text/markdown effort in IETF (invite)

Waylan Limberg waylan.limberg at icloud.com
Wed Jul 9 16:54:27 EDT 2014

I think this comment [1] by Gruber on the mailing list in the past can shed
some light on what the spec is (is it markdown.pl, the syntax rules on
daringfireball.net, some mashup of various implementations, or something
else?). According to Gruber, it is the syntax rules and that's it. If that
is not "good enough" to get a mime-type, then I don’t think there is
anything else we can do.


-----Original Message-----
From: Markdown-Discuss [mailto:markdown-discuss-bounces at six.pairlist.net] On
Behalf Of Sean Leonard
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2014 4:00 PM
To: markdown-discuss at six.pairlist.net
Subject: Re: text/markdown effort in IETF (invite)

On 7/9/2014 12:06 PM, Michel Fortin wrote:
> Le 9-juil.-2014 à 11:49, Sean Leonard <dev+ietf at seantek.com> a écrit :
>> 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:
>> 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 "flavor" parameter is a good idea in theory. I'm not sure it'll be
very useful in general though. Nobody is going to annotate their file with
the right flavor unless there's a tangible benefit, and I don't see what the
benefit could be. Software that could do something useful with
markdown-identified content will likely ignore the flavor part when parsing
because no one wants to see "incompatible flavor" errors, especially when
commonly used parts of the syntax are compatible anyway.
> Markdown is in the spot where HTML was before HTML5 with each
implementation doing its own thing. I don't know if Markdown will get out of
there anytime soon. I'll point out however that HTML never got anything like
a "flavor" parameter in its MIME type, and even if it did it'd not have
helped clear the mess in any way.

Ok so here is where I really want to focus and learn some stuff from the
Markdown community. I am a fairly heavy Markdown user, but not a Markdown
developer or maintainer [yet].

 From what I have gathered of Markdown history as an observer, getting this
into one standardized syntax is like herding cats. Someone complains about
how _ and * interact, or how to do tables such-and-such a way, and then they
go off and write a different tool that does it differently. Ultimately it's
as much about style (which is very
personal) as functionality. To make matters worse, Gruber isn't providing
leadership, so anyone can write "Son of Markdown" and before you know it
we'll have 50 different standards. <http://xkcd.com/927/>

If someone else manages to write a formal specification, I am happy to refer
to that normatively in the (proposed) IETF work. If the community manages to
coalesce around that spec, I am also happy to refer to that spec as the
exclusive normative reference. But...you may as well boil the ocean. So I'm
not going to attempt that. I just want to call the ocean for what it is, and
it's not text/plain. :)


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