As we know from 'ce' prepended to equations in url slug?, any mhchem that gets edited into question titles affects the URL slug, e.g., http://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/5938/how-many-molecules-of-ceo-2-are-needed-to-oxidise-25-mathrmg-of-ce

I have been letting edits slide that make changes to the titles (originally we were going to try to use Unicode subscripts and superscripts -- see my "about me" section -- but that hasn't caught on).

Should we be more judicious about editing mhchem into titles, or does the fact that the questions look better on the page trump having a searchable url slug?

  • $\begingroup$ Should one edit question titles that contain '\ce' or only be mindful about its use in future questions? $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Philipp I would say that we should be mindful. Feel free to slowly un-ce old questions (fix other things too!) if no one else objects. Basically, the main page shouldn't get disturbed too much. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth: Do you think unicode characters should be used for subscripts/superscripts and such, e.g. H₂O? $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Philipp Not sure, I suspect they bork Google and the slug just as much. We could edit them into a trial question and wait a few days for Google to catch up to see what it does to the Unicode. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth Sounds good, I will do so with the question that is referenced by jonsca. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth Ah, sorry, maybe this question is a better target since more subscripts are involved: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/5742/… $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 15:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Philipp Edit approved. The slug now says "mncho" (not bad), we can wait a few days for Google Cache to pick it up. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @ManishEarth I thought the unicode was okay. We'll have to check (unless you did already and I'm incorrect). $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @jonsca Hmm, right. It should turn up as Unicode on Google Search, however I'm unsure if H₂O turns up when you search for H2O $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ When I search for "Mn(C2H3O2)2" on Google Search the "\ce"-containing version of the question I edited turns up on the first page. The unicode versions seem to be less successfull (at least searches for "H₂O" and "H2O" give quite different results). Maybe the titles containing "\ce" are not that bad. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ ah sorry that was my fault! I'll fix it $\endgroup$
    – Tomcat
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


I don't think we should use any MathJax in titles unless it is absolutely necessary. Mathjax breaks the title in search engines, in feeds, on twitter, in the hot questions list on other sites and probably some other places I forgot. It also introduces a noticeable delay until it is rendered (strongly dependent on browser and computer) which we should not introduce without reason.

I think in titles it is perfectly acceptable to just write H2O instead of $\ce{H2O}$, most chemical formulas look reasonable if you write them that way.

  • $\begingroup$ The unicode subscripts actually look pretty authentic, and I don't think they break any of the above. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 0:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1, I strongly agree with avoiding MathJax in titles. In addition to the impact on search engines, aggregators, etc. it also mangles the tiles in any JS-disabled browsers and alters the right-click context menus in some browsers when the MathJax encoded text is clicked. $\endgroup$
    – Greg E.
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 5:41

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