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I propose that we jointly craft and refine a Mathematica.SE package of commonly used functions. I noticed that many answers on StackOverflow were in essence recreating the same functions, and it would be nice to use new library functions without having to find and reference the post they originated from.

This way we could simply start code with e.g. Needs["SEpack.m"] and go from there. It would of course be good to explain this is a site FAQ.

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This makes it harder for people who are new to the site to get the most out of an answer, so I'm mildly opposed. Of course, the same could be said for answers involving other third-party packages.

  • Do you mean "get the most out of" in the sense of seeing all the underlying code, or in the sense of being able to use/understand it at all? If the latter, I would hope that knowledge of the package & functions would spread quickly. If the former I think it is a balance; there are already a great many standard library functions and it is not common practice to avoid these to use the most primitive functions. I think that with the library answers could be cleaner and more concise, and if the package is well commented it would be possible to read it for further details. – Mr.Wizard Jan 20 '12 at 15:47
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    The latter. Remember that it's expected that the bulk of traffic will come from Google searches. A self-contained answer would be much more useful for such a user than an answer that requires the user to additionally track down and install a package. (Even installing a package may be a bit tricky for a novice Mathematica user.) – Brett Champion Jan 20 '12 at 15:56
  • Would you still think it problematic if the package were prominently noted on the site? – Mr.Wizard Jan 20 '12 at 16:07
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    I also don't think this would be a good idea. For new users, this feels like being urged to download something before you can benefit, which is not what this site is about. It kind of reminds me of watching videos online 10 years ago: save as, wait ... – David Jan 21 '12 at 7:18

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