There have been discussions on several of the newer SE sites on adding MathJax where the decision of the SE team leaned towards not enabling it on those sites. Sites like Cognitive Sciences or Biology currently don't use a lot of math, so the MathJax dependency was deemed as too heavy for those sites.

While I agree that it's difficult to justify a significant cost to every pageload when only a few posts actually use that specific feature, I think that all scientific SE sites should have MathJax available. Mathematics play an important role in all scientific disciplines, and not enabling MathJax might discourage questions and answers with significant mathematical content.

From a naive point of view without knowing about the internals of the SE engine my simple solution would be to only load the MathJax library on pages that actually use it. This would allow us to use MathJax even on sites that have a majority of non-mathematical content.

I also think that MathJax support would not be necessary in titles and excerpts for sites like Biology. It would only be necessary on the full question pages.

The new MathJax 2.0 also seems to be pretty modular (See also this recent post of MathJax developer Davide Cervone), which might reduce the impact of adding MathJax to sites that don't use Math heavily.

1 Answer 1


My script on this answer is valid here as well.

Have mathjax load itself ONLY when there's a certain token on the page. You may add the additional constraint that the token must be in a post and not on a comment.

I proposed this here first, and here are some jsFiddles:

The scripts don't work for the auto-update-preview, but I'm not going to dive into SE code to make it work :/

These scripts take no extra space (OK, a few extra lines of code--but insignificant) unless the token is on the page, in which case the lag-inducing mathjax will kick in.

We should have a policy for using this if its implemented, though.. Otherwise people will do this just to load a single greek letter or something and it will get out of hand.

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    "People will do this just to load a single greek letter" - isn't that what unicode's for? ;) αβγδ Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 10:01
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    @Zhaph-BenDuguid: Exactly. You can do quite a bit with unicode, but it sometimes gets annoying to read. To just type a measly square root and/or greek letter, MathJax isn't needed. When Unicode kills readability, that's when you $%BRING_ON_THE_MATHJAX$ Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 10:21
  • @Zhaph-BenDuguid - I'm perfectly familiar with the insertion of those characters in TeX/MathJax - It's as simple as $\alpha \beta \gamma \delta $. I know a few HTML entities (obviously including the above) but I have no idea how to insert 'raw' Unicode, especially not mathematical formatting. Other engineers, scientists, and mathematicians are similarly likely to know TeX but unlikely to know the key sequences for Unicode. (BTW, how did you insert those? I'd have to find some site that used the characters and copy-paste.) Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 1:29
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    @KevinVermeer: Microsoft Word is a start-- Insert-->Symbol-->Greek COPY PASTE :) Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 1:32
  • @Manishearth - Here's some Unicode I found on the internet which I feel is an appropriate response to your statement: ಠ_ಠ Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 1:45
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    @KevinVermeer: Here's some better unicode ‮‮ !!edocinU ruoy naht retteb si edocinU yM Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 1:50
  • @KevinVermeer: Internet or this guy? meta.stackoverflow.com/users/149052/nulluserexception Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 1:51
  • @Manishearth: Aah its similar, not the same. Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 1:51
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    @KevinVermeer: I user CharMap.exe on windows, but I agree it's not as simple as knowing the TeX equivalents (albeit a lot less characters to type, especially in these limited comment boxes ;)) Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 10:11

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