Should this be allowed?

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    How is this different from other meaningless mis-uses of formatting? It will just be edited out anyway! – Joachim Sauer Sep 19 '13 at 13:35
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    @JoachimSauer: Okay, then I'll just do it everywhere, as it will just be edited out anyway. – user1228 Sep 19 '13 at 13:35
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    /me is tempted to edit it out of the question ... – Joachim Sauer Sep 19 '13 at 13:37
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    I'm curious as to which form of widespread problem this is: A current one, or one that becomes widespread now that it's in the open. – Jonathan Garber Sep 19 '13 at 13:38
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    @Won't Intentional abuse of formatting despite warnings already has a mechanism; moderator intervention. This would be no different. Someone using this mechanism in good faith wouldn't have a problem, someone trying to just be mean probably has much more harmful formatting changes that they could make. – Servy Sep 19 '13 at 13:38
  • @Servy: It's all true. However, it's also easy to special case out of existence. So, if there is no legit reason to allow this kind of formatting (e.g., like how \s[2,] is collapsed into \s\s), and its use results in people wasting time editing it out, then why allow it in the first place? – user1228 Sep 19 '13 at 13:41
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    I feel compelled to point out that your example looks like this on mobile Safari. – Tim Stone Sep 19 '13 at 14:02
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    @TimStone: comment flagged for ASCII boobie – user1228 Sep 19 '13 at 14:04
  • @TimStone Wow! That's even more coolish than what it looks like here! – Andrew Barber Sep 19 '13 at 14:05
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    Yes, this should be allowed. It's beautiful. – Pekka Sep 20 '13 at 23:49
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    @Won't Sigh, was going to close this post as 'pointless', then saw that you posted it. – George Stocker Sep 21 '13 at 16:45
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    Also, "trolling"? Has the meaning of that word really diluted this far? :| – Blorgbeard Sep 24 '13 at 0:30
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    @Blorgbeard: You don't think using this inappropriately, forcing others to edit your posts, can't be used to troll people? BRB, going to >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>answer some of your questions – user1228 Sep 24 '13 at 13:02
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    @Blorgbeard: The consensus is that it's okey dokey. So game on. – user1228 Oct 23 '13 at 20:45
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    No, the consensus is that it's not worth writing code to disallow. Lots of annoying behaviour isn't explicitly coded for, but still frowned upon. For example, using this to post all your answers is not forbidden! So go nuts! – Blorgbeard Oct 23 '13 at 23:00

That becomes unreadable in the mobile version (screenshot for iOS 6, iPhone 5):

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    Dude! That's NSFW! – Bart Sep 19 '13 at 14:14
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    @Bart: Like that's the first time ever that mobile devices at work are used for NSFW purposes... – Kerrek SB Nov 24 '13 at 12:45

There is plenty of other format abuse

Like any form of format abuse, it should just be edited out.

Like so...

enter image description here

  • @Won't Case in point – user216620 Sep 19 '13 at 13:46
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    Like any form of format abuse... except for lots of whitespace. Whitespace is collapsed. So there is precedent for preventing forms of format abuse. – user1228 Sep 19 '13 at 13:46
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    Isn't whitespace-collapsing already part of the markdown-spec? If so, then it would not really be a precedent. Personally I don't believe in modifying what the users posts, unless there is a clear and visible trend of some formatting always being abused. And personally I've never seen this used. – Joachim Sauer Sep 19 '13 at 13:50
  • Part of the SE ethos is to not waste user's time. That's why, while you can edit to improve, users who get their stuff downvoted or put on hold for low quality tend to get blocked after enough time wasting has happened. There really isn't a mechanism for tracking users who constantly abuse formatting, therefore wasting the time of those who edit to fix. No mechanism, other than people running into the same guy more than once and flagging. – user1228 Sep 19 '13 at 13:53
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    @JoachimSauer One thing I see constantly abused is code formatting for emphasis, or merely because something is a proper name, or just totally random. – R. Martinho Fernandes Sep 19 '13 at 14:05

yes sure why not

it's not really that bad or worth making rules or special formatting logic to deal with

And if it is that bad we have an entire community of caretakers who can handle it.

(Where's the "trolling" part come into it anyway?)


This space intentionally left blank.

This could probably be cleaned up automatically by converting multiple leading >>>>> symbols to a single >. Is there ever any reason to have more than one?

As Servy notes in the comments, sometimes it is necessary to quote a passage that contains a block quote, so we should allow for two leading >> symbols. Of course, that opens up the possibility that someone might want to quote your quote containing a block quote. Then that person would need three >>>. This slippery slope can only lead to our hero, Won't, waking up on a beach in Ken Watanabe's dreamscape. Maybe we should just edit out abuses of nested quotes when we see them?

