Is there a need for a How-To Use or Tips & Tricks page? If so, what would be on it?

(Tips and tricks include searching, urlencoding, markdown, how to see mathjax input, special question urls, site bugs and features.)

Motivation: As you may be aware MathOverflow will soon be part of the stackexchange network! One of the things we are thinking about right now is how to transfer all of MathOverflow's add-ons and tweaks to the new platform. We are quite fortunate that many of our little tweaks have already been implemented because sites like this one needed them. Of the leftover features, we have a Tips and Tricks page and the discreet tips box linking to it from our front page. There doesn't seem to be an equivalent here. (Let me know if I somehow missed it!) I'm wondering if that's because there is no need at all, if it's functionality is already available in another way (there are plenty of tip boxes here and there), or if it would actually be a helpful addition?

Just to be clear: I am asking about the need for such a page here on CSTheory, not about the need on MathOverflow. Please stay on topic! (There is another place to discuss MathOverflow issues.)

  • $\begingroup$ Hi François. Nice news. :) I am not sure what "there" is referring to in "There doesn't seem to be an equivalent here." Does it refer to "the discreet tips box"? $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ If that is so, we don't have a similar box AFAIK. It is hard to sa if we need it or not since we didn't have an option and no one brought up the idea until now. You may be able to use "Community Bulletin" box, a meta post with featured is often displayed there plus moderators can post some event announcements. Generally my feeling is that most users don't read FAQ and similar help pages before someone tells them to check it out directly. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Kaveh, "there" wasn't a specific place (e.g. "there is a unique solution to the equation $x=1$"). It's not highly visible on MO. We use it like we use the FAQ. It was more important when MathJax wasn't so ubiquitous and people didn't know how to type math, but it still has some good search tips and other tips to get MathJax to display things correctly. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 5:50
  • $\begingroup$ It also serves as a very short FAQ. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I meant "similar thing". We have one (or more?) meta post for LaTeX tips. I think the general practice on SE2.0 is to post separate meta posts for each faq items and them have a meta post referring to them, $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 5:59
  • $\begingroup$ e.g. MSO, MSE, cstheory. There is also a special faq tag. I don't think there is any permanent text box on the front page that can be edited by us. "Community Bulletin" box is the closest thing I know to "the discreet tips box". Still you may want to discuss it with Jin (SE site designer). $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 6:02
  • $\begingroup$ Kaveh, I edited to clarify what kind of tips and tricks I'm talking about. Where would you find such things on CSTheory now? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ when a user is asking a question the system display some help, I suggest checking it here (click on "?" above the question). It also links to editing help which has more detailed information. There is also the toolbox that should make using these features much easier. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ The system also has help pages for other features like search, they are usually linked from some relevant page. For example if you search, the results page has a link to this. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 6:22
  • $\begingroup$ We have a less known features meta-post but the definitive place to check them is the list on MSO: recent feature changes to Stack Exchange. ps: SE2.0 doesn't have any bug that I know of, I haven't seen a bug list, it only has "features". ;) (More seriously, there is tag for bugs and SE staff are generally responsive to them, so either it gets fixed quite fast or it is not a bug but a "feature".) $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ btw, you may also want to check moderator cheat sheet. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for all the info Kaveh! This is not like our Tips and Tricks page, but there is a lot more help-where-you-need-it here than on MO. I think this reduces the need for such a page here. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 7:22
  • $\begingroup$ I agree. You are welcome. :) $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Commented Aug 13, 2012 at 7:53


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