WussyWYG

While many of us can agree that wikis need a more standardized format for text-to-html conversion (I vote Markdown, some prefer Textile, others are crazy and want to figure out something new), Ryan and I would like to take a stand against those who wish to provide a WhatYouSeeIsWhatYouGet interface for it.

I have mentioned my distaste for such things previously, but today I bring a rallying cry. WussyWYG, Don’t Do It.

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6 thoughts on “WussyWYG

  1. Uh. Whaa? The RSS version of this has no links. Or rather, it has crazy [1] formatted links. Which means I can’t click on them in my RSS reader. Which sucks.

    Oh, and yes, regular folks don’t want to learn a markup language. Learning Markdown is about as difficult as learning the basic HTML tags needed. Which means they don’t want to do it, and would actually quite like a WYSIWYG input. Hey — make it an option, let you power geeks enter it in Markdown. But folks like WYSIWYG. Especially when cut and pasting from Word.

  2. what’s up with my links? I’ll have to figure out what WordPress is doing to make them weird like that…

  3. Boris: people like smoking too, doesn’t mean they should.

    There is no such thing as WYSIWYG. I understand the lower barrier to entry, but it’s a blind alley on the web. What you mean is what you get is essential for something like a wiki, which needs to communicate information to computers as well as humans.

    You have to have a certain level of skill to do anything. Can’t get near a wiki unless you know how to turn a computer on to start with. So if you want to edit a wiki, you need to be able to use an entry format that makes you say what you mean, via headings and things, instead of “I want this bold”.

  4. I understand the distaste where there would be something extra when using a non-WYSIWYG approach, and What You Mean Is What You Get makes sense.

    But whether you click a button coloured [Green] or type in some weird_markup, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything different is happening to the underlying data or what gets published on the Web.

    For things like Wikis, the use of Wikitext or Markdown or (pseudo-)WYSIWYG isn’t any more than a UI choice issue. Unless there’s going to be difference in the data behind the scenes, who cares? More complex UIs may be called for when dealing with more complex data, and we should be prepared to learn to use them if we want to use that data in interesting ways. This is something Englebart talked about years ago. Putting machine-friendly data on the Web is a positive thing. But a separate issue than the user interface.

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