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  1. #1
    Regular Storm's Avatar
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    [REQUEST] Markdown shouldn't be forced on users

    So right now all the site tells me about formating, is to use Markdown. I understand there is a minority out there that thinks markdown is superior to BB/HTML code (Let's face it: they ARE a minority. In my whole life, I've seen several thousands websites and forums and only THREE use Markdown as default formatting, Weasyl being one.) you shouldn't shove it down the users' throat.

    Markdown has several disadvantages over BB/HTML if you need anything more complex than a text-only journal entry. For more complex things, it is very hard and inconvenient to use.

    Also, every other furry site uses BB code and every other art site uses BB or HTML code. If you are cross posting, as many do, you do NOT want to be forced to have it marked up in two completely different syntax. You want to use BB code which is the most widely used, and also the easies t to convert to HTML even manually.

    Now, at the bottom of the Markdown help, there is a mysterious mention: "If you’re looking for formatting not available in Markdown, try HTML."

    But what does that mean? Exactly WHAT sort of HTML cna we use? Why is that not told us, instead of being told to use Markdown? Why it is not documented, and why is that mention hidden at the bottom of the Markdown help?

    Out of curiosity I tried to paste my HTML pre-formatted submission description template I use on deviantArt into the Journal editor, and I was completely surprized to see that all of it is recognized... and I wasted several hours screaming in frustration until I managed to force Markdown to format my cross-posted texts properly, when I could have just pasted the HTML and it would have worked!!!


    I have absolutely nothing against Markdown being an option. But shoving it down people's throath is bad practice. If indeed HTML is a supported option, then the formatting guide should CLEARLY tell us right away that we can use either one of the two.


    I love Weasyl, I feel it's the bets furry out site out there, and because of that it frustrates me when I see such bad practices. So please take this as constructive criticism rather than whining.


    TL;DR: Markdown is a minority choice. The rest of us wants BB or HTML code, and we want to be properly told about our options.


    EDIT: My original post sounded too aggressive, which wasn't my intent so I have rewritten it before anyone replies.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Sorry for the edit. I tend to get overly excited sometimes, and I end up writing in a fiery tone that people tend to find offensive even though it wasn't my intention, so I rather have rewritten it.
    Last edited by Storm; 12-19-2014 at 05:03 AM.
    - Storm ~ "Sic itur ad astra per aspera." [Commission info]

  2. #2
    feline fine Noxid's Avatar
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    Markdown has several disadvantages over BB/HTML if you need anything more complex than a text-only journal entry.
    I'm curious about this one. What specifically were you trying to do that had you running around in circles?
    because, in my experience I've found markdown to be a lot quicker and cleaner to write than BBcode in practice, so long as you remember its quirks.

  3. #3
    Regular Storm's Avatar
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    Markdown is only quicker if you are doing simple things, as soon as you are doing anything more complex, things get ugly. Also, it has lots of general disadvantages and issues. Some examples:


    • The lack of differentiation between opening and closing tags means:
      • Looking at the text at a random place, it is impossible to tell what starts or ends where.
      • Messing up a single formatting anywhere will mess up ALL the rest of the text, formattings get inverted or mixed up.

    • Automatically assuming specific characters to be formatting means
      • Some characters like "*" and "#" are naturally used on the web by many, having to escape them all the time is very annoying and time wasting.
      • Often things you want to appear as text will be assumed to be formatting, and formatting will instead render out as text.


    • Some formattings cannot be combined, because they will be misinterpreted, or the innermost will render as text instead. See: Link
    • Every other furry art site, and the vast majority of websites and forums on the Internet use BB code, the rest usually uses HTML. Weasyl being the sole exception for furry sites, and as far as my experience goes among all art sites, forcing people to convert cross-posted content back and forth only because of Weasyl.).
      • deviantArt uses HTML, which however is still pretty easy and straightforward to convert back and forth even manually, since the tags are almost the same, while Markdown has a completely different syntax.

    • Block formattings (quote and code) are extremely inconvenient in Markdown, because you are forced to insert specific characters in front of every single line instead of using just opening and closing tags. This is especially painful with greater chunks of text.
    • Headings completely miss closing tag which makes them problematic or impossible to use together with several formattings.
    • Completely automatic paragraph generation makes precise manual paragraph control impossible. (You may end up with extra spaces where you don't want them, making your result to feel falling apart.)
    • The syntax for URL's is completely different than any other markups, which makes it even more inconvenient and confusing for those who are used to BB code or HTML that are used on the rest of the Internet.


    Markdown was designed to format flowing text quickly. It can be good if you are writing a blog, or simple textual forum posts, AND you are used to it AND you personally prefer it, but for the multiple uses an art site needs, it is very incapable. It is like, LaTex was designed for being used in Desktop Publishing, and for that, it is good and powerful, but it is not good for general usage.

    I'm using HTML for more than ten years now, and used to work at a webdesign company. During the years I also extensively used BB code, and I came across several exotic things, Markdown being one, but neither seemed as good for general purpose as HTML/BB code. I think it is really important that HTML and BB code:
    • Have clearly defined tags that cannot be confused with text content and vice versa.
    • Opening and closing tags are specifically noted and differentiated.
    • Because of the above, almost any formatting or structuring can be combined.


