Named Footnotes: A (likely) mediocre proposal

Epistemic status: This is probably a bad idea, because it's quite obvious yet not done; i.e. Chesterson's fence.

One bad practice in programming is to have a lot of unnamed parameters. For instance,

  createPost(author, post, comment, name, id, privacyOption, ...)

Instead it's generally better to used Named Parameters, like,

  createPost({author, post, comment, name, id, privacyOption})

Footnotes/endnotes seem similar. They are ordered by number, but this can be quite messy. It's particularly annoying for authors not using great footnote-configuring software. If you have 10 endnotes, and then decide to introduce a new one mid-way, you then must re-order all the others after it.

One alternative would be to use what we can call named footnotes or endnotes.

Proposals:

  1. This is an example sentence. {consciousness}
  2. This is an example sentence. [consciousness]

Systems like this could be pretty easily swapped for numeric footnotes/endnotes as is desired.

One obvious downside may be that these could be a bit harder to find the source for, especially if one is reading it on paper or doesn't have great access to textual search.

1Pattern5moThat's what arrays are for. What software does this well? 10 endnotes? Break the document up into sections, and the footnotes up into sections. Authors also could not re-order the footnotes. Or separate drafting and finished product: * indicates a footnote (to be replaced with a number later). At the end, searching * will find the first instance. (If the footnotes are being made at the same, then /* for the notes in the body, and \* for the footnotes at the end. Any uncommon symbols work - like qw.)
2ozziegooen5moArrays are useful for some kinds of things, for sure, but not when you have some very different parameters, especially if they are of different kinds. It would be weird to replace getUser({userId, databaseId, params}) with something like getUser([inputs]) where inputs is an array of [userId, databaseId, params]. Depends on your definition of "well", but things like Microsoft Word and to what I believe is a lesser extent Google Docs at least have ways of formally handling footnotes/endnotes, which is better than not using these features (like, in most internet comment editors). That could work in some cases. I haven't seen that done much on most online blog posts. Also, there's definitely controversy [https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/notes] if this is a good idea. Fair point, but this would be seen as lazy, and could be confusing. If your footnotes are numbers [8], [2], [3], [1], etc. that seems unpolished. That said, I wouldn't mind this much, and it could be worth the cost.
controversy

The page you linked was a great overview. It noted:

If you want to look at the text of a particular endnote, you have to flip to the end of the research paper to find the information.

With a physical document, the two parts (body+endnotes) can be separated for side by side reading. With a digital document, it helps to have two copies open.

Depends on your definition of "well", but things like Microsoft Word and to what I believe is a lesser extent Google Docs at least have ways of formally handling footnotes/endnotes, which is better th
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ozziegooen's Shortform

by ozziegooen 31st Aug 2019127 comments