Should we have MathJax support on Academia?

I think it would be useful if questions about math in academic writing are common here.

I just asked this question and there it would have been nice (but not necessary).

  • 2
    I cannot think of why it would be a bad thing to have.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 15:12
  • 4
    longer page loads and JavaScript processing afterwards is the only thing that comes to my mind. Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 15:20
  • 1
    Has there been questions that are on topic on AC.SE that required mathematical formulation so far?
    – posdef
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 23:37

2 Answers 2


I believe Stack Exchange's position on MathJax support is on an "as needed" basis. First we have to demonstrate that there is a substantial need for it. Then we can make an argument to ask for it. Without a substantial number of questions actually requiring it, it's unlikely to go through. (You could generate a PNG of the LaTeX code and upload that instead, for instance.)

  • 1
    How do we document this need and whom do we ask? Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 17:10
  • 4
    If you'd like, you can use this question space to list questions that would have been easier to ask if MathJax were used. When the list looks fairly substantial, we can ask the SE staff to see if it's worthwhile.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 18:16
  • Seems like an overly complicated procedure for switching one bit in the system settings to me, but OK, let's go the way you suggest. (Let's celebrate Christmas and New Year first, however :-))
    – fedja
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 11:34

No, we should not have Mathjax.

There are several reasons why not, but the nub is that it's unnecessary. This isn't a site for maths questions.

It adds bloat to the page. And it really messes up formatting when you innocently put the dollar symbol twice on one line. So you end up having to explain to people that they should escape the dollar symbol with a prefixed backslash every time they want to display a dollar.

Wanting to display a dollar symbol does happen now and again. Whereas displaying an equation is incredibly rare here. Making it easier to display equations is only going to encourage off-topic questions. Adding an arcane barrier to the sane display of dollar symbols is only going to annoy posters.

If we do get some incredibly freaky circumstance where a formatted equation is essential to a question, then just stick an image of the equation in. Most mathjax & latex renderers allow you to capture the equation as an image. The equation isn't going to be any use to search engines anyway.

  • 9
    I really don't know---is displayed math that uncommon? I would think asking how to write about math (as oppose to doing math) would be on-topic, here. Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 16:42
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    If one sees that $ creates a problem, he can just use a single word (dollars, bucks, USD) to fix it and nobody will waste any time. There is no such easy way out with math., when you need it. As to the "arcane barrier to the sane display of dollar symbols", why don't you launch a crusade against * and other markup too? Be consistent! Down with them! Also, if you bother to look at the lines that enable mathjax in HTML documents, you'll see that you can reconfigure it to take any combination of symbols as an escape sequence, and I don't care in the slightest whether it is $, or #$#, or ...
    – fedja
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 11:26
  • 3
    @fedja Or they can be completely confused by what's going on, since they've maybe never seen LaTeX before. This is not the case on Mathematics or Physics, where everybody knows what $ does.
    – yo'
    Commented Mar 7, 2015 at 14:21

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