notes from the front lines of the revolution: day 2

Comrades! Yesterday proved even brighter for our movement than the first day of action.

The day began with two decisive victories in our struggle to make sarcasm free:

I. Open Sarcasm First Used in the Wild

Our first evidence of Open Sarcasm used was found in this comment of a two-year-old fantasy football forum post. Our leaders are perplexed by this unexpected placement of the first use of Open Sarcasm, but thrilled to see the punctuation taking hold. See the people’s punctuation in use:

Bonus – 02:15pm Feb 17, 2010 GMT (#3 of 5)

This worked well¡

Bonus – 02:17pm Feb 17, 2010 GMT (#4 of 5)

Apparently & iexcl ; (sans spaces) is the real SarcMark, btw.


I was just testing it worked on the previous post. Obviously, I was in no way implying that this competition and series of threads by FantasyFootballEd was anything less than a brilliant venture¡

We applaud Comrade Bonus for his participation and hope he will continue to battle for the freedom of sarcasm.

On to our second major victor of the day:

I. Techdirt Reports on the Battle at Hand

Comrade Mike Masnick of Techdirt posted this fascinating analysis of the ongoing fight. Snip:

[...] Sarcasm wars have now broken out. In response to the closed and proprietary SarcMark, another group has launched the Open Sarcasm project that is, instead, pushing a version of an upside down exclamation point to indicate sarcasm — based on the already in existence Ethiopian punctuation mark for sarcasm (which is why it’s already a part of unicode). I have no clue if they’re being serious or sarcastic. Which is why the world needs more sarcasm markers.

Still, whether or not any of this is serious, it actually does show how betting on proprietary solutions can often come back to bite you, as more open, cheaper, and more flexible solutions pop up to fill in the gap. So, yeah, to SarcMark, good luck with that project.

An intriguing discussion has taken hold in the comments on Comrade Mike’s post. Highlights include:

  • An Anonymous Comrade’s comment: Long live the SarcMark®¡
  • Comrade Martin Cohn’s comment: Attention downtrodden masses of the Proleteriat nerds yearning to break the chains of your Capitalist masters!¡ Alt-0161 will enter the inverted question mark and subvert the running dog scheme to pry the lordly sum of $1.99 from your pocket.
  • Comrade Marcus Carab’s comment: When you “buy” the SarcMark you get an image version that you can insert into text, and also various special apps that try to add it to your Blackberry or whatever, and come with lengthy instructions.

    The Open Sarcasm page is actually a fun read—it points out just how deluded the SarcMark is. It took a long time to fully draft the Unicode Specification, and the whole point of it was to make sure that it could include all characters. Then this guy comes along with, apparently, no knowledge of linguistics, orthography, typography or anything and tries to invent a proprietary character as a damn plug-in. I am assuming that the “inventor” had the thought “maybe there should be a punctuation mark for sarcasm” one day (and what regular internet conversationalist hasn’t had that thought before?) and for some misguided reason believed he could capitalize on it.

Thank you, comrades of Techdirt, for your support in this fight!

These two early victories weren’t our only progress of the day. The movement also:

III. Made Significant Gains in the Twitter Theater


We’ve added these and other key supporters to our Sarcasm Liberation Army Twitter List. @ us if you’re ready to join the ranks.

IV. Saw Another Blog Post and References in the Wild

Comrade “the oracle” at Locker Gnome linked to the earlier Techdirt article, adding:

The plan [SarcMark] only had a couple of drawbacks. The first was, it had to be a cooperative effort. The SarcMark had to be bought in pairs to be useful; the receiver had to have it already available on their machine. The second part was the cost factor—in today’s marketplace, the salability of a single character for nearly $4, plus the difficulty with getting the recipient to cooperate to get your message across is less than optimal.


Yeah, that little problem with the trying to put one over on people as the SarcMark being an original work could also be a bit of a snag.

Over on Flickr, Comerade Jakerome added mention of Open Sarcasm to a two-year-old thread he created for the deliberation of this very matter: The appropriate denotion of sarcasm in the Flickr community.

What a fine day for the revolution! Let this energy guide us into battle today! Sarcasm must be free! Sarcasm WILL be free!

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