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[Bug 6774] <mark> element: restrict insertion by other servers

From: <bugzilla@wiggum.w3.org>
Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 08:59:52 +0000
To: public-html-bugzilla@w3.org
Message-Id: <E1MLCiO-00027R-0g@wiggum.w3.org>
http://www.w3.org/Bugs/Public/show_bug.cgi?id=6774





--- Comment #12 from Nick Levinson <Nick_Levinson@yahoo.com>  2009-06-29 08:59:51 ---
There's little or no technological control, but legal permission can be denied,
and, for the most part, HTML standards already deny similar permissions to
users. The public library, for example, is unlikely to do what it believes to
be illegal. Yahoo could have pulled the doc into a cache, written to it, and
passed it to the user; the user would have known the URL not of the cache
itself but of the point of origin, just as happens now when a user views a doc
from a multi-day cache set up to save bandwidth and doesn't know about the
cache because they typed the address into the address bar themselves and think
the page came immediately from that address. Yahoo doesn't do that with the
view-as-HTML files, but not for want of technology. They'd run into legal
problems, viz., copyright, if they didn't attribute their changes to themselves
and what wasn't changed to the original publishers.

A user may opt to annotate, of course. But when they don't know they are and
sophistication is required to know that their computer is applying a <mark>
tag, we're asking too much of most users. The popularity and utility of the
Internet depends on widespread acceptance, which means inevitably most users
won't be that sophisticated about computers. Usability is this issue and that's
already part of HTML authoring. Accounting for users' understandings is
reflected, for example, in standardizing link colors and link underlining. Many
sites discard those standards, which is their right to do, but because they do
the result is that viewers' understanding of links is even more tenuous, and
they assume all the links belong to the site owner, incorrectly.

We're not responsible for educating consumers to that degree. But inserting a
tool by which a third party can make a user's perception of what they see that
much more fragile goes beyond providing a language by which site designers can
offer their content and people can read it (and, selectively, interact via
forms, scripts, etc., consistent with site owners' intentions (third-party
markup of forms and scripts might be something else to think about, too)).

"(. . . [N]or should there be [a "way for the originating server to stop"
"software on the user's network [from] . . . chang[ing] . . . the page"], since
that would mean that it would prevent users from doing what they wanted to the
page)." (Hixie, supra.)

They have to be limited. Many companies have customer contracts online, and I'm
pretty sure they don't want users changing them without permission, e.g., by
restyling them into white fonts on white backgrounds. If an online store sells
an item for $123, they don't want a user's employer restyling the rightmost
digit of every item price into invisibility so the unaware user proves,
through, say, a screen photograph, that the item is only $12. Some courts
publish case decisions and legal forms online, and doubtless want them left
unchanged. A site owner cannot give up all control over their site or the
Internet will be less useful to them in making offers and concluding business.
If the user wants to make changes, they have to be responsible for them, and
that's denied if anyone else can intervene without the end user's knowledge.

Thanks.

-- 
Nick


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