[Pmwiki-users] Markup

Kremena Gotcheva infom
Sun Sep 7 00:40:56 CDT 2003

Hi All,

There is a Bulgarian proverb saying you sometimes "cannot see the wood out 
of looking at trees" (that is, details). Well maybe someone unfamiliar with 
the trees could try to tell a few words about the wood ;-) 

The markup thread circles around a revelation of what Wiki markup should be. 
What happened to me while reading Patrick's opinion was being reminded of 
the word "intuitive" all the time. Now, "intuituve" is a market slogan for 
WYSYWYG tools so let's analyse a bit what's behind to derive the intuitive 

As you rightly point out, punctuation is markup, and therefore evrything 
resembling it would be intuitive markup (in my intuitive opinion).
However, intuituve punctuation is something different for different native 
languages (think of the reversed ? at the beginning of a question in 
Spanish, or a rule in Bulgarian that certainly would be counter-intuitive to 
anyone of you while very natural to me - one should never put a comma before 
the word for "and") and also by other rules - to understand Pedro's 
citations, one must have read a certain book about looking glasses, for 
example - and giving the citation often assumes most of the audience has. 

Therefore, there should be another component in intuitiveness and this is 
the set of common rules between speaker and listener. There are innumerable 
such rules in natural languages as anyone who has learned a language knows - 
and, as far as I can see, very few such common denominators in the Wiki 

Setting up the list of such common rules for Wiki would probably help in 
future. The first one, however, is "double it". To make a valid WikiWord out 
of the word Wiki, you have to say WikiWiki. A well known Wiki is called 
MoinMoin, thus doubling the Frisian word for "Good Morning". 

So my intuitive proposal for generating intuitive Wiki markup rules would 
1) Take a set of whatever characters are natural for the native language, 
profession, inclinations etc. of the target group of your wiki
2) Double them
3) Feed the result into a set of variables defining what is bold, italic, 
line break, ordered list, etc. 

This should work, I think, with very few exceptions (like the space 
character that many computer half-literates use instead of tabs, and the 
dash represented by two minus signs) since people do not, normally, double 
punctuation. And to determine which characters to exclude, just take typical 
text to be used in the wiki and see whether they frequently occur there 
double. Then, look for the most-similarly-looking replacement characters and 
return to point 2 above. 

This may arise the question what would be the WikiEsperanto, then, so I 
throw it in the round ;-) 

Hope this helps,

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