A month ago, a company called SarcMark began selling a special punctuation of the same name, intended to denote Sarcasm. As some of our commenters pointed out, punctuation shouldn’t cost money, and SarcMark was charging $2 for the privilege.
Now, a group called Open Sarcasm is staging a protest to crush SarcMark and replace it with an upside-down exclamation mark (¡), which text fields already recognize and doesn’t cost a dime. Open Sarcasm’s organizer even came back to our original blog post to let us know about it.
The group says “¡” is graphically indistinguishable from Temherte Slaqî, an Ethiopic symbol that comes at the end of a sentence, used to indicate an unreal phrase or a sarcastic tone in editorial cartoons. No joke, Open Sarcasm pulls the idea from Wikipedia’s page on sarcasm, which sources a document (PDF) from the 15th International Unicode Conference.
Despite the subject matter, Open Sarcasm appears to be dead serious, writing a manifesto that specifically calls out the SarcMark, starting a Twitter page and opening an online merch store. Of course, the group is also accepting donations, for what I’m not sure.
I still don’t think punctuation for sarcasm is necessary — words alone leave plenty of room for nuance in tone — but a movement to liberate sarcastic punctuation from commercial gain is admirable, at least.