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Is it considered good practice to add keyboard markup to posts and, if so, is it acceptable to edit posts when part of the reason or the sole reason for editing is to add such markup?

An example of the kind of markup I have in mind is

<kbd>ctrl</kbd>+<kbd>alt</kbd>+<kbd>i</kbd>

Which produces output such as ctrl+alt+i. Personally, I find this extremely distracting and ugly in most cases and would only use it sparingly, if at all, in my own posts. I would therefore be annoyed if others edited my posts to add this kind of monstrosity.

I'm thinking of this type of edit, for example which is one of several similar edits by the same user.

Is there a policy on the use of this markup and on editing posts in order to add it?

I can entirely live with people using this markup if they wish. I might even use it myself in some circumstances. But my own feeling is that it is not appropriate to edit such markup into people's posts.

  • I have not found a policy so far. Do you ask for suggestions? – user31729 Jul 12 '14 at 5:06
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    More-or-less. Mostly to do with editing. If nothing else, it seems to me that editing merely to add this is inappropriately minor - it is bumping questions for no good reason. But I tend to think editing other people's posts needs relatively strong justification (i.e. genuine clarification or formatting which really makes it easier to parse and understand the question/answoer or mistakes in code, for example). And maybe that is just not the SE approach. – cfr Jul 12 '14 at 14:21
  • You don't like it but it is possible others will love it. They would demand any keyboard shortcut should be typed with kbd syntax. So subjectivity is the key for restricting things based on visual appeal. – percusse Jul 13 '14 at 10:32
  • @percusse Indeed. But I think that is a good reason not to edit other people's posts for the purpose of either adding or removing such markup! – cfr Jul 13 '14 at 11:48
  • @cfr Fair enough. Lately we are having too many requests about how and what to do things which are already functioning quite OK, that's probably why I reacted in such a bitter tone. Sorry about that. – percusse Jul 13 '14 at 22:59
  • @percusse Also fair enough. I probably overreacted somewhat. Only I noticed somebody edit a whole bunch of questions and answers solely to add this markup, with a bunch more edits where the only other change was removing a 'thanks'. That probably coloured my feelings about this markup which, to be honest, I don't remember ever thinking about before one way or another. (I had to look up how to do it to post this question.) I meant to oppose pedantic interference rather than propose it... – cfr Jul 13 '14 at 23:33
  • Yes I got the question after reading a few times. This edit frenzy business is really annoying. – percusse Jul 13 '14 at 23:54
  • @percusse Sorry. I think I wasn't very clear because I did not want to see too accusatory so I tried to ask a more general question but that didn't work very well. – cfr Jul 13 '14 at 23:59
  • @cfr: I would not say, that your question was a failure. There are two answers, some others will follow up. I agree with you, that using keyboard markup might perhaps not the best way to make statements or to explain something, and I agree with you too about the editing usage here, sometimes it is ridiculous, but didn't most of us edit rather silly in the beginning, as a new user. Finally, I want to support percusse's comment too, that it is a matter of taste how to use this kind of markup, in order to come back to the origins of this question. – user31729 Jul 14 '14 at 6:27
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    I would say such mark-up is inappropriate when referring to emacs, which has a standard ASCII representation for keyboard shortcuts, e.g. C-c C-c. – Andrew Swann Jul 15 '14 at 8:00
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First of all, the help page on editing mentions no guidelines in terms of such edits. Furthermore, policy is too authoritative here, and technically it would not be enforceable. One could suggest some guidelines, but then again, not everyone will follow them (see oNe SuCH iNSTaNCe).

This is not very different from people putting "Thanks" at the bottom of their posts, and then some editor feels it's not worth putting it there. Invariably some people will like things one way, while others will persist on doing it in yet another way. I think one should let the community use the features that have been given, since that will also allow them to Ctrl it.

On a personal note, I don't like the way our keyboard markup looks, despite an age-old request to have something more subtle. Perhaps it's time to poke the Meta.SE beast and see if she's interested in making some changes here...


Now let's play devil's advocate: "How would you feel about the keyboard markup if it was a little more subtle?"

If that is okay, then for the sake of consistency add all the keyboard markup you want! If the Powers That Be decide to update the design, then everyone will be happy.

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    I would still be concerned about people editing merely to add this kind of markup. I might be less reluctant to use it myself, though. – cfr Jul 12 '14 at 14:22
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    By the way, I have actually asked both Jin and Anna Lear to take a look at that request for changing the look of the keyboard markup, but nothing have happened, so I'm not sure what's going on. AL did however say that "there's been historical resistance to changing that (across a number of sites)", which is weird, but could explain it I suppose ... – Torbjørn T. Jul 13 '14 at 17:12
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Werner has made already remarks on policies (I agree, that this term is too strong).

As a further suggestion for a recommendation (call it guideline/etiquette) following items, apart from the general rendering appearance of such markup.

  • Prevent using keyboard markup when editing other users' posts
  • Do not introduce markup in editing other posts when there is none
  • Use keyboard markup with care, preferable only in separate lines, this will not disturb the flow of lines, e.g. in a block quote:

Use CTRL+K for formatting automatic indentation and highlighting of your code

  • In your own posts, limit yourself to very few occurences of markup, preferably only where it clearifies some technical feature.

I believe, we will see this kind of keyboard markup limited (?) to technical questions such as usage of TeX.SX and about keyboard shortcuts for TeX editors, mostly this will be answers and I personally refrain from editing other users' answers anyway, unless they ask about it explicitly.

A small side note: This was the first time I ever used such keyboard markup. Many users do not know about them and perhaps, that is quite good ;-)

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    The 3rd item seems to be sort-of twisted. If legibility is the issue, let's make the <kbd> markup more legible and not make the text more fragmented. (This yet again calls for the bug/feature-request to be resolved.) – yo' Jul 21 '14 at 6:48
  • @tohecz: Well, I agree with you about text fragmentation, but I meant that special proposition as some kind of an exception, perhaps just one per post, not more, so fragmentation should not be an issue. – user31729 Jul 21 '14 at 19:39

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