Markdown is a plain text markup language--like WikiText, Textile, or reStructuredText--whose syntax is heavily influenced by popular conventions for writing plain text email. For instance, surrounding text with underbars (_) or asterisks (*) like _this_ denotes emphasis and turns into this. Footnotes like this [1] turn into links like this, and blockquotes like this:

> Jass, Hugh wrote:
> bla bla bla. bla bla bla
> bla bla

turn into this:

Jass, Hugh wrote:
bla bla bla. bla bla bla
bla bla

It's also really easy to inline HTML (or XML) when Markdown doesn't let you express what you need.

[1]: WhyNotMarkdown.txt "This page in markdown"

What's The Problem?

Markdown is too easy and natural. You get used to it and then you have a bad attitude towards "real" markup like XHTML Strict. Try playing with Markdown for a weekend and then go to work and jump into DocBook. You could lose your job due to the demotivating effect this God-forsaken syntax has on your ability to deal with the real world. Please don't make the same mistake I made and integrate Markdown into your publishing system. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

Similarly, stay away from Python if you get paid to write Java code and whatever you do... DO NOT LEARN DVORAK.