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I tend to agree that there is something wrong with the list markup, however, I'm not sure it's the actual character used as the list marker. I encountered exactly the same problems with numbered lists -- because MoinMoin uses the # character for comments and pragmas and it's hardcoded, handled before the parser plugin even sees the text. Sure, that's the problem of this particular wiki engine, but many other engines also use the # character in similar way -- maybe not hardcoded, but that still gives the same trouble in mixed mode.

**still two-one**

I don't believe that changing the list character to "-" will really solve the problem at its roots -- this too looks to me like a cure for the symptoms only. And somehow changing it to a more widely used character doesn't seem right. It's just inviting more problems. This is in fact plainly visible by the need for additional escape character markup. The list-bold ambiguity can also be easily solved with a similar technique, an "invisible space" similar to the one used for }}}. But that's not a "clean" solution. It doesn't feel right.

~**still two-one**

Many wiki engines select a different markup for nested lists -- indentation. This has several nice benefits, like allowing to only use single character for list markup (and making any double-character combinations safe from ambiguity), visually highlighting the list items in a large body of text (which greatly improves readability and ease of editing) and, last but not least, doesn't look extremely ugly, like the multiple-character nested lists do. Unfortunately, this approach also has some huge disadvantages, that make it practically impossible to accept: use InvisibleMarkup, requiring users to count the spaces; use indentation -- which is extremely obnoxious in most browsers due to lack of autoindetation and "just working" tab key; require manual fixing of the indetation whenever the text is moved between lists created by different users, with different indentation depths. This approach is also hard to implement in mixed mode in the wikis that use the other technique -- because they usually already use indetation for pre blocks.

   **still two-one**

Of course, using an otherwise unused character for marking lists would work. This is why nobody but me is complaining about the numbered lists -- the # is actually rare. So, use of "+", or "@", or "%", or even something like "~", or "^" would get us out of the trouble -- by introducing an artifical, totally unfamiliar markup unlike anything else. Let's face it, both "-" and "*" are the most popular bullet characters: "-" in all kinds of plain-text files, and "*" in wikis. Use of any other character seems hardly apropriate, unless the actual construct to be marked up is actually very rare. Lists are not rare, at least not the one-level ones.

**still two-one**

The RequireSpaceAfterBulletProposal provides yet another solution -- it makes the markup used for bullets unique in Creole, by adding a "list indicator character" to it, in this case a space. This makes the list markup "at least two characters long" and unique, except for the cases when it's immediately adjacent to other markup-sensitive characters. It also has some of the advantage of indented lists -- visual highilgting of the beginning of the list item. I think that it's already obvious that this is the solution I prefer.

* one
* **two**
** two-one
**still two-one**
*** two-one-one
* three

In plain-text files one can encounter one more way of distinguishing the nesting level of a list. Actually, you can see it also in books, and posters, and menus in restaurants, and flyers. The technique is based on using varying chapes of the actual bullets -- usually smaller with each deeper nesting level. I know of no wiki engine (apart from my own puny experiments) that would use this technique, hence it is new in the context of Creole. While it doesn't collide with any Creole's markup, there can still be semantic ambiguity when the characters used for markup are chosen without some thought -- especially in case of hyphens. This can be avoided by the user himself, by picking different characters when there is ambiguity, but it's not exactly clean.

**still two-one**

When looking at these examples, I find the indented list the less confuding and most beautiful, with the "space after bullet" one right behind it. The rest is just horrible to me. Which ones do you like best? Are there any other approaches we missed?

-- RadomirDopieralski, 2007-02-23

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« This particular version was published on 23-Feb-2007 03:55 by RadomirDopieralski.