9

I have run into post by users that employ a different formatting style that, I as least, find hard to read. Using some lorem ipsum to illustrate:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit,
sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Ut enim ad minim veniam,
quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident,
sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The observed "rules" I see being followed

  1. Every sentence is its own paragraph
  2. Every line is split on punctuation.

With longer posts this style can be difficult to read. I would not be surprised to see a good answer get downvoted simply because of this formatting style.

Under any other circumstance I would just edit to basically this while trying to keep a paragraph structure where appropriate.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

I am not suggesting that a wall of text is prefered but that those sentences might logically belong together. In the case of a whole post such considerations would be required.

In one such case where I did this the original author of the post notified me that they were dyslexic and to leave the post alone. I can sympathize with such a disability but the SO network is supposed to be a place for everyone to exchange information.

Currently I have respected the authors situation and left their posts alone beyond the first that I edited.


Should I just edit those post for the "greater good" and move on? If the OP rolled back I would leave it alone as to not create an edit war? Just leave it and move on is always a choice. What is the appropriate action here for the Community?

  • One DV I would let slide since it happens but now I wonder what is wrong with the question. – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 14:48
  • My guess is people took it as your edit makes the post a wall of text, which is even harder to read. – Shadow Wizard Apr 13 '17 at 14:51
  • Yeah I was trying to avoid having a long example in the post. I have tried to clarify my question. I also didn't want to link or use real examples as to not draw unwanted attention to the user or his posts. – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 14:53
  • Is this on crafts.SE? – Mithrandir Apr 13 '17 at 14:54
  • I'm assuming you mean this and other posts by that user. Apparently the user is dyslexic. – Mithrandir Apr 13 '17 at 14:56
  • Yes. That is the case of course. I even wrote that in my post: In one such case where I did this the original author of the post notified me that they were dyslexic and to leave the post alone – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 14:57
  • I know, I was just filling out the comment a bit... – Mithrandir Apr 13 '17 at 14:57
  • @Mithrandir Not that it would have been terribly hard to find but how to you find it? – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 14:59
  • I was talking to Catija about this at one point. – Mithrandir Apr 13 '17 at 14:59
  • I had wanted to bring this up in A&C Meta but it is not specific to there so I brought it here. If you are willing, where did that conversation end up? – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 15:01
  • Basically, it's not that big a deal. You can just leave it. – Mithrandir Apr 13 '17 at 15:03
  • @Mithrandir I think it's fair to say that's what you decided... I decided that it's annoying but I don't want to fight about it. Now that it's been a while since the OP posted, I'm actually considering going back and "fixing" them. – Catija Apr 13 '17 at 15:34
  • @Mithrandir No. – Catija Apr 13 '17 at 15:35
  • 1
    cough .... Meta Stack Exchange Chat – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 15:36
  • "author of the post notified me that they were dyslexic and to leave the post alone" These two things do not go hand in hand. The author should be glad that a non-dyslexic user is willing to spend their free time fixing the post's formatting on the author's behalf. – Lightness Races in Orbit Apr 18 '17 at 17:44
9

I don't think we need to choose on this front. If the OP finds it easier to read the multi-line style but it's not good for readability in general, the solution is to compromise, since we can. The system allows for spaces to be in the editing window but not in the site view. This means that the OP can see the lines more easily but the rest of the site doesn't need to see them in the actual answer.

As a note, I'm using an actual example from the site because it shows the flow of sentences a bit better than the lorem ipsum text does.

So, the post gets formatted like this in the edit window:

I agree with the basic idea of what fred-dot-u mentioned,
but I'd tweak the method a bit.

Put your beads on a wire.

Cut apart an old coat-hanger with snips and use that.
This would give you a sprue through all the beads at once.
Make sure the wire is the same length as the Tupperware that you're gonna use.
This way your sprue goes all the way through.  

I wouldn't use clay as a base.
I just see that as being too hard to capture detail on such a small item.
You'd get gaps, end up with flash on your beads when you cast 'em.

Silicone is likely to stick, even with release.
Plus it's brittle, and repeated use may break it.

And renders like this when viewing the actual post.

I agree with the basic idea of what fred-dot-u mentioned, but I'd tweak the method a bit.

