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Your comments (coming from someone who has actually tackled this surprisingly difficult task) are some of the most valuable we've received; having them on the Discourse forum would be great.

We considered writing the spec in the state machine vein, but I advocated for the declarative style. It may be worth rethinking that and rewriting it, essentially spelling out the parsing algorithm. As you suggest, a parallel document could be created for writers.

I'll need to study your spec further to see what the substantive differences are.

Thanks. Really happy to see that you're open to a complete rewrite of the stmd spec (to a possible algorithm-based style).

I'll be happy to open a post in talk.commonmark.org on the ambiguity problems caused by using a declarative style for the stmd spec. I'll do that once the forum is back (I can't seem to access it right now).

In parallel, I too will try to work out what the syntax differences are between stmd and vfmd. Meanwhile, please see: http://www.vfmd.org/differences/ (in case you haven't already).

I (for one) can't wait to see what the two of you can do together. I highly respect the work you've both done around Markdown, and I think you could easily accomplish your goals (of a consistent and sensible Markdown parsing rule-set) as a team.

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