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Re: Proposing <indent> vs. <blockquote>

From: Murray Maloney <murray@muzmo.com>
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2007 15:09:11 -0400
Message-Id: <5.1.1.6.2.20070415123719.0857b260@mail.muzmo.com>
To: public-html@w3.org

At 03:04 PM 4/15/2007 +0100, Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis wrote:

>Murray Maloney wrote:
>>Not only will <blockquote> be preserved, but we will get an <indent> or 
>><nest> or <???> element to indicate a deeper level of content.
>
><indent> was proposed as something that adds "add[s] zero semantic
>information"
>
>http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0391.html

Quoting from that email:

         Here is a quick proposal.  I've not done any research on it, but 
reading
         someone's email about how badly <blockquote> is misused got me 
thinking
         about the need for something that performs the indentation of a block
         quote without the semantics.  I frequently find myself using a
         <blockquote> when what I really want is a visual indent.

Please note that the writer is asking for "something that performs the 
indentation
of a block quote without the semantics."

He didn't say "without semantics". I took his meaning to be "without the 
semantics of blockquote"
Perhaps you didn't read it the same way.


>and then later as something with "reduced semantics":
>
>http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2007Apr/0577.html


I didn't read this email as having much to do with semantics, except that it
mentioned decorating the element with an attribute value to add semantics.

>But what is a "deeper level of content"? That sounds suspiciously like a
>semantic definition of an element that should probably be placed under a
><heading> to aid navigation to it.

Suspiciously like a semantic definition? Whatever do you mean?

>It also has no obvious relation to how Mike is actually misusing
><blockquote> (I'll deal with that in greater detail in a subsequent post.)

Misuse of <blockquote> is widespread. Misuse of HTML is widespread.
Is it any wonder? What is your point?

>>he has already sided with you and I on the need for a core set of 
>>presentational markup.
>
>Every element should be argued on its merits. Why does <indent> need to
>be part of the core set in HTML5?

<blockquote> has already been argued. It's not going anywhere.

The merit of <indent>, perhaps with a different/better spelling, is obvious
to those in the audience who realize that truly semantic markup will never
gain traction until it becomes easier not to abuse it than it is to abuse it.

Y'all keep missing the point that I want semantic markup a much or more
than the next guy. But until then, we've got HTML. The semantics of HTML
are Hypertext Document Publishing and Web Application Interfaces.

My reference for "Document Publishing" is the Chicago University Press's
"A Manual of Style", 12th Edition,  ISBN:0-226-77008-7. I don't clam it
to the uber-authority, but it is close enough for HTML.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, by example and through prose,
indicating subordination by reducing left and/or right margins is not only
common practice, but is encouraged folowing a colon (:). Tables of contents,
indexes, subordinate paragraphs in technical and legal documents, notes,
warnings, epigraphs, dedications, callouts and colophons often employ
reduced margins to stand out from "normal" text.

Ideally, we would have an HTML element to correspond to every logical element
of a "Document", but we don't. So, we use the elements we have, sometimes
with a CLASS attribute value to trigger CSS formatting rules. As we know now,
that has not worked as well as we might have hoped; search engines do not trust
our markup any longer.

But we have also discovered that everyone tends to trust <b> and <i> even 
though
they do not contribute to deeper semantic understanding. They are trusted 
because
they do not make any claims about semantics, except where attributes might be
employed to add a layer of semantics that may be discoverable by reading a 
profile
or employing a GRDDL transform.

>>For all of you who disagree with our position, it would behoove you
>>to actually read what we have had to say on this subject.
>
>Happily. But could you please link to the particular public statements
>you would like us to read?

Rather than try to search through all of the back chatter, I have herein 
attempted
to answer your questions.

>>It is absurd to even suggest that HTML is a semantic language, except
>>to the extent that the sphere of meaning is "hypertext document publishing."
>
>The HTML Working Group's charter says it should devise: "A language
>evolved from HTML4 for describing the semantics of documents and
>applications on the World Wide Web." Is the charter absurd?

The charter nails the question on the head: "the semantics of documents and
applications", which I paraphrased into "hypertext document publishing."

>>That's not to say that semantics can't be overlayed onto HTML, it
>>can. Using a variety of techniques, including CLASS attributes,
>>profiles, GRDDL, XSLT, and so on, HTML content be used coerced into
>>being semantically rich.
>
>Sounds like an authoring nightmare. What would be the advantage of such
>an HTML over (say) ODF? Not compatibility with existing user agents,
>since profiles and GRDDL and XSLT are poorly supported if supported at
>all. What would would be their advantage over semantic HTML 4.01 Strict
>plus microformat and WAI accessibility classes, which /does/ have some
>user agent support?

As I said, the advantage would be to make HTML semantically rich -- that is,
rich beyond the semantics of "hypertext document publishing."

The bottom line is that <p> is just a paragraph according in the document 
paradigm.
Certainly one can interpret <p class="assertion">...</p> as a paragraph 
which has
the additional semantic of being an assertion, but that requires some magic 
that
is not built into the HTML specification.

What I am suggesting is that HTML will suffer from abuse at least as long as
there is not sufficient markup to perform normal document composition.
I am not suggesting that HTML only include presentational markup.
Nor am I advocating for <font>.

I have been using markup for over 30 years now. I know a little bit about it.
I do not appreciate attempts to marginalize my opinion, so to speak.

Regards,

Murray
Received on Sunday, 15 April 2007 19:10:49 UTC

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