Standard Markdown is now Common Markdown

Let me open with an apology to John Gruber for my previous blog post.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Seems to me you are going to end up in the same situation re: naming your spec.
“Neither the name “Markdown” nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.”

Beg for forgiveness instead of asking for permission won’t work in this scenario.


I think John Gruber should go back to tweet about how iPhones are better because the screens are small and Baseball.



We then waited two weeks for a response.

There was no response, so we assumed that John Gruber was either OK with the project (and its name), or didn’t care. So we proceeded.


We haven’t heard back after replying last night, and I’m not sure we ever will, so in the interest of moving ahead and avoiding conflict, we’re immediately renaming the project to Common Markdown.

If it didn’t work out the first time, why the same mistake? Permission is required in writing, you haven’t received it, and yet you decide to name the project it to essentially the same name.



average, common, commonplace, cut-and-dried (also cut-and-dry), everyday, garden-variety, normal, prosaic, routine, run-of-the-mill, standard, standard-issue, unexceptional, unremarkable, usual, workaday


Very gracious of you to offer to change the name, given you’d already gone public and you gave him two weeks notice, which he chose not to make use of. Not sure I would have done the same.

IMO, that lack of responsiveness - both to the original name and to the changed one - voids any rights of John Gruber’s to complain. He may be the original inventor of Markdown but after all, he didn’t do the work of creating the canonical spec and test suite that you guys have. And if he can’t even be bothered to respond to emails then I don’t think he has the right to be “infuriated” about anything here.


24 hours is not very long to wait, not everybody jumps up to read and respond to mail as soon as it arrives, they may have other things going on in thier lives that takes priority. The OP should give john a bit more time to reply.


There are dozens of Markdown forks that use the term Markdown and hundreds of iOS/Android apps that do that same. He called out the usage of “standard” as the issue here and even made suggestions such as “Pedantic Markdown” (which uses the word Markdown).


I think it’s pretty gracious of you to make the concessions you have, considering the lack of response and then attitude about it. As far as I can find, neither he nor Daring Fireball LLC has any copyright on anything, despite some boilerplate stuck on his website. I know we all participate in a community and no one likes their toes stepped on, but sometimes business is business, you know?


A person who can quickly, publicly and fully admit to mistakes and try to rectify them without condition is the kind of person I aspire to be. This quality is strong and beautiful in the individual and as an example of behaviour, one of the best to try to emulate. There are may things I admire you for Mr Atwood, but this is by far the best.

As a flawed human, and especially a flawed man, thanks for making the path clearer about how we should be. I hope for a world full of people with the same honesty desire to to do what’s right and the the ability to do it without qualms in a open way.


I don’t get why keeping the name Markdown is so important, specifically if it is such a big source of troubles. I would personally rename it “standard md” or “open md”. Everyone will get it. And if you want a more explicit name, you can still use mdown.

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Yes, but he was posting about it on Twitter extensively in that same time period.

If he had other things going on in his life in that 24 hour period, writing comments on Twitter about it was certainly part of what was going on…


It seems to me that Markdown is Gruber’s invention and that using any term that implies a kind of primacy for yours is not as respectful of that fact as it might be. It should, in my opinion, be given a name that makes it clear that it’s a specialized dialect, not one that suggests it’s some kind of new official thing.

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It isn’t a specialized dialect.

It’s a deep introspection on supporting exactly what Markdown was intended to do, but failed to specify with enough accuracy, leaving us to the current situation where this…

# Hello there

This is a paragraph.

- one
- two
- three
- four

1. pirate
2. ninja
3. zombie

… renders out as 15 different outputs from 22 different Markdown parsers.

In fact, one of the design goals was to render “most” Markdown as close to the original intent of the authors as possible.


We haven’t heard back after replying last night, and I’m not sure we ever will, so in the interest of moving ahead and avoiding conflict, we’re immediately renaming the project to Common Markdown

He had one night to reply. He lost it.


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Neither the name “Markdown” nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission

Not sure how that’s at all applicable. That licence seems to be for the Markdown “software”? Never heard of it. In any case, I don’t think you can call Common Markdown a “product derived from this software”. It’s an original composition based on numerous implementations of Markdown in wide use today.


Based on your description of the timeline of events, it seems that the only time Gruber is willing to contribute is when his nose is out of joint.

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It’s not as terrible as it seems. :smile:

What you have here is a difference in the serialization of the markup. BUT to get a fair comparison in between the results, you need to find another strategy and not base it on markup but on the rendered DOM. The markup will be a rathole.

It’s one of the very early issue we discussed for mdown Testsuite

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Why everybody been so nice about Jonh? He suggested “Pedantic Markdown”! I’m Brazilian so Portuguese is my first language so perhaps I’m mistakenly assuming that he was at least ironic and probably disrespectful.

I follow Jonh on many venues for many years and in various occasions he complained about Markdown flavors.

In other hand I don’t understand the difficult to let the baby walk, he is not personally invested in making Markdown better. What is the point of the open source license?

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I really couldn’t disagree more with all this.

John Gruber created a bastardized specification and ignored it for years. Meanwhile, Stack Exchange, GitHub, and others essentially “forked” Markdown and made it applicable and useful. So crucial a tool as Markdown was left up to the wilds of the internet to determine what it would become and how applicable it would be.

If the license really states that Markdown is his trademark, well that sucks, but it sounds like he’s just mad because one of his abandoned software projects became really popular and everyone else got the credit for it.

It’s embarrassing that you have to change your domain name and the name of the collaborative effort going on.

John Gruber may be against this effort, but the rest of the world is for it. We’re sorry that you’re upset, John, but your lack of involvement seems to indicate that you didn’t care until you perceived that you lost something.


This has certainly been interesting to watch. I’m new to Markdown but liked what this project was pushing. But given the license terminology, I feel you’re right. Without an actual reply from Gruber, despite whatever else he might be doing in social media, it feels like it’ll circle back again. I don’t know their history, but sounds like there’s beef between Gruber and Jeff?

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