Punctuation improvement #1!

Along the line of English simplification #1! I had this idea that is of equal utility.

Commands and URIs of objects, when typeset are often corrupted by standard English punctuation. A notorious example is that sentences have to end with periods, but if a sentence ends with a URI this rule will silently change the indicator. As an example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Current_events.

The period on the end of the path (the part following the “org”) confuses the webserver and causes a 404 error or the like. It should be https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Current_events. I reviewed a report and, because the citation style (IEEE or ASME) required a period at the end of the URI field (?!), their word processor automatically included it in the link it autogenerated. All of their works cited were “not found”, which could have caused serious trouble if it got further.

Not as much of a problem in graphiqual interfaces, but commands also don’t like spurious dots and commas. I mean that if you type in a terminal window ls, hit enter, and expect a directory listing, you’ll be disappointed.

Two solutions have problems of their own: Quotation marks can get copied by accident or unfamiliar users: “ipconfig /all” in a PowerShell window won’t work but ipconfig /all will. (But “ipconfig /all will” won’t.) Special formatting requires extras, like extra space…

…if you have room for it…

…extra design considerations if it is a book or something that rates a graphic designer, and is very prone to errors when changed from one format or character encoding to another. It also doesn’t work if all you have is plain text.

I propose that the URI or command be set off with a colon and space before and a space and colon after. If you wanted to link to this idea: https://flowcoef.wordpress.com/2019/05/17/punctuation-improvement-1 :you could do so in the middle of a sentence without running the risk of a moderately aware reader or automatic parser being mislead. If it is at the end of a sentence, do this: http://txt.do/1dooz :.

This is better than alternatives like ( this ) or <this> because it looks more natural to most readers. The initial colon-space is already part of English punctuation and the terminal space-colon is a logical mirror image of it. Admittedly screen readers will have to be configured or designed to accept it, but any that allow localization should be easily amendable to it.

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A hopefully entertaining blogger, frequently of technical things, but some artistic commentary too.

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