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The current markdown format for ordered lists is confusing for new users, especially when you go back and edit, switch or remove items. The example in the FAQ shows 1, 2, 7 and says it will be auto numbered which might confuse even more (I wonder how many posts have OLs starting literally with 1, 2, 7). When I edit other's posts I often forget myself when I see weird out of order OLs. I use all 1. when I create them (like I did in this post), but it just seems so arbitrary.

Can the option of using #. be added? Aside from being easier to edit/maintain, it would make skipping numbers or intentionally putting them out-of-order easier.

So:

 #. List item
 #. List item
   #. List item
   #. List item
     #. List item

     ...

     10. List item
   #. List item

Would be:

  1. List item
  2. List item

    1. List item
    2. List item

      1. List item

      ...

      10. List item

    3. List item

UPDATE:
@Arjan pointed out that this is based on a standard called Markdown (of all things), so I guess that makes changing it not an option.

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Yay! That'd be nice... –  Yannis Jan 12 '12 at 5:21
    
Personally, I just use 0 for all the numbers. –  AJMansfield Nov 11 '13 at 23:24

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I see two one major issue:

First, it would be another deviation from official Markdown, without a real need, in my opinion. Remember the data dump, API, et cetera!

Secondly,

or intentionally putting them out-of-order

In fact, browsers do not easily support that for the resulting <ol><li>. It would then need CSS counters to get the list right, hence mixing presentation with content. Not too nice either, I feel. The workarounds are not any better, but at least are clear for whoever/whatever is using the post data.

HTML allows for <ol start="42">, which was deprecated for some time, but is supported again.

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I didn't realize it was based on an official spec. That might be a better place to bring up a change. –  ThinkingStiff Jan 12 '12 at 7:05
1  
Actually I believe the start and value list attributes have made a reappearance in HTML5. In this case, using <li value="7"> would be the solution, although personally I feel the current method is just fine. –  DisgruntledGoat Mar 6 '12 at 0:18
    
You're right, @DisgruntledGoat, nice. A w3.org example shows a top 10 countdown that makes some sense. Also, it might be nice whenever the numbering somehow breaks, like when using a lot of code or quotes within a list item. Still then, I feel staying close to Markdown is more important. Allowing the value= attribute in <li> might be nice in the future though, if these sites ever ALL will be HTML5. (Currently only the mobile site is.) –  Arjan Mar 6 '12 at 6:37

You could use "1." for each item of the ordered list.

1. This is an ordered list
1. The list contains three items
1. This is the last one
  1. This is an ordered list
  2. The list contains three items
  3. This is the last one

Markdown renders the ordered list automatically numbering the single items.

In which way do you think #. is better than 1.? If users are not aware that they can simply use 1. for each list item, when it is reported in the help available when editing any post, why do you think they would remember of using #.?

screenshot

The example list reports the list items are automatically numbered.

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Yes, that's what I did in my post. But most users do not know this. It's not intuitive at all. They type one thing, or strike out one of the list items and their numbers are all messed up and don't match what is displayed. Every time I edit one of these I have recall why the numbers don't match (since OLs aren't used all that often). –  ThinkingStiff Jan 12 '12 at 5:31
    
Downvote retracted, although I disagree the current scheme is sufficient. –  Yannis Jan 12 '12 at 5:44
    
@kiamlaluno The FAQ is confusing, too. If you want people to use 1. for every list item, why not put that in there. –  ThinkingStiff Jan 12 '12 at 6:00
    
@ThinkingStiff Actually, you can use any number you want; nobody forces you to use 1. I am not sure which part of the FAQ is not clear, and why the help for the Markdown you can use should be ignored. –  kiamlaluno Jan 12 '12 at 6:07

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