Pony Request October 8, 2011 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Pony request: blockquote button on the text entry box next to "B" "I" and "link".

That is all.
posted by gjc to Feature Requests at 11:05 AM (135 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Yes please. Its about time. We're still working out the consensus on italics versus yellow links and it would be so good for the FPPs.
posted by infini at 11:10 AM on October 8, 2011


Yes, please, do so.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:26 AM on October 8, 2011


I like this idea.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:31 AM on October 8, 2011


Why do the bold and italic buttons insert strong and emphasis tags instead of bold and italics?
posted by infinitewindow at 11:37 AM on October 8, 2011


This comes up quite a bit in MetaTalk so we know there's a group of people who really want it, but we don't want to complicate things with another button. Typing out <blockquote> is a hassle, but it's not impossible. And we even added some buttons on the mobile side to make it easier to type HTML that we don't provide buttons for when you're on a phone.

We're not against seeing people use blockquote whenever they want to, we just don't feel like it's used enough to build in a shortcut for it.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:38 AM on October 8, 2011


Didn't we talk about this very recently? I remember suggesting not only that we not put another button in there but that we remove the ones that we already have. So I'll suggest that again. Leave only "Preview" and "Post". Also if we could require that you type your comments in vi or emacs and have a neckbeard that would help as well.
posted by Justinian at 11:48 AM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Also if we could require that you type your comments in vi or emacs and have a neckbeard that would help as well.

Just replace the faq with "if you need any help, #mefihelp on irc.freenode.net!"
posted by mrzarquon at 11:49 AM on October 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why do the bold and italic buttons insert strong and emphasis tags instead of bold and italics?

Maybe someone with more knowledge can come in and explain the full history, but here's a quick gist. The Web started with <b> and <i> tags for marking bold and italic text. As more people started using HTML, they realized these tags tell you about how text should be presented but nothing about the meaning of the text. Folks designing HTML circa 1999 felt that the Web could be more than just presentation. There was a big push to move away from using bold and italic in favor of more semantic tags like strong and emphasis. That way when you jump to something like a screen reader, it gives more information about the text. You can read something with emphasis, you can't read something with italics.

So Matt was among the people who agreed that strong and em were the way to go when he added the buttons to the site. There's been a push to make them the standard, but <b> and <i> are so widely understood and used that they're still not deprecated in HTML5 even though many think they should be. I'm sure there are people on both sides who feel strongly about the correct way, and maybe someone else can chime in who knows more about that battle.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:51 AM on October 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Elephant day
posted by Carbolic at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2011


Because strong and emphasis are more semantically rich than i and b, which are more about presentation, which we have CSS for.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2011


You might also check out this discussion on StackOverflow: Will the <b> and <i> tags ever become deprecated? There are some interesting arguments for keeping them around in the comments.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:06 PM on October 8, 2011


[ This post, except replace the word blockquote with marquee. ]
posted by Jofus at 12:32 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there a list somewhere on the web of all the html tags, like strikethrough, smaller text, blockquote, etc? I don't know a thing about html-- I don't even know how to go about finding what I think I want.

This question might be better-suited to AskMe, but someone else completely ignorant about these things might show up in this thread and wonder the same thing.
posted by vincele at 12:38 PM on October 8, 2011


<IMG> 4 LIFE
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:48 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Me neither really, I'm no expert, but was this what you had in mind vincele?
posted by Chairboy at 12:49 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like blockquote is pretty standard and commonly used, and it would be more commonly used if it were a button (since people who aren't html literate probably use only buttons). It's not like we're talking about adding this or this or this or this.

BTW, was a decision made to disallow certain html? I've seen older posts with big text, colored text, blinking text, etc., but either I'm html illiterate (likely) or those options were deactivated for this site at some point... when did that happen?
posted by J. Wilson at 12:53 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was just going to suggest a superscript button!
posted by OmieWise at 12:54 PM on October 8, 2011


Not really a decision, but many decisions. The blink tag went away for a while and came back because of some kind of bet or bargain or something. The img tag went away because some users really overdid it, but it took some questionable security excuse to actually make it go. big went because mathowie didn't think people should be able to make themselves any louder. It's all there in the MetaTalk archives, go digging!
posted by Chuckles at 1:00 PM on October 8, 2011


Here's one discussion that you might be interested in: nobody noticed.
posted by Chuckles at 1:04 PM on October 8, 2011


  +----------------------------------+
  | Pony request                     |
  |----------------------------------|
  | I would like a button which      |
  | turns the comment text entry     |
  | box in to asciiflow. I feel      |
  | this could improve the meta-     |
  | filter experience significantly. |
  +----------------------------------+
posted by finite at 1:11 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why anybody even bothers posting pony requests anymore, because the answer almost always seems to be a reflexive "no, because people who want this are a small insignificant minority, no matter how many people chime in to agree with you or how many times this has been suggested." It is especially weird when the decisions seem to go against MeFi's stated values about keeping things straightforward and accessible for everyone.

For example, many ponies are dismissed because they would be confusing to newbies or people with low internet literacy, but if you want to use any kind of formatting beyond bold or italics, you should go teach yourself HTML or install some obscure greasemonkey script or use some complicated third-party tool. I don't know what my point is exactly, it just seems kind of contradictory sometimes. How is it more complicated to just have one more button than to have to go learn HTML if you want to quote somebody?
posted by dialetheia at 1:16 PM on October 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is being accessible for everyone really one of Metafilter's stated values? The $5 barrier to entry seems like proof positive that the opposite is true.
posted by Justinian at 1:27 PM on October 8, 2011


Well, it was certainly stated as a desired value during the ROT13/spoiler discussions. I should really add that I understand there are site culture considerations for most of these things, too. I just can't see why a blockquote tag could be problematic from that perspective.
posted by dialetheia at 1:29 PM on October 8, 2011


How is it more complicated to just have one more button than to have to go learn HTML if you want to quote somebody?

You don't need a <blockquote> tag to quote someone. I just quoted you using copy/paste, and I wrote out the <em> tags. You really don't need to know any HTML here to participate. Fancy formatting isn't a requirement.

