text/markdown effort in IETF (invite)

Fletcher T. Penney fletcher at fletcherpenney.net
Wed Jul 9 12:07:47 EDT 2014

I would strongly recommend thinking through some of the "political" 
decisions before getting too far into this.

1) "Markdown" officially refers to the implementation and syntax created 
by John Gruber.

2) "Markdown" the perl implementation has not seen a bug fix in nearly 
10 years.

3) Gruber's voice has been noticeably absent from the list for a long 
time, except for a comment that I recall as basically saying that 
Markdown was essentially feature complete as far as he was concerned.

4) Gruber has specifically said in the past that new projects could not 
coopt the "Markdown" name and would have to be clearly disambiguated. 
For example, I would assume that anyone other than Gruber could not 
create "Markdown 2.0" to be the Markdown to rule them all...

5) I don't have numbers to back this up, but would strongly suspect that 
at this point very few people who think they use "Markdown" actually 
are.  Most are using various derivatives that have made wide-ranging 
decisions on how to handle edge cases, etc.  For most users, whose needs 
are very basic, the distinction is probably academic.  But I would 
suggest that these distinctions are very important when it comes to 
official standards.

I would propose that if there is to be an official standard based on 
"Markdown", it would first require defining what "Markdown" is.  To do 
that would (hopefully) require a more formalized description of the 
grammar.  If Gruber were to sign off on allowing this to use the 
"Markdown" name, fantastic.  But if not, a difficult decision would need 
to be made:

1) Build a standard based on Markdown.pl, bugs and all, and keep the 
"Markdown" name.

2) Develop a formalized version of the core syntax of Markdown, and base 
the standard on this.  Unless it were to receive Gruber's blessing, it 
would have to be named something other than Markdown.

3) Continue to use the term "Markdown" as a vague term that refers to a 
loosely related collection of tools, leaving users to wonder why a given 
document works with one tool, and not others.  At some point, a new 
common standard (e.g. "Son of Markdown" or whatever) may or may not 
arise that would require redefining all of this stuff.  Granted, efforts 
to organize such a standard have thus far failed despite multiple 
enthusiastic discussions over the years on this list.

My $.02....


On 7/9/14, 11:49 AM, Sean Leonard wrote:
> Hi markdown-discuss Folks:
> I am working on a Markdown effort in the Internet Engineering Task
> Force, to standardize on "text/markdown" as the Internet media type for
> all variations of Markdown content. You can read my draft here:
> <http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-seantek-text-markdown-media-type-00>.
> The proposal is already getting traction. Is there anyone on this list
> that is interested in participating or helping this effort? In
> particular we need to better understand and document what versions of
> Markdown exist, so that either Markdown as a family of informal syntaxes
> will start to converge, or if not, that Markdown variations have an easy
> way to be distinguished from one another. (See the "flavor" parameter
> discussed in the draft.)
> The draft is currently being discussed on apps-discuss at ietf.org.
> Kind regards,
> Sean Leonard
> Author of Markdown IETF Draft
> _______________________________________________
> Markdown-Discuss mailing list
> Markdown-Discuss at six.pairlist.net
> http://six.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/markdown-discuss

Fletcher T. Penney
fletcher at fletcherpenney.net

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