Sometimes, I feel that text can be emphasised a bit more if u̲n̲d̲e̲r̲l̲i̲n̲e̲ or d̳o̳u̳b̳l̳e̳ underlines were allowed? Given that SE's markdown doesn't support it, would it actually be against the site rules to work around that and create the presentation anyway?

Not sure if I should include ̲a̲ ̲l̲i̲n̲k̲ before getting a positive answer to this question...


So, the short answer is:

If you have to bastardize it to use it, you're doing it wrong

I get that we're a culture of hackers, and makers, and tinkerers, but you have to appreciate that the site isn't for your benefit, it's for the benefit of others. It may look cute to you, but it may actively disrupt the ability of others to use. See "not all browsers support unicode" and "not all unicode will be displayed with your choice of font" and "screen readers may actively mispronounce what you're saying because you're doing the wrong thing" all of which mean "the user doesn't understand what you're trying to impart to them because you were being clever.

The solution?

Don't be "clever".

Also of note is that the SE team has invested many many hours in design and research, and in a consistent user experience across the entire network of sites, and the discussion even amongst the User Experience Gurus on the UX Stack Exchange Site have already addressed your question here: Is there ever a requirement to allow text to be underlined when it's not a link or a header. Not only has SE invested a lot of time in it, they've hired experts in UX to ensure that the site is highly functional for all users. So by doing this, you're subverting the knowledge of experts.

I assure you had the UX experts said "no no, we really need to have underlining" that the SE devs would've included it.

So again the short answer is:

You're doing it wrong.

The internet at large would appreciate you being less clever.

But the maker-hacker-clever-tinkerer in me loves it. :D

  • These UX "experts" are also the ones decrying skeuomorphism (after making up a word to rally against) and promoting the chokable flat, colorless, Tron-inspired UI? But I do agree, it does look ugly because Unicode support is woeful even in the 2nd decade of the 3rd millenia. – 孔夫子 Dec 5 '12 at 19:57
  • Except where skeuomorphism is a word over 120 years old, and is often used to describe a great many things, so they didn't really make up a word to rally against, and I'm totally against the whole "let's maintain 30 years of backwards compatibility" built into modern OSs. – jcolebrand Dec 5 '12 at 20:16
  • Not sure how "let's maintain 30 years of backwards compatibility" became relevant, unless you're referring to backwards-compatible-UI (is there such a thing)? Re the "s" word, my bad - I meant "picked" not "made up". Same sentiment – 孔夫子 Dec 5 '12 at 20:20
  • Because that's what skeuomorphism means? Maintaining backwards compatibility with old features. Hence why we don't underline anymore, because old typewriters didn't have bold or italics, but modern typesetting does, and we've trained all the collegiates that underline means either "title" (MLA) or "link" (web) – jcolebrand Dec 5 '12 at 20:33
  • So if I used it for titles (+H2) and for links (dba.se barely marks links), then it would be appropriate usage, right? I don't completely agree that underscores are the digital replacements for "old mechanical feature". There are many contexts in long posts where columns are marked one way, keyboard characters another (<kbd>), entities are marked bold and attributes in italics, and still the post screams for another visual element for another semantic context. Maybe I should just pretty it up in TeX and post an image of my intended post when I come to that. – 孔夫子 Dec 5 '12 at 20:39
  • No, what we're telling you is that if you use it on H2 or links, we're going to edit and remove as we see it, because you're breaking the site and the Network. Don't be clever. If you really need underlining, start a new post that lays out the most compelling usecase for underlining ever, and I bet we can get it implemented. However, if you can't find a compelling usecase, maybe you can just find a "we need to format this better" usecase? I assure you we want to help you, but abusing unicode in this fashion is not "help" for anyone. – jcolebrand Dec 5 '12 at 20:42
  • If you need to derive six or more semantic styles in one post, and the usage doesn't accurately derive what you intend, then yes, perhaps a graphic is the most accurate way to demonstrate the concept. – jcolebrand Dec 5 '12 at 20:44
  • Alternately, six balls being juggled is fairly tricky, so maybe you need to break it down into smaller units of work? A refactoring, one might suggest? – jcolebrand Dec 5 '12 at 20:44
  • Additionally, <kbd> should be deprecated on most SE sites, no? Nope, guess not. Just tested, they still work. Interesting. PS: I highly frown on that when it's not <kbd>ctrl</kbd><kbd>c</kbd> style syntax being used to illustrate what to press, or where to look. – jcolebrand Dec 5 '12 at 20:45

Wrong? No, not if you're simulating the output of an old typewriter where underlining was the only form of emphasis available.

That said, the <u> tag is automatically stripped, and editing text underlined using your tedious method would be annoying... So unless you have a very good reason to do so ("I miss my Underwood so much it hurts"), you should avoid it.

  • 1
    "editing text underlined using your tedious method would be annoying" did you follow the link? ;) – Jack Douglas Dec 6 '12 at 7:42
  • 1
    ̲R̲i̲c̲h̲a̲r̲d̲T̲h̲e̲K̲i̲w̲i̲ ̲h̲a̲s̲ ̲t̲o̲o̲ ̲m̲u̲c̲h̲ ̲t̲i̲m̲e̲ ̲o̲n̲ ̲h̲i̲s̲ ̲h̲a̲n̲d̲s̲.̲ – swasheck Dec 10 '12 at 23:50

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