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Markup summary when posting/replying?

by dws (Chancellor)
on Feb 12, 2002 at 03:24 UTC ( #144775=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

We see malformed posts here on a daily basis, very often from newcomers who haven't yet learned about <code> tags. The editors spend a fair amount of time cleaning up malformed posts, but still the posts come.

I wonder if there isn't a simple way to avoid many malformed posts. All we would need to do would be to apply some proactive education in the right place.

What if, below each <TEXTAREA> for entering and updating nodes, there appeared a brief summary of tag and entity conventions. It could appear based on a user setting that could be turned off once someone knew there way around (and was past the point of not knowing about posting conventions).

The summary might read:

Please read _______ before making your first post.

Use <p> to separate paragraphs, or <br> to force a line break.
Use <code> .. </code> tags around code fragments. These work like <pre> tags, which you should not use.

Use <b>bold</b> for bold text, and <i>italic</i> for italic.

To link to a node, use [id://node_id] or [id://node_id|optional words]
To link externally, use [http://www.example.com/|optional words]
Links are disabled within <code> tags.

Outside of <code> tags, use &#091; and &#093; for [ and ].

See _________ for additonal details. To disable this summary, uncheck _____ in your user settings.

Does this seem reasonable? If so, what kinds of things would you like to see in a such a summary?

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(ar0n) Re: Markup summary when posting/replying?
by ar0n (Priest) on Feb 12, 2002 at 04:45 UTC
    It could appear based on a user setting that could be turned off once someone knew there way around (and was past the point of not knowing about posting conventions).

    Better yet, it could be turned off automatically. After a user posts <x> nodes, it can be safely assumed the user knows what he's doing. The only 'problem' is determining that x. Is it 1, 5 or 10?

    [ ar0n -- want job (boston) ]

      I'd personally like it user controlled, as many different sites have slightly different HTML restrictions - some you have to escape angle brackets within <code> tags, on PerlMonks you don't. I can't remember the correct syntax for the [id://node_id] or the ISBN tags, nor can I remember the &#091 and &#093 tags. Too many things to remember, but a little reminder at the bottom of the page would help sooo much.
Re: Markup summary when posting/replying?
by rjray (Chaplain) on Feb 12, 2002 at 07:53 UTC

    Some other web-based communities I use have links to HTML summaries, which generally pop-up a new window (note of course that these aren't the evil auto-popups, but only appear when you click :-). I've heard people say they find those useful, because they can have the second window off to the side while they compose.

    Perhaps a combination of ideas: start people at the point of having the summary, with a link to the page that covers the HTML usage in depth (separate window or not, at your judgement). Have that be the default for unreg users, and for registered users at Level 1. At Level 2, go to just the link (or a briefer summary, like a simple list of tags for visual aid/recognition/reminder, plus the link). At Level 3, reduce again (if you didn't go with just the link at L2, now you would, or you'd go completely bare). That also answers the issue of when to move from one state to the next. When I registered as a user and started replying to posts, it didn't take long to move from L1 to L2, so the "annoyance" factor for the more seasoned users should be low.

    --rjray

Keep Directions Short - Re: Markup summary when posting/replying?
by metadoktor (Hermit) on Feb 12, 2002 at 08:04 UTC
    I wonder if there isn't a simple way to avoid may malformed posts

    Oh the irony! ;) Perhaps you meant to say "many"?

    Seriously, I think adding some directions would be a good idea but as usual when you add too much info you run the risk of having the user not read the important stuff and so the point is lost.

    I think having a short one to two sentence warning about markup issues would probably deal with most of the problems (e.g. code tags). You could have a link discussing formatting issues in more depth for the so inclined.

    metadoktor

    "The doktor is in."

Re: Markup summary when posting/replying?
by mattr (Curate) on Feb 12, 2002 at 11:37 UTC
    I wonder if you could take it another step and just put a row of tiny image icons at the bottom of the text area. Clicking once on one of the icons might insert a "<P>" or a "<CODE> </CODE>" at the cursor point with JavaScript. We'd all find it useful, probably, if it worked.

    Actually I just found a very detailed response to someone who (surprise) asked the same question once. Seems that it can be done in IE4/5 but not in Netscape (unless you use a Java input frame). I suppose you could cover a lot of newbies if you did it to show up just for IE.. but ick.

    Move SIG!

      icons might insert a "<P>" or a "<CODE> </CODE>" at the cursor point with JavaScript.

      JavaScript is evil! dangerous! both! see, for example, a node linked from Tachyon's user page, Java script in the monastery! (for some reason this link logs you out)

      ~Particle

Re: Markup summary when posting/replying?
by tjh (Curate) on Feb 13, 2002 at 02:32 UTC
    Something like this would be really useful.

    Also, an always current definitive list of all acceptable markup would be very helpful, and reduce what are probably a great many Preview cycles...

    I wouldn't mind at all if a link popped up a new browser window with the list in it.

    Thanks for asking!

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