$\mathfrak{\mathbb{O}nce~upon~a~time~there~was~a~mathematician} \ldots$

enter image description here

Question 1. Can we use special formats for special questions with a Meta announcement? By a "special format" I mean special fonts and text designs as same as above example.

Question 2. How can one add a text in usual format "beside" (not upper or beneath) a picture in his/her posts as same as above example?

Question 3. Is there any way to add some new fonts to site? Is it possible to adopt the settings of the site such that users can add their new fonts to site after a Meta agreement?

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    $\begingroup$ I am not decided on the actual question, but one point: I think one should at least also have the relevant text as plain text. This could be especially relevant for persons with visual impairements that cannot access the data on the site in the usual way and rely on special tools that might/will have difficulty with extracting the text from an image. (Secondarily, it is not good for search and thus later discoverability to not have the text in plain form.) $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 3 '14 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ @quid The point which you mentioned is true. In fact one cannot add a post which contains just a picture. Another problem could be impossibility of editing the post by other users. $\endgroup$ – user230 Apr 3 '14 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ Note that you can avoid MathJax in the title (if it has to be blackletter at all): 𝕆𝔫𝔠𝔒 𝔲𝔭𝔬𝔫 π”ž 𝔱𝔦π”ͺ𝔒, 𝔱π”₯𝔒𝔯𝔒 π”΄π”žπ”° π”ž π”ͺπ”žπ”±π”₯𝔒π”ͺπ”žπ”±π”¦π” π”¦π”žπ”« … (Using Unicode’s Mathematical Alphanumeric Symbols Block.) $\endgroup$ – Wrzlprmft Apr 4 '14 at 8:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Wrzlprmft an issue with this is that this is not that widely supported. For some (including me at the moment) what you typed shows as boxes with the code written inside (except for the first O that displays correctly). Okay, I am using a somewhat old setup at the moment that is not really representative. But I also just checked on my not that old smartphone and there even worse I get empty boxes. Technically I prefer you solution and one could consider it as my fault I do not use better browsers. Still I wanted to point out that this does not "just work" for everybody. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 4 '14 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: In that case, we should change the title of this question to something normal. (Note I did not intend to realise the OP’s wish like this, but only to avoid the MathJax problem with the title (see Andrew Stacey’s answer. Both solutions are far from best practice. If you want blackletter on a web page, implement a blackletter webfont – like this.) $\endgroup$ – Wrzlprmft Apr 4 '14 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Wrzlprmft Sorry I misunderstood your intent a bit. Personally I agree that MathJax in titles should be used (if at all) only when it is really very necessary (also in general it should not be used for layout and formatting in my opinion). I tried to promote this view on various occassions on MO, but noted that quite a number think differenly so I did not want to "enforce" my view here just so. (I changed it now [to something more telling infact]; but moved the original in the body.) $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 4 '14 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ I do not quite understand why this gets downvoted so much. I vote on a discussion depending on the merits of discussing the suject. Now, it might not be the most important thing to discuss, but then it is a somewhat reasonable thing to ask, and in any case it is a lot better to ask it here than to test it out on the main site. $\endgroup$ – quid Apr 4 '14 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Thanks for your support. $\endgroup$ – user230 Apr 5 '14 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ @quid I agree entirely. I have started another discussion thread about this issue. $\endgroup$ – Jim Belk Apr 6 '14 at 21:39

One problem is that this is not useful for search engines and other automatic algorithms. This is a serious issue: something like 90% of the traffic on most Stack Exchange sites comes from Google, so a question that can't be Googled is inherently problematic.

This question also presumably can't be indexed very well by Stack Exchange's own servers. For example, it probably won't show up in the "Related" section on the right very often, and it probably won't be suggested as a possible duplicate when someone is asking a question.

All of this could be ameliorated by simply transcribing the text again after the image, possibly with a preface saying "In case you can't read the text above, here's a typed version." It might also work to have the text itself be the alt text for the image, but it's not clear whether Google and Stack Exchange use alt text in their algorithms.

The second problem, of course, is that using this technique detracts from the question itself. This site would be a lot less useful if everyone did this, simply because it would be more work to read the questions. If you try this once and it starts a trend, then that trend might need to be shut down before it got out of hand. This kind of thing may be fun, but it's the sort of fun has the potential to get in the way of the site's main purpose.

So my suggestion would be to use this technique very sparingly, especially now when the site is young and we don't have many questions. I think it would be fantastic to have a few of these next December during the holidays, but for now I think there should be very few questions of this type.

  • $\begingroup$ Let us fix a notation for the notion of such questions to refer them in future easily. I think based on your sentence "I think it would be fantastic to have a few of these next December during the holidays" it is appropriate to call them Christmas Questions. $\endgroup$ – user230 Apr 3 '14 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ Almost all parts of your argument are reasonable. But I cannot understand why reading a Christmas question is harder than a usual question. I think additional features of Christmas questions make them more pleasant and interesting to read. Would you please explain more about this part? $\endgroup$ – user230 Apr 3 '14 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ @SaintGeorg The easiest kind of text to read is just plain text, i.e. text in a relatively plain font whose width is about half the screen (on a computer) or the whole screen (on a mobile device). Moreover, we expect that text will start in the upper left-hand corner of a text box. The additional features of a Christmas question make them more interesting and pleasant to read, but less easy. The effects are similar to (but less pronounced than) if you wrote a question entirely in verse. $\endgroup$ – Jim Belk Apr 4 '14 at 2:13
  • $\begingroup$ Note that if it’s really only a change of the font, search engines won’t be affected by it. Anyway, I think that even this is a bad idea for the other arguments of this answer. $\endgroup$ – Wrzlprmft Apr 4 '14 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ I would go so far as to say we don't want any of these questions. The look of such questions is incongruous to the rest of the site, and if this site ever gets out of beta, the SE designers will work hard to give it its own design. Glyphs in different fonts should only be in different fonts if there is additional information conveyed by the fact that the font is different. $\endgroup$ – jbaldus Apr 25 '14 at 4:47

Please do not do this.

MathJaX is not the speediest of javascript libraries. Even on my fairly fast machine, the title of this post flickers every time I load the list of questions on the main list.

Unnecessary pictures in posts also slows loading time.

These considerations are important. In the early days of MathOverflow, I found myself trying to read the site on my travel computer (an ancient slightly burned out laptop) on an extremely slow line somewhere in Brazil. It was agony to watch the page take a long time to load and then for jsMath (as it was then) slowly convert the equations to maths. This experience was why I was one of those who lobbied for not having MathJaX loading on the main page.

We want to make it easy for people to contribute here, and making it hard to read the questions - whether through accessibility issues, page loading speeds, or just sheer incomprehensibility - will discourage people.

NB To reply to @awpeorutfhavdsjb's comment, here's a screenshot of the alternative rendering as viewed on my iPad. Adding fonts on an iPad is not for the faint at heart, so without webfont support (which MathJaX does, or effectively does), this sort of thing is inadvisable:

Screenshot of unicode font

  • $\begingroup$ As far as I understood it, the purpose was not to use MathJax for this, but to have a standard way to use a different font, e.g., such as we now have, when we use italics. $\endgroup$ – Wrzlprmft Apr 4 '14 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Wrzlprmft I've added a screenshot of what I see for your comment above. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Stacey Apr 4 '14 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ See my comment on the main question. $\endgroup$ – Wrzlprmft Apr 4 '14 at 11:31

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