Standard Markdown is now Common Markdown

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.

Why not just name it “Yet Another Flavor of Markdown”? It’s “what you’ve only ever wanted to be”.

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Why you would think this name would elicit a better response from John is beyond me.

By naming it Common/Standard you are implying that this is what Markdown has grown out of and it is not. You are trying to co-opt the project as your own, intentionally or not.

And, I keep seeing the common argument that the project has been abandoned. Well, not updated does not mean abandoned. Not updated and the freedom of interpretation may just be the reason Markdown has grown so much over the years.

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I demand to know why Anal Markdown was not given serious consideration.


No, Jeff was just being overly polite throughout this whole post – “pedantic markdown” was not John being “gracious”, he was being spectacularly rude


I generally find Gruber insightful, but in this case he’s being an ass.


Why not call it something like xMD? It implies a more strict syntax without being pejorative. Still points to Markdown, too.

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The license makes no mention of trademark and the podcast from weeks back confirms that John Gruber holds no trademark on the name Markdown. The issue, for the moment, is predicated on moral rights, rather than legal ones.

From my perspective, John Gruber has demonstrated that he’s not much interested in developing Markdown further—I think I recall him referring to it as ‘feature complete’ at some point way-back-when. Here there’s a group that would like to see more specific development.

Don’t you think it’s strange that every other project under the sun is able to merrily use the name Markdown without objection, and here you’re offended on John Gruber’s behalf? The issue is more about the perception of theft, and I think this namechange demonstrates substantial good will in favor of correcting that perception.

Do you agree or am I missing something?


It’s funny to see someone so attached to a 8-letter name, which isn’t that pretty in the first place. I don’t think Common Markdown or anything “down” is a good name. I suggest you invent a new name, otherwise you will be always in an unpleasant shadow. Naming is hard, but not that hard when you have a big community now.

You might think John would’ve been flattered that you guys put so much time and work into improving on markdown.
Thanks for all your hard work, I for one appreciate it.


Full disclosure: I am not a lawyer, nor have I ever portrayed one on TV.

How can improper trademark licenses or assignments result in abandonment of a trademark?

“A trademark may be deemed abandoned if the trademark owner licenses or authorizes other parties to use its mark without adequate control over the quality of the goods or services offered under the mark. This is often referred to as abandonment via “naked licensing.”


While I appreciate that you are attempting to take a cordial tone, I don’t think you sincerely want to remedy the situation.

It is hard to think of a list of names that so completely emphasizes a lack of understanding as to why Standard Markdown was considered unacceptable.

  • Compatible Markdown
  • Regular Markdown
  • Community Markdown
  • Common Markdown
  • Uniform Markdown
  • Vanilla Markdown

All but “Uniform” and “Community” suggest that this specification represents what should be considered the baseline Markdown implementation in some way. Similar to the notion of “Standard Markdown”, they are an attempt to imply default if not original and certainly not superset of Markdown.

Options such as Strict or Uniform far better represent what this project is supposedly attempting to accomplish-- a Markdown-flavored text specification that made it easier for developers to produce consistent output. Even in that case, the inclusion of additional features not found in the original Markdown implementation, demonstrate that this is actually just another Markdown flavor that happens to be developed by a powerful set of important users, rather than a strict subset of the original implementation that enforces more specific syntax for more predictable output.

People have been discussing, and borderline bullying, Gruber about this for a while. He has stated clearly multiple times across multiple mediums that he thinks Markdown is better left untouched. It is better left flexible so that its very easy for writers who never type a lick of code or use strict syntax in their every day life can just type and get something close to what they expect. He has said he things that flavors such as PHP-Markdown Extras and Github-flavored Markdown are great projects, named appropriately, and in the spirit of what is allowed by his license. They are simply not THE Markdown, and their creators/stewards are clear about that in both their naming and documentation.

Common Markdown is a terrible name. It makes it clear that you completely reject the spirit of Gruber’s objection to Standard Markdown.


FWIW-- Gruber has had contact with folks who use the name Markdown, including someone in this thread who was instructed to not call it Markdown (see Makeup). He has also explicitly endorsed other flavors. I do not believe that this constitutes naked licensing.

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Standard Markdown : Common Markdown :: Common Lisp : Common Lisp

Come on, Jeff. You’re better than this. Ask Gruber for Stack Flavored Markdown and be done with it. Or fork it for real and call it Common Standard Stackdown or FlowDown or FogUp or FlowOver or whatever you want.

Your apology comes across a bit saccharine when you change the spelling of the word while leaving the meaning intact this way. If you were doing a code review where someone used a class name StandardX and you disliked it, you wouldn’t like it any better if that same person came back and said CommonX.

I cannot imagine why someone who writes as frequently and elegantly about doing the right thing with regard to developers would act this way. The Markdown license is clear: get permission or don’t use the name.