To my experience the Preformatted text tag'ssole purpose is to let a poster put in executable code in the post, and mark it as such.

If this mode was removed from the UX Ask Question maybe some of the misguided questions regarding implementation would be avoided, that a poster may realize that this forum may not be suited for those types of questions.


Why is it there? Because all SE sites have that button, even Bicycles. I think it's just one of those defaults that's just there, especially since Stack Overflow is still the "baseline" for most SE sites' feature set. That aside I guess it could be used for fixed-formatting. And I have seen some legitimate uses showing CSS/HTML used in web design/accessibility questions that aren't really about implementation, the code's just there to help you visualize/understand what specifically they're talking about.

I'm not really sure we need it, but I'm not sure if it's confusing people either; it does read "preformatted code" rather than "code sample" in the tool tip, and I think it's inevitable some people will assume if web design is on topic CSS/HTML/whatever are on topic; I haven't seen enough of such posts (yet) that we can't just close them, anyway..

  • Well, on UX we have the balsamiq add-on, which isn't available on other sites. So there definitely is some differentiation in the control bar, not a mere "standard". I'm not saying it's a problem either, I'm just raising the question whether it helps produce more misled content rather than appropriate content, which from the top of my head I think it has. – AndroidHustle Jun 5 '13 at 14:29
  • @AndroidHustle yeah, they can definitely add stuff (I think Math has a citation button or something for example), but the codeblock button is just on every site by default. I don't think there's any real reason it's there, there would just need to be reason for it to not be there. – Ben Brocka Jun 5 '13 at 15:51
  • ...small point, but the hover text actually reads "preformatted text", which is even more indicative of it being useful for more than just code (even though it also reads "<pre> <code> Ctrl-K"). – A.M. Jul 4 '13 at 21:35

For very new users (who can't yet add images) being able to control the formatting of a text area can help them to present a graphical version of what they mean.

For example, a table with checkboxes:

Things I like:
  Color  Green   Yellow   Red
  Apples  [x]    [ ]      [x]
  Bananas [ ]    [x]      [x]
  • I'm not sure if those new users would have enough rep to add a Balsamiq mockup instead. Does anyone know if there's a rep limit for mockups? – Graham Herrli Jun 5 '13 at 13:19
  • Hmmm... it's a fair enough assumption as an area of application. But I think however they can still post links though? Because then using a free image hosting service and post a link to a uploaded image would be preferable IMO. – AndroidHustle Jun 5 '13 at 13:29
  • 3
    @3nafish the rep limit for mockups is the same as it is for pictures; 10 reputation – Ben Brocka Jun 5 '13 at 13:49
  • @BenBrocka Thanks for the clarification. In that case, I have a new (minor) feature request. – Graham Herrli Jun 7 '13 at 13:52

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