It seems that somebody is allergic to OpTeX: Whenever I mention the example using OpTeX then a down-vote occurs. :) I use such examples only if there is a reason for it:

  • The question doesn't mention LaTeX explicitly, like here (note that this question still waits to LaTeX solution, then we get a comparison),
  • The problem is independent of used macro package, like here,
  • It is good to show an comparison of LaTeX and plain TeX code, like here.

When you are solving specific LaTeX problems then I am typically silent (because I know that such problem simply doesn't exist in OpTeX:).

I am allergic to LaTeX but it doesn't mean that I down-vote all answers where LaTeX is mentioned:).

  • 3
    Your first link is not a good example, in case you didn't know unicode-math is a LaTeX package :P
    – Skillmon
    Sep 23, 2022 at 20:02
  • 16
    You should rename it DownTeX, then haters will start giving OpVotes. ;-)
    – Gaussler
    Sep 24, 2022 at 10:42
  • 4
    For others like me interested in learning more about OpTeX, see the package and documentation on CTAN, and Petr Olšák’s article in TUGboat Vol 41 (2020). (It was a little difficult to find, since at least for me, Google results are dominated by a multinational security company with the same name.) Sep 26, 2022 at 14:44

6 Answers 6


I never downvote OpTeX answers (or answers using other non-LaTeX flavors for that matter). However, I also mostly don't upvote them, unless the question asked about that specific system. This is not because I dislike OpTeX, but because I think that in a large majority of cases such an answer is not useful for the asker.

Whether you like it or not, within the TeX world LaTeX is the standard for document processing. This means that people that come here to ask a question almost always need an answer for LaTeX. This is the language (or variant, or macro package, or however you want to call it) that their document is written in up to the point of asking the question, they can understand answers given for LaTeX, they can use LaTeX answers when continuing to write their document, and they can combine the knowledge from such answers with other information they find online or discuss with their fellow students etc. For these reasons you can safely assume if a question does not mention the language that it is asking about LaTeX and nothing else.

Seeing answers for OpTeX or ConTeXt can be interesting as a comparison, and maybe as a bit of evangelizing for awareness and potentially also the use of such systems, which is fine of course. But I think that often it will only confuse the asker, and it will not help them because they are unable to use it in their workflow. The same applies to future visitors to the question. Therefore I am not particularly enthousiastic about OpTeX answers, and I don't upvote them - but downvoting is a bit uncalled for in my opinion.

  • 6
    I fully agree. And I never downvote wipet's answers, even if sometimes they're not really up to the point.
    – egreg
    Sep 24, 2022 at 9:07

Just a bit of advice from my experiences with Tikz and pstricks. It may be that you do this already (I haven't clicked through to read your answers) but I'm not just answering for you but also for the benefit of others reaching this.

I, personally, think that seeing different ways of doing things is a really valuable part of this site and is part of why I read answers to questions I have very little interest in. Without that I wouldn't have learnt about Context or even heard of OpTex so please do continue to post such answers. In contrast to what others have said, I do tend to upvote such answers to show that I value the contribution even if I might not fully understand it.

When I find myself writing an answer using something not asked for, sometimes even explicitly, then I do try to acknowledge that fact in my first sentence. Something like "I know you asked for a pstricks solution, but for anyone else who might be interested in the same problem with Tikz, here's how I'd do it with Tikz." It may feel a bit wordy, but I find it sets the tone better than just "With Tikz" as that can come across as "Don't use XYZ, use ABC"

Admittedly, the OP in this example explicitly invited other solutions, but nevertheless I think that https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/3894/86 illustrates both the value of alternative contributions and my phrasing of introducing one.


This looks like it could be a single user, so it's hard to say much beyond 'this is not the usual pattern'. From the earliest days of the site, it's been clear that alternative approaches are allowed in answers. That can mean OpTeX or ConTeXt or ... for a LaTeX question, or vice versa, or using alternative packages/modules, etc.


Downvotes are annoying, we all get them from time to time, but it really isn't possible to ask here why it happens or what can be done about it. The site has thousands of users and it seems one or two object to you posting optex answers. Those people probably don't look here on the meta site so won't see this question and we don't know who they are or how to persuade them not to do that.