I know it's frustrating to see so many discussions end with "no". Despite the frequent desire for changes that come up in MetaTalk, the overall community is very conservative. Even small changes are met with much resistance. So I know it seems we're being contrarian when we don't agree to a request, but we do consider them and we've discussed adding new formatting buttons recently so we didn't need to get everyone together to discuss it before I weighed in here.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:31 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would utilize this blockquote pony.
I would utilize this tt (teletype) pony.
I would abuse this marquee pony.
I would abuse this blink pony.
I miss the emBIGgenate tag
posted by theora55 at 1:33 PM on October 8, 2011


I would totally use a <small> button. A lot.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:43 PM on October 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Abusing the blink pony.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:52 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And more seriously, yes, keep it simple. As a non-html-literate person I'm quite pleased that I've learned a tag or two.

Gimme another year or two and my MeTa posts will looks like Apollinaire wrote them.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:57 PM on October 8, 2011


Ugh, I HATE small text. It's impossible to read on my phone.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:57 PM on October 8, 2011


You can have my b and i when you pry them from my something something.

Semantic whatever. It's 5 characters vs 1, and 2 vs 1.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:32 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


TextExpander is good for this kind of stuff - eg., if I type ,a it expands to <a href="http://lovelywebsite.org"></a> (with the cursor between the tags, and the URL filled in from the clipboard).

pb: "they're still not deprecated in HTML5 even though many think they should be."

I'm really glad about that - it feels dirty using <em> for non-empasis italic stuff like words in a foreign language. I think the purists would like me to do something like <span class="foreign-language">Bonjour!</span> and style it appropriately with CSS, but that's just nuts.
posted by jack_mo at 2:38 PM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, it was certainly stated as a desired value during the ROT13/spoiler discussions.

I'm not sure that's true. My interpretation of what was said is that it should not be a big (or even a little) chore to read Metafilter. Which means almost all plaintext almost all the time. Not including a bunch of markup buttons does not make reading Metafilter a chore while having munged text does make it more difficult and annoying.

It doesn't seem like typing <i> </i> is all that challenging. Note that what I just typed was a lot more annoying than actually using the tags since I had to type the character entities rather than greater than and less than signs.
posted by Justinian at 2:39 PM on October 8, 2011


I remember cortex just recently shut down the whole blockquote debate while actually using blockquote himself in a comment, and his logic at the time for turning it down didn't seem to me to make any more sense than it does now.

It really does seem to me lately that while pb is almost always amenable to listening to users and making reasonable (and even some slightly unreasonable) changes, cortex and jessamyn have become firmly entrenched in this NO BY DEFAULT mode.

I understand where they are coming from, don't get me wrong. They see any change to the status quo as just leading to more work for them, and so it's not going to happen. And I feel like they DO work really hard, and I'm really glad more people have come on to help with the Mod stuff because, my god, they must hardly have lives at all!

But as someone who spends a LOT of time here, I'm getting really frustrated with that NO BY DEFAULT stance. And if bringing more people on means we can have little things like a frickin' blockquote tag, I sure hope Matt has some more hiring lined up.
posted by misha at 2:40 PM on October 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Speaking of small text--mods use it to make it clear that the comment in small text in brackets is to show that the comment is from a mod being a mod, rather than from a mod being just another user taking part in the discussion. I do think that it's a good idea to have some way of distinguishing, but since every user can make small text, and put it in brackets, many users employ this tactic at the very beginning of a comment (or as an entire comment itself) to make it *look* like the comment is "official." I think most MeFites see that and immediately assume it's an "official" remark, even though the username of the person posting it is right there. We make instant associations in our brains, and there's no way that this isn't happening.

I know that the mods now have the (ugly and clunky, imo) yellow box around the word "staff" to differentiate their comments, but that means that their comments are more likely to be read as MOD than "user," regardless of the size of the text.

Is it worth considering that you guys create a text modification other than small text to indicate an "I AM A MOD" comment from an "I AM POSTING AS A USER" comment?
posted by tzikeh at 2:41 PM on October 8, 2011


I'd still like a choice of ten or so HTML buttons that would be user-defined in profile settings, but I'd also like an attack chimp. Both would be cool, but both seem to be frowned upon. Alas.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:45 PM on October 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


misha: “I remember cortex just recently shut down the whole blockquote debate while actually using blockquote himself in a comment, and his logic at the time for turning it down didn't seem to me to make any more sense than it does now.”

It was pretty simple. He wasnt arguing against using the blockquote element; he was arguing against adding a blockquote button.

And I agree with him for several reasons. First and foremost, almost every other forum I'm on has a morass of ridiculous buttons that are not necessary, and using them generally gets in the way of communication rather than enhancing the discussion. I think there's a slippery slope to adding more and more buttons. Frankly, we probably already have too many, considering how rarely people use the strong element.

To make a parallel case: I am a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches. I think it's nice that other people like grilled cheese sandwiches. But I'm not contradicting myself when I say that I'd rather there weren't grilled cheese sandwiches all over every surface of my house. It would be cluttered, and it would probably start to smell funny after a while.
posted by koeselitz at 2:49 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The weird thing about my anti-button position is that I actually prefer Metafilter to expand the number of tags allowed (well, to walk back the reduction in tags). I think we should be able to use the marquee tag. I think we should be able to use the big tag. I think we should be able to use the damn IMG tag, for gods sake.

I just don't want there to be buttons for them. Markup should be used sparingly and appropriately. If you have to take the time to type out the tags it means you are less likely to throw in a picture of an elephant shitting or a guy fucking a raw chicken (you know who you are). It's a barrier to entry, just like the $5 fee.

Let's be free to comment how we want... but if you don't care enough to take five seconds to do the markup, maybe it's not all that important.

So, yeah, bring back the IMG tag. Just don't add an IMG button.
posted by Justinian at 2:54 PM on October 8, 2011


Yes, please.
posted by ericb at 3:12 PM on October 8, 2011


I'm getting really frustrated with that NO BY DEFAULT stance.

