Ok, I ran into the problem with the TeX eating my dollar sign symbols.

The use of the $ to delimit TeX is an issue. However, Far Worse is the fact that this behavior is explained nowhere.

Furthermore, to muddy the waters even more, TeX is not enabled in the preview pane when writing or editing a question.
Therefore, formatting issues do not crop up until the question is posted, so it is likely that they will often go unnoticed.

Either TeX Needs to be enabled for the realtime editor preview, or there needs to be a very clear, succinct explanation for what will happen in the sidebar when editing or writing questions.

My suggestion would be to put it in the "How To Format" sidebar.

Also, since the delimiter is a $\$$, and people sometimes want to type just a $\$$, the information about how this is done (e.g. $\$$) also needs to be made available.

Aaaaand TeX is not enabled on Meta. WTF?
No, wait, it is, it just took ~40 seconds to render. What the hell?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe it's just because of the difficulty of expressing emotion on the internet, but your tone in this feels overly antagonistic. Can you take it down a notch? Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @reemrevnivek - Cleaned up a bit. I was irritated when I wrote it initially, and I am a bit inclined to hyperbolic prose. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 19, 2011 at 7:07

3 Answers 3


$\TeX$ is enabled for the previews...you just need to wait for ~5-10 seconds after you stop editing the thing (works the same on meta and main). Other than that, this is a known problem, see TeX Delimiters should be changed

The delimiter is only $, you do $\$$ to TeX delimit ($...$) a TeX dollar sign \$ (escaped with the backslash so it doesn't terminate the parsing.)

The options that are on the table (aside from changing the delimiters, which would render this bug moot) seem absurd. Informing users they must type a $\$$ when they want to just get a $ is ridiculous. I wholeheartedly agree that this is a major problem, but I'd rather fix the root cause then try to duct-tape some broken windows (throwing that analogy in there for Atwood; he loves it) back together.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I checked, it never appears for me. Either there is a bug, or my browser (Opera) is doing something strange. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 3:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Furthermore, I am not adressing the actual delimiter choice, I am commenting that the fact that \$ is the delimiter needs to be very prominently explained, since there is no present explanation why things are behaving the way they are, and I had to have someone link me to the meta question before I even really heard about that's going on. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 3:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fake: Hmm, it does for me on Chrome 10.0.648.133, other browsers might take a little while to either render it or think it's "stable enough" to begin. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2011 at 3:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ All I know was suddenly, \$ started behaving really strangely. Together with the change should have been an announcement, or at least a clear note in the "How To Format" sidebar saying something like "\$ Is now being used for a tex delimiter, to type a normal \$, do x" or similar. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fake: What do you mean \$ is the delimiter? It's only $, you do $\$$ to TeX delimit $...$ a TeX dollar sign \$ (escaped with the backslash so it doesn't terminate the parsing.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2011 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ WRT loading, I let it sit for a few minutes, no change. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 4:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Tex seems to not parse \$ (Backslash-dollarsign), while it does parse (dollarsign). I have no idea where TeX is or is-not enabled (Is it enabled in the comments? I don't know, and there is no notes about it), so I'm just escaping the (dollarsign) everywhere. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 4:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Again, see the fact that I'm basically saying this behavior needs to be clarified. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 4:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fake: the reason you escape the dollar sign is to tell TeX that that's not a delimiter--you don't want it to end there. From looking at your posts, you're using $\$$ \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2011 at 4:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Fake: but if the other bug is fixed, this becomes moot. Unrelated: have you tried our chat room? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick T
    Mar 18, 2011 at 4:06
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Look, Basically I solved this problem for myself. However, for the community at large, either the current behavior needs to be clarified, or new behavior instituted. That's all I am really trying to say (Ok, I was bitching a little). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 4:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ FYI, I was typing \$ because apparently I have another problem which causes the TeX preview to not properly render, at least on my browser. Using \$ at least means that the $ won't massacre the rest of my post, unless TeX is disabled, in which case it just looks a little odd. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 4:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @FakeName, I have seen Devs complain about Opera, supposedly it is hell to support, but I may misremember. My firefox renders it, but I agree with your issue. I do agree with the issue you are having, a nice explanation would be nice. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 18, 2011 at 8:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Indeed, I also have a lot of content-blocking/user-scripts running (Which is why I mentioned I was on Opera). However, Opera does generally do pretty well in standards benchmarks. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 9:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I pretty much just use Opera because it's the only browser I've seen which doesn't lag (much) with 8+ windows with 100+ tabs open. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 9:40

Well, actually, it is sort of mentioned on the ask and editing pages in the sidebar:

enter image description here

We're not sure what to do about the MathJax delimiter because we want it to be the same network wide and this is the only site where it has been an issue.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Really? This is the only forum on SE where price is often discussed? That's surprising. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 4:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fake search the other relevant metas if you like, but AFAIK it is unique to this site. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2011 at 5:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @FakeName, if you think about math SE or the TEX SE, when would they discuss prices? Most sites also are very strict about their definition of shopping advice, which we are not. Slowly but surely I am sure we will become more strict, but in EE sometimes knowing there is a chip for it is as valuable as knowing that java will handle doing floating point math without the programmer writing his own library. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 18, 2011 at 8:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would heavily be resolved if there was a note on how to resolve it. I know that TEX on E&R is quickly becoming your nightmare. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 18, 2011 at 8:13

Would adding something like the last line to the "How to Format" sidebar be acceptable? (Later, if the delimiter ever changes, change the line to tell us how to literally display whatever the new delimiter is.)

  • "How to Format"
  • "Put returns between paragraphs."
  • ...
  • "Use $\$$\$\$$$\$$ to display a single dollar sign."
  • \$\begingroup\$ I mean to say that in a comment more clearly, but I was clearly tired when I was writing and did not state that as clearly as I should have. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Mar 20, 2011 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ That would help, but I think something like $ is used for writing mathematical formulas - use $\$$ to draw a single dollar sign. would be better, because it explains the cause, rather then just addressing the effect. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 20, 2011 at 8:54

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