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Hello, fellow contributors of Mass Effect Answers!

I've conjured a method to improve page formatting and ease of reading for the Q&A section and the forums. However, it will require some general consensus, just like the usage of ~~~. I need you to review it and provide feedback on feasibility.

Since discussions are taking place on wiki pages, the method is to use a simple wiki tag: ----. This code creates an auto-width horizontal line, which, thanks to some changes in the CSS style settings on this site, should serve as a nice dividing line. All you need is to type ---- (four short dashes) into an empty line that separates your post from the previous one. In the editor, it should look like this:

Post #23. Poster X
----
Post #24. Poster Z

Which will result in:

Post #23. Poster X


Post #24. Poster Z

Bulleted posts normally don't need this kind of separation, since they are already distinguished from other paragraphs. However, if a bulleted answer is so big that it requires to be broken into several paragraphs, it should also be separated from other posts, like this:

Post #25. Poster S

  • Post #25-1. Poster T

  • Very long post #25-2.
  • Very long post #25-3. Poster U

  • Post #25-4. Poster V
  • Post #25-5. Poster W


Since every question and forum topic is a wiki page, it is not absolutely required that every post is prefaced with the code when it's created. Other editors can spot the absense and fix it while adding their own posts.

I've formatted this question in this manner to see the effects. I'm interested in hearing feedback on this. Do you think it's easy enough? Does it need to have a different color? Do you think it'll improve readability? The format is not set in stone and can be improved if needed. Have your say, and put it to use if everyone's fine with it. Thanks! Mitranim



I think this is a great idea, it would certainly reduce monotony, and would help differentiate posts which have not been signed. I think bulleted points shouldn't be seperated by a line, because they are usually short answers to a certain point. I think it should be more like

Post # 25. ABC

  • Post#25-1. XYZ

Post # 26

Thats just my 2 cents on the matter. Anish (talk)


Thanks for the input. I've thought about the bulleted answers a bit, and decided to propose to separate them, too, because there have been discussions that had extremely long bulleted answers, to the point that the authors separated them into several — also bulleted — paragraphs and signed each one to keep them distinguishable from other posts. But you're probably right: if such a case arises, these big posts can be separated independently, and they are not very common. Too much lines between short posts just makes the page look messy. Thanks for pointing this out, I've changed the original description at the top of this page. It would be interesting to hear more opinions from the other users. Mitranim


If it helps navigate the questions that turn into hundred comment discussion boards, like the Extended Cut analysis, I'm all for it. RShepard227 (talk)


There haven't been enough feedback to assume general consensus, but it appears there shouldn't be any problems. I've added a notification to the banner on the main page and updated the community message in Wiki Activity. As time passes, more people should pick the method. Mitranim


As an experiment, I've changed .css settings to display a dashed line instead of a solid one. This should be easier on vision, although it's slightly thicker now. Any kind of feedback is appreciated. Mitranim


I've made another change to the line format: it's now displayed as a dotted line. It should be visually lighter now. Mitranim


This is an excellent idea. If I had known how to do it earlier, I would have already been using it to separate my responses from unsigned posts. I think it will definitely help avoid confusion in long discussions, provided most users are willing to do their part to keep the wiki looking nice. Niquorebel Cousland (talk)

  • The reason we haven't used this method earlier was because the ---- code produced a thick white line. Now it's made to look differently via some changes in the CSS style sheet for the site, but I didn't even know it was possible until I got this crazy idea yesterday, which turned out to be quite feasible. Mitranim
  • Well, good work, mon capitain! Prettier pages are on the horizon. ;) Niquorebel Cousland (talk)

A week has passed since this announcement, and observations are interesting. While many editors have picked up this method, many people seem to be unaware. It's also possible that some don't care about formatting and easy comprehension of pages. To my surprise, there have been attempts to imitate the divider by making up lines of underscores: ___. It shows that many people are genuinely oblivious to ----, despite that it has been posted all over the site, including the main page, the message above the "Ask" bar, and even wall greetings of new users. Apparently, reading is way too hard.

I would like to ask you (the editors) to make a habit to prettify the pages you're making edits to. When you're posting an answer, scroll up and type ---- between earlier posts if they're missing a divider. The userbase is constantly shifting, and there will always be some new users who're not used to this type of page formatting. It's expected that posts without a divider will be appearing continuously, and for questions to always look pretty, it needs to be corrected by the community.

Thank to the users who're already fixing the pages they're making edits to (Aaron, Anish, RShepard). It would be great if everyone made a habit of doing it. Thanks! Mitranim


Mate, it seems like very few people are actually making the line thingies, especially new users. Is there a way to make the notice more noticable? As a pop up perhaps? Anish (talk)


The messages about ---- are posted just about everywhere on the wiki. It's very hard to miss them. I guess many people just don't think it's required. It's a problem with traditions in general, there are always people who won't comply. It should be expected that there will always be poorly formatted posts, that others should fix. That being said, I've always wanted a pop-up notification about that, too. Something similar is implemented via SpoilerAlert script. I'll look into it and see if I can repurpose it for a formatting notification. Mitranim


Thanks for the suggestion, Anish. It prompted me to search around for ways to implement notifications. I've originally repurposed the SpoilerAlert script and it worked, but it turned out there is a better, "native" solution that brings the message directly to the editor window. It should increase the awareness about our formatting practices. As always, feedback and suggestions are welcome. Mitranim


The pop up is a lot more intrusive ,which is a good thing I guess. Anish (talk)


You mean the script version, which obscured every page you visit? It was certainly very effective, but I hope the new method will convey the message just as well without being as intrusive. And it's a constant reminder right in the editor window, as opposed to something you click away and forget. The methods can be combined if necessary, but for now, I want to see how the new method fares. So far, it appears to be going its job. Mitranim


I doubt the usefulness of enforcing this in case of very small posts like this one. Except when the post takes the discussion completely different way, like this does. I believe the standard signature is sufficient if it takes roughly 10% of the post. - MA4585159 (talk)


It's recommended, not strictly required. But recommended nevertheless. Indeed, when posts are short, signatures do a fair job showing the authors. However, any anon post runs a risk of being confused as belonging to a signed post below. Furthermore, when discussion is long, or posts become long and need to be broken into paragraphs, separation is absolutely required. We're not running a strict "separate every post" policy in regards to short conversations, and if you feel it's unnecessary in some case, you can omit it, but generally the line is a good thumb rule. Mitranim

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