There was a yes just yesterday.
posted by rtha at 4:50 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, "No" is one of the most important tools in a developer's kit.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:56 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, but yesterday's yes took whole minutes to get done.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:31 PM on October 8, 2011


I wrote a Safari extension that adds one.
posted by nicwolff at 5:41 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


OOOOOOOOOOoOOOOOOOOOOOoOOOOOOOOOOOoOOOOOOOOOOOoOOOOOOOOOOOoOOOOOOOOOOOoO

Who needs "blockquote" when you can post from under the sea!

posted by modernserf at 6:09 PM on October 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Now you've got me thinking about grilled cheese sandwiches. Dagnabbit, I'm trying to get some work done here...
posted by Chairboy at 6:27 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the explanation, pb. I hope the powers that be keep bold and italics--how else do we indicate titles of major works or ship names?
posted by infinitewindow at 6:39 PM on October 8, 2011


cortex and jessamyn have become firmly entrenched in this NO BY DEFAULT mode. --- Easy to be proud, easy to say no.
posted by crunchland at 6:40 PM on October 8, 2011


I'm anti-button (but when I'm pro-button, I'm pro-<b> & <i>, because the buttons are chosen by users for their respective display qualities, which custom style sheets ruin if they're <strong> and <em>, which sucks; also, the latter tags waste valuable bits!), but this...

We're not against seeing people use blockquote whenever they want to, we just don't feel like it's used enough to build in a shortcut for it.

...is a big load of hooey. People would totally use it if it was there. People don't do a lot of blockquoting because basic HTML is not a skillset most people have; those same people don't know how to <a href=, which is presumably why there's a link button.

That said, I don't think there should be a blockquote button, mostly because a) it's a tag that's best used sparingly, and b) blockquote still renders wonkily on MetaFilter, with those giant line breaks before and after.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:43 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The blockquote button is only a small slippery slope away from the smiley face pop-up selector, and no one wants that, DO THEY?
posted by crunchland at 6:51 PM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


...blockquote still renders wonkily on MetaFilter, with those giant line breaks before and after.

Next time you spot that send a link to it my way and I'll see why it's happening. We don't want blockquote to render wonkily.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:31 PM on October 8, 2011

I'll bet it's doing it right now.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:41 PM on October 8, 2011


Yep.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:41 PM on October 8, 2011


Fixed!
posted by pb (staff) at 7:47 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


While you're here, can we have our sig's back?
@}-,-`---,--`-,-`---,--`-,-`---,--`-,-`---,--`-----------------
posted by
                   .___                                        _____ 
  _____   ____   __| _/___________  ____   ______ ____________/ ____\
 /     \ /  _ \ / __ |/ __ \_  __ \/    \ /  ___// __ \_  __ \   __\ 
|  Y Y  (  <> ) /_/ \  ___/|  | \/   |  \\___ \\  ___/|  | \/|  |   
|__|_|  /\____/\____ |\___  >__|  |___|  /____  >\___  >__|   |__|   
      \/            \/    \/           \/     \/     \/              
"All we are is dust in the wind" --Kansas
RockerDude.tripod.com -- check out my website!!
posted by modernserf at 7:57 PM on October 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


By the way, we discussed this back in April.
posted by nicwolff at 8:34 PM on October 8, 2011

This is a blockquote that is on the first line of the comment box.
This is the first line after the blockquote element, the second line in the comment box.
This is the second line after the comment box, the third line in the comment box.

This is the first line before a blockquote, the fifth line in the comment box
This is also a blockquote, and the sixth line in the comment box
This is a "natural" break two carriage returns later, which just looks like it should be a new paragraph, if we follow "normal" mefi comment box conventions. It starts on the eighth line of the comment box.

This is paragraph with a blank line between it and the preceding paragraph. It's exactly the same space as the line between the previous paragraph and the blockquote that precedes it.
posted by bonehead at 9:18 PM on October 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


^voted most meta comment ever^
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:20 PM on October 8, 2011


Wow! That looks like you've fixed many of the old bugs with the blockquote element! Thanks so much!

The only one that seems to remain is the extra space at the beginning of a new comment. Even that is tolerable compared to the contortions we had to do before to use it.

This is a great fix. Thanks!
posted by bonehead at 9:20 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing left to try:
This is a block quote inline with the previous piece of text, no carriage returns to separate it from the preceding text.
This text is also in the same block---no carriage returns, the hack we used to use to prevent the bq element from emitting two or three carriage between it and the following line of unquoted text.

It looks like that works too! Fantastic!
posted by bonehead at 9:26 PM on October 8, 2011


Said it the other day, but I really appreciate the judicious appreciation (slow accumulation) of buttons, bells, whistles and all manner of additional things generated when the page loads. It's mostly because my machine wheezes and dies under the strain of shit-everywhere websites, but I also just understand how much careful consideration goes into keeping things minimal but functional and attractive. From looking at computer screens since the early 80's all the way til now, it makes coming here a delight. I know the page is going to render, and I know it's going to work the way it's supposed to.

Wait. This is all a bit over the top for a blockquote button, but as much as people find a way to make everything a slippery slope, I feel like this really is one of those things. When politicalfilter season ramps up over the next year, I'll be using the blockquote like ericb just signed a contract with Reuters. But still, typing it up really isn't a problem. I don't mind that the whole panel of html options doesn't appear. Just type out blockquote.
It's fun!
posted by cashman at 9:36 PM on October 8, 2011


What, no one's linked to the Greasemonkey script MefiQuote yet?
posted by IndigoRain at 9:43 PM on October 8, 2011


The thing that has always annoyed me with b/i vs strong/em was the attempt to replace single letter tags with longer tags that take longer to type out (I'm looking at you, strong). Plus bold and italics have such a long history with word processors that strong/em just don't.

I never particularly cared about the structural/semantic/presentation issues, it's just very difficult to get people to modify their behavior in general and doubly so when it requires more effort. And I understand you can't really read something with italics but you can read something boldly just the same as you can read it strongly, so half that argument seemed a bit silly.
posted by 6550 at 9:56 PM on October 8, 2011


The only one that seems to remain is the extra space at the beginning of a new comment.

The extra space you're seeing is the natural top margin of the blockquote. They're supposed to be offset from regular text with margins all around, and I don't think it should be different at the top of a comment.

We fixed these ages ago, but MetaTalk still had a bug that appeared when a single blockquote line was the entire comment. It doesn't come up very often so it's hard to track down, but that's fixed now.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:33 PM on October 8, 2011


I still think that first line skipped looks weird. There'a already a larger than inter-line space between comments. The additional spacing looks too large to my eyes, and ungraceful.

