[Wikipedia-l] Re: Extension syntax vote begins

David Friedland david at nohat.net
Tue Apr 6 18:06:44 UTC 2004

Timwi wrote:

> There is no other way I can imagine that people seriously prefer 
> <math>x^2</math> over simple-and-quick [!x^2!] or [$x^2$] or whatever. 
> Except for <rend type="math">, *all* proposed syntaxes are better than 
> <math>.

Did you really want to bring this debate onto the list (again)?!

The simple answer is that <math> </math> is self-documenting. I look at 
[! !] and say "what does that mean?" and I look at <math> </math> and 
say "oh that must have something to do with math."

The reason that non-savvy users might prefer <math>x^2</math> is that it 
requires understanding the concept of markup, a concept which most 
people learn in the context of HTML, and the very first thing you learn 
when you attempt to learn HTML is that things are enclosed in things 
that look like <something> </something>. That's why <math></math> is 
preferable to something like [! !], because it looks to most people what 
their idea of "markup" is. So even if a user knows only one thing about 
how HTML works, chances are it'll be enough for them to intuitively 
understand <math></math>. On the other hand, although [! !] is simple 
and/or quick, it is intuitive to no one.

- David

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