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When people ask questions and put HTML tags outside of code blocks one of two things happens.

  1. It's a supported tag and it changes the formatting. This is usually OK, because it's easy to spot that there is something wrong with the question and someone edits it quickly.

  2. It's not in the list and it gets silently ignored. This tends to lead to confusion and even high rep users can get confused by such questions and post irrelevant answers. Example (see edit history).

Couldn't unsupported tags then be escaped instead? What is the reasoning behind silently ignoring them?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

What is the reasoning behind silently ignoring them?

This would lead to users pasting in unformatted code and getting away with it.

Instead, I want mistakes in the post to look like mistakes.

(and yes, I consider a "missing content" post one that looks like a mistake.. )

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A missing content notice would sure be a solution. –  Jakub Hampl Apr 6 '11 at 12:41
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This doesn't seem to help. New users apparently don't look at previews or don't care enough to fix it. –  SLaks May 19 '11 at 20:45
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@slaks some users won't look at anything, no matter what you put on the screen. They are beyond help. –  Jeff Atwood May 20 '11 at 3:48

I know exactly what you mean, and I ended up editing many questions related to html/xml because the question had no sense before that.

BUT, escaping those tags is exactly why the person asking should wrap them in code blocks. There is a preview pane in which you can see how the question will look like.

Perhaps a more obvious preview pane or a message recommending the use of the block code when there are several tags in the text?

The problem I see with automatic escaping is that it may escape some (those not recognized), but not others (those recognized), perhaps creating a bigger issue because it will be more difficult to spot the missing tags.

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But the recognized ones change formatting - so in my experience these types of mistakes are a lot easier to spot. –  Jakub Hampl Apr 4 '11 at 14:19
    
@Jakub yes, but imagine the mess if some are escaped as in a code block, but some are not, but they really belong to the code in question, not to the question formatting. I see danger there. –  Aleadam Apr 4 '11 at 15:13
    
There's always the possibility of not allowing html at all. Also mess is not a big problem. Messy questions get cleaned. The problem is when a questions looks OK but is missing most of its context. –  Jakub Hampl Apr 4 '11 at 15:26

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