If that's that worst display quirk left with the bq element however, it's much better than where we were previously.
posted by bonehead at 10:40 PM on October 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still think that first line skipped looks weird.

Yeah, I see what you're saying. I just added a change that will clean up some of that space here in MetaTalk. I put the two side by side, and yeah, it looks cleaner without that extra line break. If we live with it here for a while and it sill looks good I'll move it over to the other sites.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:50 PM on October 8, 2011


And if bringing more people on means we can have little things like a frickin' blockquote tag,

You have a frickin'
blockquote
tag. It's not cortex and jessamyn's fault you're too fucking lazy to use it without a button.
posted by dersins at 10:51 PM on October 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The thing that has always annoyed me with b/i vs strong/em was the attempt to replace single letter tags with longer tags that take longer to type out (I'm looking at you, strong). Plus bold and italics have such a long history with word processors that strong/em just don't.

I actually like semantic markup a lot, but it's definitely a weird issue with things like comment boxes. Many applications of italics or bold in a comment aren't actually supposed to be emphasis or strong, but could be things like book titles or foreign phrases. But you're not going to be able denote those semantically without also controlling the stylesheet, and no site is going to allow users to define styles arbitrarily.

In the end I think the way Metafilter handles it is fine. You can still use b/i when you're typing it out. If for some reason you're using the buttons, it doesn't matter that they use the longer tags because you're not typing them yourself.

But then I never use the buttons anyway. Taking my hands off home row to move the cursor takes way more time than typing out the tags.
posted by kmz at 12:49 AM on October 9, 2011


cortex and jessamyn have become firmly entrenched in this NO BY DEFAULT mode. ... They see any change to the status quo as just leading to more work for them, and so it's not going to happen.

Whoah. I can totally, totally promise you that this is not true. Firstly, Jess and Cortex don't make unilateral decisions about changes on Metafilter; secondly, Matt, pb, et al, have to consider all possible repercussions of what may seem like even minor changes. If they decide that X button or Y function may not be a good idea, it's never because hey, let's not make people's lives easier, BWAHAHA, it's usually because they can foresee odd usage or fallout that could easily become annoying/irritating/rage-inducing for members.

Finally, I do have to say, just by having a short-term look under the hood now, damn, all these guys work really hard – much more than is visible, and that in itself is tough work. Benefit of the doubt is truly and honestly the best bet here.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:59 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, to sort of briefly reiterate my position on this, it's not "blockquote bad!", it's "blockquote best used sparingly". Right now there's a natural friction to using the tag whereby someone needs to put in a little bit of keyboard effort, or a little bit of installing-a-browser-extension support, so when people do use it it's because they've decided to commit to that extra little nudge.

And I feel like the nudge is good because blockquote is, by design, a pretty conspicuous tag. Used with reservations, that's not a problem—it's an effective way to occasionally offset text in a way that is visually striking and used with a bit of care melds nicely with the otherwise almost entirely left-ruled flow of comments on the site.

Take away the nudge, tacitly encourage people to go nuts with the blockquote tag, and you lose that it-works-because-its-infrequent thing. If it's easier to blockquote, people will blockquote more; if people blockquote more, blockquote will lose its visual impact.

I use blockquote now and then. It's a useful tag, I like it, I can't think of a circumstance where we'd actually blacklist it from allowable HTML on the site. But I can say the same for a lot of other visually-striking tags that are best used sparingly and with care, and we have no buttons for those either, because dressing up comment text a whole bunch isn't really a core metafilter experience. People having to learn a bit and type a bit to do the bonus formatting stuff seems like a reasonably workable compromise for keeping a balance where folks don't just start gussying up comments more than really necessary because they can.

cortex and jessamyn have become firmly entrenched in this NO BY DEFAULT mode.

"No" is always the default; it's no until it's yes because the alternative is unworkable—you get half-baked implementations, cats that are hard to re-bag, feature bloat, and bugs that stack up on each other like a card house. Small staff + big site = a lot of necessary conservatism about the potential cost and impact of any change.

It's not "no because we can" or "no because we're lazy", it's just "no because we're not sold on making a change to how the site works for everyone and the baggage that change may bring with it". Saying "yes, we'll do that" is generally a good feeling and is nice to feel like we can say; making a change that creates work for us but which we believe makes the site better is something we're totally on board with, since that's part of the job.

Sometimes we get to "yes" pretty quickly on stuff, sometimes we get there a lot more slowly, sometimes we're in "no, and it will always be no, period" on something because we've talked it out and concluded it's fundamentally a bad idea for the site, whatever merits it might have as an idea in abstract. I don't have the kind of hardcore "oh hell no" feelings about a notional blockquote as I have about e.g. implementing nesting threading, but it's definitely in "no, I don't see why on the balance having this is a net win for the site" territory for me at least.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:55 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a pony I can get behind.

I use blockquote
Because when you use the [small] tag
It reduces the line spacing
Which otherwise
Appears too big
To my eyes


This is very useful in certain situations where you wish to quote a large amount of material in a compact form.
posted by unSane at 6:01 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


alt pony: have [bq] expand to the [blockquote] tag
posted by unSane at 6:03 AM on October 9, 2011


I appreciate the need and desire to keep things simple, but quite frankly, I believe such a button would actually be a simplification. 1, because it would make blockquote a little bit more of a standard way to quote things, which is clearer to read on the screen. 2, it would be a lot less typing.

The goal, to me, is clarity of communication. Making it easier to be clear is a good thing. Blockquote is not "powerful" because it is used rarely. It is powerful because it is a clear way to visually offset text in order to show that you are quoting something.

Since you guys are cool with adding buttons to the mobile site, we clearly agree that more buttons don't hinder anything. And since the blockquote tag is already available for use if one wishes to type it out, any abuses/bugs with its use would have already shown up.

Adding such a button would be a convenience to many, and a hindrance to nobody.
posted by gjc at 6:38 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


cats that are hard to re-bag

God, what are you people doing in modland? I'm calling the SPCA.

