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As a newcomer to the Biology SE site, it took me by surprise to see the edits made on this question.
Namely, the fact that Latex equations had been changed into HTML equations as below:

$3.8×10^{26} \frac{J}{s}$

into

3.8×1026 J.s-1

Coming from other SE sites, this is a very weird thing to see someone do so I figured to get a second opinion here:
Which of the above two formats is preferred for the Biology SE site?

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    $\begingroup$ Both forms are legitimate - I also prefer the LaTeX version as it gives a nicer output. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Jan 14 '15 at 9:08
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    $\begingroup$ I generally replace Tex with HTML because the former takes more resources and the pages load slowly. Though people are still emotional about their posts, a post belongs to a site and it is important to have it optimized. Looks are secondary IMO. $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    Jan 16 '15 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ Tex consumes resources. Now there are no hard and fast rules for formatting but it is analogous to the situation that I am switching your room's lights off when you are not around. None of my business to do so — you can do whatever you want in your room but I think I am just trying to be eco-friendly. And you have the freedom to roll back. I did not change the content to it doesn't count as vandalism. $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    Jan 16 '15 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG The new beta version of MathJax has a fast renderer that is around 10 times as fast as the current one and will replace it entirely at some point. This might get far less of an issue in the future than it is now. $\endgroup$ Jan 16 '15 at 8:47
  • $\begingroup$ @MadScientist Thanks for pointing that out. I personally use LaTeX for all my reports and presentations. I was just trying to help here. $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    Jan 16 '15 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG I agree with you in general, I usually try to minimize the use of unnecessary LateX. But I generally don't edit cases where the Markdown version looks very different than the MathJax version. $\endgroup$ Jan 16 '15 at 8:51
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I don't think it makes much of a difference here, and often use LaTeX in Qs/As myself. In your case both are acceptable to use. I can only speculate on why your question was edited, but possibly to make the numbers + unit flow better with the text. In this particular case, LaTeX isn't strictly needed, as is the case in more complicated equations. LaTeX is rendered more nicely, but will also stand out more from the body text.

Another issue is rendering on different platforms/software, and on some mobile browsers (e.g. Opera Mini) MathJax is displayed as static images, which can look quite jarring. This is another reason to only use LaTeX when it is necessary to formulate clear questions/answers.

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    $\begingroup$ A comment to the downvote? The whole point of Meta is discussion... $\endgroup$ Jan 14 '15 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ Downvotes without comments are like an exam without a grade. Unsatisfying (+1 btw). $\endgroup$
    – AliceD Mod
    Jan 17 '15 at 13:52
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There are two cases where I would edit out LaTeX code:

  • in titles
  • in the main body if the formatting can be reproduced entirely with Markdown

Titles are also displayed on SE sites that don't have MathJax enabled, they should generally not contain any LaTeX code unless absolutely necessary. This is a site rule and everyone should follow it.

Using the LaTeX formatting leads to a short delay before display, especially on slow devices like mobile phones. It shouldn't be used without need. So simply using it to display numbers like $1$, $2$ is something I would edit out.

In your example the formatting without LaTeX is not equivalent. I might use the non-LaTeX version in my own posts, but I wouldn't edit such cases in the posts of other users. This is a case where it comes down to preference, and there are no hard rules established so far.

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    $\begingroup$ But is it acceptable for someone to go around and edit others' posts from Latex to non-Latex, outside the special cases you mentioned? For me the edits on the linked thread look just like vandalism. $\endgroup$
    – Etheryte
    Jan 14 '15 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Nit Personally, I would only edit the post of somebody else to correct direct mistakes/typos or to provide additional information/references. To structure/format very badly formatted posts is also fine, to make them more readable. To call this case vandalism is a bit harsh though. $\endgroup$ Jan 14 '15 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Nit It takes a considerable effort and time to format stuff using markdown and I don't do it because it gives me some extra points or some other kind of pleasure to modify others' posts. The idea is to keep the page easily loadable and readable in all devices and browsers. I hope you understand my point. SE is for everyone and it should be accessible easily; it is not a personal blog. $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    Jan 16 '15 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG Using Latex doesn't make the site unusable, if it did, it wasn't available to begin with. So frankly no, I don't see your point. $\endgroup$
    – Etheryte
    Jan 16 '15 at 10:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Nit I didn't use the term "unusable". I said that it slows the loading of the page in slow connections. And StackOverflow still doesn't have MathJax support. I can see that you don't see any point; I can't help. Learn to see. $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    Jan 16 '15 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG The important point you're missing here is that most of the time usage of Latex (or lack of it) boils down to personal preference and you shouldn't be going around editing whole discussions in a manner that you personally prefer. Also note that I'm not the only one in the linked thread who rolled back the edits you made. $\endgroup$
    – Etheryte
    Jan 16 '15 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Nit It is not solely about personal preference. IF you have an option it is not necessary to always use it. I agree that formatting styles are to be based on personal preference but in a site like this we also have to care about preventing unnecessary usage of resources. As I said I am not threatening you to use HTML; you didn't like my edit; you rolled back; fine. Now don't use big words like vandalism and all. $\endgroup$
    – WYSIWYG
    Jan 17 '15 at 8:53
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Stating Latex format will make you wait 2-3 seconds more on a mobile platform before you can see the proper formatting is in my opinion a non-issue. If someone really wants to see the question/answer, I do not think waiting for a very short additional time will deter the user from waiting. It is true however, that latex formatting should be disabled in titles, and minimized to aim at a maximal cross-platform compatibility.

I think that our time could really be put to better use elsewhere.

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