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Multiple times now I have seen new users post questions that look like this:


I have the following:

ID
Name
Something else


This is my code:

Some code that's not even formatted

Which is rendered from this:

<br>
I have the following:<br><br>ID<br>Name<br>Something else<br>
<br><br>
This is my code:<br><br>

Some code that's not even formatted

Can we please make it stop? It's:

  • Hard to understand
  • Harder to clean up
  • Really annoying

Can the use of HTML in posts be made a privilege earned at, say, 100 reputation? This way new users would have to learn Markdown before being allowed to use HTML directly in their posts.

  • 7
    What is the reason to allow HTML in the first place? I don't really see any significant advantage in allowing users to use HTML and mix it with markdown. – Mad Scientist Sep 27 '13 at 11:15
  • @MadScientist: I'm not going that far, say we keep it for now, because people hate changes way too much for it to pass like that. But please, just have the newbs learn how to write proper markdown before getting allowed to use HTML. – Madara's Ghost Sep 27 '13 at 11:16
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    @MadScientist Sometimes html is the only way to do certain things; eg emphasis inside words – Richard Tingle Sep 27 '13 at 11:18
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    Markdown contains all HTML. So what you ask for is technically contradicting itself. ;) (yeah, it's a bit of not answering the question, I know :)) – hakre Sep 27 '13 at 11:18
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    @hakre: You know what I meant, stop being nitpicky :P Disallow the use of HTML tags for new users. Tis' all. – Madara's Ghost Sep 27 '13 at 11:19
  • Isn't it already restricted to users with at least 10 points? – user213634 Sep 27 '13 at 11:20
  • @AndersUP: No, it isn't. – Madara's Ghost Sep 27 '13 at 11:20
  • @RichardTingle: And so, you would be able to do so, when you get to 100 (or whatever) reputation, just until you learn how to use proper markdown, then use all the HTML you want. – Madara's Ghost Sep 27 '13 at 11:20
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    I did forget a few things you can't do with Markdown, the <sub> and <sup> tags are rather useful. – Mad Scientist Sep 27 '13 at 11:21
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    @MadScientist: Very rarely useful for <100 rep users. – Madara's Ghost Sep 27 '13 at 11:21
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    @MadScientist - Also <s> , <kbd> – hims056 Sep 27 '13 at 11:23
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    @hims056: Again, rarely useful for low-rep users. And should be interpolated into markdown as ---text--- like in chat, but that's a different story. – Madara's Ghost Sep 27 '13 at 11:24
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    One huge argument against this would be that it would make it impossible for low-rep users to edit posts by high-rep users that use HTML. – Mad Scientist Sep 27 '13 at 11:27
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    @MadScientist but review mechanism already skips unchanged lines. It wouldn't be hard to allow low-rep users to edit as long as they stay out of HTML. Isn't it similar with images, for example? – Mołot Sep 27 '13 at 12:01
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    @Mad Scientist: How often does that happen anyway? – BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 27 '13 at 12:20
2

I disagree because is a valid tag. You end up with some ugly options:

  1. Restricting new posters from any HTML tag.
  2. Prevent new posters from posting relevant HTML.
  3. Have new users tagging questions as HTML to get around no longer being able to use HTML without that tag.
  4. Only allow HTML in code blocks.

To my mind, the first three of these options are really bad. 1 and 2 suggest new users will have difficulty getting answers when their HTML is necessary to solve the problem (more code in comments? Ew). 3 just adds to the amount of cleanup necessary in these cases (fix the tags and the post).

The fourth option is a bit better, but there are plenty of new users who don't understand how to use code block formatting. Those users will have more trouble effectively getting help.


tl;dr: I don't think the potential reduction in the editing workload is worth either preventing new users from getting some questions answered or increasing the editing workload in some cases.

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    That's exactly the point, have them learn how to use markdown, before they can use HTML. Also, I'm not speaking about HTML for questions, I'm speaking about HTML for formatting, <br> <sup> <sub> <s> <code> etc. – Madara's Ghost Sep 27 '13 at 12:57
  • @MadaraUchiha Sure, them knowing how to use the markdown is nice, but I don't see why it should be a barrier to entry - I feel like most of the time I see markdown issues they didn't have code blocks (copy-paste), a list that wasn't properly formatted, included a raw textual link, or posted a link to an image. I don't see a reason for any of those to be barriers to entry. As for limiting it to the formatting subset of HTML, I don't see how that provides enough mitigation here - those could be part of the code in a question. Admittedly it's less likely, but I don't think it's unlikely enough. – thegrinner Sep 27 '13 at 13:04
  • Would it be wrong to put the numbered list above in a code section? ;) – Andrew Barber Sep 27 '13 at 13:11
2

I'd have to disagree with the premise that these posts would be any better if all they had access to was Markdown. I've seen just as many (maybe even more...) questions/answers written by low and moderately high rep users that were jacked up using nothing more than Markdown - or not using any markup at all.

The number of people helped by restricting HTML in questions/answers would be far outweighed by the number of people hindered by the restrictions. There are a number of areas where Markdown just isn't as flexible or holds no alternative - <kbd>, <sub>, and <sup> for example. That's why the mix is there in the first place.

Suggested edits, and 2k+ edit privileges do a lot to help mitigate the problem. We could do more to comment and coach the person on better formatting, though I do have to say I've seen a few that pick up on better formatting after they've had their 3rd or 4th post edited.

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