Also, blockquote is not ideal for each and every quoting opportunity. I think it looks damned odd for very short quotes
like this one
and also very long ones, where it sucks up a bunch of page space and is just visually jarring. (Please note that I restrained myself in not blockquoting the entire Treaty of Westphalia.) Making people type out a few extra characters is not the worst thing ever when it comes to a tag like this.
posted by rtha at 7:10 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


But people who wish to use blockquote to be purposefully annoying aren't going to be limited in the least by having to type extra characters. And blockquote is exactly the tool to use for quoting things like the Treaty of Westphalia. It is for marking out things the author hasn't written themselves, where just italics and quote marks just won't look right. Especially for things that have their own linebreaks.
posted by gjc at 8:00 AM on October 9, 2011


I dunno - I just don't see why a button is necessary. We have a button for making links and yet people still do the pasting of naked links like this http://metatalk.metafilter.com/21066/Pony-Request#933568 all the damn time - in askmes and fpps and comments and all over the damn place. I think you are overestimating peoples' ability to use buttons!
posted by rtha at 8:45 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


User-defined buttons in profile settings are the best solution, imho. The people that would use the features would have to enable them, and those that don't wouldn't.

Anyway, some people here are being a bit nasty about the request. The mods rejected it (nicely) so there's no reason to call people lazy and what not when they just want some UI enhancements.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh, I expected more love for my "Metafilter blockquote button" Safari extension last time too. Does everyone here use Firefox?
posted by nicwolff at 9:03 AM on October 9, 2011


there's no reason to call people lazy and what not when they just want some UI enhancements.

Agreed.

However, when they subsequently moan on and on about the mean mean moderators who always totally reject every request out of hand just because because they're big fat meanies, they cross the line from reasonable petitioners to lazy whiners, which is not unreasonable to point out.
posted by dersins at 9:07 AM on October 9, 2011


rtha: “I dunno - I just don't see why a button is necessary. We have a button for making links and yet people still do the pasting of naked links like this http://metatalk.metafilter.com/21066/Pony-Request#933568 all the damn time - in askmes and fpps and comments and all over the damn place. I think you are overestimating peoples' ability to use buttons!”

That naked linking thing has been on the rise, but I'm pretty sure it's almost exclusively people who are commenting from their phones. The management here has made it pretty much as easy as possible to do linking from phones, but there's really no way to make it as simple as it is from a keyboard. So people will likely continue to do naked links, I think, particularly since the proportion of people browsing Mefi from their phones has shot up rapidly in the past few years.
posted by koeselitz at 9:47 AM on October 9, 2011


Closing an emphasis tag from a keyboard, however, seems to be beyond my ken.
posted by koeselitz at 9:47 AM on October 9, 2011


I prefer the italicized quotes to blockquotes anyway. Much easier to skim and find responses. Is there a particular reason why people want blockquotes instead?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:51 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why anybody even bothers posting pony requests anymore, because the answer almost always seems to be a reflexive "no, because people who want this are a small insignificant minority, no matter how many people chime in to agree with you or how many times this has been suggested."

Except that the response pb gave is that less button clutter is the aim, nothing about "a small reflexive minority". I'm not sure why mods bother responding if people are just going to take their responses and spin them to sound like announcements from the jerk store.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:58 AM on October 9, 2011


Closed that tag, koeselitz. Try the button next time! (I kid, I kid.)
posted by pb (staff) at 11:04 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


when they subsequently moan on and on about the mean mean moderators who always totally reject every request out of hand just because because they're big fat meanies, they cross the line from reasonable petitioners to lazy whiners

Dersins, if you mean me by this, I assure you I don't think the mods are mean or fat (don't think fat should be an insult anyway, I think we've clearly established there is no moral implications associated with weight). I think they are overworked and hesitant to add to tneir workload, which is understandable but not necessarily the best reason for not implementing site changes.

And I may very well be lazy, but I don't understand why this is even a contentious issue. Are there really that many people who would be offended/hindered/flame out over the inclusion of a blockquote shortcut? I doubt it. I'd absolutely be fine with user-defined shortcut keys, also.

It's not cortex and jessamyn's fault you're too fucking lazy to use it without a button.

And although I am lazy and own to it, I am, yes, perfectly capable of typing this out myself, and also use the Mefi user quote script on my laptop. I personally would still like this particular pony, becaus .it is a hindrance without it. And even more so on an iPad or an iPhone, where this shortcut would make a HUGE difference.

Just to get to the < on an iPad, for instance, requires going to the number keyboard by pressing the .?123 button, and then the #+= button, and then finally the <>
Yes, I know, 1st world problem. But that's why I want it, and "one button more clutters up the screen" feels like a weaksauce objection.
posted by misha at 12:40 PM on October 9, 2011


But people who wish to use blockquote to be purposefully annoying aren't going to be limited in the least by having to type extra characters.

I'm thinking less of people being purposefully annoying with overt abuse of a tag and more about people being unintentionally annoying with casual overuse of it. The former is a one-off fuckaround sort of thing that's trivial to tell someone to cut out; the latter is a matter of community conventions and user education that's a lot harder to manage than, I think, a lot of folks tend to account for when stumping for a change they prefer.

I believe people who say they'd like a blockquote button that they wouldn't do anything dumb with it. I take that as a given. What is not a given is that the ten thousand other members of this site will be just as judicious, especially those who didn't even know they wanted a blockquote button before it existed. Not because people are jerks, but because people as individuals will, in good faith, press the buttons that are in front of them even if collectively that leads to an obnoxious uptick in unnecessary overformatting of comments and posts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I left off some typing accidentally (on that iPad!), but it takes 16 keys for the open blockquote tag, 17 for the closed if you don't lazily copy paste from the first. I am not sure how many on smartphones, but others can weigh in on that.
posted by misha at 12:44 PM on October 9, 2011


Misha, if you visit the mobile site thEre are buttons next to the b, I, and link to do open and close brackets and the /. Doesn't help you if you are visiting the non-mobile site from your iPad, but I find it very useful.

Of course, that raises the funny collision where one hits the I button and gets an em tag, or the B button and gets a strong tag. Whee!
posted by dirtdirt at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm getting really frustrated with that NO BY DEFAULT stance. And if bringing more people on means we can have little things like a frickin' blockquote tag, I sure hope Matt has some more hiring lined up. --- While it's true that there's a high frequency for the call to fix stuff on your own using something like Greasemonkey, I can't help but feel that Misha's sentiment is petulant beyond the pale. Try to think about the last time you posted a UI complaint to Amazon's direct back channel to the programmers over there to complain about some little UI annoyance and ... oh, wait. There is no direct back channel to the programmers there!

