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I've seen a number of edits where the only change is to add backticks to single words in a paragraph of text.

For example, the original post might contain something like:


I'm using the FooBar function (defined in the Fish::Ghoti package) to frobnicate an int variable in my unary tree traversal program.


and the edit might change it to:


I'm using the FooBar function (defined in the Fish::Ghoti package) to frobnicate an int variable in my unary tree traversal program.


The only change is to format individual words as code. (I would have formatted those as quotations, but that would hide the highlighting.)

(I've made changes like that myself, but usually only as part of a larger edit.)

Is this an appropriate edit? If I see it in the review list, should I approve it? Reject it? Flip a coin?

EDIT : Does it really improve the readability? (I suspect that will vary considerably for different readers; some probably prefer the formatting, others find it intrusive and distracting.)

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1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Depends...

Is it a really good post, well-written and attractively formatted, a shining example to one and all of the best that the site can produce... save for the lamentable absence of back-tic'd keywords? Sure, approve it.

Or is it a total eye-sore, rife with misspellings and grammatical errors, code blocks obviously written using 8-space indentation and then somehow pasted in sans-linebreaks, all hung together under the title "C# Pr0blum_?", with the editor's small tweak to the formatting serving little purpose beyond making the gross incompetence of the author even more obvious?

Yeah, reject those.

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Your answer (as well as Andrew's) assumes that the formatting does improve readability, that "using the FooBar function" is more readable than "using the FooBar function". Is there a general consensus that that's true, or do a lot of people find it just as easy (or easier) to read without the special formatting? Are multiple font changes within a sentence more jarring than useful? Certainly multi-line code samples should be formatted, but does the same really apply to single words within running English text? I'm trying to get an idea of what works best for most readers. –  Keith Thompson Dec 10 '11 at 9:15
    
Hmm, those two "FooBar"s don't look very different in a comment, but you get the idea. –  Keith Thompson Dec 10 '11 at 9:16
    
It's a matter of taste, really. I like language keywords, program symbols, etc. to stand out a bit, but it really does depend on the context - see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2593/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/33709/… for some more discussion of this. –  Shog9 Dec 10 '11 at 17:11
1  
Interesting. On SO, code in comments is displayed with a fixed font and a gray background. Here on Meta, code in comments, like this is displayed differently, and doesn't stand out as much (but code in questions and answers is shown with a gray background). Why the difference? –  Keith Thompson Dec 11 '11 at 0:06
    
Everything on MSO is... Just a little bit more pale –  Shog9 Dec 11 '11 at 0:17

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