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Every now and then, I edit another user's question or answer and encounter something along the lines of the following in the post source:

Help, I need this question solved with these things:<br />
<ul><li>Item1</li><li>Item2</li><li>Item3</li></ul><br />

Can you guys help me with this? Oh and check here also <a href="vagueurl.com">Here</a><br /><br />

Thanks!

Of course, it works, and it renders properly on the question's page... But... it's a real pain to edit and keep the HTML formatting clean and valid. Furthermore users that are not known with HTML and want to edit a post, might have difficulty to do so. For most SU/SO/SF users it probably won't be too big a problem but I can imagine users from Cooking, Photography or any other SE site being like "What the hell is this?"

If you just stick witk MarkDown and at least use its full potential, you'll be using a standard that every user should be able to understand. It will also make the post structure a lot more clear.

For example:

Help, I need this question solved with these things:

 - Item1
 - Item2
 - Item3

Can you guys help me with this? Oh and check here also [Here][4].

Thanks!

  [1]: http://vagueurl.com

Honestly, I don't know why some tags are allowed. I understand that not every tag that is allowed has a MarkDown replacement, but tags like the <ul>, <li>, <h1/2/3> and the <br /> should at least be discouraged. We could for example display a warning similar to the "This question seems subjective and will most likely be closed as off-topic" that is shown when certain tags are used.

For example something like the following warning could be shown when the <br /> tag is detected:

You seem to be using the "<br />" HTML tag to create a new line. Stack overflow uses MarkDown to format posts, please use a blank line to create a new paragraph or a double space "  " to create a new line. For more help, please visit our formatting guide.

So, for the TL;DR people:

Why HTML in posts should be discouraged in my opinion:

  • Standardized formatting will make post editing easier and more clear in structure.
  • Standardized formatting prevents weird and invalid HTML.
  • The MarkDown editor used by SE does not "support"/use HTML formatting to insert images/links.
  • I'm not saying HTML usage should be banned, but rather that HTML is discouraged as much as possible.

What do you guys think?

share|improve this question
6  
For most SU/SO/SF users it probably won't be too big a problem but I can imagine users from Cooking, Photography or any other SE site being like "What the hell is this?" -- Possibly true, but at the same time, the chance that someone uses HTML tags for formatting in the first place decreases by the same amount. –  balpha Mar 6 '11 at 16:31
    
@balpha Yes I agree, but still, it's just one point I'm addressing. –  BloodPhilia Mar 6 '11 at 16:36
1  
Be careful with madeup URLs, dubious companies buy them to get free traffic. VagueURL.com hasn't been taken yet but it is safest to use example.com which is reserved specifically for this purpose –  Richard Tingle Apr 6 at 12:10
    
@balpha, I respectfully disagree. I've seen many (often low-quality) questions asked on EE.SE by people with a fairly high rep on SO and related sites. While I know HTML personally for example the person with the highest rep on the site uses IE8 under XP and was quite annoyed the Winter Bash hats wouldn't work under IE8. –  PeterJ Apr 6 at 12:17
    
@Arjan Ah, the problem with bumped ancient posts –  Richard Tingle Apr 6 at 14:47
    
@Arjan Yes, but I saw this post 2 hours ago due to user3503363's rather poor answer without realising this question was from before example.com even existed –  Richard Tingle Apr 6 at 14:49
    
@Arjan Ah, I see! That makes sense –  Richard Tingle Apr 6 at 15:06
    
I am a new user, keen on html, I'll keep this in mind! –  MattAllegro Apr 16 at 21:55
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