Formatting a post is, for the most part, as simple as normal web conventions: don't SHOUT; use punctuation; add paragraph breaks.
Generally, you should set off a quotation longer than a line with italics or some other obvious convention. Do not reply by quoting, except in limited fashion, because this adds to the reading workload for others, and can even be disorienting to navigate.
When directing a comment at another user begin your comment with the person's username. Use of the @Username convention is strongly discouraged.
Don't post a signature in your comment or post. It's extra work for you, and it makes you look like a weenie. Rely on your username like the rest of us.
More esoterically, the experienced MeFite can enhance a post or comment with fancy HTML. Due to abuse, certain HTML tags are disallowed.
- <big> : Makes text bigger.
- <font> : permits confusing use of other fonts, big text, and generally tends toward abuse
- <img> : See Image Links.
These tags will be edited out by the text parser.
Known Allowed Tags
- <b> : bold, example
- <i> : italics, example
- <em> : emphasis, example
- <strong> : strong, example
- <a href> : especially with Link Titles, which generate pop-up tags
- <small> : allows under-emphasis of some text, for asides and interpolations; may be nested for even smaller text, (note: multiple small tags appear only in Safari & Firefox but not IE). example of small, with another small
- <blockquote> : did not work with older CSS, now works inside posts and comments; not recommended unless you must quote large blocks of text. To avoid too much whitespace appearing in the comment, separate this tag by spaces instead of new lines, as in "There's a lengthy quote here: <blockquote> Lengthy quote </blockquote> Further quote discussion."
- <s> or <strike> : Strike though,
- <sup> : Superscript, example
- <sub> : Subscript, example
- <abbr> : Abbreviation, which the wiki will not allow, MeTa example (mouseover), working example
- <blink> : blink, which will work in Firefox but not IE or Safari, which the wiki will not allow, <blink>example</blink>, working example
- <code> and <pre> : for laying out ASCII Art or computer code.
- <ol>, <ul>, and <li> : ordered and unordered lists.
In truth, most of HTML 4 is permitted, simply because the text parser does not edit it out during preview.
Some will work, but others may be parsed out, and a danger is that the parser will leave broken HTML in its wake. Preview such comments carefully.
To be absolutely sure not to confuse the parser, it's a good idea to use the HTML character entities for the open and close brackets. < for < and > for >. See below for more about extended characters.
Extended named characters
Created using HTML conventions such as & for the ampersand. Can be very tricky to navigate character sets, and you can't be sure the reader has the right one in use. Hearts (♥ = ♥), moons, stars, and blue whales may be fun, but don't expect it to work.
Numeric character entities
These are characters entered in a numeric format (decimal or hex). As an example ξ can be represented as either
ξ in decimal or
ξ in hex. Evidently the text-parser strips these references out, even if the live-preview formats beautifully, so--handy as they might be--just use the unicode directly.
The bracket-enclosed style of tag, e.g. [b] for bold, is special to UBB and compatible bulletin board software. MetaFilter does not support these.