It took me ages to find the excellent and comprehensive help for Markdown at https://meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help. It's not in the SO faq, and it's referenced in very few of the questions tagged here. I was sure there should be such a page, but had to dig hard.

Reasons I think it's a good idea:

  1. It's a clear and obvious place to put a link, even if there are other ways. It wouldn't take long. Why not just pop one in?

  2. People used to Windows expect a tooltip from a ? button, so are conditioned to ignore it, and certainly wouldn't think to go there for detail. (Maybe also rename the ? feature, which is excellent, to More Markdown help or Using Markdown to sell it better.)

  3. After you've typed a bit, the helpful "How to Edit"/"How to Format" sidebar turns into "Similar Questions", so if you only need help with markup a little later into posting, most of the help has disappeared, so you look in the faq.

  4. I write all my long posts, and some of my short ones in a text editor (with a compiler or interpreter at the ready), so there's no context-sensitive help most of the time, so I head for the faq.

  5. The link at the bottom of "How to Format" is not visible on a short post on lower screen resolutions (eg. on an ultra portable), so if I want more detail, I look in the faq.

  6. If you're using SO from a mobile device, no help appears at all, for obvious reasons of screen size - I'd still expect to be able to find help in the faq or help, though.

Wouldn't it be an easy edit with a win for some newcomers? If there are other help pages like https://meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help, it would be nice to like to them or a summary page too. Also, perhaps a link to the well organised main SE faq question, which isn't always at the top of the list, would be better than just linking to the [faq] tag on meta.

  • 6
    You mean, besides it being linked to whenever you write a question or answer? It's right there. The question mark and subsequent advanced help.
    – Bart
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:11
  • 2
    I've never seen that page before and I've been around for over nine months and racked up 4.7K+ rep.
    – Luke_0
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:15
  • 5
    This is why we need more <blink>
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:27
  • Yes, I mean besides it being linked to whenever I write. I finally saw that ? AFTER finding an answer here that referenced the help and pointed it out, so only after being quite determined. I've been using Windows for decades now, and it trains you not to use the ?, so of course I didn't see the ?. FAQ is where I go to find out stuff, and I went there to find this.
    – AndrewC
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:33
  • @Shog9 Since we're talking about this, when are we going to update the page?
    – yannis
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:57
  • You do realize that downvotes here on Meta are different? They often indicate disagreement rather than indicate a bad question. So people might simply think this is not necessary with all the info already in place.
    – Bart
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 22:04
  • I'm pointing out that experienced users underestimate the need for a good faq.
    – AndrewC
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 22:10
  • You're unclear as to view point of asking a question or posting an answer and we're trying to figure out how the other cues escaped you
    – random
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 22:43
  • I've been using SO (every day) for 26 days, and have done a couple of questions, a few edits and roughly one answer per day, so mainly from an answering/editing my answer point of view. The sidebar was effective in getting me started, but I wanted to know all the markdown. Of course I went to the faq. The "What if I need more help?" doesn't link to meta.stackoverflow.com/editing-help, nor to I-don't-know-how-many other pages like that - can you make a list and link to it? If there's only one help page, link directly to that.
    – AndrewC
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 23:15
  • I've realised now one reason the context sensitive help didn't help me when writing: On the grounds that good answers have code that works, I'm usually editing my answer as a compilable (literate) source code file in an editor. For SO help I looked first for a help tab (there isn't one - why?) then in the faq (just semantics, nothing on how), then "What if I need more help?", (just links to the faq tag here, not to any help pages (are there any more?). Maybe I didn't think to start editing because Windows doesn't lead you to expect detail from context-help, and ? often means show-tooltip.
    – AndrewC
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 0:08
  • @Bart re your edit: do you think asking "Where can I find full details of the Markdown used in questions and answers?" and answering it with an answer combining a link with your explanations of the easier ways would make a good meta question or would I be repeating my mistakes? I hesitate to ask it like this because it's clearly showing no research effort at all. I don't want to die trying (read this and realised I should have read it before posting at all - and probably not posted)
    – AndrewC
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 22:03
  • Hmm, it might well end up being closed as a duplicate of this one (since the information would essentially be the same). I would give this feature request a go for a while. Let it live a little. My answer is not a rejection of your feature request. (I don't have that power, should I even desire to reject it, which I don't) So let's see this through for a while. It might be picked up.
    – Bart
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 22:06
  • @Bart indeed. I realise that now, fell into all but one of the traps advised against in the don't-die-trying answer, and now I'm a little clearer-headed, your answer reads more positively!
    – AndrewC
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 22:10
  • btw @random your question made me think it all through much more deeply than at first, thanks.
    – AndrewC
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 22:13
  • @Shog9 I heard Google Chrome 28 has Blink ;)
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 0:09

1 Answer 1


While I do not oppose to a clear link within the FAQ (I'm somewhat surprised this isn't the case already), the Markdown Help itself is not nearly as hidden as you make it seem.

In fact, whenever you are writing a question or answer, it is only two clicks away. Notice the question mark at the right-hand side of the editor?

enter image description here

Clicking that will reveal a whole menu with markdown explanations of various topics, such as Links, Images, etc. (For new users this "simple help" menu is expanded by default) What's more, it will even reveal a link to the advanced help on the very right.

enter image description here

And besides that, on the right-hand side of the screen, there is also the "How to Format" box with relevant information and links.

enter image description here

So as you can see, though not explicitly linked to in the FAQ, help is right there or at most just two clicks away. Although an explicit FAQ entry might still be useful nonetheless.

  • Lovely- yes, like it, know now, found out about ? here after searching through several posts tagged Markdown. Put it in the FAQ too please.
    – AndrewC
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:37
  • 3
    It's also linked in the "How to Format" box at the right...
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:46
  • @animuson Thanks, added that to the answer.
    – Bart
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:54
  • 4
    Also, for new users that "simple help" submenu is expanded by default. There's even little animations.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:56
  • @Shog9 Thanks. I edited that into the answer.
    – Bart
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 21:58
  • 2
    I personally support having the link to Editing Help in the FAQ's as only having the link or icon in the editor is only good while editing ... not for those inquiring about editing. Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 23:48

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