Put your beads on a wire.

Cut apart an old coat-hanger with snips and use that. This would give you a sprue through all the beads at once. Make sure the wire is the same length as the Tupperware that you're gonna use. This way your sprue goes all the way through.

I wouldn't use clay as a base. I just see that as being too hard to capture detail on such a small item. You'd get gaps, end up with flash on your beads when you cast 'em.

Silicone is likely to stick, even with release. Plus it's brittle, and repeated use may break it.

So, by removing the double space at the end of each line and removing a paragraph break here and there, the post becomes much more generally readable. This keeps it easy for the OP to edit if needed without being so oddly formatted in the actual post.


Now, all said, I think that this is a great solution... if the OP is willing to accept it. If not, then it may be necessary to talk with them to see what other options there are - noting that the odd formatting is not one of them. We always want to be respectful of users with different abilities but they also need to be respectful of the other users on the site who find their formatting difficult to read.

  • That is what CreationEdge mentioned in a comment on another post. I would not feel bad about making those changes to posts. Thanks a bunch for the input on this one. I had wanted to avoid using real text but the cat is out of the bag now anyway – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 15:57
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    This is still really annoying for anyone else editing the post, but granted isn't as bad as making the post itself improperly formatted. – Servy Apr 13 '17 at 15:58
  • That "if" is really important - forcing formatting onto people can create a lot of drama even when they don't have a really good reason to prefer it like this. If there's any way at all to discuss and come to agreement, that's the path; I'd think of the rest of this as a good idea of what should be proposed in that discussion. – Cascabel Apr 13 '17 at 16:08
6

When I was new to SU...

Moderators complained about my spelling and grammar a lot - and I'd take positive feedback. And at the end of the day, this is a complex problem of accessibility, getting a user used to the culture of SE and so on. I often heard "Your answers are good *but" you really could do better with your spelling". (To this day, I habitually misspell "weird" as "wierd", which drives a few of my long time chat users nuts.)

Amusingly, I'm also dyslexic and well, I can totally see why he's doing it. I also don't quite see how to make it flow better without drastic changes - he's using very short sentences and paragraphs, there's a certain logic to the blocks of text and so on.

So, this is going to be a long term work in progress, needing the user to be engaged to actually see the changes you want to see. You guys are going to have to work with him, 'cause otherwise, well, rollback wars and general grumpiness.

You guys do need to get him used to the idea of peer editing, and that there's a positive result to these peer edits in terms of readability and the impact it has on folks.

I suspect the user would also find the ability to use images in his answers useful if he's willing to make the effort. I make significant use of them where possible.

  • Nice to get this point of view. Thanks. – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 15:31
4

Using your example, correct edit as I see it would be:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

This way you keep the original paragraphs, and just get rid of the extra lines which indeed make no sense and makes it harder to read.

The text overflow should be up to the browser, not forced by the author of the post, when it comes to plain text.

However, note that for code this might be different, as some languages will break if you have different line structure, so better not touch code blocks, unless you know exactly what you're doing.

  • 1
    This is not about code but straight text. This might be the fault of the example but these sentences logically below together and don't need to be each their own paragraph. Is this meant to be a compromise and to say that editing is the right way to go for this (to try and save readability)? – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 13:06
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    @Matt yes, we should also allow some space for the users, as long as it doesn't harm readability they should be able to choose how they want to write. So having it this way is indeed kind of compromise. (and many times having it your way as in your question makes this even worse, into wall of text.) – Shadow Wizard Apr 13 '17 at 13:12
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    Wall of text is not what I meant to show as I also hate that. It can be hard to show all potential outcomes. I was more trying to draw focus to a single logical paragraph being expanded they way it was. – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 14:49
  • @Matt I think code is worth mentioning, because (after all) this is MSE. There are many sites about programming in the network. – Shokhet Apr 13 '17 at 16:40
  • @Shokhet I understand. Body language sucks in text and I see how that could be taken the wrong way. I was being unnecessarily defensive because I am aware of the implications of messing with code and that was not meant to be a focus of the post. Others might find this for different reasons so it is natural to include that discussion here of course. – Matt Apr 13 '17 at 17:56

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