If it's annoyingly hard to type all those 17 keys to do a blockquote on your iPad, maybe you should contact Apple because it's a flaw with their device, not with the website that the rest of the world has no trouble dealing with.
posted by crunchland at 12:53 PM on October 9, 2011


misha: "Just to get to the < on an iPad, for instance, requires going to the number keyboard by pressing the .?123 button, and then the #+= button, and then finally the <>."

Are you using some kind of user agent switcher or a different browser? In Safari on my iPad, metafilter's special mobile button set appears below text boxes; it includes <, /, and >. I actually find this very handy.
posted by koeselitz at 1:16 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


On non-preview, what dirtdirt said. Also: thanks, pb!
posted by koeselitz at 1:19 PM on October 9, 2011


Yeah, iPads should get the mobile button set not matter which version of the site you're viewing, standard or mobile. We added those specifically to help with writing HTML because it's so hard to get to those keys with the onscreen keyboard.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:36 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, spank my ass, I AM a petulant whiner!

I never even saw those new keys in the mobile version! They're really light on my screen, though, I would never have realized they were there without this thread (I'm on Chrome, by the way). I must have missed the memo, because I had no clue any of that had been implemented.

Thank you to everyone who pointed them out!

Yes, this crow is quite tasty, as is the egg on my face. And these keys are nifty keen. Thank you for adding this feature! I am feeling much less cranky now.
posted by misha at 1:53 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


cortex: why is that such a concern? What will this "excessive" blockquoting harm? So what if the unwashed masses start blockquoting people?

pb: if you are helping one group of people with extra buttons, why not another group of people?
posted by gjc at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2011


The bracket bar for the mobile stylesheet is compensating for a glaring problem with input on a big chunk of devices. It's there specifically so that mobile users will be more at parity with normal users: they'll be able to type out whatever specific tags they want that aren't in button form, which is most of them. As much as anything, mobile users hear "no" from us more often than folks using the standard interface.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:06 PM on October 9, 2011


koeselitz: "First and foremost, almost every other forum I'm on has a morass of ridiculous buttons that are not necessary, and using them generally gets in the way of communication rather than enhancing the discussion"

Yeah, the fatal flaw in the argument that more ready access to to text formatting will lead to greater communication is that, no matter how easy you make it to add formatting, everyone will apply it differently, leading to more confusion, not less. If you really want to make it easier for style to denote content (ie x style = quoting a comment from the thread, y style = quoting from another site etc), you would need to develop a set of buttons that denote what the user wants to do, not more HTML tags that can be used in a any way the user decides.

In other words, you would need to have a 'quote this comment' button and a 'literary quote' button and on and on and on. Even then, people would still use them inconsistently and in ways not intended. The minimal use of buttons is a feature of MeFi, not a bug and I wouldn't be sad at all to see all three of them go away. Just don't take away the special buttons just for mobile users now that they finally work properly ;-)
posted by dg at 3:52 PM on October 9, 2011

I prefer the italicized quotes to blockquotes anyway. Much easier to skim and find responses. Is there a particular reason why people want blockquotes instead?oneirodynia
I don't have a position on the button issue, but I am rather partial to the blockquote tag.

Of all the conventions and issues related to how to write in email and in web discussions, it's been how and how often to quote that's preoccupied me for years and years.

I think it's better to quote than not, both as a sort of social and interpersonal signal encouraging interactive discourse and for clarity. So, over the last twenty years I've experimented with numerous quoting conventions.

I'm also a bit OCD, so I tend to get picky and obsessive about this sort of thing. Merely using quote marks in the text body causes the least disruption to the flow, but the double-quotes can also make the test look cluttered. More importantly, there's a reason why the tendency on the net is to set quotes apart in some way, to make them distinct—when we read threads like this, even for those of us who read all comments, we're still trying to quickly make sense of the back-and-forth between people. I find that obvious quotes make following individual conversations much easier.

And the blockquoting style accomplishes this very well. I also feel the need to italicize the text, too, which is arguably excessive. But it just sort of looks better to me that way. Finally, I think it's important to include attribution; not quite as important to link to the particular comment, though it's helpful for those who want to follow something closely by re-reading.

I recently read somewhere an extremely informed discussion about bold and italic tags with regard to the larger issue of whether and how much HTML is semantic mark-up. Unfortunately, I can't recall where. For those who don't know any of the history, HTML was created as a limited subset of SGML. SGML is one of those comprehensive, highly-engineered sprawling standards in computing—the whole point of it is to package up text in a way that separates the content from the presentation and to provide a context for the text so that it can be "intelligently" parsed by processes that want to use it. So it's extremely important that the text is marked in ways that are semantically meaningful (like "emphasis"). HTML was supposed to work the same way, to be a small subset of SGML.

But, what happened is that when people started to make web pages, they utilized the tags to control how the text looked. People thought of HTML tags as ways to control presentation. The early browser developers knew what the customers wanted, and extended HTML further in that direction. This eventually caused problems when web pages began to show up on devices and in contexts where hard-coding the look of the text really screwed things up. The industry initiated a big effort to move back to separating out semantics from presentation, and they introduced the emphasis and strong tags and tried to get people to stop using bold and italic. But of course people still do.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I honestly cannot believe this isn't a "hey, good idea" slam dunk. The goal is clearer communication and ease of use, right? Adding that button does both of those things.

If letting more users know that blockquote is an option is a bad thing, I guess I'll just have to disagree in astonishment.

What does matthowie think?
posted by gjc at 4:11 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ooh. An end-run. That should work.
posted by crunchland at 5:40 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's not a hard guy to get ahold of, if you want to ask him specifically. The mod team doesn't always agree 100% about everything but we talk about most of it on email when e.g. stuff comes up in metatalk; this is my job, I don't just sneak in and answer stuff in metatalk when I think Matt won't notice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:54 PM on October 9, 2011


is
this
the
kind
of
thing
you
guys
are
worried
about?
because
you
could
totally
put
an
upper
limit
on
the
nesting
levels.
posted by unSane at 6:39 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nah. It's easier just to ban you.
posted by crunchland at 6:41 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


congrats to crunchland on his promotion to moderator!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 6:41 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


One, I would appreciate a blockquote button.

