A blockquote nearly always comes with a source, however the way to format the quote often differs:
Some people will put the link like this (http://www.example.com)
Others will put it like this.
... which can sometimes be really confusing though works quite well most of the time.
Then you have people who prefer this.
or the same thing, but without the "source" in front which looks kinda bad again.
And I have even seen this which looks pretty neat, but uses HTML.
Either way, this got me thinking that in UBB the formatting is done for you like this normally:
Which tends to format the source URL in a consistent way in the blockquote. For example something like number 5 above, however right aligned like below.
An example of how this could theoretically look, however do note that 1) I am not a designer, 2) I used
's to format it this way in this preview and 3) the spacing is a bit off as I used
<sub>to get the font size different.
Which in turn got me thinking whether it wouldn't be a good idea if a similar option would be included in SE markdown.
It's far harder in markdown to think up a good syntax than it is in UBB, but I would personally suggest an empty line (just
>) and then on the last line of the blockquote the literal string
> Source: followed by the source (which can be either an URI, a full markdown link or just text), thus giving:
> blockquote > > Source: http://www.example.com
Following the markdown design goals this is fully readable in plain text, it picks up already some of the currently used syntax, but is explicit enough that it should never catch anything it shouldn't have caught. The alternative is dropping the line outside the blockquote like
> blockquote Source: http://www.example.com
Though I am personally inclined to prefer the first option as the relationship is slightly more explicit.
As far as interaction with the editor goes and the “-button, I would suggest that the
> Source: line is included by default if clicked without an selection and triggers an error if left empty (the user should either remove the line or enter a source). If the user already has selected a text it could trigger a simple prompt dialog to ask for the source/attribution.
Now, in regards to (further) diverging from the standard: It's important to realize that blockquotes are a first class citizen in the way SE is used. Where one will not find a lot of blockquotes in typical markdown usage (being code), on SE you will find hundreds of thousands of them. And the good thing about this proposed syntax is that it follows markdown philosophy so well that it won't even actively look bad if parsed in an actual standard-abiding markdown parser (it would just look better on SE). (And yes, I am aware commonmark exists, but I am not sure where that project is realistically heading~)
PS. Whilst writing this proposal I found out that 5 years ago somebody brought up this issue in the context of quoting other users and mostly without a concrete proposal. Considering it's 5 years later and this is a far more specific proposal I decided to post it separately like this.