text/markdown effort in IETF (invite)

Sean Leonard dev+ietf at seantek.com
Wed Jul 9 15:06:35 EDT 2014

Hello everyone,

On 7/9/2014 9:58 AM, Dennis E. Hamilton wrote:
> I think the Internet draft is very clear.  It is not a Standards Track project.  It is a MIME-type registration proposal and the procedure for determination of flavors should satisfy whatever concerns there are.

That is correct. My purpose in creating this first draft is not to make 
a Markdown standard; it is to identify Markdown content in a 
standardized way, namely, with text/markdown.

> In general, a MIME-type registration has to point to some place where there is a description of the format.  These are not particularly definitive or authoritative in some cases, and this registration could fail for lack of something definitive.  That is best dealt with on the IETF discussion list.

Yes, this is a sticking point. Experienced IETFers will raise (and have 
raised) concerns about the authoritative-ness of the format. But IETFers 
have less experience with Markdown compared to you all, which is why I'm 
bringing it up here (and elsewhere).

> I have nothing to offer concerning "official" Markdown.  It would appear that the term has already been appropriated as a common noun and there is no means to protect against that being otherwise.

I am of the same view. Anyone can call anything "Markdown"--no one is 
stopping them. Just as anyone can call anything "ASCII art" or "mashups" 
(i.e., there might be an ASCII standard but what people do with it is 
totally different--it has become a cultural phenomenon). In the draft, I 
restricted the eligible formats to "things based on John Gruber's 
original Markdown tool and syntax from 2004".

Some realities are apparent, at least to me:
1. Markdown is a real thing. It's not plain text and it's not HTML--it's 
something different. (Heck, this list could be Markdown!)
2. People are using Markdown for real things of economic and social value.
3. Markdown is different from other _lightweight markup languages_. 
I.e., it's not reStructuredText, BBCode, javadocs, or Creole (wiki 
markup). But unlike the aforementioned examples, there is no authority 
that guides its development. (reStructuredText is a Python thing, for 
example, so the Python people are in charge of it.)
4. Things that are called Markdown (MultiMarkdown, GitHub Flavored 
Markdown, etc.) share more in common with each other than those in 
#3--therefore these things are related.
5. People are storing and exchanging Markdown-as-Markdown between 
systems. Not Markdown-as-plain-text, and not Markdown-as-HTML. Thus, 
there is a need for standardized interchange.


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