list corner case

Aristotle Pagaltzis pagaltzis at
Tue Sep 9 02:28:02 EDT 2008

* Bowerbird at <Bowerbird at> [2008-09-09 07:45]:

> jacob said:

> > This entirely contradicts Markdown's purpose and philosophy.


> and aristotle agreed:

> > That is my opinion too.


> it _might_not_ (or might) be in alignment with the "purpose and

> philosophy" of markdown, but hey, it does not "contradict" it,

> _certainly_ not "entirely".


> this is what gruber says under "markdown philosophy":

> > Markdown is intended to be as easy-to-read and

> > easy-to-write as is feasible. Readability, however, is

> > emphasized above all else.


> he continues:

> > A Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is,

> > as plain text, without looking like it's been marked up

> > with tags or formatting instructions.


> if the intent is ambiguous -- and it _clearly_ is ambiguous,

> since no one here can state unequivocally what was meant, which

> is why there are competing interpretations at work -- then the

> document certainly will not be _readable_, let alone

> "publishable as-is". so it's out of the realm of the

> philosophy.

With due respect I have to say it seems to me you are utterly
misinterpreting the second paragraph you quoted. My reading is
that “publishable as-is” refers to it not “looking like it’s been
marked up with tags or formatting instructions.” Simply put, all
it says is that Markdown documents should not look like code –
unlike HTML, which does.

Furthermore, regardless of whether you are claiming that a
document is readable or not, I know that as a human I have no
trouble extracting some meaning from any of the examples given
in this thread. Certainly if they contained real text, I would
have even less trouble to understand what the author meant, based
on contextual cues like, oh I dunno, *what the text says*.

My interpretation of the Markdown philosophy is that plaintext
documents have inherent meaning to humans, and the rules of the
syntax should be designed to infer that meaning correctly. You’ll
recall [1] that John’s motivation for designing Markdown was the
tedium of the common tasks in writing HTML by hand – putting in
tags for paragraphs, emphasis, quoting, etc. “It’s 2004.
Shouldn’t your computer be able to determine where you’ve written
paragraphs and sub-heads?” Obviously, the formatter should try
its best to reflect the structure of the written prose with the
appropriate means of HTML.

Imagine that someone was nice enough to buy you a gift: an
original typewritten manuscript for a classic novel. Let’s
say Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”. You could sit down with
this manuscript and read it, straight through, and get pretty
much the same reading experience as you would when reading it
in the form of a nicely bound and typeset book. Yes, it would
all be set in the typewriter’s smudgy fixed-width
Courier-esque typeface, with underlining instead of italics,
etc. — but the words would still flow, from page to mind,
just as Fitzgerald intended.

Is there such a thing as an invalid classic novel? So how can
there be such a thing as an invalid Markdown document?

The quote from Stanley Kubrick I used to start this article
is one of my very favorites. When you write and read text
that’s marked-up with HTML tags, it’s forcing you to
concentrate on the *think* of it. It’s the *feel* of it that
I want Markdown-formatted text to convey.

I can find no way to reconcile the above with your claim that
ambiguous writer’s intent puts a source document outside the
realm of Markdown’s philosophy of publishability.


Aristotle Pagaltzis // <>

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