My Beef With SarcMark

By  |  Friday, January 15, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Period, question mark, exclamation point — the written word has done just fine with these three sentence-ending punctuations, but Sarcasm, Inc. reckons there’s room for one more.

The SarcMark aims to make sarcasm easier to express online, essentially by beating the reader over the head with it. Add the squiggly and dot to the end of a sentence, and you’ll know your words won’t be interpreted as genuine. Make no mistake, the SarcMark is a real product, selling for $2 if you want to type it on your Mac, Windows or Blackberry keyboard by holding Ctrl and pressing “.”

If you can’t tell from the tone of my words alone, I’m not convinced the world needs a SarcMark. For that matter I’m not certain the very concept isn’t a work of sarcasm.

The problem with SarcMark is partly technical. Unless the idea catches on in the mainstream, you’ll have to explain its meaning to everyone who sees it. So you’re explaining a punctuation that’s explaining sarcasm. That’s not redundant or anything.

But the bigger issue is that sarcasm doesn’t deserve the easy pass, even if the problem it’s trying to solve is genuine. There are plenty of emotions that are tough to convey in words alone, such as dejection, skepticism, urgency and calm. Why should sarcasm, above all, get its own punctuation?

Let’s just give sarcasm an emoticon and call it a day.



22 Comments For This Post

  1. Chris Donahue Says:

    When I first saw this a few days ago, I said,”No one is going to pay for this. There is absolutely no need. If you can’t tell someone is using sarcasm, this is not going to help.

  2. Gary Violette Says:

    This is a great idea(insert symbol here)

  3. Matthew Says:

    I thought that’s what 😛 was for … or at least 😉

  4. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    “That’s not redundant or anything.”

    Shouldn’t that be “That’s not redundant or anything (SarcMark™)”?

  5. j.neutron Says:

    SarcMark, now there’s a *real* useful invention.

    Not that I condone the use of emoticons, but forums have the “rolleyes” icon that can often denote sarcasm.

  6. Dave Barnes Says:

    Personally, I think the mark is ugly.

  7. Jared Says:


    We have a winner!

  8. Snarc Mark Says:

    At SnarcMark Limited, we support open public freely-licensed punctuation to express sincerity like our NoSnarcMark (previously known as the Peer-Y-odd) and the newly released SnarcMark (previously known as the Eye-row-knee Mark). Tweet us at @snarcmark.

    We mean srs bsns ؟

  9. Lazlow St. Pierre Says:

    I didn’t pay a penny for the right to use exclamation marks, question marks or any other punctuation. Why the hell would I pay to use this thing that’s obviously not going to become some sort of standard as long as it’s being charged for? In an era where services like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook etc. are 100% free to use, who the hell is going to pay for the right to use a piece of punctuation?

    Not that I can use it anyway, as I’m running Ubuntu and there’s no Linux software for it listed on their website.

    If I DID want to use it in forums, I’d just put a smiley sized image of it on an image hosting site and hotlink to it whenever I wanted.

    Worst. Punctuation. Idea. Ever.

  10. Backlin Says:

    What’s wrong with [/sarcasm] or /s ?

  11. chip Veirs Says:

    This is great and long over due. Will keep everybody on the same playing field when humor is needed.

  12. Drew Says:

    Lazlow hits it on the head. This is not going to become standard (I won’t pay for it, for one) so half the people are going to email back and ask what it is, and when you tell them, they will send back ID10T because you were stupid enough to pay money for something like this.

  13. Christopher Says:

    Hey “Geniuses” the written form of the English language already has a means by which one can identify sarcasm. How ignorant are all of you? Learn the English language and use ironic quotes. “I love idiots!”

  14. Bill Says:

    Doesn’t work for Mac. Their website says “Support for native Mac’s will soon be available”.

  15. Elizabeth Says:

    I think the appeal of sarcasm not knowing whether the comment is a joke or not. The sarcmark takes away that fun and would dumb down banter.

  16. Sam Illingworth Says:

    “There are plenty of emotions that are tough to convey in words alone, such as dejection, skepticism, urgency and calm. Why should sarcasm, above all, get its own punctuation?”

    I think that’s a very poor argument. Sarcasm isn’t an emotion, it’s not the subject you want to express, it’s the means of expressing it. It could be used to express any of the emotions you just listed.

    Saying that sarcasm shouldn’t be obvious also strikes me as somewhat daft – spoken sarcasm is deliberately obvious so it’s not as if sarcasm is intended to be difficult to infer. It’s not sarcasm if you deliberately do it so the other person doesn’t notice – what you’re doing there is simply called “lying”.

    Am I really the only person to comment here who’s come across the problem of misunderstandings in written communication that don’t happen in vocal communication, especially quickly written, ill thought out missives? I know many a business relation ship has been severely soured by such errors. For me the only problem with this idea is that it would have to be a standard, available cross platform, cross font.

    Also, since when did 😉 indicate sarcasm? That indicates that you’re implying something naughty, surely? And :p indicates that you’re teasing, or making fun of someone. The very fact that there’s such ambiguity around them demonstrates that they’re not a good way of denoting sarcasm (I use myself).

  17. Francisco Says:

    “spoken sarcasm is deliberately obvious”

    No. If it were, it wouldn’t be funny. Most people I know who use sarcasm don’t reveal they are using it through their tone or inflection. You’re supposed to recognize it through meaning or the way the sentence is constructed or relates to what was previously said. If you can’t, too bad.

    All these silliness is caused by people who don’t know what sarcasm is, and by americans used to in-your-face dumbed-down everybody-loves-raymond humor.

  18. OpenSarcasm Says:

    Sarcasm *does* deserve its own punctuation, and indeed has historic precedence as punctuation in Ethiopic language: ¡ However, sarcasm–and all other punctuation–should be free, open-source, and standards-compliant. Join the fight to free sarcasm from its chains at

  19. Alisha Says:

    The sarcmark will take center stage and overshadow the sarcasm of the speaker. Sarcasm is supposed to be subtle not blatantly obvious. It’s shared amongst friends, who understand you enough to know your using sarcasm. If you’re using sarcasm with a person who doesn’t understand it most likly its not appropriate to be using it.

  20. Neil Says:

    Acording to the “inventor” it took him 2 yrs to develope.
    And NO I’m not being sarcastic.

  21. Jake Says:

    It’s also completely pointless as sarcasm punctuation is not a new idea. See the Percontation Point of the 16th century, or the Irony Mark of the 19th, or even the Ethiopian Temherte Slaq. In each case it never caught on. This won’t either.

  22. dopo Says:

    I also think that sarcasm needs to have some sort emoticon for online chats and i think that ^^ should be that symbol. Its an easy, unique symbol to recognize that everyone already has access to.

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