I don’t mind markdown myself, and it’s working fine for our Discourse site; our users are reasonably technical so are used to the concept of markup. But I don’t think it fits well with Discourse’s stated aim to be “discussion for the next decade”
Anything more complex than making bold/italic text requires an extra level of thinking; not just the words you’re typing, but the formal structure of the “code” that surrounds it. For Joe and Jane public, this feels like some weird techy thing that makes them feel excluded.
Yes, you can use the UI, but it doesn’t behave the way that you’d expect. You can’t toggle the formatting of selected text. Starting a list doesn’t allow new list items to be created with a new line. The URL and text of a link are in two different places (and the connection between the two is easily broken). Behaviour is non-discoverable and can feel arbitrary to the uninitiated.
Compare with the much more familiar interface of editing a Google Doc, or Xenforo’s editor (which I make heavy use of elsewhere). Vulkanino’s example is an over exaggeration, considering the limited amount of formatting necessary for a forum post. The existing set of buttons is fine.
An “advanced” button to be able to reveal the markup lets power users do all the nitty-gritty stuff, but for everyone else, I think it’s too complicated. In 2025, people are going to be saying “Why do I have to type all these extra characters to format my text? What decade was this software written in?”
This isn’t a “please make it my way” post. I understand that it would be major surgery to replace the existing system, which isn’t broken. But I am concerned that it will hold back the spread of Discourse in the mainstream as it matures.
EDIT: Jeez, that’s a wall of text. Sorry!