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    "Is there ever any reason to have more than one?" If you're ever quoting something that has a block quote in it. – Servy Sep 19 '13 at 13:39
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    @Servy Maybe limit it to two >> then? Also, would you lead with a block quote? I think I need to see an example of this in the wild. – Bill the Lizard Sep 19 '13 at 13:41
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    I could imagine someone quoting an Eric Lippert post, and he opens with quotes quite a lot. It would probably be pretty contrived, to have more than two though, that I agree. – Servy Sep 19 '13 at 13:43
  • I wouldn't think so. You can't have more than two space characters in a row in any non-code text; it gets collapsed into two spaces. << 50+ spaces, where did they go? – user1228 Sep 19 '13 at 13:43
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    @BilltheLizard What if you wish to quote a quote which is quoted inside a block-quote? – user216620 Sep 19 '13 at 13:44
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    The source of this question – user1228 Sep 19 '13 at 13:44
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    The bigger issue is that imposing a limit requires the parser to know how many quotes deep it is, which may be easier said than done. I think balpha's take on this is still "just don't do that", but I won't claim to speak for him. – Tim Stone Sep 19 '13 at 13:52
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    The spaces are still there, @Won't, the browser just collapses them in accordance with HTML rendering requirements. The system does take the liberty of ignoring some whitespace in comments for validation purposes, but it doesn't ever actually remove it. Incidentally, this can cause some issues. – Tim Stone Sep 19 '13 at 13:58
  • @TimStone: Hmmm.... Hadn't thought about that. – user1228 Sep 19 '13 at 14:02
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    Is there a compelling reason to automatically forbid this? Seriously? – Konrad Rudolph Sep 19 '13 at 14:10
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    @KonradRudolph "Maybe we should just edit out abuses of nested quotes when we see them?" – Bill the Lizard Sep 19 '13 at 14:32
  • Perhaps it was actually misformatted code. For example about a merge conflict. In that case such a replacer would make things worse. – CodesInChaos Nov 24 '13 at 20:33

What about this? Is this also trolling? :-)

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    ...and it's even edit-proof! – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Nov 24 '13 at 9:35
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    Move it a bit to the left, to overlay the downvote button ;-) – Arjan Nov 24 '13 at 10:01
  • @ShaWizDowArd not completely edit proof, you just have to be determined to edit it. But very cool. – psubsee2003 Nov 24 '13 at 10:29
  • @Arjan lol, that's probably possible!! – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Nov 24 '13 at 10:42
  • @psubsee2003 sure, I had to edit such post on formatting sandbox to be able to edit my own post, hence this "skill". :-) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Nov 24 '13 at 10:42
  • I can see how you did it. It's a nice idea. On a side note, the checkbox in my answer hider renders above the text and is clickable – John Dvorak Nov 24 '13 at 12:17
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    EPIC. Makes it hard to edit/flag any answer. Huzzah. Now, if this was exploited by spammers, it would have to be addressed. – user1228 Nov 24 '13 at 18:59
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    You call getting your picture underneath the posting nothing visible, @gnat? – Arjan Nov 24 '13 at 20:34
  • @Won't well, I'm sure someone can come with a shortcut. My own way: first, find the post ID. Using dev tools it's easy to get the ID from the vote arrows: i.stack.imgur.com/f6Xcb.png (hint: this very post ID is 208765) now with this at hand it's matter of feeding it here into the textbox and clicking Go. You'll end up straight in the edit page. I'm almost sure someone can even come with a userscript to make it even easier. :) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Nov 24 '13 at 21:05
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    No need for dev tools, just upvote and then get the answer id from the link in your voting history ;-) By the way, as usual, the mobile theme makes hacks like this look funny. (On a serious note: the Printliminator is also useful to get rid of blocking elements...) – Arjan Nov 24 '13 at 21:14
  • @Arjan yeah, have to use <h1> to keep the text from just shrinking so it makes it HUGE on mobile! – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Nov 24 '13 at 22:33
  • If anyone got a problem with this answer please downvote or even flag, don't try to edit and remove the formatting. Thanks. (it's not a test, it's to prove a point) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 9 '13 at 15:01
  • -1 I can downvote this. – Cole Johnson Dec 26 '13 at 22:19
  • @ColeJohnson sure, I know you can edit but it requires extra effort. As for downvote... plz b kind 2me ser! :) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 26 '13 at 22:23
  • Aw, the move to meta.se (to different css) invalidated this answer :( – user1228 Jun 3 '14 at 15:45






Does this happen that often? If not, regular users like you or me can just fix it.

Like so: See, somebody fixed it.


It doesn't even render in the mobile app.

It doesn't show up in the mobile app.

I'm not sure why one needs that deep of quote nesting. It seems reasonable that this gets addressed. But, where would that leave all of the other formatting abuses?

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    The same place they always were. No sense in addressing it. We can Zalgo things, nbsp them into the middle of a blockquote, force line breaks… not much of a difference. – Ry- Sep 22 '13 at 20:19
  • Ugh. This is boring. I like @bfavaretto's version better :P – Amal Murali Nov 3 '13 at 20:16

This is a significant problem for mobile users1. A large number2 of nested blockquotes in an answer will lead to an unresponsive page, eventually leading to an error message:

This page has become unresponsive

This effects other tabs even after the offending tab is closed. As such this isn't just an irritating format bug but may lead to a page going effectively offline for mobile users

1 tested on Galaxy s3 running android 4.1.2

2 a large number is about 2 and half complete lines:


Or in evidence here, mobile users beware!

  • It also leads to 504 Gateway Time-out errors on the revision history of a post. Possibly (this needs to be confirmed) the Suggested Edits review queue is affected in the same way. – Stijn Dec 9 '13 at 14:38
  • I'm not entirely sure why this is so brutal to render, indenting doesn't seem that cpu intensive – Richard Tingle Dec 9 '13 at 14:45
  • Of all the ways to break a browser, you must admit this one is pretty creative! ;) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 9 '13 at 14:45
  • @ShaWizDowArd By joining forces with yours (which I would use the share link to but... you-know) the whole of stack overflow could be brought down for mobile users – Richard Tingle Dec 9 '13 at 14:52

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