Since I am a new user on TeX.SX, I would like to ask the community for some usage tips and tricks to aid us in efficiently using the site and other stackexchange sites. I will include some tips I have used in an answer below for the benefit of future new users that may find them helpful.

Can you please list any usage tricks that you use regularly that you would like to share, thank you.

Questions I have not been able to answer include:

  • How to address members with two-part names. I am unsure if @Dave Smith notifies Dave Smith or if it notifies Dave instead. Does it matter? Quotation marks? Underscores?
  • How to find a list of questions I have favorited. I assumed clicking on the star will add the question to a list I can later revisit for future reference. I have not yet found that list.
  • How to make sure I get notified when a new comment or answer is submitted to a question I am interested in. Rate? Favorite? (Comment? - I hope not.)
    This is not the same as the previous point, as I may wish to remind myself of answers when using TeX irrespective of whether there are any new answers.
  • How to subscribe to searches / tags / tag combinations. (I keep getting confused by context sensitivity and wonder if I am ending up subscribing to that tag edited by a specific user, if I subscribe to that tag from that user's page? Once I ended up in what looked like a filter setup but have no recollection of how I got there.)
  • Which sites are recommended to store images? (I noticed http://imgur.com in the help but assume others will work.)
  • Are images mirrored by TeX.SX or left on the linked site? How does that affect future / archival usefulness?
  • How to format a question / answer? (Keep it simple KISS principle, or "when are headlines welcome"?)
  • Exactly what makes a helpful comment and what makes an answer? I feel many users err on the side of politeness and choose to comment, which may or may not be a good thing.
  • I noticed some of my "common courtesies" edited away. I have seen that it is not customary to comment with "thank you" unless adding something "useful" and that extended back-and-forth commenting with a single user triggers a proposal to move the discussion to a chat. I believe this stems from the "wiki" philosophy of making this site a compendium of knowledge useful to future readers. I am still unsure of how, and what to write if I feel the impulse to. Can a discussion of best practices be included in the FAQ?

I saw "the FAQ" mentioned in some discussions. I have not found via search a mention where "the FAQ" was a link. Only with squinty eyes I have just now found the link next to the search field. I would vote for reinstating it as "Perhaps you are interested in our FAQ" or "You can always find a link to our FAQ next to the search bar" or similar in the new user greeting.

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That I know of, you can't get notified of comments on a question/answer unless you've been 'active' (asking, answering, commenting). –  Joseph Wright Dec 12 '12 at 6:56
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I just noticed that the Welcome Page is distinct from the FAQ. Could (should) the two be consolidated? Where is the community wiki that I read so much about? –  Andreas Dec 12 '12 at 7:30
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Oh, found it. Perhaps the meta-FAQ and The FAQ should be consolidated also, since FAQ are intrinsically meta, as well as to avoid confusion with new members (I certainly have been). –  Andreas Dec 12 '12 at 7:41
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The FAQ and so forth are mainly outside of the control of the 'community'. Apart from the first part of the FAQ page, they can only be edited by StackExchange staff and are consistent across the network. –  Joseph Wright Dec 12 '12 at 8:03
    
Thanks @JosephWright, I was hoping that a link to the Welcome Page could be slipped in there. –  Andreas Dec 13 '12 at 5:15
    
That's the very first thing linked to from the part of the FAQ we can edit ('Welcome to TeX Stack Exchange!'). –  Joseph Wright Dec 13 '12 at 6:48
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@JosephWright most excellent. Unfortunately, I wouldn't ever dream of clicking that to find further pointers (hence my incessant questions here). I don't actually know what to expect behind a link saying "Welcome". I have been looking for something much more literal, like "We have collected some helpful pointers for new members in our Welcome Package". I know that "click here" is considered bad style but it exists for a reason - it works. –  Andreas Dec 13 '12 at 8:20
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2 Answers 2

Here are some answers to some of your questions. This is actually a really nice start for a community wiki answer.

  • How to address members with two-part names. I am unsure if @Dave Smith notifies Dave Smith or if it notifies Dave instead. Does it matter? Quotation marks? Underscores?

The @ notation only works in comments and chat. For users with two part names you can simply remove the space between them. So you can refer to me with @AlanMunn. Only users who have already commented on a question or answer can be notified this way. The person who asked the question or provided an answer is automatically notified as well of comments to that question or answer.

On top right of the page next to the search box, the link between the "chat" and "about" links actually switches between "main" (meaning TeX.SX) and "meta" (circled).
this is also where a permanent link to the TeX.SX FAQ can be found (arrow).
screenshot of page menu

  • How to search for tags.

In the search box next to the site menu, enclose tags in square brackets.
Example search: [color] [line-breaking] magaz

  • How to find a list of questions I have favorited. I assumed clicking on the star will add the question to a list I can later revisit for future reference. I have not yet found that list.

