Camen Design Forum

About quotation marks

append delete Ole Juul

This idea of using "quotation" marks as automatic generators of blockquote seems like it may cause some trouble. Does it?

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append delete #1. Kroc

Nope! The quotation marks are correctly parsed, so that only quotes that fully enclose the beginning and end of a block of text count. If you start and stop quotes throughout, but with one quote beginning a paragraph and a different one ending it, it won't go wrong; e.g.

"The quick brown fox" was said to "jump over the lazy dog"

Notice how that did not trigger even though it begins and ends with quotes.

Only a fully quoted section is turned into a blockquote and frankly the only time anybody ever does that is when quoting -- or wanting something to have attention bought to it anyway.

append delete #2. TCB

In the sorts of discussions this forum supports, it's true that the quotation mark markup works as intended. I have run into one edge case where the markup misbehaves. I use NNF as a story-telling forum and you get unexpected blockquote formatting when writing dialogue.
A guy walks into a bar holding a steaming fresh dog turd in his hands.

Hey, everybody! Look what I almost stepped in!

Most people aren't writing dialogue in their discussion forums so it's almost never going to matter. I'm not complaining. Just thought I should mention this one exception I've encountered.

append delete #3. Martijn

That is quite the edge case, and cannot be detected either. Maybe it would warrant some sort of way to tell the parser to ignore a block? Like the familiar `<nowiki>` (MediaWiki, DokuWiki).

@TCB you could always switch to a different quotation system. NNF only recognises 3 styles: straight double quotes (`U+0022` "), curly double quotes (`U+201C` “ paired with `U+201D` ”), and outward pointing guillemets (`U+00AB` « paired with `U+00BB` »).

One really minor trick is to use DOUBLE HIGH-REVERSED-9 QUOTATION MARK (`U+201F`) as the opening mark:

‟Hey, everybody! Look what I almost stepped in!”

Or just pick a random international variation:

append delete #4. TCB

Thanks for your helpful response and suggestions, @Martijn.

I've found that explaining to end-users how to interact with an application is a losing battle. Most are just going to do what comes naturally and be baffled if it doesn't work out. When this first came up on my forum, I explained why it happened and ways to format writing to avoid it. It didn't work.

Adding a separate bit of markup to cancel out the unintended markup will clearly run into the same issue.

If you wanted a fix to this issue, the only thing that makes practical sense to me would be to use a different, less commonly used character for the blockquote markup. People who are intentionally using the markup will figure it out and use it. The oblivious will be unaffected. But retrofitting that fix at this point may be out of the question.

I reiterate that I'm not complaining. When this happens, my users don't understand why it happened, but generally think it looks pretty cool, anyway. It almost always seems to have the effect of making a piece of dialogue more dramatic and exciting.

append delete #5. Martijn

I’ve found that explaining to end-users how to interact with an application is a losing battle. […]

Adding a separate bit of markup to cancel out the unintended markup will clearly run into the same issue.

It would totally depend on how you dress it up, especially for a story telling forum you could style it to become something people want to use.

Say NNF adepts the Wikidot `@@` syntax [1] and implements it much like a code block currently works: no syntax parsing within it and wrapping the text in a style-able block (`div`). Now style it – in your case – for story telling. Give it a distinct background colour and font. Maybe use a serif font while normal posts use sans-serif fonts, maybe a slight increase in size. As soon as a few people start using it others will follow, wanting the superior style for their stories also.

Instead of explaining how `blockquote`s are not really wanted there, or trying to get them to use different quotation variations, just give them an additional thing to love.


[1]: so much easier and NNF-ish than `<nowiki>`,

append delete #6. TCB

@Martijn I'm impressed with your explanation of how to encourage user engagement with a feature. I get it and appreciate what you're saying.

I'm even more interested, though, in the idea of markup with a custom style. You could give the div a class name (`<div class="custom-markup">`) and the forum administrator could style it using the custom.css file. I don't know what I'd do with a custom markup feature, but it just sounds fun. I'd go looking for something to do with it.

What if you took it a step further and allowed multiple custom markup styles? You could append the string following `@@` to the class name. So for instance, `@@red` would create the class "custom-markup-red". Administrators could create a whole stable of custom markup suited to their own needs just by adding styles to the custom.css file.


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Your friendly neighbourhood moderators: Kroc, Impressed, Martijn