We've come to rename Markdown to Letdown in the C++ chat room because it lets you down so often. I've now just found a pattern.

It seems markdown fails for multi-line messages. That is, this

Letdown can't cope with multi-line comments.
Let's see code?

fails to display code marked as code, while this works

But code works.

Now, I think it would be Ok if you said chat messages shouldn't be multi-line. (Although I'd be a bit annoyed, because I like them.) But if so, please don't render them as multi-line (as is the case with comments), so we aren't tempted to use them.

  • 4
    @Jeff: This sucks big time, no matter which way I look at this.
    – sbi
    Commented Nov 14, 2010 at 11:14
  • 6
    @Jeff: I just asked had same question myself… could it be documented in the chat formatting help?
    – s4y
    Commented Nov 20, 2011 at 19:01
  • 3
    Should there be a userscript that fixes this on StackApps? Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 22:24
  • @aking: What? How could a userscript "fix" the formatting built into the chat?
    – sbi
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 21:21
  • 4
    If you injected custom javascript in to the browser and parsed the dom to replace this with <i>this</i> for example. I know people that inject custom js or css to modify the behaviour or appearance of many sites. Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 21:52

3 Answers 3


It is basically assumed that if you have something that is multi-line, you're either pasting a block of text and submitting it, or you're posting a block of code and the whole thing is going to be fixed-font/code.

Markdown is only processed for single-line messages, unless the entire thing is code.

Chat reference from Marc

  • 33
    That would be fine if it was obvious. Coming from SO, questions and answers fully support multi-line and comments don't support it at all. The chat seems to support multi-line messages, but silently fails to apply markdown. That's really the worst combination.
    – sbi
    Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 17:09
  • @sbi, Chat use markdown-mini. It has the same limited markdown support that comments have. Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 17:15
  • 17
    I did get that. Still, the chat does allow multi-line messages, which comments forbid. That's an important difference. It took us days to find out why it keeps failing unexpectedly in the chat. Also, I believe if I put multi-line into comments, while the line breaks get filtered, code stays code. (Yep, it does. This comment uses this.)
    – sbi
    Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 18:23
  • @sbi, I'm just passing along what Marc said. |: Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 18:33
  • 8
    I really appreciate the effort, but it sucks nonetheless. :)
    – sbi
    Commented Nov 13, 2010 at 19:47
  • 1
    So why not make it so that this 'block text' assumption is only made by chat posts that exceed the line length that a regular chat post should reasonably be (3-4 lines)? Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 4:18
  • 3
    So why don't they just fix it? Commented Jan 20, 2013 at 9:21
  • 7
    This should be fixed.
    – Kermit
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 15:17
  • 11
    Sorry to say it bluntly, but this strikes me as a particularly dumb design decision. It's not even clear what the advantage should be; adding new-lines does not make a message more expensive to process but definitely easier to read.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:37
  • 7
    This might make sense for Stack Overflow, but it's a nuisance for natural language sites, and other sites where coding is irrelevant. It forces you to split formatted multi-line messages up, which, combined with the site's unnecessarily excessive throttling, makes for a rather frustrating user experience.
    – user215040
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 4:31
  • 1
    would like this to be not regarded as unfixable aka regarded as fixable. would like to be able to create something like custom oneboxes and multiline formatting would help with that. eg a link, followed by some description, etc, that can be quoted in other chat rooms. but also maybe not in conflict with other uses eg ASCII art or whatever. (but dont quite understand how those come out to monospace right now)
    – vzn
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 14:52
  • 2
    This is a strange feature - if you're posting a block of code then you indent it by four - otherwise it should be treated like normal text but with <br />s. I don't see why it should be treated so differently - just fork Minimarkdown for chat and make it support <br />s, special-casing messages where every line begins with > or four spaces as is currently done.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 16:49

I found a cool purpose for this, you can make ASCII art on multiple lines that ignores formatting, Here is a nice example,

.*..*.  /),/)   .*..*.  
"-.-"  ( ';' )  "-.-"  
.*..*. c(..c)   .*..*.  
"-.-"    OO     "-.-"

So with this feature, you can make bunnies and unicorns, ignoring formatting options.
Happy chatting!

