Though not daily, from time to time it would be really nice to be able to use typesetting (like MathML, Latex, etc) to be able to express formulas etc for theoretical stuff.

In the long run, I think the site would benefit from it since it would encourage more detailed explanations in question/answers.

The functionality exists on other sites, ex. Math, so it should not be impossible to add the functionality here as well.

In the link provided by Paul White in a comment, the main objections against the proposal seem to be:

  1. Not enough questions/answers would benefit from Math content

    This may well be the case, but it may also be self-fulfilling. If one can't add Math content, question/answers may be added in a less mathematical form than they otherwise would

  2. Enabling the proposal is resource-demanding and would cause a slowdown to all pages on the site, not only those with mathematical content.

    I can totally understand this objection, especially in combination with objection 1). I have no idea whether it would be possible to enable/disable[default] for individual question/answers so that only pages with math content would suffer from long load times.

  3. Images of formulas can be used instead

    I don't like this suggestion at all. It is almost as bad as pasting images of tables and data into a question. I think it severely cripples the possibility to reason about a question in an answer.


  • 1
    You're right - if it's available on other StackExchange sites, there's no reason that it shouldn't be here either - maths material such as probabilities, statistics and encryption are of sufficient interest here for such functionality to be included - plus it's at zero cost to SE! +1 Feb 26 '20 at 8:39

If there were no downsides, I wouldn't be so against this revisiting of an old proposal. Who could object to something that would give us more formatting options for free? In reality though, there are downsides to consider:

  • Client-side rendering performance. For an example heavy page, see https://math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5020/mathjax-basic-tutorial-and-quick-reference.
  • There may be a noticeable overhead on pages without any enhanced content.
  • Existing TeX-specific bugs would start to impact us.
  • We might breaking existing posts (or comments?) in some way.
  • Potential for overuse or misuse (tables, perhaps). Those keen on TeX might be tempted to add it all over the place.
  • A new class of formatting-related maintenance work to do.

So there are at least some risks. I think it is up to the advocates to demonstrate the advantages, and show enough concrete examples where this facility would be useful enough to override the potential downsides.

As I understand it, this feature is either enabled for the whole site or not. It cannot be configured for certain posts or tags, for example.

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