    - - - Updated - - -

    Also, the greatest advantage of filtered HTML is that it won't get converted to anything (while BB and Markdown being converted to corresponding HTML), even white spaces are preserved (if the algorithm going through the text is well written) meaning that you will get EXACTLY what you expect. 100%. Even BB code cannot always do that.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Alright, so I'm trying to sum up my point from another perspective:


    1. It is a good thing to have Markdown as an option. I actually just used it to comment on a submission because ALL I needed there was bold and italic text.
    2. It is however, a bad choice for complex formatting, for which BB code or HTML is good, the latter being actually allowed "secretly", so:
    3. Instead of telling users to use Markdown, tell them to use either that, or HTML, and give them a proper documentation on BOTH, not only on Markdown, with HTML being barely just mentioned as an easy to miss bottom line.
    - Storm ~ "Sic itur ad astra per aspera." [Commission info]

  4. #4
    Junior batbot's Avatar
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    I don't agree with the overall feel of your argument, but I do think that it could be better documented.
    There was only one site where I got fairly prolific at writing on that used a Markdown/Markdown-like syntax, but the tags they use/allow there don't translate to Weasyl, and trying to look of documentation on Markdown in general is...well there seems to be a lot of forks and flavours, so I don't really known which Weasyl uses and there's not a full documentation of allowed tags (it seems) on Weasyl, so I default to HTML to do things like URLs, etc. I find it annoying to switch markups in the same text field.

    So, yeah, I don't think Markdown being default is a big deal, it's a small learning curve, but better doc and clearly stating that you can use HTML (and what tags are allowed) would be ace. It's annoying to really have to consider what markup language you're working in; not critical, but annoying.
    apathetic.

  5. #5
    Regular Storm's Avatar
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    But what I'm saying is that there should be no such thing as "default". People should be told that they can use either HTML or Markdown.

    And as I said, Markdown is not suitable for more complex formatting. This is not a personal opinion, it is a technical fact arousing from the way it works. And then there are people who simply don't like Markdown, for any of the reasons stated above or for another, and so they just want to use HTML.

    I personally use Markdown if all I need is like Bold-ink a word or two in a short comment, if it's anything more complex than that I go HTML because that is failsafe, Markdown is not.
    - Storm ~ "Sic itur ad astra per aspera." [Commission info]

  6. #6
    Senior DrunkCat's Avatar
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    I don't understand, what's the issue again? You can apparently use html with markdown as you were able to read on the documentation. Is htm not sufficient?
    "To tell us that every species of thing is endowed with an occult specific quality by which it acts and produces manifest effects, is to tell us nothing; but to derive two or three general principles of motion from phenomena, and afterwards to tell us how the properties and actions of all corporeal things follow from those manifest principles, would be a very great step." -Issac Newton, Optics
    "You are what you do not do." - Relax

  7. #7
    Regular Storm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrunkCat View Post
    I don't understand, what's the issue again? You can apparently use html with markdown as you were able to read on the documentation. Is htm not sufficient?
    I was NOT able to read it in the documentation because it is NOT there. And THAT is the problem.

    All the documentation tells you is that you should use Markdown and it then goes on to explain Markdown. It only mentioned in a foggy, unclear sentence hidden at the end of the page that you may use some HTML, but it never tells you exactly WHAT can you use. There is no any documentation for using HTML on Weasyl. All I learned about it was by randomly trying things and see if they work or not.
    - Storm ~ "Sic itur ad astra per aspera." [Commission info]

  8. #8
    I'm not against markdown on principle; it was clearly done to simplify written submissions and then enforce consistency between that and other entered text. The pop-up message when people start typing recognized BBcode tags was especially clever, but maybe a permanent link to the guide, possibly even one that pops it up as a floating box on the same page, would be handy.

    Something else to consider is that both DeviantArt and FurAffinity also have formatting buttons just like this forum does, so people who are just completely confused can just shrug and use those instead. And DeviantArt even has key-catching to recognize Ctrl+I and Ctrl+B for those who are so inclined. If we were to include those, people who don't want to learn a new formatting system could just use that instead. And our implementation of the text box, with a real-time preview in a separate pane, would actually be ideal for that: When you used the buttons, you would see both the code it generates and the results. DeviantArt has a weird, confusing hybrid where it allows manually-entered codes in the same text window that also has WYSIWYG support when you use the buttons or paste preformatted text, and can be toggled between that and a non-editable preview; and FurAffinity has no preview at all.

    Finally: If I have one major complaint about markdown in general, it's that it specifically turns *asterisk-bordered text* into italics, when the Internet at large has gotten used to using that to indicate actions, like in a comic book, and will probably never think to check the formatting guide for a way to override it even if they do notice what's happened to their precious asterisks in the preview. Not sure what we could do about that, frankly. A pop-up reminding people that they can use backslashes to override it would get annoying to the people who are actually using asterisks for bold text.

  9. #9
    Heretic! FlynnCoyote's Avatar


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    Markdown isn't being forced down anyone's throats. You said in your own post that the help guide also said html can be used, and I saw as much myself when markdown was first introduced.

    Say what you want, but this is about personal preference. I've seen a few people remark about how confusing it was to begin with, but people got used to it. You're the first person I've seen actively object to it, and after this long? Why? And what Noxid said too, what were you trying to do that had you so frustrated? It was never that complicated.
    * * *
    We'll find a reason, or else realize that we don't need one.

 

 

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