public at quillio.com
Fri Dec 10 01:58:18 EST 2004
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It may be that there's no way to abstract `<strong>` and `<em>` into
something other than `<b>` and `<i>`. There could be bullshit here.
Seriously. There's no reason to think that what bold or italic text
mean to a sighted reader has a perfect corollary for the blind.
Though I use them exclusively and always will, I think `<strong>`
and `<em>` are low-traction political contrivances that will peter out.
If so, span-level Markdown can stay as it is. Wait a while. Wait a
John Gruber wrote:
> Lou Quillio <public at quillio.com> wrote on 12/09/04 at 10:16am:
>>But it can't read your mind without mis-reading mine, ya know? So
>>it has to have rules, and a user has to know them. Easy, intuitive
>>rules, but rules in fact. Endless cleverness seems to chase "no
>>rules" or a synergy of all possible rules. Not possible.
> Right. That's my main concern here.
> There's no question that Markdown could be at least a little more
> clever in terms of figuring when `*` and `_` are being used
> literally, rather than to denote emphasis, even when they aren't
> The problem is that such cleverness will be hard to express in terms
> of simple syntax rules. And the more clever we try to get, the
> harder it will be to explain and remember in terms of writing
> syntax. Essentially, the syntax rules would have to be a
> plain-English description of the algorithmic cleverness.
> The benefit to the current syntax rules is that even though they're
> not the least bit clever, they are quite simple. If you write this:
> ... just change $my_var to something different than $your_var.
> and then when you publish it you see that there's something wrong --
> that you're getting an italicized run from 'var' through '$your',
> and the underscores in the variable names are missing -- I think
> it's pretty easy to figure out what went wrong.
> You slap your head and say, "Oh, right, underscores are used for
> emphasis in Markdown, I need to backslash-escape them or use code
> spans around the variable names."
> I've done this myself, usually with paths or file names with
> underscores. The root problem is, as I mentioned in a message
> earlier in the thread, that when *writing*, it's natural to use *'s
> and _'s as both emphasis _and_ as literal punctuation characters,
> just like I've done in this sentence. It's not that Markdown's rule
> is hard to remember or understand, it's just that it's not natural
> in the flow of writing.
> If we do something clever, that's the problem we're trying to solve
> -- the root problem of people using these characters as both
> emphasis delimiters and as punctuation without even thinking about.
> But no matter how clever we are, this is not a problem that can be
> solved completely, short of software that actually parses and
> *comprehends* written language. Because that's why we, as humans,
> can tell the difference between the underscores in
> "un_fucking_believable" and "my_function_name" without even thinking
> about syntax rules. It's because we comprehend.
> Needless to say, Markdown.pl will not be taking the verbal portion
> of the SAT anytime soon.
> Thus, because we're not going to solve this problem completely,
> cleverness might make the overall situation *worse*, because when it
> does fail, it might be extremely confusing and difficult to figure
> out *why*. For one thing, I'm sure most people never even read the
> syntax documentation. Part of the appeal of Markdown is that you can
> just look at examples of it and see how to write it yourself.
> That said, this idea from Rad Geek is intriguing:
> Rad Geek <technophilia at radgeek.com> wrote on 12/09/04 at 4:47am:
>>One possibility would be to sacrifice a bit of symmetry and implement
>>separate rules for emphasis by asterisk and emphasis by underscore. Right
>>now we have the same rules for all four of these cases:
>>1. Asterisk word/phrase emphasis: `You *misheard* me.`
>>2. Underscore word/phrase emphasis: `You _misheard_ me.`
>>3. Asterisk emphasis within word: `You *mis*heard me.`
>>4. Underscore emphasis within word: `You _mis_heard me.`
> Because the rules aren't *too* complicated, and this solves the two
> most common places where this problem occurs: variable and file
> names with mid-word underscores.
> The problem is especially bad with file/path names with underscores,
> because semantically, I don't think code tags are quite appropriate.
> That means you've got to use backslashes, which are ugly and which
> are really hard to remember to do when you in the flow of writing.
> This might be the right balance, even though it does introduce an inconsistency between `*` and `_`.
> Markdown-discuss mailing list
> Markdown-discuss at six.pairlist.net
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