As I have observed in two recent questions, there's been some recent change to the syntax for inline code in comments. Let me here document the changes I found out so far (as in found out the hard way):

  1. A backtick must now always be escaped. Until recently, ``` gave `, and `\catcode`A=\active` gave \catcode`A=\active; one didn't have to escape backticks before letters.

  2. updated Update: Related to the 2nd part of #1: Now you can have a letter immediately after the closing backtick, so that you can have e.g. "<br>s" in a comment. But this only works if you also have <br> in the comment.

  3. There's no backslash escaping for (, ), [, ], * and _ anymore.

  4. You mustn't have spaces in the beginning of the inline code.

While I'm perfectly happy with these changes per se, I have two problems:

  1. They affect the old comments as well, making them distorted in some cases. (Jeff has corrected this on (meta.)tex.sx, except for the 2nd part of #1 above; thanks a lot!)

  2. Those changes happened without any notice or explanation.

Thus my feature-request: Can we please have some place where one can look up all changes of this sort? And in the future, as there are more changes to come, wouldn't it make sense to leave the rendering of old comment untouched?

(I have no way of knowing if my list above is complete, so I'd really like to know what exactly the recent changes were. Sorry that I keep bumping this post, but I'm still discovering new kind of behaviour unknown to me before. Which may underpin the point I'm making.)

  • This isn't a duplicate, but it shares many of the same sentiments about this question on special markdown features on the Stack Exchange Network. Our Meta recording of changes like these you mention, however, is far less adequate.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 19:05
  • @Grace: Thanks a lot for the link. Yes, it some sense it shares the same sentiments, but as you're saying, the two specific things mentioned there could at least be found here on meta.SO. And you see, I'm finding more things, but still the hard way :-( Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 21:18
  • A test: one <br> and many <br>s. Another test: Several <p>s. Commented Feb 16, 2011 at 22:18
  • As one sees, the problem in #2 (updated Update) has been taken care of (that was several months ago, actually). Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


Bold & Italic

This now works as expected:

Let me ***emphasize*** this

turns into

Let me emphasize this

Codeblocks in multiple backticks

This is new, and almost works like in regular markdown now:

```code with one ` or two `` backticks```


code with one ` or two `` backticks

There is no escaping at all in multi-backtick code. Start a code block with five backticks, and everything will appear verbatim until we find another run of (precisely) five backticks.

Codeblocks in single backticks

This behaves like it previously did, and is a slight deviation from the Markdown spec: If the codeblock is enclosed in single backticks, you can escape a backtick (and only a backtick) with a backslash.

`code with one \` or two \`\` backticks`

gives the same result as above.

All codeblocks

As you noticed, codeblocks cannot start with whitespace anymore. In particular, this means if you want a backtick to appear as the first character, you have to use this variant:

see: `\` <- that is a backtick`


see: ` <- that is a backtick

Another change is this: We now use the same rules as proper Markdown when it comes to ending codeblocks. When you start a code block with n backticks, this code block is ended the first time we find another run of n backticks, no matter what comes. This especially means that the following now works:

There aren't enough `<blink>`s in your page.

turns into

There aren't enough <blink>s in your page.

Magic links

Some sequences of the form [word] are converted to hyperlinks, for example [faq] links to the site's FAQ (e.g. https://meta.stackoverflow.com/faq), etc. See Add data.SE style “magic links” to comments for the full list.

  • 1
    Five backticks? You meant three backticks, right? foo`bar```foo`bar```
    – user153011
    Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 12:02
  • 1
    @Nyuszika: It was just an example, you can also use six. Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 12:43
  • @balpha: +1, thank you very much indeed, I highly appreciate these changes. I'm not sure, however, if I should accept this answer since it doesn't address my questions. Or will this be the place where I can also find future changes? One more question: Will this again affect old comments? (In this case, it probably won't be a problem, but one never knows; I'm still all for leaving old comments untouched.) Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 14:55
  • 1
    @HendrikVogt: Yes, this does affect old comments. But in almost all cases I've checked where it makes a difference (and I've checked a lot), this actually caused improvements. Re future changes: We're not committing to a "changelog" kind of thing. We usually try to let people know when there are major changes, but not for every tweak (this isn't constrained to comment markdown, btw). I just used your question for my answer because it seemed like a good fit. But technically you're right, this indeed isn't really an answer to your question :)
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 15:24
  • 1
    @balpha: Good to know that you did a lot of checking. And I can well imagine that this rather caused improvements. (Just one thing: One reason why I'm particularly annoyed at distortion of my old comments is that I usually put some effort into nice looking comments.) And it's really a pity that there isn't going to be a "changelog". But still, thanks for the above changes! Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 21:18
  • It seems that "codeblocks cannot start with whitespace anymore" only applies when using a single backtick to start code? Using double backticks, a leading space still works fine, and is suppressed in the output just like expected. Like see: `` ` <- that is a backtick`` renders as see: `` ` <- that is a backtick`` (Aha, but not so much in comments.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 15:47
  • @Arjan: yes, the leading whitespace thing only applies to comments
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 16:00
  • 1
    @balpha - Please add the link of this answer in How do comments work?. (Inside the section How can I format and link in comments?)
    – Himanshu
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 9:55
  • 1
    @hims056 Why don't you do it yourself? :)
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 9:58
  • @balpha - I am not good in FAQing. :) Perhaps added the link of the answer.
    – Himanshu
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 10:05

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