11
$\begingroup$

I've noticed that in posts & suggested edits the name of a piece of software is sometimes formatted as code, e.g. R or Stata. Why?, & should this new (to me) convention be encouraged or discouraged? (I'm not of course suggesting editing current posts either way just for this reason.)

$\endgroup$
2
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have no idea if it should, however, I do it sometimes; it makes it more distinct. I don't necessarily advocate that anyone else do it, & I just as often don't myself. It's just random. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 0:45
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I think it's basically pointless (though it does serve to highlight the package which may sometimes be slightly useful), but in any case not necessarily 'wrong'; to me it's more a matter of taste in formatting. I have seen a lot of proposed edits that do this, but I don't think it's an acceptable reason to suggest an edit (though if enough other good changes are made in the edit I'd generally let it go). $\endgroup$
    – Glen_b
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 1:11

3 Answers 3

14
$\begingroup$

The peculiar use of a single letter to name software, as in C, J, S, and R, cries out for special formatting to help the reader. Therefore I consistently write "R" instead of "R" and I appreciate posts that do this, too. Some other packages do have conventional formatting: for instance, "Mathematica" is always italicized on the Mathematica site.

As far as edits go (picking up on a comment by @Glen_b), tastes differ, so during reviews I don't apply any particular convention. I look for consistency in formatting. I check that proposed edits to reformat text and code do not introduce any errors. I follow guidelines laid down elsewhere suggesting we should eschew making minor edits, like formatting improvements, in posts that aren't very recent. During reviews I therefore check that substantive edits are proposed and am grateful for any incidental formatting improvements made en passant.

$\endgroup$
2
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Picking R or S for the software name could only happen in pre-Internet-search-engines age. $\endgroup$
    – StasK
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ @StasK Yet still happens. Awhile ago I found myself searching "Anaconda Python" and got utterly useless results. Fortunately, that one at least seems to be fixed. $\endgroup$
    – Fomite
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 19:57
5
$\begingroup$

No, it is not code, and contrary to @Glenn_b I would argue that it is wrong to do so. Think about the semantics of the markup used; marking something as code that clearly isn't breaks the semantic meaning of the markup. That is bad!

What is wrong with just emphasising with bold or italics the name of a piece of software?

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's an excellent point about semantic markup. Like (almost) everyone else on SE, I have learned by watching and emulating. It quickly became clear that a single quote is not just code markup: it is frequently applied to certain software names like "R", to names of database fields, to code snippets, to pseudocode, and to code itself. On sites that do not support $\TeX$ it's necessary to co-opt code markup for writing more readable mathematical formulas. I have therefore inferred that a quote has, at best, only a vague semantic meaning. I may be wrong, but the damage is widespread. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 21:21
1
$\begingroup$

My guess is that it justified in the sense of looking like the formatting that you will see in the tags under the question (which for better or worse looks exactly like the code formatting), thus ensuring some sort of uniformity within a page. I tend to like it, but, as Glen_b and whuber, definitely won't see this as a major reason for a proposed edit.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You can also use the tag markup [tag:r] for example which would render as r (yuck, it renders differently in comments to posts - there it looks like the tags under the Qs). That may be better in instances when there is a reasonable number of pre-existing Q's here as it would link to a page showing Qs filtered by the tag. Better too if there is an appropriate tag-wiki entry. As I mentioned in my Answer, marking something up as code when it isn't code breaks the semantic web... $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 19:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .