Forum Pseudo Markup Considered Harmful
Various websites allow visitors to leave messages and postings by
entering text in forms. To allow users to add links, highlighting,
and other enhanced text, the forums provide special tags to go in the
text. phpBB, for example, uses [b] and [/b] to enclose bold text.
Other forums have their own markup languages, each with its own
differences. HTML, of course, provides all of the types of markup
supported by the forums. Forum markup languages provide a limited
subset of HTML. They serve no purpose -- they duplicate HTML with a
different, incompatible syntax.
Take, for starters, the bold tag from above. HTML has a perfectly
functional tag to make text bold. <b> and </b> turn text
between them bold. Why not use those? Furthermore, HTML has tags to
show the meaning of the text, so that it can be rendered properly no
matter what the display type. <strong> and </strong>
enclose text that should be powerful. This is better than saying that
the text should be bold since different browsers or tools will render
text differently. Indeed, for a page reader program,
strong could be used to speak the
enclosed text at a louder volume.
Tags for URLs, email addresses, and more are even more egregiously
different from HTML.
There is no good reason for forum markup to be anything other than
HTML. The last thing the Internet needs is another incompatible,