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I've come across answers on Stack Overflow that I've found particularly intriguing, but half way through reading I've had to break off and perform a Google search to find out what a particular term or phrase means. This often interrupts the flow of reading the answer, or sometimes I'll get distracted by the term and forget about the answer, only returning to it hours later when I'm cleaning up my unused tabs in the browser.

Reading through an answer I posted today, I realized that some of my own answers might contain terms that could be confusing to someone less familiar in the subject than I am. I think it would make Stack Overflow an even richer source of information if we could define these terms without cluttering up the post body with irrelevant material.

A possible implementation could be the use of Markdown or HTML to encapsulate the term and provide the definition, which would be hidden from output. The definition could then be displayed in the title/tooltip or by a JavaScript implementation where a click on the term would result in the definition being shown in a dismissible popup. The term itself could be identifiable by a visual cue such as dotted or dashed underlining.


I can see at least several terms that might be confusing to some in this very post - what's Markdown?

I think <dfn> is the most semantically appropriate HTML element to use for this sort of thing.

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A related thought on similar problems:… – Grace Note Mar 29 '11 at 15:54

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