At the moment, one of the questions in the "hot questions" tab of the StackExchange global inbox is this one from Math.SE. Its title appears as

Prove Inequality $\frac{\left(1-\alpha\right)\left(1+{\alpha}^{k}\right)}{\left(1+\alpha\right)\left(1-{\alpha}^{k}\right)}\geqslant\frac{1}{k}$

The same appears on the StackExchange home page. This is, to say the least, quite hard to read, and it looks kinda ugly when you're browsing through the hot questions. Is it possible for questions with LaTeX in the title to be ignored by the algorithm that selects hot questions?

Adding per the suggestion below...

In some ways, this is similar to the idea of excluding questions in foreign languages. This isn't a case of filtering out LaTeX questions, or indeed maths questions – I'd quite happily read both. It's not about interest. It's about legibility. It's not just "hmm, not really interested in that"; rather, it's "what on earth does that say?"

I find the above code literally unreadable without using the end result as a crib, which kind of defeats the point. I'm sure an awful lot of people – especially as we get more and more non-technical sites – would find the same.

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@Arjan Fixed it. –  agf Oct 2 '11 at 20:15
My eyes can read that just like they would read it when rendered by TeX ;-) Well, I must admit that the \left and \right are a little bit disturbing though. –  Stéphane Gimenez Oct 2 '11 at 20:53
@StéphaneGimenez For those of us who don't speak TeX (and, on a network that is increasingly non-technical that's probably most of us...), it's utterly illegible! –  lonesomeday Oct 2 '11 at 21:00
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1 Answer

A "hot question" in Hebrew or Japanese is about as unreadable to me as LaTeX is to you. I second Stéphane's comment that some people can parse LaTeX math easily and it certainly will interest those folks. Besides, there's also the whole issue of filtering because of "I don't like religion X" and "Gaming's titles give me the creeps". Once you get down to the core of your request, it's really about filtering questions in that list which has been repeatedly marked .

In the end, these questions are supposed to expose people to other "interesting" questions in the network (whether they like it or not). If you don't understand some or don't like some, just keep scrolling to the next one. I'm sorry if this comes across as rather glib, but I do not see Jeff changing his mind anytime soon on this, and I rather agree with that decision (I do however disagree about the disproportionate exposure some sites get, but that's for later...).

In light of lonesomeday's find on language questions being filtered, I guess it wouldn't be unreasonable to extend that filter to titles with LaTeX in them.

After thinking about it a little more after I wrote my answer, I realize that often math questions that have latex in their titles tend to be very localized (like "How do I solve this limit $blah$"). Localized in the sense that they're on-topic, but really pertain to the OP's particular problem on hand and not necessarily of wide interest (there are a few, but most aren't). So it wouldn't be a terrible loss if they did that.

An alternative would be to convert the LaTeX math in question to an image as in Arjan's question. This would circumvent the need to load mathjax and wouldn't be a waste, as questions on the "hot questions" list stay there at least for a few hours.

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I'd agree, except that foreign languages have been excluded. There's a difference between uninteresting and illegible. If, for instance, the LaTeX could be formatted as it is on Math.SE universally, that would be an adequate solution, IMO. –  lonesomeday Oct 2 '11 at 21:20
@lonesomeday Thanks for that link, I hadn't seen that. I'm not saying your request doesn't have merit; it does! I really do wish I could filter out a lot of the sites myself. All I'm saying is that I understand Jeff's point about wanting to expose other site's questions. –  Lorem Ipsum Oct 2 '11 at 21:24
@yoda Indeed: I quite agree. See the edit to my original question. –  lonesomeday Oct 2 '11 at 21:29
@lonesomeday After thinking about it for a bit, I guess questions that have a lot of latex in them kind of tend to be specific to the OP's problem (i.e., not of general interest) and so would be fine if they were filtered out. I've edited my answer. –  Lorem Ipsum Oct 2 '11 at 21:43
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