Sometimes we encounter (nice) questions with a bit dazzling codes but not showing the mathematical formulae explicitly. Like this one. I always have a hard time extracting formulae in the those questions merely by staring long enough... Maybe I'm just too stupid or slow to get used to this formula-recognition technique.

I just personally have the feeling that there'd better be some way to encourage the questioner showing formulae explicitly in the question. Either tex or just a figure. Sometimes the formula is just too easy to show. Probably it is hard to draw a line when a formula is really helpful and necessary. But at least, I found formulae quite helpful in many equation related questions, especially differential equation ones.

This should benifit most readers, help a lot attract answers, and even prevent duplicated posts as far as I can see. (I salute the authors of answers to such questions.)

What do you think?

  • 4
    It would be really nice if people can write things both in traditional notation (what else do we have MathJax for?) and easily understandable Mathematica code, but I don't think this can be enforced. At the most, you can ask (respectfully!) in comments if the answerer could try writing the math behind the code provided, whenever applicable. – J. M. needs help. Mar 30 at 11:00
  • @J. M. Thanks! I'm talking about the questioner, actually. Surely we cannot ask too much from the answerer. – xiaohuamao Mar 30 at 11:08
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    I agree that it can be nice to have the math, but I'd argue the code is in many ways more relevant and useful. For one, mathematical notation when used poorly (e.g. by someone without familiarity with MathJax or LaTeX) can be more vague than code is, but primarily, to my mind, the only case where I can see it truly being helpful to have an explicit formula rather than just the code is when someone literally mis-implemented a formula and these types of questions are ones that to my mind aren't the interesting ones that we want on the site. We're not a debugging service. – b3m2a1 Mar 30 at 19:24
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    Maybe there could be some sort of automated warning system for select posts that informs the user that without both TeX code and Mathematica code, the question might not receive much attention. – QuantumDot Apr 2 at 2:07
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    @QuantumDot That sounds a bit too big-brotherish to me. Moreover, $bla$ bla. – Henrik Schumacher Apr 7 at 18:18

Would be nice to have both in many cases but I agree with commenters that there is not much we can do. Summing up:

Assuming the question contains code but not traditional form formula, otherwise user ought to provide code anyway.

What we can do to encourage OP or achieve the goal

  • ask in comment whether the question can be edited with a LaTeX / picture containing a traditional form representation of the problem. You can suggest that it may help to bring attention to the topic. You can't demand that as OP already provided all one needs to solve the problem.

  • ask to link relevant sources (Wiki, MathWorld etc) if that's easier for OP

  • edit the question yourself. Many times skilled MMA/LaTeX user will be faster in converting code to traditional form than writing comments, which may result in nothing anyway

What we can not do

  • I'm afraid the script is not an option as it would be tough to catch whether a question qualifies for prompting a message. Shortly, this problem is too specific and with arguable usability to be accepted.

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