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Re: Proposing <indent> vs. <blockquote>

From: Shane Thacker <shanethacker@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2007 11:46:02 -0400
Message-ID: <935837700704160846m2902f4c3pb770246c98c3f6fc@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-html@w3.org

In my experience, novice users tend to use what is available to them
for presentation, not semantic meaning. (I'm including people who have
been using HTML for a while, but haven't had any particular reason to
learn more about it.) Unless you completely rid the browser world of
the presentational aspects of HTML markup (as opposed to CSS
definitions), such as a double line-break for <p>, it will continue to
be used for presentation purposes. That doesn't seem realistic, and as
a result I'm sure we can expect to see <p>'s that aren't paragraphs,
<blockquote>'s that aren't blockquotes, and <em>'s that aren't really
meant to be emphasized, for a long time.

That being said, I don't really support the idea of the <indent> tag.
HTML may not enforce semantic markup, but it encourages it through
those presentation effects, so most of the time <p> really is used for
paragraphs, <em> (and <i>) is used for emphasis, and
blockquotes...well, blockquotes are interesting.

For the past few years the organization I recently worked for used a
WYSIWYG editor embedded into a content management system that
consistently used <blockquote> for indentation. Worse, it used
<blockquote> with an inline style that removed the right-side
indentation, because that gave the visual effect the editor's
programmers wanted. They could have easily used <div> with an inline
style, but they didn't. As a result, our system had quite a few
<blockquote>'s that weren't blockquotes, and any users who flipped
over to the HTML markup view saw the same practice and internalized
it.

Is that a problem with HTML and CSS? No, that was a problem with the
editor. It should have had a blockquote button that used <blockquote>
and an indent button that used <div> with styling.

Anyway, I think the aim of this process shouldn't be to add extra
top-level presentational elements to muddy the waters further. It may
have already been mentioned in this thread, and if so I apologize, but
why not use something we already have used: attributes? <indent> might
add an extra element, but <p align="indent">, or however would be best
to say it, simply adds a presentational suggestion to <p>, a concept
that has been in HTML for a long time.

We could, of course, use inline CSS styling using the style attribute,
but in my experience novice users get concepts like align="some visual
location" better than style="some presentation logic that affects
visual location".

That being said, anyone here used Textile, or BBCode for blog markup
or forum posts? I haven't bothered to look and see what kind of HTML
is being generated, but I would assume that is different for different
engines.

Shane
Received on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 13:15:49 UTC

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