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Prelude

I am currently aware of the reason behind why the Android App does not allow rendering of MathJax in comments via with no explanation to indicate otherwise. This issue is a technical one that has not been solved yet. Completely understand.

Problem

However, in its current form, it appears that rendering in comments is broke with no explanation to indicate otherwise.

Now, a user can see the MathJax in the Android App if they...

  1. tap on one comment
  2. click the overflow menu
  3. select "Render MathJax" menu item

This is a process that is not intuitive to people that don't already know about this. People know that they can click on another person's name in a comment (actually just clicking the whole comment UI component), and will know that they might be allowed to view their profile if they search the overflow menu. This idea goes for a lot of other comment-related actions; flagging, upvote, etc.

However, this idea does not translate to displaying the comment correctly, and people assume there is an issue / bug, instead.

Proposal

I propose a solution that is 2-fold. (1) Easily indicate to the user to that they can display the MathJax correctly with their input, and (2) inform the user as to why they have to manually induce the correct display of text.

  1. Provide a mechanism directly on the UI comment component that directly or indirectly indicates a user action is needed to render the MathJax. There appears to be a mechanism to determine if a comment has MathJax syntax, as only comments with MathJax have a "Render MathJax" Overflow menu item

    • ie. In the comment, state "Render MathJax". This would directly tell the user that they have to click on this text to make it display. However, they might not know why it doesn't "just work".

    if &r_0=1km$, then $d=(π/2)km$? – Christopher Rucinski 3 hours ago
    Render MathJax

    • ie. In the comment, display a MathJax logo. This would indirectly tell the user that they have to click on the logo to make it display. Users will see that the MathJax is not displaying correctly, but they will see the logo. This might indicate to the users that the comments aren't broken, and extra digging might be needed.

Here are 2 possible formats for the display of "Render MathJax". However a logo could be used instead.

enter image description here

Note: In both cases, the user is aware they need to manually click to do something.

  1. Provide a mechanism to the user so they can understand why there are limits to displaying MathJax in the comments. As the Mobile Team Lead stated a couple months ago, "We should definitely get better at explaining this."

    • When you are displaying the MathJax-formatted comment, provide a "question-mark button" along side the comment to explain the issue to the users.

NOTE

I have stated an issue that others and I have found. I provided general solution to solve 2 issues, and I gave a specific, implementation solution.

Comment on your preferred implementation solution if you can think of one.

[Note 2] This could also apply towards titles on mobile devices, too, or any place that needs to have MathJax displayed but isn't.

  • 1
    Thanks for the wonderful write-up here of the problem and putting out ideas to help us fix it :) I definitely agree with both you and my past self that this seems broken right now. I'm hesitant to put a new item inside of the comment area since the tap area for it is really small, I'm behind the idea of using an icon as a indicator though. – Kasra Rahjerdi May 18 '15 at 18:14
  • @KasraRahjerdi I didn't mean that the small Render MathJax text should be clickable; just so that the text (or something MathJax related) was visible. The user would only be allowed to tap on the whole comment. – Christopher Rucinski May 18 '15 at 18:38
  • @KasraRahjerdi are there any other abnormal issues - like this MathJax issue - that the app has to deal with (especially with comments)? – Christopher Rucinski May 18 '15 at 18:40
  • I only ask, because all of these weird cases might be able to be handled the same way (with a notification or something). Anyways, with the use of an icon as an indicator, just make sure that a user has a connection between it and the disabled MathJax. – Christopher Rucinski May 18 '15 at 19:29
  • final thought....would it be possible for a user to convert all of the comments of a single question or answer (even if just 1 comment has MathJax)?? Right now, when a user clicks on Render MathJax a white box withe the rendered text appears. Could the same happend with all the comments at once? – Christopher Rucinski May 18 '15 at 19:48

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