Automatically applying <acronym> to existing content

I like the <acronym> element in HTML and I don’t think it gets used enough in places such as forums and blogs where there are multiple authors and nobody really wants to edit the stuff and apply <acronym> themselves.

In writing, good authors will typically define an acronym the first time it’s used in the piece. This however, assumes everyone is going to start from the beginning. In todays world where search engines have people jumping all over the place and sometimes to the middle of content, defining the acronym in the beginning isn’t as good as it could be. The reader may have to stop and look up the acronym.

What I want to do is build/find a sort of “self healing” acronym system that relies on AJAX to look for un-<acronym>'d acronyms while readers are browsing existing content, then asks a server/database for definitions to the acronyms before updating the content for the reader dynamically. Pretty much like those advertisement systems which automatically link keywords in pages work.

The difference with the system I want though, is that the server will automatically update the content on the filesystem while the reader’s browser is updating their view. That way the acronym doesn’t have to be looked up next time someone readers the content.

One of the issues I’ve thought of already is context-specific acronyms and potentially using the wrong definition during a lookup.

I’m looking for input on any other potential problems with a system like this.

I would consider developing a Chrome extension or a Greasemonkey script for something like this. This way, one would not interfere with the usual running of Forums, and also give the discerning user the ability to ‘filter the web’ for acronyms :slight_smile: