Jul 17 2008 5:34pm

Service R Us

As a public service to all the betas joining us here at Tor.Com (and to alphas as well!), here is a functioning link to a cheat sheet for bbCode.

BB Code tags!

The Mgt assures you that full functionality will commence shortly.


Abigail Sutherland
2. evilrooster
I'm so glad I'm a Beta. Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they're so frightfully clever. I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta, because I don't work so hard.

Wait...I am an alpha. I'll get my grey clothes on, shall I?
Martin Sutherland
3. sunpig
What about the Barrayarans? Oh, betas, no N. Right.

What happened to the rich text editor for comments, btw?
Beth Meacham
4. bam
A decision was made (note cop-out passive construction) that a plain text editor has fewer hassles and is comfortable to more people.

I know I'm happier with it.
- -
6. heresiarch
"Yeah, but bbCode? Ew."

Yeah--what's wrong with good old html, like our fathers and fore-fathers did? It messes me up to have to switch back and forth depending on the site.

(And why is every comment on this page flagged?)
Beth Meacham
7. bam
(And why is every comment on this page flagged?)

What a good question. Maybe someone was checking functionality.
Torie Atkinson
8. Torie
sunpig & heresiarch--

Allowing HTML is generally a Bad Thing. One tag that isn't closed properly can muck up the entire page, or worse, trolls & spammers can use it to filter stuff of all kinds through the website. BBcode is a great option because it's so very similar to HTML without all the risks.
Laurie Ashton
9. LMAshton
Or, worse still, a very bad type can use HTML to add scripts to a page, providing the scum with a back door so they can hack into a site. Not good at all. BBCode, while perhaps cumbersome, is much safer.

There are also BBCode plugins for Firefox which can make life much easier. That's what I use. :)
Arachne Jericho
10. arachnejericho
Minor note: HTML can be tamed, open tags completed, and bad tags stripped out. Indeed, that's why WordPress comments are safe---because there's some sandboxing that goes on (e.g., you aren't allowed to use <script> elements, and many attributes are stripped out completely. And no tables for you).

That said, you don't need the same amount of care when bbCode is concerned. Good old separation of concerns; bbCode is rendered as HTML, but it's controlled HTML. And if your sandboxing bugs out, bbCode is still harmless in the main.

For those who like to split hairs: no, HTML is not the Greatest Evil here. The greatest evils are specifically the <script>, <embed>, and <style> tags.

By the by, I have seen bad bbCode renderers that created HTML with missing end tags. It is a little sad.
Laurie Ashton
11. LMAshton
Oh, arachne, I know. :) It's just that there's so much bad code out there that allows so very many bad things to happen.
Martin Sutherland
12. sunpig
@Torie: I wasn't suggesting raw HTML as an alternative, although as @arachnejericho points out, it can (and ought to) be sanitized before being rendered, and the notion of allowing a safe subset of HTML tags in comments is not uncommon. But in the absence of a rich text editor, Markdown is my personal first choice for writing styled text in a plain text field. (In preference even to HTML.)

BBcode offends mine eyes because of the square brackets. Let us not talk of Wikipedia markup syntax.
Arachne Jericho
13. arachnejericho
@LMAshton - Unfortunately very true.

@sunpig - Markdown would be cool, and I really do like it, but bbCode is more commonly known to people. Then again, there are PHP libraries for Markdown, so it wouldn't be hard to add in---like there are libraries for bbCode.
Beth Meacham
14. bam
I just installed a bbCode add-in for Firefox. It's rather nice, and would be excellent for people who don't like writing their own as they type.

You highlight the text you want to format as something, and then there's a right-click menu that comes up allowing you a plethora of formatting choices, in either bbCode or HTML.
careY t.
15. carey.tse
@LMAshton - thanks for mentioning the add-on!

@bam - thanks for providing the add-on!

I can never go back to using IE, partly because I'm hooked on all the 3rd party enhancements one can make to firefox. Viva Mozilla!
17. rogerothornhill
Ty :) I believe I qualify as an Alpha, but I am also most assuredly a Luddite.

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