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I've seen several edits recently where the only thing that was changed was converting "straight quotes" with rounded ones. Searching the EL&U site for directives about this, I didn’t come up with much (I noticed there are straight quotes in the FAQ though!), but I stumbled across a question about automatically converting quotes here on meta.

Many of the responses there point out that such automation would be prone to errors, so my suggestion would be this:

Can we not customise WMD to add the ability to insert each of the four rounded quotes (single and double) by clicking buttons on the toolbar above the answer textarea? (Obviously, the icons would need to be chosen carefully so they don’t cause confusion with the blockquote icon.)

That way, control would be in the hands of the user rather than some automated tool that makes mistakes. Furthermore, it would pre-empt having one’s posts edited just for the sake of replacing quotes. Having to remember to manually use awkward keyboard combinations to satisfy someone else’s sense of aesthetics (personally, I couldn’t care less whether they’re straight or round – let’s face it, our posts can’t by any stretch of the imagination be considered “formal writing”) is asking too much, in my opinion.

Would such a change to WMD be desirable or even feasible for EL&U, or would it only cause problems to split the code bases? (I’m assuming that adding this feature to all SE sites would probably not be desired.) Or could it be added as an option to the shared code, defaulting to off, but turned on for EL&U?

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    @tchrist: Hah, I suspected someone wouldn't be able to resist editing that... (sigh) if it makes you happy :-) – Amos M. Carpenter Aug 3 '12 at 1:24
  • I also fixed your em dash and emboldened the contrasting quotes on first use. – tchrist Aug 3 '12 at 1:36
  • @tchrist: Actually, that should've been an en-dash... at least where I come from ;-) – Amos M. Carpenter Aug 3 '12 at 1:41
  • Could’ve been. Depends on the publishing house. The problem was that it was just a HYPHEN-MINUS, which looks bad. – tchrist Aug 3 '12 at 1:43
  • @tchrist: Fair enough, far be it from me to offend anyone's sense of aesthetics whether I share it or not - hence my question above. By the way, your apostrophe in "could've" been... uhm... looks fine. – Amos M. Carpenter Aug 3 '12 at 1:46
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I'm indifferent to this; straight quotes are fine and understandable and don't need to change. But if it's fairly easily implemented and has a site-specific default state (which could differ from site to site) then I'd have no objection.

I do object to editing posts just to replace straight quotes with curly quotes. It's happened to at least one of my answers and added no value. I think it was done simply to increase an edit count towards a badge.

So I suppose if providing curly quotes by default removes the opportunity for that untoward behaviour, then it might swing me to be in favour.

  • People would actually go around doing mindless edits merely to try to get a stinging badge? Really? Ick. Tell them we’re a brock-free zone. – tchrist Aug 3 '12 at 16:58
  • Thanks for the response, Andrew, I had my suspicions about edit counts as well but thought I'd make a positive suggestion rather than complaining. Guess I won't hold my breath about when (or whether) this feature will be implemented ;-) – Amos M. Carpenter Aug 7 '12 at 7:44

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