Two, regardless of what I would like, capping the number of uses of blockquote in any post seems like a good thing.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:23 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

"And I feel like the nudge is good because blockquote is, by design, a pretty conspicuous tag. Used with reservations, that's not a problem—it's an effective way to occasionally offset text in a way that is visually striking and used with a bit of care melds nicely with the otherwise almost entirely left-ruled flow of comments on the site.

Take away the nudge, tacitly encourage people to go nuts with the blockquote tag, and you lose that it-works-because-its-infrequent thing. If it's easier to blockquote, people will blockquote more; if people blockquote more, blockquote will lose its visual impact.
"
That seems like an awfully undemocratic sentiment for Metafilter; that we should not only allow those with HTML knowledge to take precedence over those that don't, but to protect that conspicuousness? I think the visually striking aspect of "blockquote" getting diluted would be a feature not a bug. Done well "blockquote" is a useful tool, and if you are worried about abuse then you guys can always prevent nesting, which is ugly and shouldn't exist anyhow.

Its not like its a super secret font embiggening ability, but from you guys' answers it feels like a useful thing being reserved for a mefite in-group, which runs counter to Matt's stated philosophies of site management.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


...capping the number of uses of blockquote in any post seems like a good thing.

I think if this starts happening on a regular basis in threads that aren't about blockquote, people will flag them for display error and we'll just start deleting those comments.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:33 PM on October 9, 2011


we'll just start deleting those comments.

when the only tool you have is a banhammer everything looks like a nail.
posted by unSane at 7:47 PM on October 9, 2011


Its not like its a super secret font embiggening ability, but from you guys' answers it feels like a useful thing being reserved for a mefite in-group, which runs counter to Matt's stated philosophies of site management.

It's not a mefite in-group, it's if anything a people-learning-a-tiny-bit-of-html in-group, which applies to every other tag anyone has used here that doesn't come with a button, which is almost all of them. Someone exercising a little curiosity and viewing source or hitting google or asking a mod or a fellow mefite how to accomplish a specific display trick they've noticed isn't a bad thing, and it's a very small speed bump.

Matt's stated philosophies of site management are about trying to help this be a good place for people to share and talk and ask and answer and so on as individuals and as members of a community in a text-mediated space; it's not about unfettered or pushbutton use of arbitrary markup. Believing in the site he's built and the general trustworthiness and intelligence of the Metafilter community didn't stop him from outright nixing things like the font tag or the big tag when he felt like they were more trouble than they were worth, for example.

By comparison to which, we're not even talking about nixing the blockquote tag here; this was "hey, will you add a thing that doesn't exist yet" and us saying "no, we aren't planning to do that".

All of which aside, this thread was started as a request for a button by someone already well aware of the blockquote tag and hence already as far into an in-group as is possible there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:03 PM on October 9, 2011


when the only tool you have is a banhammer everything looks like a nail.

And stunt comments are stunt comments. I can't think of a situation where 10+ nested blockquotes would not be a stunt comment in a normal thread. My point is that we don't need to build in technical limits for social problems.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:50 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That makes no sense to me. An obviously good thing has one minor objection, but there's a painless fix. What's the problem here? An arbitrary distinction between "technical" and "social" problems just seems like a blow off.
posted by spaltavian at 10:10 PM on October 9, 2011


Italics and blockquote? Why?
posted by rtha at 10:12 PM on October 9, 2011


An obviously good thing has one minor objection...

I'm not sure anyone is arguing that multiple nested blockquote tags is a reason not to include the blockquote button. If they did, I missed it. I'm not worried about it. I haven't talked with anyone else on team mod about it, but I'm guessing they're not worried about it either. Some sort of technical limit on nesting is not the one thing holding this feature back. It's the many things that have come up in this thread already.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:19 PM on October 9, 2011

Italics and blockquote? Why?rtha
I do that, too. And, as I explained in my previous comment, I think it looks better. Presumably, Blasdelb feels the same way. I especially like how his comment looks, with its two paragraph quote.

In the past, I included double-quote marks, as well. I recall someone here mentioning a long time ago that my quoting style was distinctive. But, I realized at some point that blockquotes shouldn't also be placed within quote marks.

The only things that bother me are when there's an extra blank line before or after the blockquote—which pb has ensured doesn't happen here anymore—and the way it looks when a comment begins with a blockquote without an introduction. This bothers me enough sometimes that I intentionally write something before the quote—introducing the quote or something else not directly related—to avoid it. Did I mention that I have OCD tendencies? :)

I suspect that many of the more impassioned people involved in this discussion are a little bit OCD, now that I think about it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:57 PM on October 9, 2011


I kind of like having secret tags to confuse the noobs.

Like the small tag. Or the spoiler tag that you can only see once you have 10,000 favorites.

Or the double secret image tag that only MeFi Gold members get but are told to only use in the Cabal Plat de Legume longue. Keep in mind you need to send Matt real gold to get that account, not bitcoins, PayPal Bux, or your fiat currency of choice.

Or the hamburger tag. {/}
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:10 AM on October 10, 2011


> I do that, too. And, as I explained in my previous comment, I think it looks better.

Huh. It looks...too much to me. I usually just italicize if I'm quoting someone else. Sometimes I remember to use the mefi quoting script, since that handily appends a link to the original comment.
posted by rtha at 6:22 AM on October 10, 2011


@oneirodynia: I prefer the italicized quotes to blockquotes anyway.

You've all got it wrong. This is the preferred way to quote someone.
posted by desjardins at 6:52 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking of blockquotes, I regularly read MeFi on an andoid phone, slightly zoomed for better legibility. The pages render blockquotes as half the screen width when reading in portrait mode, which yields an average of a three word blockquoted line. Am I missing an easy solution to this? If not, would it be possible to make the blockquote indents a user setting?
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 7:38 AM on October 10, 2011


Sounds like something worth firing a screenshot and phone/browser info to the contact form, Sir Cholmondeley; the mobile stylesheet renders blockquote as just a small indent on iPhone at least, there may or may not be some user-agent css tweak issue here but Matt and pb would be best able to poke at it in any case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 AM on October 10, 2011


We can probably tighten up blockquote margins in android portrait orientation. Can you grab a screenshot and let me know which version of Android you're running?
posted by pb (staff) at 7:49 AM on October 10, 2011


> Also if we could require that you type your comments in vi or emacs and have a neckbeard that would help as well.

