17

Currently the dialogue of TeXtalk is formatted by <strong> for the speaker and <p> to separate lines. Here is an example from the interview with Yiannis Lazarides:

Current format of TeXtalk

This format may be confusing when a speaker is listed with multiple paragraphs in that it is not obvious who says what.

I suggest to format the dialogue as a definition list, i.e. as <dl> (the HTML similar of the description environment). The screenshot below is an example of such formatting. Note this makes it very clear which speaker a paragraph belongs to even if there are multiple paragraphs. Also note that the colon after the speaker in the old format is no longer needed.

Suggested format for TeXtalk

A less obvious advantage of this format is that it is semantically more correct in that a definition, <dd>, following a term, <dt>, belongs to it in a sense, e.g. every <dd> directly following a <dt>Paulo</dt> is something said by Paulo.

<dl>
  <dt>Paulo</dt>
  <dd>
    <p>Indeed. I remember one of your answers where you said something
    like “if typographical rules can be deduced, we can incorporate
    them”. It&#8217;s very challenging.</p>

    <p>Speaking of typography, you
    are <a href="http://tex.stackexchange.com/badges/152/typography">the
    first user to earn the <code>typography</code> badge</a>! How did
    you become so acquainted with it? <code>:)</code></p>
  </dd>

  <dt>Yiannis</dt>
  <dd>
    <p>I was not aware I was the first user. I think it was just a
    miracle that I was the first user to get it. <code>;)</code></p>

    <p>I always had an interest in it. I read some of Knuth&#8217;s
    writings and one day it struck me. What he did was to study all
    the maths publications and deduce some typographical rules. I am
    currently doing the same with images and layouts (he conveniently
    missed this otherwise he would have still been busy with
    TeX). Small things like don&#8217;t put a small image on a page on
    its own can make a big difference.</p>

    <p>He also left color out. Color is very difficult to handle
    correctly from a typography point of view.</p>
  </dd>
</dl>

With the old formatting the owner of multiple paragraphs is not as clear.

<p><strong>Paulo:</strong> Indeed. I remember one of your answers
where you said something like “if typographical rules can be deduced,
we can incorporate them”. It&#8217;s very challenging.</p>

<p>Speaking of typography, you are <a
href="http://tex.stackexchange.com/badges/152/typography">the first
user to earn the <code>typography</code> badge</a>! How did you become
so acquainted with it? <code>:)</code></p>

<p><strong></strong><strong>Yiannis:</strong> I was not aware I was
the first user. I think it was just a miracle that I was the first
user to get it. <code>;)</code></p>

<p>I always had an interest in it. I read some of Knuth&#8217;s
writings and one day it struck me. What he did was to study all the
maths publications and deduce some typographical rules. I am currently
doing the same with images and layouts (he conveniently missed this
otherwise he would have still been busy with TeX). Small things like
don&#8217;t put a small image on a page on its own can make a big
difference.</p>

<p>He also left color out. Color is very difficult to handle correctly
from a typography point of view.</p>

One thing I left out above is that to achieve the suggested format one need to style the relevant <dt> tags as bold. Globally this can be done by something like:

dl dt {
    font-weight: bold;
}
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6

This should work just fine now, provided you enter the HTML into the editor's HTML tab - if you try to use the Visual editor on a post containing a definition list, WordPress may mangle embedded paragraphs. Even if you don't touch the list itself while editing. YMMV, but for best results paste it in when in HTML-mode and leave it that way.

What a definition list should look like on tex.se now

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  • Thank you very very much! :) – Paulo Cereda Jun 14 '12 at 22:14
12

It's really a great idea. :)

The TeXtalk series was heavily influenced by the TUG Interview Corner, so I tried to mimic their layout. Besides, I've never been an interviewer before. :)

The dl element is XHTML valid and, as Yiannis mentioned in his answer, it's more semantic and accessible. I checked the blog interface and the tag is not blacklisted, so we can use it.

I'll wait a few more votes in the main question and them "implement" this feature request. It might take a while for me to format all the interviews, mainly because IMHO our blog interface is not so friendly at all. I have no problem editing the HTML code directly, but it's quite a pain. I might write a tool to convert the "chat room interviews" into "blog interviews", since I'm lazy I might forget some tags in the process. :)

That said, I should mention that we are honoured to have two new additions to the blog team: lockstep and Alan Munn. Thank you guys!

Update: I'm sorry to tell this, but the deployment might take a while.

I've managed to write a conversion script for helping us with this new interview dialogue format. Unfortunately, our blog CSS does not handle these tags as it should:


Cool image


IMHO the elements are too tight. Besides, the paragraphs were removed by our blog publishing system, even though I explicitly added them. Note that paragraphs are still valid elements in this context.

We might have a word with the SO staff to help us fixing some technical issues, as well as some small annoyances. :)

When we reach a steady state, we will surely deploy this new formatting pattern. I'll update this answer accordingly.

Update 2: Thanks to the great SO staff, we've now deployed the new dialogue format for TeXtalk. :)

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  • For converting existing posts it might be easiest to copy the content to a capable editor and do some search and replace. If you want help with a script to convert chat log to blog post format you could make a meta post to get help from the community. – N.N. Apr 1 '12 at 12:57
  • 1
    For reference on the problems on implementing this see chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/41/conversation/…. – N.N. Apr 1 '12 at 14:32
7

You are correct and is also semantically better to use a definition list; it is also better from an accessibility point of view. It never gave me any trouble though to understand the interviews.

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