5

There is a related question, but that's not what I'm asking about.

Instead, I happened across a neat idea on the Mi Yodeya meta site. They have selected certain questions and answer to be put into a nice, printable style that can be handed out to people at events. Supposedly Jin, the SE graphic designer, made all of those.

I would like something similar for all questions on all sites.

I envision that it

  1. takes the text of the question,
  2. let's me select which answers I want with it,
  3. has different size options (e.g. page, booklet, or card),
  4. offers various other options (e.g. show users' names, show votes, etc.),
  5. then formats it into a nice printable page with the site logo and maybe a plug at the bottom to bring in more visitors.

So, I am sort of proposing a print button, but a userscript would be fine with me. I've never made a userscript before, but I'm under the impression it's just local js and css installed in your browser and adjusts pages for your machine only. I certainly use them, but if a userscript is made, someone from the community, and not an SE employee, could do it.

  • 1
    Did you check stack printer? – rene Jun 25 '15 at 18:08
  • @rene That's certainly a start. It needs a lot of work. – fredsbend Jun 25 '15 at 18:13
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    If someone decides to do this and wants to use TeX for output, I'd be happy to lend that hand. – Sean Allred Jun 25 '15 at 19:09
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    Jin made a Word template for us, and also did some logo adjustments. Community members did the actual importing of questions and selected answers (manually). – Monica Cellio Jun 25 '15 at 21:17
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    Explanations for downvotes does help. – fredsbend Jun 25 '15 at 23:55
  • @MonicaCellio I figured the "hand selected" portion of it was a prettied up way of saying "manual". I'm looking for something that can do this on the fly for any question. – fredsbend Jun 26 '15 at 0:00
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    I was just correcting the part about Jin making the books. Jin made the design and template, without which our books would not be nearly as nice, but we didn't press him into service with compilation and editing. – Monica Cellio Jun 26 '15 at 0:29
  • The books definitely look better edited; I doubt that a straight scrape of questions and answers would look as nice @MonicaCellio – Shokhet Jun 26 '15 at 14:55
  • @Shokhet agreed; you don't necessarily want all the answers (which the OP also recognizes) and you almost certainly don't want all the comments. – Monica Cellio Jun 26 '15 at 14:58
  • Note that the Mi Yodeya publications isn't really the same thing as what you're asking for. You are looking for basically a printer-friendly view. The MY publications require a significant amount of editing and the process could not likely be easily automated. – Daniel Aug 11 '15 at 14:45
  • @Daniel Yes, I did say "I am sort of proposing a print button". I also think that some clever css and js could get the job done. I've seen userscripts do some powerful things; this seems conceptually simple compared to those. It would be tedious, though. A lot of parts and user options is the only way to make this work well. – fredsbend Aug 11 '15 at 14:52
  • Expanding on @Daniel's point, in preparing online Q&A for print publications, we've found various ways in which content optimized for SE needs work to be optimized for paper. One important element is hyperlinks. Link-formatting on paper is ugly, distracting, and non-functional. You can strip the link, but you may thus lose important context. You can auto-convert it to a footnote, but the URL it points to may be very paper-unfriendly, and may be more useful on paper as a reference to an equivalent paper resource. ... – Isaac Moses Aug 11 '15 at 15:49
  • ... A special case of this (which probably applies to Mi Yodeya more than to many other sites) is the use of links to provide definitions of foreign or jargon terms. In many cases, the appropriate replacement on paper is not a link or a footnote, but simply a parenthetical definition or (in case of a large collection of content) a glossary entry. My overall point is that converting SE content to another medium, if you want the product to be high-quality in the other medium, likely requires editorial choices that a script can't make by itself. – Isaac Moses Aug 11 '15 at 15:51
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    @IsaacMoses I thought about the footnote for hyperlinks too. Ultimately, most links are too long and unsightly, however, short links can resolve this, and those can be auto-created from any one of the great link shorteners. In the end, some questions and answers can just not be auto-converted well. You are right about that. But I remain convinced that it can be done so that at least 75% of cases convert well. Another option would be that the script asks for specific editing choices before showing the final print version, if you choose to make any. – fredsbend Aug 11 '15 at 20:11

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