I have, I think, around 50 posts with downvotes. It's not really possible to ask why those get downvoted any more than it's possible to ask why completely worthless joke answers like https://tex.stackexchange.com/a/94891/1090 get hundreds of times more up votes than some answers I spent hours on working out the TeX details for just a handful of votes. It's just how the site works.


Thank you all for your discussion posts. That is sweet.

But someone is trying to disgust me here and he is very succeeding. For example my last answer (two downwotes are here). I decided that it is useful to add an answer to the existed answer strictly dependent on Expl3. My answer has two parts: the solution independent of format based only on TeX primitives. And the second part is the solution based on OpTeX macros.

Suppose that somebody using plain TeX or OpTeX needs a help with "Conditionally remove trailing period" and (s)he googles it and found this page. IMHO it is useful to have such answers here despite the fact that the OP illustrated the problem using LaTeX code. Moreover, the first part of my answer works in laTeX too and it is independent of Expl3. Maybe somebody don't want to use Expl3. But there is two downvotes here.

If this is LaTeX only site then rename it to latex.stackexchange.com and I will stop to use it. Or (better): try to educate users that there is no only LaTeX when TeX is used.

There is interesting idea here that downwoting should be connected with a note why it is done. For example, the popup window should say something like "Please, put your comment why you decided to down voting here". Of course, voting is anonymous, so this should be only optional or site can enable to add annonymous comment in this case.

  • 1
    This feature request has been raised before, and declined.
    – wizzwizz4
    Sep 28, 2022 at 12:34
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    The site is not LaTeX only, according to the official description the site is "about TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems". The issue for me is not at all that (Op)TeX "doesn't belong here", but that in my opinion the current and future visitors of the site benefit from having focused and organized Q&A. For me that means TeX answers to TeX questions, ConTeXt answers to ConteXt questions, and LaTeX answers to LaTeX questions. There are hundreds of questions in the [tex-core] and [plain-tex] tags for example that could benefit from OpTeX answers.
    – Marijn
    Sep 29, 2022 at 13:54

The issue is about someone maintaining the habit of downvoting without explaining why doing so. I think a downvote should always come along with a comment which explains why the downvote took place. Downvoting is not the same as not upvoting. E.g., when I am aware—I say "aware" because I've had moments where I had fallen prey to the Dunning-Kruger-effect...—that I don't grasp the gist of a contribution I neither upvote nor downvote it because I think judging about things which one does not sufficiently understand is not good practice.

Taking the fact that a contribution refers to OpTeX as a criterion per se for downvoting does not seem rational to me.
I find it difficult to comment on irrational behavior, especially irrational behavior of others.

Since voting behavior seems not always to be oriented to the matter at hand/sometimes seems not to be based on rationality/objectivity, but sometimes seems to be more a matter of the amygdala being triggered one way or the other—in the context of voting-behavior you also find keywords like "sympathy-likes" which means that with some people voting behavior also depends on the level of antipathy or sympathy they feel for the author, I form my opinion about the quality of a contribution not by looking at the voting results, but by reading it.

I feel that our interactions on this platform did not start all too well, which I am not innocent of, and which, by the way, I would like to change.

IIRC I did not downvote any of your contributions. IIRC I never saw a reason to do so, as they use to be focused on helping to solve problems and/or presenting facts accurately.

With the three examples you linked, I notice that downvotes were made, but there are no comments referring to the downvotes and explaining why they were made.

I think this is not good style on the part of those who made the downvotes.

I think that those who downvote should leave a comment as to why:

A downvote is a way of stating that you believe the downvoted statement deserves criticism. Part of freedom of speech is being allowed to express this in an acceptable way.

But one should justify this rationally. The practice of just conveying by anonymously clicking a button that there is someone who finds something worthy of criticism, but not what and why, does not necessarily contribute to an exchange of ideas/views that might lead to something constructive.

You have now composed an answer yourself, in which you wrote the following:

If this is LaTeX only site then rename it to latex.stackexchange.com and I will stop to use it. Or (better): try to educate users that there is no only LaTeX when TeX is used.

I assume that someone is using the downvote feature in a way that is not in the spirit of the site. I think this someone is an individual and does not represent the broad user community.

I don't object about notes regarding how to use the up- and downvote-feature in the spirit of the site.