I don't want to have to remember that strikeout can be had if I press Ctrl+Shift+F7+E+CapsLock+Numpad 8+~.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:41 AM on October 10, 2011


Thanks for the screenshot, Sir Cholmondeley. I just made a change to the android stylesheet to reduce the blockquote margins for smaller screens. I tested it in the Android 2.2 emulator and it looks better there. It should help.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:27 AM on October 10, 2011


"You've all got it wrong. This is the preferred way to quote someone."1

No, you've got it wrong. This is the preferred way to quote someone.

1desjardins, Pony Request, October 2011. Retrieved from MetaFilter website http://metatalk.metafilter.com/21066/Pony-Request#933721.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:56 AM on October 10, 2011


pardonyou?: ""You've all got it wrong. This is the preferred way to quote someone."1

No, you've got it wrong. This is the preferred way to quote someone.

1desjardins, Pony Request, October 2011. Retrieved from MetaFilter website http://metatalk.metafilter.com/21066/Pony-Request#933721.
"

No, that's the correct way to cite someone. This is the correct way to quote someone.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:27 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


when the only tool you have is a banhammer everything looks like a nail.

Actually, the mods wear utility belts that contain various Mod-smoke greanades, lock-picks, energy bars, a grappling hook, Mod-rangs, several babblefish, Mod-goggles (Night and infrared) and 1 juice box
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:41 PM on October 10, 2011


Also, a narwhal.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:45 PM on October 10, 2011


No waffle maker?
posted by desjardins at 12:46 PM on October 10, 2011


That's in the Arctic edition of Mod-mobile and Mod-Submersible.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:00 PM on October 10, 2011


and no tea
posted by unSane at 6:06 PM on October 10, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: "Also, a narwhal."

We were at the beach, everybody had matching towels.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:10 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


For quoting other users, I use the Greasemonkey script on my laptop, and copy/paste italics otherwise. For quoting other sources where I want to highlight maybe a paragraph and there are several pages woth of text involved, I use blockquote tags. I don't use it as often as I do italics, that's true, but I probably use it as much as I would bold.

So, again, I'm really glad the mobile site offers more options, but I still think the BLOCKQUOTE button would be a useful thing. This is not the first time this has come up, and several people have weighed in favoring it, so I am seeing real interest in this pony.

Objections seem to be that IF this is done, it MIGHT lead to more stunt posts and/or MIGHT clutter up the page, but nothing concrete that really explains why it isn't being seriously considered.

Are we still debatiing this or is it really just an exercise in futility at this point? Because if we took away the BOLD button and replaced it with the BLOCKQUOTE, that would do away with the latter objection. Is anyone really married to that BOLD option?
posted by misha at 6:54 PM on October 10, 2011


but nothing concrete that really explains why it isn't being seriously considered.

Presumably because metafilter provides the bare minimum of formatting options to ensure that those who are unable to use (or learn the use of) basic html tags are not left out of the conversation here. Presumably because adding another yet another formatting option (and a relatively infrequently-used one one at that) leads to requests for more and more options ("How come you added blockquote for misha but won't add [$tag] for me?" ) Presumably because metafilter is not your fully-functional text formatting service. Presumably because that is what html is for.
posted by dersins at 7:13 PM on October 10, 2011


misha: "Are we still debatiing this or is it really just an exercise in futility at this point?"

That's not an either/or question.

The mods have it pretty clear they aren't biting on this, for now at least. So, barring Matt coming in and saying, "Actually, that's a great idea!" debate will not be accomplishing much.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:10 PM on October 10, 2011


bare minimum of formatting options

The bare minimum of formatting options would be none, or at most the link button.

The choice of B and I seems pretty arbitrary. I sort of works as a default for quoting, so that's fair enough, but why B is there is beyond me. Caps do pretty much the same job as bold, except if you are trying to highlight a username, which always annoys me when people do it without actually linking. I personally use [small] and [blockquote] way more. [blockquote] in particular is useful for excerpting stuff as opposed to quoting another user, especially because (as I noted above) the combo of blockquote + small compresses the line spacing nicely.

PB, is there a reason why the [small] tag doesn't compress the line spacing?
posted by unSane at 8:12 PM on October 10, 2011


PB, is there a reason why the [small] tag doesn't compress the line spacing?

In CSS lingo, everything here at MeFi has a line-height of 130%. That means the line height is slightly bigger than the font used on that line. For whatever reason, when you combine small and blockquote that line-height is lost. It looks to me like it goes to 100% even though we explicitly set blockquote to line-height 130%. We're not doing anything to make that happen, it's probably a browser quirk of some kind.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:40 PM on October 10, 2011


The choice of B and I was also made basically years and years ago and based on actual use on the site I'd mostly be inclined to nix B if we were going to make a change for the sake of making a change; I gets a lot of good use, be mostly gets used to really emphasize things in a way that doesn't consistently seem like an improvement. It's not without use but it doesn't really strike me as something that needs pushbutton access.

But we haven't been discussing removing the B button it and I doubt we suddenly will start doing so. Just giving insight into where it runs regarding my take on this other stuff if that's a matter of curiosity.

small is an interesting case because on the one hand it has its uses but on the other hand used in excess it tends to annoy people. I use it less than I used to, almost always for mod notes and a lot less for cutesy footnotes, because I've gotten sympathetic to folks complaining about it being legitimately hard for them to read as their eyes age, but hey.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:43 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The android blockquote change works great.

Thanks!
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 10:22 AM on October 11, 2011


I'm very much in favour dropping the bold/strong button. Italics and links are very commonly used, bold, almost never. It seems odd that a rarely-used element has such prominant placing.

In my ideal world, I'd trade bold for blockquote in a heartbeat.
posted by bonehead at 11:44 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


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