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Re: The HTML q element can sometimes be useful. Discuss.

From: Florian Rivoal <florian@rivoal.net>
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:07:50 +0900
Cc: Richard Ishida <ishida@w3.org>, W3C Digital Publishing IG <public-digipub-ig@w3.org>, www International <www-international@w3.org>
Message-Id: <8D186DAF-F166-4C60-BBFA-09BCCE209B34@rivoal.net>
To: John Cowan <cowan@mercury.ccil.org>

> On Apr 28, 2016, at 01:29, John Cowan <cowan@mercury.ccil.org> wrote:
> 
>> But nobody does this. Maybe generating the punctuation for quote is
>> just as silly, and we don't see it because we're all too used to the
>> q element. 
> 
> I think it is as silly, and for the same reasons.  Variable styling of
> blockquotes is normal, variable styling of inline quotations is normally
> not.  They vary according to language, printing tradition, and outer
> context, but unfortunately that variatioun is not reducible to something
> CSS can handle, at least not easily today.  What's more, sometimes the
> normal answer is wrong:  James Joyce's works use the leading-dash style
> of quotation (no close quote), and his publishers have preserved this.
> 
> (Further digression:  The word "style" is confusing.  Spelling is a matter
> of a publisher's style, but it is not a matter of styling in the sense
> that anyone expects to be able to set a global switch that changes "labor"
> to "labour" everywhere.  You have to go through the content and fix it.)
> 
>> quotation marks do change based on the styling of the document (more
>> so for blockquote than for q, but still).
> 
> I'd like to see evidence for this in the case of inline quotations
> in ordinary published work.  On the Web, people can do anything, including
> decorating their prose with "under construction" signs.

* I didn't you provide one yourself, with James Joyce's work? You could say that his style of quoting should just be in the markup, but I don't think so. Whether this is content of style is a more fuzzy barrier than we would like, but thinking of what would happen to the content if it were displayed in a different context may help: in a book containing passage from multiple authors, including some by James Joyce, the publisher may choose to use consistent quotation marks across authors, and therefore switch away from the original style. Or not. It seems like a design / styling decision. I agree it is not clear cut though.

* Why exclude the web and all its crazy styling from the corpus we want to consider? One person's crazy is another person's creative. If someone wants to replace quotation marks with cartoon like speech bubbles, why not?

>> (2) Some other elements where quotes are in the markup, but identified
>> so that you can replace them.
>>  Markup:
>>    <quote><oq>“</oq>something someone said<cq>”</cq></quote>
>>  UA stylesheet: nothing
> 
> This seems like absurd overkill to me.  Put the quotation marks
> outside the q element (they aren't part of the quotation) and
> globally set the CSS to quote:none.

Based on your premise (you never need to restyle the quotation marks to something else), that is indeed enough, although it has the downside that when rendered without applying your css, you'll get double quotation marks. We'd need something in the markup to signal that quotation marks should not be automatically inserted.

But if you think it should be possible to switch from the default “ and ” to — and nothing, then your markup cannot do it, while mine can.

>> (a) Is it important to have quotation marks if the markup is rendered
>> without any styling at all?
> 
> Of course it is.  Is it important to have sentence-ending periods if
> the markup is rendered without any styling?  Omitting quotation marks
> altogether is very confusing, and can constitute plagiarism.  They are
> as much part of the content as other punctuation marks.

I agree they are important, and just like punctuation marks or paragraph breaks, you shouldn't be dropping them. The question what we mean by "without any styling". A UA that doesn't know about CSS but know about html is still supposed to have line breaks at the end of <p> or <h1> tags, to preserve spacing and line breaks in <pre> tags, and arguably to know that there's supposed to be quotes around the q element.

Now if we're talking about a UA that does not know about CSS, and knows enough about HTML to parse it, but not enough to retain the semantics of any element, thus forgoing the line breaks at the end of <p> or <h1> tags, not preserving spacing and line breaks in <pre> tags, then yes, it would also not have quotes around the <q> tags. But I would argue that at this point, the content is already broken and unusable.

In other words, if a UA renders this:
  <h1>Learning Ruby</h1>
  <p>Florian said <q>Ruby is easy to learn</q>. Indeed, look at this:
  <pre><code>
  puts "Hello World!"
  puts "Goodbye"
  </code></pre>
into that:
  Learning Ruby Florian said Ruby is easy to learn. Indeed, look
  at this: puts "Hello World!" puts "Goodbye"
then I think dropping the quotes is far from the only problem we have. And if the UA knows to make sense of the markup, then it knows to quotes are needed around <q> as well.

 - Florian
Received on Thursday, 28 April 2016 06:08:18 UTC

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