Mark Down will make you a great deal on formatted text

New Rule For the Internet: Let’s not get overly worked up over things that won’t matter in 24 hours.

It’s a rule I’m trying to live by more. It is very easy to get pulled into the Internet Outrage Machine™. Everyday there is something absurd to get all worked up over. Then, the next day, it won’t matter to anyone. This is also why I do not cover tech news on this site. There is no point in speculating over upcoming hardware. We’ll see what it is when it’s released. I stay out of petty internet drama.

The latest drama took over Twitter yesterday. And within the course of the day, the cause of the drama was resolved. It would have been much quieter if the two people involved would have worked things out privately. But that’s not how the internet works.


I tease my wife for watching The Real Housewives of ______ or Keeping Up With The Kardashians. But this week I was reminded, nerds are no better when it comes to drama. One guy invented Markdown, a way to style plain text. He made it a decade ago and hasn’t done much with it since.

As a result, there are a number of implementations of it. Adding or changing different parts of it to suit the needs of the different groups of people.

Well, a group of well-meaning people got together and decided to create a version called Standard Markdown. This made the creator, John Gruber, unhappy and got a lot of nerds up in a tizzy. Many words were written. Sides were taken

I summed it up like this.

Joe Rosensteel has a nice piece about what this is all about.

Standard – This is like telling everyone you’re cool. “Hi everyone, I’m Cool Joe! Come hang out with me!” Congratulations on jinxing yourself? The iPhone is not called “Standard Phone”. Also, as I’ve established above, this is only standard in name only. A few guys made this in secret to scratch their own itch.
Markdown – Lots of things use “Markdown” as part of the name of their implementation of Markdown. The Python library I’m using does this. It’s usually not paired with “Standard”, “Official”, “One and Only”, or “Legal” to imply it holds some special place. This is, after-all, a fork.

As he notes, the name has already been changed from Standard to Common Markdown to comply with the creator’s wishes.

Joe makes a great point.

For someone that says he loves Markdown, Jeff doesn’t seem to understand anything about why it is popular. Or why attempts to rein in the wild sprawl are bound to fail.


See how silly all of this already has gotten? Did you follow this?

The problem is one group of people wanted to do something. They asked the creator’s opinion on it. Since they didn’t get a response, they assumed no response was an OK to move forward. The creator, John Gruber, asked for three things.

  • Rename the project.
  • Shut down the standardmarkdown.com domain, and don’t redirect it.
  • Apologize.

All three have been done. No harm, no foul. At the end of the day, adults were adult about the situation.

But I have to ask, why did this become a public spectacle? Jeff Atwood and John Gruber could have sorted things out behind closed email clients.

But it was public.


I would absolutely be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention Sid O’Neill‘s post on the topic.

A Tale of Two Markdowns

“Oh, Sir Knight,” said she, “I am come bearing sad tidings from the fair Lady Markdown. Her Lord, the evil giant Gruber, has kept her imprisoned for ten years, to great lament. She wishes her freedom, and calls for a brave knight to rescue her.”

Then did Sir Atwood take heart, for he saw that here was a quest deserving of his mettle. Turning to his companions he bade them prepare themselves for the journey. With them as they travelled they took a cart filled with Standards, pulled by two white palfreys. They would need these if they were to defeat the giant.

The troubles that Sir Atwood and his noble band suffered as they journeyed are too many to set down here, but suffice to say that at length they arrived at the castle wherein the evil Gruber made his abode.

Tech drama as medieval tale should be the new standard for tech drama reporting.

Reality TV has nothing on the drama nerds can create on Twitter about something like plain text formatting. Yes, this is the kind of thing nerds get upset about. Insane, isn’t it?