Standard Markdown is now Common 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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Who exactly is the “we” here developing standard markdown? From what I can tell Gruber’s response comes off as kind of childish, but I think there might be valid concerns about calling something “Standard” or even “Common” prematurely. This isn’t an issue with “Github flavored Markdown” because it’s very clearly associated with github and not markdown in general. It would have been odd/misleading if github named their dialect “standard”, “common”, or something else that’s generic.


I had a difficult time listening to the snippet of the podcast about Markdown because it just was so dismissive. So, yeah, I think you grasped the meaning just fine.

But it never works to fight rudeness with more rudeness. Jeff’s response is thoroughly pragmatic. (Also very gracious.)

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Common Markdown has the exact same problem as Standard Markdown: You are saying it is the Markdown. It isn’t. And that attitude will lead to more problems with it being adopted than the name or the standard.

Strict Markdown was an excellent suggestion. If that’s not the name you want, something in that vein could be great. The difference between this and Markdown is it’s fully specced and tested. Rigid Markdown, Markdown Firm, Markdown Precise. All of these more accurately reflect that it’s something based on Markdown, not the standard and common Markdown in use now.

Please fix the name well. I really want to use this. :slight_smile:


We’ve been working on the Standard Markdown project for about two years
now. As we got closer to being ready for public feedback, we emailed
John Gruber, the original creator of Markdown, two weeks ago (On August
19th, to be precise) with a link to the Standard Markdown spec, asking
him for his feedback.

I’m sure it’s not the case, but this comes across as if you spent two years working on this project without ever even mentioning it to John Gruber, the original creator of Markdown, until two weeks ago?

I’m assuming that the actual situation is that he was aware of the project but didn’t choose to participate? If so, might be good to clarify that paragraph.


You are right, the response was graceful, but the comments tend to be more dry.

I just want to say: Jonh is acting like a queen =)

The discussion in the Hacker News is much more heated.

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Does the license actually apply to the syntax/formatting of markdown? It says “the software” but I don’t really see how the writing text (especially text that isn’t compiled to machine code) can be defined as software. Whereas the tool that converts the markdown syntax to HTML is software and is mentioned in the license.
As in the license doesn’t say “Neither the name “Markdown” nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software or syntax” it says only “…from this software”

I am definitely no lawyer, but these licenses seem to usually be far more specific, like it would say “May not be redistributed without written permission from the copyright holder” not just "May not be redistributed without written permission "


John has never said that he is “against the effort”. He said not to use the Markdown name. As you even noted yourself, “the licence states that Markdown is his trademark” and yes that may well “suck”, but everything else you’ve stated is a straw man argument. You are only speculating as to Gruber’s motives.

The error here was in Atwood using the trademark without permission, not with Gruber pointing that fact out. You not liking the facts of the situation does not change those facts.