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I'm all for using formatting and styles such as bold text to create sections and/or emphasis for certain things. However, occasionally I'll come across answers such as the top voted answer here which begin with the largest bold font.

I imagine people who do this are doing it with good intentions, they are summarizing and emphasizing a simple response and then going into detail below.

The particular issue I have is that it immediately pulls my attention to it, I read it and find no reason why that sentence needed to be both bold and larger font. In some way it seems like a way to pull people's attention away from other potentially good answers similar to how advertisers sometimes come off as if their message is extremely important when in fact it is no more important than anyone else's.

It seems like if taken further people could start surrounding the first sentence with bold double asterisks and the like.

Most of the time deciding whether a question needs an edit is pretty black and white, however in this case I think it may be subjective.

In this case should questions like this be edited to remove their over exaggerated formatting?

  • 2
    Downvotes here are rarely random, but it's pretty much guaranteed that sarcasm will attract more. It shouldn't be that way, but it happens. – Rory Alsop Feb 3 '17 at 22:03
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    @RoryAlsop Yes, perceived tone carries a bit of weight. I edited on post on the main site, and it went from -5 to 24 in about an hour. The OP was amazed. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Feb 3 '17 at 22:05
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    "The particular issue I have is that it immediately pulls my attention to it" - I'm sure that's why it is done. – Joe Strazzere Feb 3 '17 at 23:42
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    I agree with you on the "large font" part. It is entirely unnecessary and highly irritating. I have read many of @Lilienthal 's answers which make generous use of bolding to emphasize important points, but I have never once seen her use large fonts. Those bolded parts serve their purpose well and I never find them annoying. I also "copy" her style for most of my answers. – Masked Man Feb 4 '17 at 1:05
  • As such, I think your question would be better received if you focus only on the "large font" part. As it stands now, you have bundled bolding and large font into one, which may be why people are reacting to it this way. – Masked Man Feb 4 '17 at 1:06
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    Please note that their "over exaggerated formatting" is provided by the site. The poster decided neither the font nor size, he simply picked the "header" formatting option, because he thinks it's a header for his post. If you don't like the way SE formats headers, I don't think that you're addressing the right person. – nvoigt Feb 8 '17 at 14:27
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No, you should leave it as is.

As you said yourself,

they are summarizing and emphasizing a simple response and then going into detail below.

I did this above on this answer not to be snarky, but to serve as an example. Not everyone wants to, or necessarily needs to, read the entire post. Especially for people who are just skimming through the site, the bold one-liner serves to catch the eye and emphasize and important point. Additionally, if I see the one-liner for the top-voted answer matches what I expected, I'm not going to bother reading the whole thing.

I also agree with Richard U's point, removing the formatting

both alters the poster's intent and adds nothing to the answer.

Sometimes adding a bolded sentence in a long dense answer is helpful, but sometimes its helpful to remove formatting if every other line is formatted or colored, but a single one-liner is almost never a problem.

  • Thank you for the constructive response +1. – The Muffin Man Feb 3 '17 at 21:27
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    There is a difference between a "one line summary in bold" and "one line summary in bold and large font". The large font is largely unnecessary. I have written a fair number of answers here, and not once have I found the need for the large font. – Masked Man Feb 4 '17 at 0:59
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    @MaskedMan The large font is decided by the site. The writer only decided he wanted a header. Saying he could make his header smaller because it fits your style better is disregarding all the people who need a screenreader and will not be presented with a header if you only make it bold. – nvoigt Feb 8 '17 at 14:30
  • @nvoigt I know this strays from the topic a bit, but how are headers handled differently by screen readers? Asking out of pure inexperience here. – David K Feb 8 '17 at 14:40
  • @DavidK I don't have much experience either, but a header is different from a bold text. It's a different formatting element. If one does not like how SE makes headers look on screen, removing the header formatting and making it bold instead is removing meta-information. Unlike say... changing the color. The person did not pick a random font size because it suited him, he picked the header format. And it should stay a header then. – nvoigt Feb 8 '17 at 14:43
  • @nvoigt Use h3 instead of h1, what is the big deal? – Masked Man Feb 8 '17 at 14:51
  • @MaskedMan The basically you say the OP should lie about the format of his post, so it looks better to you, because you don't like the SE stylesheet? Because his header is an h1 (most important heading), not an h3. – nvoigt Feb 8 '17 at 15:06
  • @nvoigt Why would you put a one-line summary as a heading in the first place? I am not so sure you understand what a header means. A header is not a summary, not is it used to emphasize a point. Anyway, disregarding people who use screen readers is a problem, but disregarding people for whom large fonts make it difficult to focus on rest of the answer is somehow okay? – Masked Man Feb 8 '17 at 15:29
  • The issue is not whether you like the stylesheet or not. We all do workarounds to get around the SE limitations. For example, how do I put an inline spoiler (as against the SE spoiler markup which puts the spoiler text on a separate line)? How do I insert an inline audio clip into my answer? Since I cannot do any of that (and much more), does that mean I am also "lying" about my format if I use workarounds? So what is the big deal if you use h3 instead of h1, and is that such a big deal that you have to call it "lying"? That is going way over the top. Anyway, I am done here, do what you want. – Masked Man Feb 8 '17 at 15:35
  • @MaskedMan How would you feel if I edited out your inline clip or your spoiler in your post because "I don't like how it looks, I feel the font is too large"? All I'm saying is that the author wanted a heading, a perfectly normal text-formatting feature. Who are we to decide that's inappropriate and he should use something else? – nvoigt Feb 8 '17 at 15:39
  • @nvoigt Where have I said that I want to edit out the formatting that I don't like? I just said that a good answer can be written without it. If the OP wants to write an answer with font size of 240px, he is free to do so, just as I am free to say that it is not necessary and I don't like it. Don't put words in my mouth. – Masked Man Feb 8 '17 at 16:58
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No, and doing so is grounds to reject the edit as it both alters the poster's intent and adds nothing to the answer.

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    I agree with this for edit suggestions, but disagree for edits of users with 2k rep. Just making the first line of text smaller isn't worth the time of suggested edit reviewers, but a 2k rep user should have no such reservations about making the post less of an eyesore. – Brian Feb 6 '17 at 15:25
  • @Brian who determines if it's an eyesore? – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Feb 6 '17 at 15:29
  • If you format your post in a way that doesn't match the formatting of anyone else's posts on he site, it's probably an eyesore. Realistically, any editor can decide that and make the edit. If that edit is harmful to the post, it can always be undone, but an edit to bring formatting in line with the rest of the site is very unlikely to be harmful. – Brian Feb 6 '17 at 15:43
  • @Brian I fail to see how any formatting, other than "Wall of text" or the infamous "ALL CAPS RUN TOGETHER WITHOUT PUNCTUATION" can be of any serious harm. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Feb 6 '17 at 16:18
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    I don't think anyone is claiming "serious harm", and I don't see what's wrong with wanting consistent formatting. – Brian Feb 6 '17 at 16:20
  • @Brian, it's a waste of time, for the most part, and the OP is RARELY going to be in favor of it, IMO – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Feb 6 '17 at 16:27
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In this case should questions like this be edited to remove their over exaggerated formatting?

Certainly.

Anyone who has editing permissions and thinks that the formatting is improper or could be improved should feel free to edit the question.

That's why editing is given to so many - for improving questions and answers. If changing the formatting makes it better, go for it.

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