My question is mainly inspired by the question about Mathematica as LaTeX editor that judging by the vote counts has been somehow controversial.

We already have a guide on promotion titled "How to not be a spammer" and it may be arguable if this question crosses a line there or not. This guide assumes the promotion happens as an answer of an independent member of the community. But the controversial post is actually asked and answered by the same person, presumably the the sole intention to be able to promote but without disclosing that intention from the beginning.

So my question is:

How does asking and answering a question seemingly for promotion should be interpreted based on the current policy? Is it aggravating? Makes no difference?

Answering your own question is normally celebrated in the context of documenting a solution to a problem, but for some this may constitute an aggravating aspect for a self promoting answer. How should we interpret it?

  • 2
    Seems a bit odd, especially for a member with low contributions to the site.
    – kickert
    Jul 13, 2019 at 14:06

3 Answers 3


Here are two relevant links, which say similar things:

The intro to the help article sums up the guidelines and advice that follow it:

The community here tends to vote down overt self-promotion and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

There are two requirements, not all answers should promote one's product and affiliation with the product must be disclosed. The first really only matters once the user posts enough answers; I think in the specific case at hand that it is unlikely that TeX will solve so many problems on this site that too much self-promotion will occur. The second requirement is more important, imho, and the OP has done that. Mr.Wizard summarized all this in a comment on the answer.

The guidelines go on to warn that such posts as these (historically) tend not to be well-received. The guidelines seem to take no stand on this, so I take it that up/down vote wars are part of the give-and-take of commercial self-promotion on a site oriented more toward open-access solutions.

IMHO, which is just an opinion:

That said, why shouldn't Mathematica users be made aware of commercial solutions? That's rhetorical, by which I mean that in general we should. We even have a tag for AceGen, which is not free. On the other hand, I do not think the answer should be voted on without the voter having tested the solution and in some way vetted the product. None of the commentary addresses the quality of the actual proposed solution, and my hunch is that folks are upvoting to counter the downvoting, which would render the voting somewhat meaningless.

Having skimmed the documentation for the product, I'm not particularly impressed. In particular, I didn't see how to configure the TeX engine for pdftex, luatex, or some other TeX configuration. There were no illustrations of a Mathematica cell being converted to TeX. Some things are a bit klunky. And so forth. It just doesn't inspire confidence that it would do what I would want to do. But this is just an opinion. I share it to justify somewhat my doubts about the meaningfulness of the voting. The package may run quite well, esp. as you get used to the OP's workflow, idiosyncrasies of the UI notwithstanding.

Finally, it does not seem to be a good answer to the main question, "Can a Mathematica notebook be programmed to work as a LaTeX editor?" I expect a good answer to show how a notebook can be used like any of the popular TeX editors. I'd expect something more like a Wolfram Demonstrations Project notebook with an appropriate toolbar. The software only allows the notebook to be used piecemeal, cell by cell. But that in itself is something worth sharing, again, imo.


In short, in theory, I see no problem with such a Q&A that conforms to the guidelines linked above. I think the question, how to edit TeX in Mma, is one others could answer (although my initial reaction when I saw the title in the question queue was why does everyone want Mathematica to be $Y$ when it's $X$?). This means the Q is asked more broadly than mere self-promotion. And, as I implied, making users aware of commercial solutions, even one's own, seems helpful.


I now understand why you found my Q&A so objectionable. When I wrote it, I suppose I was thinking of it like an interesting puzzle to be solved: "How do I jump through all these policy hoops to do something that (I think) ought to be simple?". But being relatively new to the site I didn't appreciate how annoying that might be.

What I wanted to do was to announce the release of a package that I think will be interesting to the community, and to share my ideas about a problem that I think ought to have been solved at least 15 years ago (unifying LaTeX and Mathematica). I also wanted to ask how others have either directly tackled or worked around that problem. But the site policy does not seeem to allow any straightforward way to announce the release of a package (not even a free one), and nor does it seem to allow asking such vague questions within the main title question.

I have edited my answer and re-written the text of my question so as to explicitly state my intentions. I've also tried to make it clear that it is the example code that I am presenting as the answer to my main title question, not my package. Finally, I have tried to explain why I think my main title question is the proper and useful question to ask and answer.

In answer to your own question: Yes, I do think answering one's own question for promotion (free or commercial) could become aggravating, but perhaps a distinction could be made between a one-time-only first release announcement (free or commercial) and repeated promotion. If release announcements were deemed OK, then it might also be appropriate to allow a more straightforward way of making them.


I think that answering with commercial solutions should be allowed. Mathematica itself is not free either.

What about the question? Ideally, the question would be phrased so that in principle there could be other answers than the commercial package itself. If that is so, I think there is absolutely no problem. However, in practice, there may be no other package that accomplishes what the question is asking. Judging whether that's because the question is unreasonably specific is somewhat subjective.

What about the specific question that prompted this meta thread? I think it would not be difficult to rephrase the question so as to make it general enough. Then there would be no problem.

  • 1
    Answering by Commercial Package itself isn't problem, But how about self-question and self-answer for promoting the package? It is something like advertising article embedded along with ordinary news in web-media. such Ads irritating others and keep users away from its product.So I don't think it's preferable for both community and its developer. she/he should have done it another way.
    – Xminer
    Jul 13, 2019 at 16:55
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    @Xminer It should not matter who asks the question and who answers. That's not what should make the difference. If the question is good (in the sense that I tried to describe above), then I do not see a problem. In this particular case, the question could be made more general, and invite more answers. In fact, there have already been questions about how to use notebooks to produce a LaTeX document in the end. There's already a comment by Nasser which could be expanded into an answer (I guess he didn't as he already answered something similar elsewhere).
    – Szabolcs
    Jul 13, 2019 at 17:59
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    I'd hope to see the OP simply rephrase the question to completely avoid any impression impropriety, and so we wouldn't have to judge an edge case.
    – Szabolcs
    Jul 13, 2019 at 18:01
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    Apart from the point of who asks(I think this form of marketing will matter in the future if allowed) I agree with you and no counterargument.
    – Xminer
    Jul 13, 2019 at 19:22

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