Should SEB make use of Textile or Markdown in comments?

Currently I’ve got SEB set up to allow visitors to use all HTML tags in the comments they leave, but I’m sure this is just asking for trouble. If I set things to only allow “safe HTML” then we lose some of the lesser-used tags such as ordered and unordered lists as all the HTML is translated into pMcode equivalents, which is similar to BBCode, but much more limited in the tags it supports. Currently adding additional tags would require modifying the script directly and I’d rather avoid that if I can for ease-of-upgrading sake.

There are two other options I haven’t explored before because I didn’t think folks are familiar enough with them to make using them worthwhile, but they’re becoming more common and so I thought I’d ask if you guys would like me to make use of on here. Both of these options basically allow you to use plain-text tags to replicate the vast majority of HTML entities such as bold, italics, underline, and more advanced features such as tables, headers, footnotes and so on. There’s two common versions of this out there the first being Textile from the fellow who created the TextPattern blogging package. Here’s an example of how you would use Textile: Surrounding a word with asterisks like *this* would boldface the text and underscores on either side like _this_ would italicize it. You can even get as fancy as specifying custom CSS style attributes to be applied to text with it.

The other commonly used filter is known as Markdown which has a somewhat similar syntax, but even simpler in some respects without losing flexibility in the process. I don’t expect that most users would make use of the vast majority of options these two filters would make possible, but it might be nice to have them available for those rare occasions when it would come in handy. I’ve noticed more blogs out there making use of these filters in their comments so perhaps some of you are already familiar with them. I figured there was no harm in asking if you guys wanted me to put one or the other in place here so speak up and let your voice be heard.

I’m Les Jenkins and I approve this message.

17 thoughts on “Should SEB make use of Textile or Markdown in comments?

  1. I like the idea of using textile, but then my blog uses it (for the main entries, not comments) so I’m more familiar with it than most. And even then, I need the manual occasionally to do fiddlier things.

    So I suppose in practice I think the safest option is to stick to limited HTML support.

  2. Not restricting HTML tags is asking for all kinds of trouble. It’s a bit of a bummer that EE doesn’t have a configurable filter for tags and parameters. For what it’s worth, I’d pick loss of functionality over customizing code – as you say, these things come back to haunt you come upgrade time.

    The two things I’d be careful about is precedence of markup modules (the more isn’t the merrier) and the effect on existing posts. On the other hand, this kind of markup mostly affects the cut&paste artists.

  3. James, so is that a vote for using Textile?

    Elwed, I’m sure that EE will eventually allow for an easier method of customizing the tags. It’s one of those nice-to-have features that end up on the back burner in favor of other features/issues that carry a higher priority. The same is true of the smilies module which also requires editing the script to change (which is why I’ve not changed them to the ones I was using previously yet).

    As for precedence, I don’t think EE would let me apply both options at the same time. It’s either one or the other so I’m looking for input on which, if either, folks would like to have available. Do you guys want me to put Textile in place or Markdown or just stick to the more limited pMcode?

  4. It wasn’t so much a vote as a vague rambling, sorry smile

    To be more coherent: I think if you put the textile (or, I guess, markdown) stuff in place, I’d use it when commenting. You might be at risk of making the comments system look a bit scary to people who aren’t familiar with it, though. Still, I guess if I’m coming down on one side of the fence or the other, I’d say go with Textile.

  5. Les, I see. Drupal e.g. allows multiple filters and arbitrary precendence. The obvious problem is that you might break previous posts when changing the order in which filters are applied. There are other packages that allow multiple filters, but I never looked hard enough to see how they handle precedence.

  6. I think whichever is most convenient for you and keeping the blog up to date and running smoothly.  From what I’ve seen here, most everyone is fairly quick on adapting and helping each other out. If you included some sort of help button, similar to the one that was here a while back with BBcode instructions, I’m very confident everyone would make use of it to get up to speed.

    You have the advantage of having a slightly older crowd around here and those that haven’t dabbled with mark-up languages probably have used operating systems (DOS, Linux) or WP’s using hot-keys and special characters.

  7. This is just commenting, after all. Bold, italic, underline, strikethrough, and links. What more is really required?

    ‘OL’ and ‘UL’ are nice, but hardly required to leave an effective comment.

    Some sites may benefit from ‘CODE’, I suppose, but even that is pushing it.

    If someone wants to leave a multi-media extravaganza as a comment, let them link to it.

  8. Elwed, I’d noticed that about Drupal.

    DS, I linked to the pMcode reference in the entry, but I’ve been meaning to either include a link to it on the comment form or redesign the form to display the codes alongside it.

  9. uhmmmmm……. thank you?

    Most of that truly was over my head, but I will give a serious opinion.  I just type my comments and then head on over to the next blog.  So for me, any bells and whistles generally get ignored.  KISS.  smile

  10. Les,

    I am a fan of Markdown personally, but I tend to type all my XHTML in the comments manually so I can have <blockquote> <ul> etc if I need em…

    Which ever tickles your fancy works for me, but I am partial to Markdown, which one day I will get around to using at the Asylum

    Hmmm… I may want to chat with you about migrating to EE someday as well wink

  11. I don’t care what you use as long as there’s a link to a legend page. In my case I tend to agree with Frac, with the addition of adding an image.

  12. John, I usually do my HTML in comments by hand as well, but if I set it so it only allows “safe” HTML then we’d lose the tags dealing with things like ordered and unordered lists which I sometimes use, hence why it’s not currently enabled. grin

    As for EE, I’d be happy to discuss it with you whenever you’re ready.

    Brooks, coolness.

  13. I type my own quote tags

    I use the link button to insert links
    and I haven’t a clue how to italicize and bold-face text.

    Easily being able to bold and italicize would be very cool, so I’d vote for Textile.

  14. Since I use simple text markup stuff on my Wiki, anything of that sort would be fine by me.  And you can squeeze the “how do I do that?” bits that 99% of the folk need into a very small space by the comment box itself.  Really, b/i/u/link would cover 95%, ul/ol and blockquote stuff another 4%.  Cover those, and I can’t think of much else that folks would need.

  15. I don’t allow any HTML in my comments, altough I do parse for links and … well, link them.

    IMHO, a comment (as well as an entry, for that matter) is not about formatting, but about content, and I myself never ever had the slightest intention to use formatting in a comment yet. But that’s just me smile

  16. Guido, around here we get into some rather lengthy back-and-forths on some of the topics such as religion and politics so I’ve found that it’s often useful to employ blockquotes and lists. Blockquotes are doable with the limited HTML, but lists aren’t and that’s one tag I’d like to continue to have access to when commenting. So it really came down to a question of: Do I want to hack the script to include lists or should I just see if users would like to have access to one of the alternative methods of content markup?

    In the end I may just decide “to hell” with the lists and turn on safe HTML and be happy with what I’ve got.

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