As requested, a unicorn.


\              M.   .M                                      
 \\         MM   M ~~~.M                                     
   \\\.    MM M        ~~. __                    .~~~~~    
     \\\``` M M         ..MMM                    M       M.  
       M.MMM   M . M         M         ----.   .M         M  
     ~.-   .M  M MM .MM  . MMM    MM.        M.M . M   M  M  
       MM  MM   MM .M .   M M MM              M .M.  M.  M   
               M    .MMM                       M     M  M.   
         0    .MM    MM. ,~~~                  ..   M   M    
             .M M       MM MM                  .M      .M.MM 
         M   M  M         MM                   .M    MM    M 
          \__  .M          M         M         .M.     .MM   
                M.                    .              M       
               MM       M             M              M       
              M  M     M          MMM  MM            M       
             M .M    MM -----.           ----- M  M        
            M M  MM                         M   M   M        
            MM   M                             .M  M         
            MMM  M                         M   M   M         
             M MM MM  .                   M   M    M         
              M M.  MM.0                   M  M   M          
               MMM.  .MM                   M. .M  MM         
                 . . 00                  M  MMM. M         
                                          00 M 00 


  • 1
    It's of course important to be able to create unformatted multi-line messages in a programmer's chat. However, that doesn't mean every multi-line message should be unformatted.
    – sbi
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 17:48
  • 2
    True, but since it was status-bydesign, I thought it would be important to highlight a purpose for the un-formated multi-line message. Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 17:53
  • I somewhat doubt that the main incentive for this "feature" was unicorns. :) I think, as Rebecca suggested, pasting code is a bit more likely to be the use case the creators had in mind when they designed this. Unfortunately they forgot the other use cases.
    – sbi
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 21:20
  • if it really is for formatting code and not performance(it's easier to get performance when if line longer than X, disregard rules) shouldn't there be a toggle button? Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 21:38
  • Yes, but you "ascii art" can't use bold fonts. If you are playing chess in chat you can't use bold for pointing out last move, for example.
    – SPArcheon
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 8:04

We now support multi-line quotes in chat, but the rest of markdown is still disabled for multi-line messages.

  • 20
    This is nice, thanks. Who do we have to bribe to enable the rest?
    – Xeo
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 7:17
  • 2
    @Xeo The rest isn't going to happen. Doing full markdown parsing on long multiline messages can be costly and it opens up the path for trolls to be extra annoying. Chat isn't intended for posting long fully-formatted messages.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 15:49
  • 18
    Trolls can already be very annoying even without that, and some users would like to format their multiline messages, so as not to be caught by the occasional message that slips in between two of their that should be displayed together. But oh well.
    – Xeo
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 16:07
  • What types of quotes support multi-line formatting? Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 17:26
  • @Mateo What do you mean? Quotes as in "chat messages that are formatted as quotes in Markdown, starting with >".
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 18:30
  • so no formatting on multi-line quotes? chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/transcript/message/1736701#1736701 Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 18:37
  • @Mateo Correct. The only markdown that works on multiline messages is the quote itself. Everything else is still disabled.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 19:11
  • 9
    @AdamLear - So, no multiline markdown is a form of automated chat moderation? What's wrong with the existing moderator tools. These just sound like excuses. Is chat really not intended to allow me to post messages like this attempt? Pity.
    – gilly3
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 20:08
  • 1
    @gilly3 To be honest, chat moderation tools are a bit lacking. I'd like to improve them at some point, but to be further honest... in the three or so years that I've been using chat, I haven't found lack of multiline markdown to be a major hindrance outside of being able to quote stuff which is now possible.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 20:18
  • 15
    @AdamLear So I can't post pretty links in a new-line message but screen-filling unicorns are okay? This seems to be a non-solution for a non-problem. If you want to prevent screen-filling messages, just restrict the number of lines. Disabling Markdown does not do anything.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:39
  • 3
    Why has this bug not been fixed in seven years? Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 21:30
  • @MikeWaters Because that's a feature. (status-bydesign)
    – EKons
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 16:24
  • 1
    @ΈρικΚωνσταντόπουλος No, it isn't. At best, it's a design decision not liked by those affected by it.
    – sbi
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 11:55

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