But I don't know whether detecting and reaching (for educating) single users who don't use the up-/downvote-feature in the spirit of the site is easily possible. (Probably this is something which people can comment on who have more insight into the ways in which StackExchange is administered.) It should be considered whether confronting the broad user community with "educational measures" for behavior outgoing from one or two accounts corresponds to the principle of proportionality. (I say "accounts" instead of "users" because of the scenario of a single person maintaining several login-accounts.) I think the broad user community doesn't need "education".

Since the downvotes are not accompanied by comments that refer to them and provide reasoning as to why downvoting was done, everyone except the person(s) who downvoted can only speculate about the reasons for which these downvotes were made.

Perhaps an individual assumes that there is somehow a consensus that non-LaTeX answers are generally to be rejected.
Such an assumption seems audacious to me, to say the least. One should be careful about using assumptions about opinions of others as a means to an end or for justifying the belief that on can speak/act in behalf of everyone.

Answers are often united under one subject, which is not related to a specific format/flavor of TeX.
It may be that the text of a question mentions that the questioner is interested in LaTeX. But in most cases subject lines returned by the search engine do not reveal this.
This site addresses all variants/flavors of TeX. Therefore I think it is legitimate to think of answer seekers besides the questioner her-/himself and to give answers which refer to other formats/flavors of TeX but still address the matters raised in the subject line.
Besides, it doesn't hurt to be introduced to alternative tools/approaches. It even is often pointed out that it would be easier not to do a (sub-)task with whatsoever flavor of TeX at all but to do it with another program, and a corresponding workflow incorporating that other program is suggested without being taken umbrage at. So pointing to ways of approaching matters still with means related to TeX, even if probably not LaTeX, should not be a problem, too.
It often seems to me that a question is not only about how to implement the thing in LaTeX, but also about how to implement it at all. I.e., not only experience in implementing some algorithm in (La)TeX is missing, but the question is also about finding an algorithm at all that can be implemented efficiently for some TeX-engine. Therefore: If someone provides ideas by giving an answer that refers to OpTeX or some other format/flavor of TeX, that might inspire more experienced users to look at that code, to grasp the gist of the algorithm, and to re-implement one or the other of it in LaTeX. Et voila: A reference to LaTeX would be there even if the code provided in the answer is not based on LaTeX but is based on some other TeX-format.

I'd be sad if you were put off by a single user who might be using features of the site in ways in which they weren't meant to be used.

Even if someone should think that they can somehow speak for a general public through their downvote behavior, that doesn't mean that the general public agrees.

  • 4
    In general I am in favor of comments explaining a downvote for an answer. However, if there is no such comment, then the default reason applies, which is visible as a tooltip on the downvote button: "this answer is not useful". In this particular case that most likely means "this answer is not useful because it doesn't use the format that the OP was asking about". Of course you can disagree with that and be of the opinion that the answer is useful (because of the general principle, because people can learn from it, etc), in which case you can upvote the answer.
    – Marijn
    Sep 29, 2022 at 17:37
  • @Marijn The "usefulness" argument has a component of subjectivity. There are cases where an answer may not be useful to some, but it is useful to others. In such cases I would not downvote. If an answer is not really an answer, because it does not address the problem at all, the case is different. But even in such cases donvoters can leave a comment. Perhaps the answer will then be changed in such a way that it addresses the problem. One reason people don't comment their downvotes is that they fear personal animosity. But it should be about moving forward on the issue, not against each other. Sep 29, 2022 at 19:28
  • 3
    @ Ulrich I agree (as I also said in my previous comment) that leaving a comment is a good thing. I just wanted to point out that, in case there is no comment, it is still possible to know the reason: the downvoter had the (subjective) opinion that the answer was not useful. From there the person that wrote the answer can try to deduce why the downvoter had this opinion. A sensible explanation is then that the downvoter thought the answer did not match the question because it uses a different format.
    – Marijn
    Sep 29, 2022 at 19:42
  • @Marijn I did not intend to express whatsoever disagreement. Just that "(not) useful" is a wide term, as you indicate yourself by saying "try to deduce why the downvoter had this opinion". And I think some people fear reaction/personal animosity in case of revealing what account their downvote came from. What is important for people to know is that downvote should be used in ways where it cannot be considered s.th. personal, but s.th. oriented to the matter. But the scenario pointed out in the initial posting (downvote frequency) might suggest a different mindset in this regard. Sep 29, 2022 at 19:59

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