The fastest way to get to your favorites is from the pop-up box showing your recent activity, where your name is in the menu at the top of the page. It shows a table including how many favorites you selected recently. Clicking on the word "favorites" takes you to your user profile page, with the favorite tab activated.

favorites pop-up

If you click on your user profile, there is a link to your favourites page under the text box containing your self-description:

favourites profile

  • How to make sure I get notified when a new comment or answer is submitted to a question I am interested in. Rate? Favorite? (Comment? I hope not.) This is not the same as the previous point, as I may wish to remind myself of answers when using TeX irrespective of whether there are any new answers.

Stackexchange sends notifications only for changes to questions that you have asked, answered, or commented. Please bear in mind that only comments that add useful information to a question or answer are encouraged, and unhelpful or chatty comments are liable to be removed. If you are interested in following a question, select it as a favorite by clicking the star icon next to it and visit it regularly.

  • How to subscribe to searches / tags / tag combinations. (I keep getting confused by context sensitivity and wonder if I am ending up subscribing to that tag edited by a specific user, if I subscribe to that tag from that user's page? Once I ended up in what looked like a filter setup but have no recollection of how I got there.)

I don't have an answer to this. Hopefully others can fill in the details.

  • Which sites are recommended to store images? (I noticed http://imgur.com in the help but assume others will work.)
  • Are images mirrored by TeX.SX or left on the linked site? How does that affect future / archival usefulness?

You should always use the image icon above input panel to upload an image. Images uploaded in that way will be linked permanently to the site by imgur.com. Other image links should not be used.

  • How to format a question / answer? (Keep it simple KISS principle, or "when are headlines welcome"?)

Compose a question containing relevant keywords so it may be found through the search engine. Ask a limited question and format your minimal working example (MWE) as preformatted text by marking it and hitting the Ctrl+K keys.

Short answers need not be formatted other than including code as preformatted text. If you answer a multipart question, quote the part you are referring to by prepending it with ">" characters. If your answer to a single short question contains multiple components, sparingly use headlines of the form ### Sample Headline ###.

  • Exactly what makes a helpful comment and what makes an answer? I feel many users err on the side of politeness and choose to comment, which may or may not be a good thing.

Erring on the side of politeness is our specialty. :) I think that many of us leave comments rather than answers if the question isn't entirely clear. If the comment turns out to be on the right track, it can be easily turned into an answer.

  • I noticed some of my "common courtesies" edited away. I have seen that it is not customary to comment with "thank you" unless adding something "useful" and that extended back-and-forth commenting with a single user triggers a proposal to move the discussion to a chat. I believe this stems from the "wiki" philosophy of making this site a compendium of knowledge useful to future readers. I am still unsure of how, and what to write if I feel the impulse to. Can a discussion of best practices be included in the FAQ?

I think you've captured the spirit of the site exactly. The switch to chat is automatically suggested by the site after some number of back and forth comments. Thanks comments can be appreciated, but usually accepting an answer and upvoting it is enough. I don't think we actively discourage thanks comments if the answer seemed especially helpful to you.

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Thank you @AlanMunn, I see you signed off with "community wiki". A search on the meta site site finally informed me. The dichotomy between meta and main site gets confusing, so a discussion of how to efficiently deal with it would be welcome, too. –  Andreas Dec 12 '12 at 7:38
    
I will insert my answer as soon as enough members have voted it useful. –  Andreas Dec 12 '12 at 17:39
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@AnMarkm tex.se= questions about TeX et al. while meta.tex.se= questions about tex.se. Thus, if you have a question about TeX, then ask it on the main site and if you have a question about the main site then ask it here :) –  Scott H. Dec 12 '12 at 22:22
    
Thank you @ScottH., the distinction is clear. What I find confusing to new users is the context-sensitivity of search and FAQ. Shouldn't I be able to search for community-wiki content from the main site (as it helps me to use the main site)? –  Andreas Dec 12 '12 at 22:57
    
@AnMarkm Since you asked on here I should have known that you understood the distinction. At times I've used the search here expecting results from the main site so I understand that it's easy enough to forget the separation of the two. As there is community wiki content on the main site as well, inclusive search might not clarify matters as you would then receive both main and meta results. –  Scott H. Dec 12 '12 at 23:27
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Some basic usage topics that I found non-obvious:

  • How to search for tags.
    Answer: in search box next to site menu, enclose tags in square brackets.
    Example search: [color] [line-breaking] magaz
  • How to switch between TeX.SX and meta.TeX.SX.
    Answer: on top right of page next to search box, link between "chat" and "about" switches between "main" (meaning TeX.SX) and "meta" (circled).
    this is also where a permanent link to the TeX.SX FAQ can be found (arrow).
    screenshot of page menu

Some editing tips not discussed in the advanced help:

  • How to add web links containing quotation marks (prevent quoted part getting interpreted as tooltip.
    Answer: (use html link or) write quotation mark as ASCII code %22, to make the stackexchange engine ignore it.
    Example: [sample google query](https://www.google.com/search?q=%22latex+stackexchange%22 "googling for TeX.SX")
    Appearance: sample google query
  • (In answering previous point.) How to insert stackexchange code characters into text.
    Answer: enclose by code delimiters ` or escape each special character by backslash \.
    Example: \[this\]\(isn't a link "it's just brackets and quotes"\).
    Appearance: [this](isn't a link "it's just brackets and quotes")
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