.

For your other goal of persuading package maintainers to add features however, it might be better to ask this directly on the Github issue tracker/mailing list/some other means of contacting the author. Some maintainers are active here on the site and are happy to collect and implement ideas from questions, but others prefer to be contacted directly.

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